Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jungle Jaunts in Johor

Endua Rompin

Up for some serious outdoor fun? Head to the stunning 248 million year old Endau Rompin National Park. Spreading out on either side of the Pahang and Johor state border, this mational reserve is a thriving tropical rainforest that cuts across a vast expanse of low and highlands offering spell binding sceneries, inspiring adventures and the discovery of a fascinating world of flora and fauna.

A winding path from the Rompin access takes visitors to lush tropical jungles. In the interest of protecting the environment, only limited areas of the park are open for ecotourism, permits for which can be obtained from the Johor National Park Corporation. It is one of the very few remaining large tracks of lowland tropical rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia with a core area of undisturbed natural vegetation which has existed for millions of years.

For those who cannot live without modern must-haves, there are furnished chalets, piped water and a cafeteria at the main Visitor’s complex in Peta to ensure a comfortable stay. But why confine yourself to a room when you can re-discover the exhilaration of kayaking down a roiling river, wade through pristine streams or even just sit back to close your eyes and enjoy a quiet communion with nature?

Spend a night at the Endau Rompin Johor National Park, and you will understand why explorers and naturalists alike have been lured here since the 19th century to uncover the secrets of this mist-shrouded jewel. Spend two nights, and you will be hooked forever.

Various facilities at the park cater to the varied interests of visitors. Highlights are Kuala Jasin – the meeting point of two rivers, Sungai Endau and Sungai Jasin, Kuala Marong, Tasik Air Biru, Upeh Guling Waterfall – the natural bath-tub of Endau Rompin, and Buaya Sangkut Waterfall, a beautiful 120 metre high waterfall churning out a million gallons of water per minute.

Wake up in the morning to be greeted by the timeless sounds of the forest – the hoot of the gibbons, the love call of the hornbills and the chorus of cicadas. As darkness falls, the mood becomes languid and mysterious and natures symphony takes on a whole new tune.

Getting there:
The park’s remote location makes getting there a wee bit tedious; if you have set your mind however, no trip is too difficult! Departing from Kuala Lumpur, you can use the North-South Highway to get to Kluang, and then take a detour to Kahang town. From there, a four-wheel drive vehicle will take you on a 56km jungle track to Kampung Peta, which is the point of entry to the National Park.

Legendary Ledang

Gunung Ledang, also called Mt. Ophir is probably Peninsula Malaysia’s best known mountain, not just as a camping destination and a hill resort, but more for the mysteries that surround it. Legends have it that Gunung Ledang is the abode of the mythical mountain princess, Puteri Gunung Ledang who captivated the heart of the 15th century Sultan of Malaka.

Not wanting to marry him, she demanded that the Sultan present her with a golden bridge from Gunung Ledang to the Sultan’s palace, a silver bridge for her to go back to the mountain, seven jars of virgin’s tears for her bath, seven trays of germs’ hearts, seven bowls of young betel nut juice and seven bowls of Sultan’s son’s blood. When the Sultan was unable to meet these impossible requests, she fled to the mountain, where it is said continues to live in a hidden cave.

The mountain still holds awe-inspiring experiences for many a visitor. Aside from the legends and folklore, it has a natural beauty with a fair share of challenging mountain trails, waterfall cascades, diverse bird life, flora and fauna. The mountain’s plateau-like summit peaks at 1,276 metres above seas level and offers a panoramic view of the straits of Melaka and Sumatra coastline on a clear day. It is ideally suited for picnickers, nature lovers, bird watchers, rock climbers and jungle trekkers. Straddling the Johor and Melaka border, Gunung Ledang can be accessed via either Melaka or Johor through the entry points at Sagiol, Asahan and Tangkak. It can be climbed in a weekend and thus, is ideal for weekend campers.  However, do be aware that although the route to the peak is short, it is steep and strenuous for those who are less fit.

Family outings and picnics can be carried out at the Sagil Waterfall at the foothill of the mountain while those wanting to stay overnight will find cosy chalets the Gunung Ledang Resort situated nearby. The only resort here, it also provides a comprehensive activity centre that offers rock climbing, mountain biking, obstacles course, night trekking and team building programmes.

Getting there:
Gunung Ledang is accessible by road via the North-South Expressway. The turn-off point comes 25kms after Ayer Keroh. Head towards Tangkak along the pastoral Route 23 for another 6kms past Sagil town, before turning left into a road in a rubber plantation and proceed another 1km. From here, the route to the foot of Gunung Ledang or Mount Ophir should be visible. Bus and taxi services are also available from Tangkak.

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