Belum playground for thrill-seekers

The Emkay Jetty.
PHOTO: Photo: The Star/ANN

It took me some time to muster the courage to jump from a platform perched high up on a tree to reach for a bottle tied more than an arm's length away.

Despite being slightly afraid of height, I put my trust entirely in the experienced trainer who was encouraging me from the foot of the tree.

I took the leap of faith, literally, and felt good about it after completing the task.

It was part of the obstacle course that I went through during a two-day, one-night trip to Belum Adventure Camp (BAC).

The HRC, which also includes wall climbing, Burma Bridge, multi-vine crossing, are fun activities for thrill seekers.

An effortless demonstration of the entire course by training consultant Mohd Zainal Arshed made it look so easy, but the 42-year-old trainer said he still had the jitters doing some of the challenges.

"Sometimes I find them challenging, but it would be a great experience for visitors to complete the whole course.

"We started building HRC in February and it took us two months to lay it out.

"More attractions will be added in the future but we will also take into consideration the impact of such development so that the forest will be preserved," he said.

If HRC was not extreme enough, zip-lining across the water might be more adventurous for some.

Participants started off by tracking through sloppy terrain of the forest to the flying fox platform before zip-lining across the water.

The fairly short distance was good enough to excite first-timers to go for a second try.

We were also given a water confidence test before going for bamboo rafting at the vast lake.

BAC has several huts and a dormitory, kitchen, meeting and dining halls and toilets that can accommodate 30 adults.

We also had a chance to go on a forest trail at Sungai Enam, which took us about 30 to 45 minutes of ferry ride from BAC, and hike up to a base camp that was once used as a recreational area for visitors.

There are fresh elephant tracks and we managed to stumble upon some Merbau and Meranti trees, different types of fungi and flora with medical qualities such as Tapak Hantu and Kacip Fatimah.

Insects such as the lantern bug and pill millipedes were also found on the trees and forest floor.

Pulau Banding Foundation technical advisor Dr K. Daniel Baskaran who led the team during the hike, said the base camp was now transforming into a green refuge for visitors and researchers who spend countless hours in the forest.

"We found it hard to maintain the place as it is very far from the jetty, so it is used for other purposes," he said, adding that Sungai Enam is a pristine area and the BAC is trying to focus more on eco-tourism.

"We started off with promoting eco-awareness among the public.

"Now, forest conservation still remains a core quality we try to instil in the public by engaging them to the nature more closely," he said.

Located on Pulau Banding along the East-West Highway from Grik, Perak to Jeli, Kelantan, BAC became a platform to educate participants about nature and how to appreciate it.

The man-made 243ha island managed by the Emkay Group is the gateway to the Belum-Temenggor Tropical Rainforest.

It is located on the regal Temenggor Lake, the largest man-made lake in Perak. Covering an area of 15,200ha, it is also home to 23 species of freshwater fish and five species of turtles.

Meanwhile, Belum houses over 3,000 species of flowering plants, 62 species of moss and 64 species of ferns.

After a five-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur Central to Emkay Jetty, we headed to BAC by motorboats.

Rustic scenery and lush greenery greeted us from both sides of the boats as we made our way to BAC.

Outdoor junkies will definitely feel at home in the calm and inviting surrounding.

Forest conservation remains the key to maintaining the forest's wide biodiversity.

We were taken to the Pulau Banding Rainforest Research Centre where past researches, several preserved animals and items made of wood and rattan were exhibited at the area.

The centre sometimes houses researchers who conducted research on the Kelah fish and Mayfly. Rainwalker EcoSystems Sdn Bhd Environment and Expedition Services chief executive officer Chandra Arumugam said about RM1mil is invested in BAC to upgrade the place.

"This is a sensitive ecology area. We want to develop this camp for people to bond with nature via eco-tourism with the least of impact to the environment.

"If not, hotels will come in and this place will develop into something we do not like," he said.

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