Thursday, May 30, 2013

Welcome to adventure world of Malaysia

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Rivers have long been the life blood of the indigenous people of Malaysia. They have served as a means of transport, a source of food and now, a resource for eco-tourism. The native groups of Sabah have been using rafts for centuries but white water rafting has only been a recreational activity since the 1980s.

The two main rivers for rafting in Sabah are the Padas and Kiulu rivers which are certified as Grade 3 and Grade 2 respectively in the international white water rafting grading system.

River Safaris and Cruises in Malaysia
River safaris and cruises are becoming increasingly popular among visitors to Malaysia. Well organised and with expert guides, they provide an interesting, exciting way to explore the country's interior. River safaris and cruises are available in Melaka, Kuala Berang in Terengganu and Taman Negara and Lake Chini in Pahang and Sarawak, also offer scenic river safaris and cruises.

Cave Exploring in Malaysia
 There is a great network of caves in Malaysia for carving enthusiasts. it has been found that most caves date back to the Stone Age and some caves in Sarawak are 60 million years old. The majority of caves are limestone and are above ground level. These include Gua Kolam in Perlis, Gua Tempurung and Kundu in Perak, Batu Caves in Selangor and Gua ikan in Kuala Krai, Kelantan. The appearances of caves can change within months as the humid Malaysian weather affects stalagmite and stalactite formation.

Adventure caves like Drunken Forest Cave and Loagan's Cave remain close to their natural state. Show caves such as Deer Lang and Clear Water Caves in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, are those which have been opened up for public viewing with guides, lights and walkways.

Mountain Climbing and Abseiling in Malaysia
Mountain climbing is a wonderful way to discover the diversity and uniqueness of  Malaysia's natural landscape ranging from the dense tropical rainforest in the lowlands to the montane vegetation in the highlands, From easy walks in the cool comfort of the Main Range of Peninsular Malaysia to the more challenging mountains of Sabah and Sarawak, there are mountains to tempt every class of climber. Abseiling is also offered in certain locations. Beginners can start with the well marked trials in Gunung Jerai in Kedah, Gunung Korbu'in Perak and Gunung Tangsi in Negeri Sembilan. For those wanting bigger challenges through rainforest, rivers and mountain ridges, there is Gunung Gagau in Taman Negara and Gunung Tahan, the highest point in Peninsular Malaysia. Then there is Gunung Kinabalu in Sabah, one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia at 4093metres.

Gopeng, Perak, a small town about 90 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, has many pre-war shop houses. This quiet and unassuming place is the gateway to some of the most adventurous outdoor activities in Peninsular Malaysia.
The most popular adrenaline pumping fun is whitewater river rafting on the Kampar River. The scenic waterway is created by the merging of three rivers, Geruntum River, Geroh River and Pacat River in Perak. Rated as a Grade I to III river, it offers a great combination of water ranging from gentle flows to challenging and technical whitewater. It is also perfect for beginners.
From Gopeng town, it takes about 15 minutes to reach the starting point located at Kg. Ulu Geruntum. The journey itself is a memorable experience as visitors will pass by some of the most picturesque places in Gopeng with a whole spectrum of landscapes. During the fruit season, you will be looking with envy at the fruit orchards flanking both sides of the narrow, winding road. You can also enjoy the beauty and the tranquillity of the quaint traditional villages along the way. A 100-year-old water pipe stretches from the nearby mountains through the major settlements to the old mining area and the villagers are still using the water supply from it.
Upon reaching the Gopeng Nature Resort, a stone’s throw away from the starting point of the whitewater river rafting, you are given a liability form to sign before you can proceed further. Your river guide will brief you about paddling commands, safety measures and the do’s and don’t’s of white water rafting. Then, armed with a life jacket, helmet and paddle, you are all set to face the raging river
The number of passengers per raft depends on river conditions and other factors but generally it ranges from two to six people.
It helps to have a skillful and friendly whitewater river rafting guide as he will calm you down with his jokes and fascinate you with local anecdotes. In my case, a Riverbug guide, Max, who sat at the back of the raft, helped us to avoid rocks, kept us on the right path, cracked jokes and made sure we had a great time. Riverbug is a whitewater river rafting specialist operating in Sabah and Perak. Besides the guide, a safety kayaker cum photographer will follow rafters throughout the journey to ensure their safety and capture images of their ride.
One of the most important things a rafter has to do before continuing his or her journey down the breathtaking twists, turns and drops of the white water course is the water confidence activity. Depending on the level of the water, there is a possibility of you being thrown out of the raft. The water confidence activity helps you prepare for the worst. It requires you to do body rafting along a short stretch. Your guide will steer you into the current and then he will let you go. If your water confidence is low, the three-minute body rafting will feel like ages and you will end up swallowing a lot of water. This is definitely not an activity for the self-conscious. However, the most important thing is to have faith in your guide and not panic.
After your water confidence has been tested, it is time for you to try your first rapid. Whitewater river rafting is an exhilarating activity that provides you with the ultimate adrenaline rush. Cascading down the rapids is only part of the fun. The whole journey is not one huge “liquid chaos” as it provides scenic and relaxing experiences. There are also flat sections in the river for you to take a breather after conquering tough rapids.
Kampar River has been a popular spot for whitewater river rafting since 2003. A trip on this river is a two-hour, adrenaline-fuelled journey along a seven or nine kilometres stretch depending on the water level. There are 10 prominent rapids along the stretch and every rapid has a tale to tell.
The first rapid was named Broken Ledge to reflect the concrete ruins of a dam at the river that was once built for the tin mining industry in the Gopeng area.
One of the toughest rapids in the river is called Easy Drop as rafters including the river guide have the tendency to be thrown overboard. Basically, the rapid has two drops of approximately three meters high. Upon reaching this rapid, the river guide will shout the word “Boom! Boom!” to indicate that everyone has to sit in the center of the raft to avoid falling into the river. It is very exhilarating as your raft is thrown through the rapid and you are left to the mercy of the powerful water.
Rajah Corner is the longest rapid in Kampar River. It is aptly named after the big colony of Rajah Brooke butterflies swarming over the rocks along the area, especially in the morning.
Whenever a raft passes through the Hyside rapid, it has to be in a 30 degree angle so that it can get through the rapid without capsizing. Everyone must move to the “high” side of the raft so that the raft will be in a slightly tilted position.
Slide rapid is a little tricky and slightly technical as it requires the raft to go through most of the right side before sliding to the middle. A raft can easily get stuck in this rapid, especially when the water level is low. If it happens, rafters must shift to the front or the back of the raft depending on the situation and in the meantime, the whitewater river rafting guide will push the raft back into the main current. It requires skillful maneuvering because of frequent obstructions.
One rapid called Paddle Breaker marks the site where a guide had his paddle broken in half while going down it. Snake rapid got its name simply because the curve of the river looks like a snake. Your raft will go through a zigzag pattern to clear out of this rapid.
Enders Rapid refers to a skillful trick river kayakers love to do at this rapid. The play maneuver involves nosing the boat’s bow down and deep and the stern up resulting in the kayak popping vertically upward.
Seeing a flock of chickens running around the area during their first recce, the guides decided to name one rapid Chicken Run. Another is called Eddy Point, the white water terminology for an area where two currents from the opposite direction met to create a circular or spiral motion in the water.
All these rapids offer different kinds of thrills to rafters. You can never run a river the same way twice as the variety caused by the changes of the water flows makes each trip unique.
During the journey, you will find yourself resting between rapids, relaxing and listening to your guide talking about the river. There are several rest stops at some areas of interest.
The whitewater river rafting journey ends at Kampung Jahang where you will be transported back to the Gopeng Nature Resort for a quick shower and a change of clothes. Your guide will then take you to a nearby restaurant for a hearty meal after all the hard work and excitement.
No one ever walks away from whitewater river rafting experience in Kampar River untouched. You will either get addicted to this extreme activity or fall in love with the sheer beauty of the river area or both. Either way, you will want to return to this unique place again and again.
If whitewater river rafting is not challenging enough for you, there are other extreme activities that you can try such as water abseiling from the top of a three-storey high waterfall, advanced-level kayaking, mountain biking, jungle trekking and caving.
HOW TO PADDLE A RIVER RAFTPaddling a river raft may not look hard as it looks since you might have seen numerous people do it in real life or in television. However, this type of activity can also be pretty challenging especially if you are used to doing things by yourself. Paddling involves both skill and the ability to work with others as a team. We will discuss more of it as we go along with this article.
But first, let us show you how to paddle your raft correctly. Below are some tips on how to do it:
  1. Paddlers should be spread evenly on both sides of the raft.
  2. The paddlers’ inside hand (the hand which is on the side of the boat) is the one that grips the top of the paddle. The outside hand (the one that’s on the side of the river) holds the stem of the paddle.
  3. To move the raft forward, the paddlers make a digging motion. This is done by making left hand pull the stem of the paddle towards the aft or the rear end of the raft. The right hand at the same time pushes the top end of the paddle away from him or her. The opposite is done when making the raft move backward.
  4. To move to the right, paddlers on the right paddle backwards while those on the left do the forward paddle. The opposite is done when moving the raft to left.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yes, but paddling is a team effort and that’s where things get a bit tricky. To make sure that things coordinated and that the paddlers of each side of the raft are paddling at their proper directions, the team chooses a leader to guide the rest of the team. He or she is usually the most experienced rafter of the group. It is each paddler’s duty to listen to the leader’s instructions.
Now that you have a better idea of how paddling a river raft is done, it’s time to practice it in a real world setting. Bring your friends along to ensure a fun Rafting experience. But don’t forget to include someone who’s experienced enough to be your leader! Have a great time and stay safe!
RAFTING SAFETY TIPSWhitewater rafting continues to grow in popularity. Like so many outdoor activities, people tend to forget that whitewater rafting necessarily entails an element of risk due to the elements of nature. In fact, some might point out that because of the inherent thrill seeking element of whitewater rafting, the sport includes a greater-than-average risk factor.
Whitewater rafting outfitters all over the world have their own unique risks in the trips that they provide. These can range from the easily treatable (someone catches sick on a trip) to the incredibly and exotically dangerous (a rogue hippo attacking rafters on the Zambezi in Zimbabwe). There are several dangers that are involved in all whitewater expeditions, however, no matter how short or how long, or where you are in the world. Here are some tips when it comes to making sure that your expedition is as successful and safe as possible.
Prepare Beforehand:
If you have never been on whitewater rafting trip before, don’t try to shoot the moon on your first trip out. Having a rafter who is unfamiliar with the water is a guide’s worst nightmare, so make sure that if you are going on an advanced run that you are secure in your swimming ability. You should also be honest with yourself and the outfitter you are going with when it comes to your physical ability; not all people can expect to be able to run Class V rapids all day, due to lower physical health.
Listen to Your Guide!
Guides that work for whitewater rafting outfitters are experienced and educated outdoors enthusiasts who know exactly what they are doing and what to expect on the rivers they run. Despite this fact, many people still presume that they know better than their guide what to do out on the river. Don’t make this mistake. Consider that most guides have specialty training that the average person, even the average outdoors enthusiast, will not have the chance to obtain. Guides who run the Colorado River for River Runners in the Colorado, for example, are required to take Swiftwater Rescue training when they take rafters down Class IV or higher sections of rapids.
Betty, of W.E.T. River Trips in California, mentions that guides are also able to help rafters avoid stress injury by offering paddling techniques. “Men and women guides often have different styles of paddling”, so be sure to use the one that is appropriate to your strengths!
Select Age-Appropriate Trips:
Most whitewater rafting trips are available to people of all ages, but both parents of young children and senior citizens should choose the type of rapids they tackle according to realistic criteria. Eileen Datka of River Runners, an outfitter based in Colorado, points out that their trips are limited to people four years old or forty pounds. Kids in this group are restricted to the Class III rapids, and most parents will probably agree that this is more than sufficient for a thrill.
Duke Bradford, of Arkansas Valley Adventures (also in Colorado) notes that his company offers several trips for children as young as two, as long as they are accompanied by their parents. Several outfitters agree with this perspective and offer float trips along easy Class I and II rapids that even young families can enjoy.
Outfitters also note that even older kids might not be suited to all runs. For example, both River Runners and W.E.T. River Trips in California state that during high water, the minimum age on Class IV rapids should be 16 years. Betty of W.E.T. takes the age limit one step further, encouraging those under the age of 18 to defer from going on trips that involve a lot of Class V water.
Safety comes first in any outdoor recreational activity, and whitewater adventures are certainly no exception. To make sure that you have the most enjoyable excursion possible, follow the steps above and contact the outfitter you are going to use before hand to see if they have any additional advice.

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