Monday, May 26, 2008

Off-Roading in Selai

A few years back my husband and I, together with a few friends from an SUV car club were very into the off-roading experience.

Unfortunately Singapore being a small island with a city infra-structure set-up does not have much spots where off-roading enthusiats could indulge in such sport. So the nearest place for us would be to hop across the border into Malaysia. The southern tip of Malaysia which is the state of Johor has many natural forested areas such as Endau Rompin.

Endau Rompin is located on the Johor-Pahang border - this 2½-century-old extensive lowland forest is home to several rare and endangered species. This park is popular with conservationists and nature lovers who enjoy the wildlife and virgin environment.

Endau-Rompin National Park is made up of a lush, pristine tropical rainforest. Covering an area of 48,905 hectares (800 sq. km), it is the second largest national park in West Malaysia after Taman Negara. With rock formations dating back some 248 million years, Endau-Rompin is mostly hilly with some prominent sandstone plateau.

Our very first trip was to Selai which is located at the western gateway to Johor's famed Endau-Rompin National Park. It is still a pristine lowland tropical rainforest. It actually encompassed two-thirds of the Park's - 48,500 ha area of 260 million years old rainforest in the world!

Selai lies in the core area of Endau-Rompin National Park, at the foothills of Gunung Tiong (1024 m high). The vegetation here is untouched by man preserved virgin and pristine for centuries.

Hiking across Selai entails scenic river crossings via rope bridges and hopping along the boulders that dot the Selai River. No matter how long you trek, the exhilarating sound of water rushing over rocks is never far away. There are no less than 20 waterfalls around the park and the most spectacular is Takah Tujuh or Takah Tinggi that spreads over an elevation of seven tiers. It has such an atmospheric quality that the Orang Asli (local aborigines) says spirits dwell in its upper reaches. Hornbills flying across the river during the fruiting season can be vocal and a breathtaking sight.

The terrain here is rugged, the facilities minimal and basic making the whole experience as authentic as it can get.

The biggest waterfall along Selai River is perhaps Takah Tinggi. This waterfall is estimated to be 100m high and the huge volume of water thunders down the two cascades of the waterfall. Another very beautiful waterfall that can be visited is Takah Pandan. This waterfall is smaller than Takah Tinggi but is almost just as high.

Although there are not many biting insects in the national park, there are a lot of leeches. The rain during the monsoon season can be very heavy and flooding may occur. Luckily we didn't visit during the monsoon season. However during our trek into the jungle to discover the waterfall, we were drenched by sudden rain storms and it made the trek extremely muddy and slippery. We also encoutered lechers and a few of the guys were bitten.

Because of the rains, the trek to the waterfall took us almost 2 hours geting there and another 2 hours on our return journey. At one point I slipped whilst manouvering through some rocks across a small waterfall and my husband had to jump in to save me from going down stream. That "save" was an expensive one because it damaged his PDA which was kept at his back pocket

We managed to get some video clips of our trip.

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