Mar 30, 2012

Kenong Rimba Park, Pahang

Visit the Kenong Rimba recreational park in Pahang and be captivated with its abundant eco-system and beautiful nature!

A tunnel of peace : River boat cruise in the cave at Kenong Rimba Park.
A tunnel of peace : River boat cruise in the cave at Kenong Rimba Park.

Premier nature getaway in Kenong
Story and photos by Nik Naizi Husin
Friday March 30, 2012

LIPIS: The Kenong Rimba Park is one of Pahang's hidden natural charms, rich in flora and fauna and abundant with wildlife, that has not been affected by the scourge of development.

Covering an area of 16.644ha, the park is located between 60m to 373m above sea level, and is not far from Taman Negara.

The recreational park was developed by the Pahang Forestry Department in 1988 with less than two hectares of the area opened up to make way for building of of basic facilities such as an interpretative centre, chalets, board walks, toilets, resting huts, canteen, explanatory board, solar system to supply the electicity, suspension bridge, canopy walk, surau and open hall.

Out of the 20 caves that have been discovered here, those which can be explored are a pretty sight with stalactite and stalagmite adorning the ceiling.

According to the historical records, the caves had been used as an escape route and shelter for Pahang warriors including Tok Bahaman and Mat Kilau during the British administration.

Forestry Department ranger Zaaba Md Yusoff said so far, the Government has allocated RM2mil for the development projects in the park.

Zaaba said the development concept was to pay emphasis to its natural surrounding and nature conservation, hence its theme "Kenong Rimba Park - Premier Nature Getaway."

Nature sculpture: Journalists appreciating a rock formation of a tiger in Gua Harimau.
Nature sculpture: Journalists appreciating a
rock formation of a tiger in Gua Harimau.

He said the park was home to pockets of limestone caves which have become the destination of spelunking enthusiasts.

"You can still immense yourself in the tranquillity of this park, well-known as one of the best wildlife area reserves in the country,'' he said.

Zaaba said cleaning efforts were done every four days of any month.

"The cleaning works do not disturb the the biodiversity in the area.

"Frequent checks on the facilities and maintaining works are also conducted as it is important for the safety of the visitors," he said.

Tourism Malaysia Pahang staff led by its director Amran Abdul Rahman and travel guide Francis Loh Boon Hor recently led a group of journalists from Pahang to experience a spot of jungle trekking, caving and river cruising activities in the park.

The river cruise on Sungai Kenong was an exhilarating adventure for most of the first timers on the trip as the river flows into the cave to a hidden world of nature's beauty.

Nature guide Hashim Man, who led the trip, said the river was a passage used by people including those in exile and the plain round rock surface measuring two metres in length and three metres in width was used as their resting area.

However during our visit, the rock which was known to villagers as "batu hampar" (table rock) had been submerged with water, and covered by fallen trees.

When night fall arrived, we were taken on a three kilometres night walk to discover more of the park.

Test of patience: Journalists having a hard time going towards Gua Harimau.
Test of patience: Journalists having a hard time going towards Gua Harimau.

However, heavy downpour caused our trail to be flooded midway but we did manage to catch fireflies in action, as they added glow to the surroundings.

When morning came, Hashim led the group to explore the caves of Gua Harimau, Gua Hijau and Gua Gajah but a few other caves could not be visited because we lacked proper trekking gear for our safety.

Inside Gua Gajah, we found fresh elephant dung surrounding the mouth of the cave and further on, there were signs that wildlife had made this cave their preferred place for shelter.

"The tracks show the elephants just left perhaps after noticing our presence,'' said Hashim who has 20 years experience as a guide.

He said cracks on the walls also showed that there was an earth movement that had occured at a very slow pace.

"Most of the Kenong caves remain undiscovered and unexplored despite the numerous expeditions launched into the area, over the years.

"The interior of the caves may changed from time to time due to the ravages of weather," Hashim said.

Bright colour: One of the floral species found here.
Bright colour: One of the floral species found here.

Unique formations were the result of natural changes that the limestone had undergone.

He said Gua Batu Tangga was another limestone cave with rock formations that could be likened to a Greek-style staircase, a mouse deer, elephant and also crocodile.

Equally unique rock formations can also be found in Gua Batu Telungkup, Gua Hijau, Gua Batu and Gua Harimau.

Studies have shown that the limestone caves were hundreds of millions of years old and could have existed since the Stone Age.

However, our exploration did not allow us to visit these caves as they were quite a distance away.

Amran said according to the statistics, the number of foreigners who visited the Rimba Kenong Park in 2010 was 1,120 compared to 595 locals while in 2011, foreigners numbered at 1,135 and locals at 540.

Amran said the rainforest in the park was 130 million years old and there were more than 1,200 species of flora and fauna that have been recorded.

Very green: A leafy part of the park's cave filled with shrubs.
Very green: A leafy part of the park's cave filled with shrubs.

He said studies indicate there were 130 species from a total of 261 endemic species in the Peninsular living on the limestone formation of Kenong Rimba Park.

The studies also revealed that among fauna in the area were enggang badak (rhinoceros hornbill), enggang tebang mentua (helmeted hornbill), tiong mas (hill myna), cecawi anting-anting (greater racquet-tailed drongo or king crow), porcupine, mouse deer, tapir and even the poisonous tarantula.

Meanwhile, a travel agent operating in Lipis town, Hasan Tuah said the park could be reached via a road from Kuala Lumpur passing through Felda Kechau 9 in Lipis.

Hasan said the route however was only accessible using a four-wheel-drive as it was a Felda plantation track and partly used by lorries to transport timber.

He said although proper accommodationwas available such as rooms, chalets and dormitories, it was more adventurous for visitors to pitch their tents at the campsites in the park.

"The water in the streams and rivers are cool and soothing but do watch out for leeches," he said. -- The Star Metro