The best time to raft is after rains when the water level has risen and there are some good rapids. However, the dry season is a good time for rafting novices to get acquainted with the sport without having to fight the currents.
WHITE WATER RAFTING SITES
Sabah has two main rivers for rafting, the Padas and Kiulu rivers which are certified as Grade 3 and Grade 2 respectively in the international white water rafting grading system. Under normal weather conditions the two rivers are relatively constant in depth and speed. How ever, heavy rains can cause them to swell into Grade 4 rivers. During this time, rafting activities may be called off temporarily. Peninsula Malaysia has its share of good rafting sites.
These include the Grade 2 Sungai Sungkai in Perak and the Grade 3 Sungai Selangor in Kuala Kubu Baru, which has its source in Fraser’s Hill. Sungai Endau, Jeram Besu and Sungai Lipis in Pahang and Sungai Tembeling in Taman Negara are also popular rafting sites. As it is now popular adventure sport, there are rafting operators for all the popular sites, providing the necessary equipment. In Sabah, rafting operators will arrange transport from Kota Kinabalu to Padas Gorge through which the Padas River flows.
A novelty is to go by railway from Pangi Railway Station, where an antique train will take you on a scenic journey through the Padas Gorge. Then comes the thrill of riding rapids with names like the Head-hunter, Adrenaline Flow and Merry-Go-Round. Kiulu River is closer to Kota Kinabalu but is less gut-wrenching. Successful rafters at Padas will be presented with a certificate of accomplishment upon finishing their adventures. Peninsular Malaysia’s rafting sites are easily accessible by car or bus. The Selangor River is reached via Kuala Kubu Bharu town, about 90km from Kuala Lumpur.
A single rafting trip on the Selangor River will take approximately half a day. The Telom River in Cameron Highlands and the Tembeling River in Taman Negara, Pahang are approximately four hours from Kuala Lumpur. More time is needed to raft the Grade 5 Telom River in Pahang as it is a much more challenging site. Changing rooms, toilets, showers or camp sites are available in or near most rafting sites. Some operators also offer kayaking courses and a white water rescue module.
The best time to raft is after rains when the water level has risen and there are some good rapids. However, the dry season is a good time for rafting novices to get acquainted with the sport without having to fight the currents. Smaller raft may be used in the dry season. In Sabah, only the Padas River is recommended during dry months as the water level is too low for rafting on the Kiulu River. The rafting expeditions usually take between 45 minutes to two hours depending on the water level. Operators will ensure that each group is always accompanied by two professional, certified rafters. A minimum of three persons is needed to stabilize a raft.
PRACTICAL RAFTING TIPS
All rafters will be given a safety briefing before the ride and will be shown paddle-handling, basic backward and forward paddling techniques and other safety precautions. Paddles, life jackets, safety helmets, life-lines, first aid kits and rescue bags are provided by the operator. The rafter only needs comfortable clothing which does not hinder movement. Always check that the helmets and life jackets provided fit you well and are not too tight or too loose. If you have over-turned close to the river bank, don’t use your raft paddle, as you may hit someone else. Never attempt to use the paddle as a lever against rocks as you risk getting hit by it.
- Bring a change clothes. A warm-up jacket is also a good idea.
- Wear secure, well-fitting shoes or diving booties.
- Jewellery which cannot be secured firmly should not be worn while rafting.
- Those wearing glasses should use an elastic sports holder to anchor their spectacles.
- Contact lens users are advise to wear spectacles instead, in order to cut down the risk of lenses getting contaminated.