Where is It?
The Penan program is situated in the mountainous Upper Baram region of Sarawak, in and around the villages of Long Kerong, Long Spigen and Long Sait. The area is quite remote, and to reach the villages, visitors must take a light plane, 4 wheel drive and a boat. This journey usually takes the best part of a day.
Is it for You?
Picnic with the Penan is for visitors who have an adventurous spirit, a flexible schedule and an open mind. Because of the remoteness of the location and because the program is still quite new, an ability to go with the flow and take things as they come is essential! But for those who do venture into to the Penan villages, Picnic with the Penan offers an authentic and exciting experience rarely found in established tour programs. The scenery is beautiful, the people generous and there is a rich variety of activities to choose from. All trips are tailored to suit the visitors’ interests and abilities. For the adventurous and fit, there is jungle trekking, camping in the jungle, swimming, rafting and jungle survival training.For those who would like to learn about Penan culture, there is blow pipe making, Penan food gathering and cooking, demonstrations of Penan traditional music, rattan basket making, fishing, learning about Penan traditional medicines and Penan folklore. In the village, visitors will generally stay with a Penan family and thus get a taste of Penan daily life today. There are also day walks to nearby villages, community projects and flower gardens. Of course, in between all these activities, there is time to enjoy the tranquility of village life, relax by the river and talk with the Penan. For though they can be shy, the Penan are always very excited to meet visitors and the Penan children will love you!
Important to remember is that your tour will bring you deep into the jungle. Medical aid will be on a local and therefore very basic level. It might take days to repatriate one to a nearby town. Furthermore the trips might be physically exhausting. Long days walking through a rough terrain and in a very humid climate ask for a healthy spirit and body.
What Trips can You Make?
What should/could You Organize?
Things to bring: organise before coming to Borneo:
Dry bags: as the jungle is wet, dry bags are a must if you want a set of dry clothes etc. Take more than 1, they are handy!
Toiletries: Biodegradable soap, available in the outdoor stores, and mosquito repellent with at least 40% DEET.
Medicine kit: take a good medicine/first aid kit.
Mosquito net (and some rope to fix it): in some of the villages they will have one, but better to bring your own if you want to be mosquito free.
Leech socks: don’t count on finding them in Malaysia, so buy them on the internet. If you can’t: a good alternative is to bring stockings and long socks: put them both over your trousers and spray them with mosquito repellent. But you’ll never have a 100% guarantee on a leech free trip, even with official leech socks. And remember: leeches are less scarry then most travellers tell you!
Clothes: bring a pair of synthetic hikingtrousers: light and easy to dry. Long sleeves shirts for the night and maybe a light rainjacket.
Shoes: Whatever outdoor professionals back home may tell you: don’t bother buying expensive jungle or hiking shoes! In Miri/Kuching/KK you can buy ‘kampung shoes’ (see picture) in localstores. Don’t look in the big shopping centres but in the local street stores. They’ll cost about 10 ringgit (2,5 euro/dollar!) and are great for the slippery roads and walking through rivers. Tip: put the soles of your normal shoes in your Kampung shoes for a little more comfort.
Backpack: bring a good size easy to wear backpack. There will be porters but they will mostly carry the food (depending on where you go and how many porters you book. For example 2 porters and 1 guide for 3 persons). You might consider leaving most of your unessential stuff in a hostel.
Count on carrying your own luggage and maybe water, so pack light. If you don’t want to carry anything, book enough porters and don’t bring a backpack because the porters will bring their own backpack. You can pack your food in a box, that makes it easy to redistribute to the porters.
Food: Bring some bar‐snacks (muesli bars/nut bars/etc.) if you like to eat something else than rice and vegetables. For example 1 to 2 per day, including your guide/porters. You can also buy them in Borneo of course. Don’t leave litter in the jungle!
Organise in Borneo (kuching/kk/miri)
Shoes: as said above buy your kampong shoes in Borneo.
Food: Of course the jungle has some lovely veggies available. But: there is no guarantee on food during your trip if you don’t bring anything. So, pre trip shopping is important. Count on 3 meals a day in the villages on a resting day and 2 meals while trekking. Every meal consists of rice, 1‐2 types of veggies and, only when available, some meat/frog/fish.
Some more tips:
Rice: 150 grams per person per meal (al little more than the 125 grams pp at home, since you will eat less often and certainly more). You can also bring noodles.
Veggies: eggplant, spinach, cucumber, tomato, other green veggies. Bring veggies that can last for a while in a humid surrounding.
For example: 1 meal, 6 persons: 3 egg plants + 1 big bok choy.
Also bring: garlic, oil, salt, sugar,instant coffee/tea/milo
As well: lighter, cup, plate and spoon, knife.
Drinking: during your trekking and in the villages water will always be boiled for the quests and is also provided to refill the bottles you want to carry. The water is fine for drinking. Just take enough bottles with you and reuse them. When trekking you will have to bring enough water for the whole day, because you can only fill up in the morning.