White-knuckling it in Kuala Kubu Baru

Writer: Basil Foo Published: Fri, 02 Dec 2011

For those who do not want to spend another expensive weekend mall crawling, head on to Kuala Kubu Baru.

Besides been known as a quaint little town with some of the best chicken chops this side of Selangor, the Hulu Selangor capital is famous for white-water rafting.

In the heart of Kuala Kubu Baru lies the scenic Batu dam and Sg Selangor. Travellers can find it by taking the North-South

Highway past Rawang, Batang Kali, and Rasa or by driving north from Batu Caves up Jalan Sungai Tua.

Be prepared for narrow two-lane roads as the traffic in the outskirts of the state begin to give way to large slow-moving lorries.

The Batu dam, constructed under the Kuala Lumpur Flood Mitigation Project, collects enough water to turn the area into a picturesque lake surrounded by hills as far as the eye can see.

“A beautiful mist can be seen when the water plunges down the main outlet,” said Khersonese Expedition Sdn Bhd sales and marketing executive Syed R Safiq Al-Attas.

During the dry months of January and February, when water treatment plants downhill experience water shortage, water is released from the dam through Sg Selangor.

It is this veritable torrent that lends the river its signature deep and fast-flowing water that white-water rafting enthusiasts have been coming back to.

“We have been doing this (rafting) for more than 10 years. Many foreign tourists and local companies doing team-building come here to raft,” said Safiq.

Sg Selangor comes in at Grade Four, where Grade One is slow-moving and scenic, while the water in Grade Five rivers are swift-flowing and only for experts.

However, the press corp I was in when traversing the river last Saturday endured few rough patches in the water as the dam gates were closed.

View of the Batu dam from the visitor’s area.

Due to the recent wet spell in the city, local authorities did not allow for the dam to release its stored water so as to avoid floods downstream.

The 7km course that Safiq takes visitors on is divided into three sections, the first and third being rafting sections and the middle being a calm floating section.

“To float, you put on a helmet and a lifejacket, get into the water, lie down, and be swept downstream by the current,” he said.

He advised “floaters” to travel feet-first to see where they are going and paddle with their hands to steer themselves.

Paying a fee for merely floating down a river may not sound like much, but I personally enjoyed the almost 30-minute-long journey.

Carried away by an inexorable body of water, it was peaceful to just let loose and surrender my body to the elements, opening my eyes every so often to steer myself.

The rafting that Khersonese organises comes complete with helmets, rafts, life jackets, paddles, a short snack break, and a buffet lunch at the end of the journey.

As the water was not gushing as we had hoped it would, I only managed to experience going down a solitary rapid, which was an almost four-feet drop.

With just a tinge of fear, our four-rower raft with guides at the front and back stopped rowing right before the precipice and fell with hoots of surprise.

We did not capsize despite our attempts to shake the raft in our excitement, but even if we had, observant guides stood by in the waist-deep water.

“We have experienced guides whom we have trained over the years from local indigenous people,” said the adventure company’s general manager, Illyaz Yushaak.

Visitors being briefed on rafting safety tips.

The rafts are able to fit four to six people, with a guide in each to help with steering and giving directions on when to paddle.

The trip up to the north of Selangor is well worth taking by adrenaline junkies or even city-dwellers wanting to get away from it all for the weekend.

I am awaiting the dry spell, which usually hits around Chinese New Year, to make the drive up once again and hope for a churning Sg Selangor.

White-water rafting packages cost about RM180 per person, depending on the size of the group and the season.

Interested travellers can email info@thepaddlerz.com or call 03-77223511 or 03-77223516 for more details and booking.

The trip was organised by Tourism Selangor in its effort to promote white-water rafting in Kuala Kubu Baru.

Article Source http://selangortimes.com/index.php?section=travel&permalink=20111201102448-white-knuckling-it-in-kuala-kubu-baru

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