Jungle Trekking as a vegetarian/vegan in Taman Negara

You have probably already read Joel’s post about our trekking adventure in Kuala Tahan (if not, do it. DO IT NOW). I enjoyed our trip very much but felt a little bit ill-prepared when it comes to food and thought, I could provide others with some information who want to go on a one- or two-night trek and prefer a plant-based diet or have any other dietary restrictions.

We only did the two-days-one-night trekking tour. Of course, you will also eat there and your guide will prepare your food but don’t worry, you will get a chance to help. Before leaving Kuala Tahan, we spoke to the organizers of the trip to inform them that one of us is vegetarian and the other one gluten intolerant.

My food package contained:
– eggs and rice
– some vegetables for a vegetable soup
– cookies
– instant noodles
– bread
– baked beans in tomato sauce
– one orange
– instant coffee (3 in 1) and Milo (instant cocoa)

Joel’s food package contained:
– canned chicken curry and rice
– instant rice porridge with shrimp flavour
– some vegetables for a vegetable soup
– eggs
– an orange
– cookies (which I snatched because they contain wheat flour)
– instant coffee (3 in 1) and Milo (instant cocoa)

During your hike through the jungle you will sweat, sweat some more and then continue to sweat. Some people sweat so much, they get soaked and can wring out their T-shirts. In short, you will get hungry and your body will crave some salts and sugars. We brought two packages of rehydration salts that can be resolved in water. That helped a lot, I think. I ate my way through half of the first package of cookies and Joel had one of his gluten-free muesli bars that we bought in KL (luckily). When we arrived at the cave, we helped our guide to set up camp and prepare dinner. We had vegetable soup (with an egg in it for creaminess), rice and the others ate chicken curry. Maybe I should have asked for the baked beans but I was too tired and the food was still quite good in my opinion. For breakfast, we had fried rice with eggs and vegetables and some toast. Everyone had tea, coffee or hot chocolate before we continued. For lunch, we had a noodle soup containing the instant noodles that we had brought with us, eggs for creaminess and the rest of the vegetables. Joel had to eat rice porridge with shrimp flavour which he did not enjoy. Luckily, he had an orange left and a muesli bar. I think I gave my orange to him as well to compensate for the cookies, a totally fair deal in my eyes.

In conclusion: I think the food was alright considering that we only stayed in the jungle for one night. If I had been a vegan, it would have been harder. I would have had to buy some more cans of baked beans and actually eat those a couple of times. The vegetable soup can be prepared without the egg and for breakfast, baked beans or fried rice with veg is a good option. Considering that we must have had a package of instant oats, I wonder why we didn’t bring those for Joel or maybe we had run out, I don’t remember. If we return to Kuala Tahan and do the trekking again or if we do a similar one somewhere else, we will definitely buy some things in advance such as oats, fruits (apples or not-so-ripe bananas) and gluten-free salty/sugary snacks. Those snacks are important during breaks when you need to refill on sugars and salts. And to be honest, it’s more fun to snack on cookies and chips than drinking fluid replacements with funky flavours, as we did.

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