For city folks who have never camped in the jungle before, the experience can be quite beautiful once they learn to appreciate nature’s music
by AZALEA AZUAR
SITTING at the desk, be it in an office or a classroom, and staring at the computer screen 24/7 can be detrimental to one’s health.
This is why we are granted off days, semester breaks and annual leaves, so we can let our mind, body and soul take a breather.
Most people would opt for a getaway at popular tourist destinations. For local trips, these would be in Melaka, Penang or Ipoh where they would wake up in a nice hotel room before joining the small-town locals at famous food stalls and night markets.
But why not escape the hustle and bustle altogether? Get away from the noisy streets and polluted air — go camping!
For city folks who have never camped in the jungle before, spending the night with winged creepy crawlies may be daunting at first but once they learn to appreciate nature’s music with the singing insects, the flowing river and the crackles of the burning wood fire, the experience can be quite beautiful.
First-timers who find sleeping on the ground, separated only by a sleeping bag, undesirable, could still give camping a try at Riverside Camp in Gopeng, Perak. It is a great place to introduce newbies to the great outdoors.
Riverside Camp was developed in 2015 by Radak Adventures, a service which provides outdoor adventures like rapid water rafting.
Well-managed Facilities, Clean Compound
The campsite provides many facilities to keep guests comfortable, including a canteen, toilets and showers, prayer rooms, a dining hall, a common area, a volleyball court and barbeque pits.
These facilities are well-maintained and clean.
You may complain about the sand and dirt on your feet, but you would appreciate the cleanliness of the compound.
Camping is about appreciating nature, so Riverside Camp has kept its status as an environmentally friendly campsite by having its facilities built with recycled materials, woods and stones.
For example, the wooden pallets used to build the facilities were collected from dumpsites. As the Radak Adventure team wants campers to experience an unspoiled natural environment, development at the campsite is kept to a minimum.
To appeal to the young, the campsite has a very lively and youthful layout.
The deco consists of witty signboards which are painted in vibrant colours. One reads: “Men to the left, because Women are always right.”
Although the campsite can only accommodate up to 250 people, it feels very spacious.
Riverside Camp is located next to the Geroh River, which is connected to the Kampar River, a popular site for water sports activities in Perak.
The river at the campsite is not only a nice place to swim but also comfortable to wade in as the riverbed consists of soft sand.
In fact, one part of the river is called the “natural jacuzzi” as it naturally produces a lot of bubbles.
In the mornings, campers would see a group of kayakers paddling through the river’s shallow water.
Different Packages, Different Needs
For first-time campers, the Full Board Camping package is suitable for them.
For RM98 per head, the package includes a sleeping bag, camping mattress, three meals and a tent.
Campers who just want to relax all-day long and could not be bothered about preparing their own meals, perhaps the Food Only package might be of interest to them.
The package costs only RM60 per person, which includes all three meals.
Radak Adventure food and beverage leader Siti Norhaslinda Mohd Noor said campers who opt for the Full Boarding and Food Only packages can choose between two menus sent by the administrator before their camping dates via email.
For campers who prefer to cook their own meals, the Equipment Only package costs RM38 where they have access to camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and mattresses.
Experienced campers who are already wellequipped would often go for the Camping Site package which only costs RM20 per person.
Just tell anyone that you are spending the weekend at Gopeng and they would know that you are in for some great adventures.
Thanks to its amazing limestone caves and rivers, the district has become a popular tourist destination for outdoor activities.
Radak Adventures will line up various activities so that campers will not be staying inside their tents the whole day.
The campsite’s water sports activities are carried out in the Kampar River, which merges with three other rivers namely the Geroh River, Pacat River and Geruntum River.
Riverside Camp’s most popular activity is white-water rafting. The campsite has received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor, where it was mostly praised for having helpful and friendly guides, and Radak Adventure’s whitewater rafting experience.
Before participating in this activity, one must be tested for their water confidence. This is to ensure that participants are prepared for the worst, as they could be thrown into the water depending on how deep it is. The guide’s deliberate capsize is part of the experience, but only upon request by gutsy clients.
The difficulty levels of Kampar River are graded from Class I: Easy to Class III: Intermediate, which are suitable for first-timers who want to test their mettle.
Each rapid has been given a name from its unique backstories.
The first one, Broken Ledge was given its name due to the ruins from a dam which was meant to serve the purpose of tin mining in Gopeng.
The longest rapid is Rajah Corner, where rafters might be able to see a large colony of Rajah Brooke’s birdwing butterflies fluttering over the rocks.
With a wingspan reaching 17cm and bright green and red markings over a black body, these magnificent butterflies can only be found in the forest near rivers, mostly in the morning.
Then, there is the Hyside rapid, where in order to go through it without capsizing, participants would need to hop onto the higher side of the raft so that it would be in a slightly tilted position.
Easy Drop was only named as such to fool new rafters, as it is in fact the scariest part of the activity. Known as the toughest rapid in Kampar River, it has two drops of about three metres high and even the guides themselves have a tendency to be thrown overboard!
But fret not. If you follow the guide’s instructions, you might be able to avoid falling into the river and even if you do, you are equipped with safety vests and helmets, and the guide is always nearby.
Upon reaching this rapid, everyone needs to huddle in the centre of the raft while holding tight to the safety rope when the guide shouts “Boom! Boom!” to prevent from being thrown into the river.
A trickier rapid would be the Slide Rapid as the raft can easily get stuck here, between rocks, especially when the water level is low.
The participants need to manoeuvre the raft to the right side of the river most of the time before sliding it back into the middle.
The Paddle Breaker received its name after one of the guides broke his paddle into half while going down the rapid.
Participants would have to brace the zig-zag pattern to go through the Snake Rapid, hence its name.
Then, there is the Chicken Run rapid which was named to pay homage to a flock of chickens the guides saw running around when they first recced the area.
There is an area in the Kampar River which has an Eddy Point which means that there are two currents coming from opposite directions.
When they meet, these currents create a sort of circular motion causing the raft to jolt upwards. Of course, not the whole experience of whitewater rafting in Kampar River is as crazy as it sounds, as there are moments when rafters can enjoy the natural scenic view of the forest while paddling slowly along the river.
The cost for the white-water rafting varies according to the river difficulty.
For those who want to have an enjoyable family time, they would be keen to partake the Class I level, where it would cost RM100 per person for a minimum of five participants.
On the other hand, daredevils who are in for the thrill and want to brace the waters would be taken to areas with Class II to Class III difficulty levels, where it would cost RM150 per person with a minimum of three participants.
An additional RM15 would be charged for rafters who want to apply for insurance.
The Kinta Valley in Perak is home to some fascinating caves such as the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple outside Ipoh and the Kanthan Cave in Chemor.
What makes Gopeng so special is that it is also the home of the longest cave in Peninsular Malaysia, which is the Tempurung Cave.
Stretching about 1.9km long, this limestone show cave is popular among spelunkers and curious travellers.
This cave was formed more than 400 million years ago, and is located in the centre of Mount Tempurung.
Tempurung Cave has been opened to tourists since 1997 due to its remarkable chambers and amazing speleothems.
There are stairways and lightings installed for the convenience of visitors. However, visitors are recommended to bring their own headlamps.
With a minimum group size of three people, Radak Adventure’s Gua Tempurung tour takes up to three hours.
The price of this activity is RM75 per person for locals and RM95 per foreign visitor.