White water rafting near Lata Lembik in Raub, Pahang. Pictures by Zulkifly Ab Latif
IN case you still didn't know, Malaysia IS a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Its rugged landscape of rainforests, mountains, valleys and coastline brimming with flora and fauna has earned the country a prestigious spot as one of the 12 mega biodiversity countries in the world. Along with this rich natural heritage comes endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. From weekend warriors to professional adventurers, there is always something exciting and thrilling for them to do here even when the rain pours. Without a doubt, adventure sports have become increasingly popular in Malaysia with plenty of adrenaline rushing activities now available. For those wanting to take their first leap into the world of adventure this country has to offer, here are the 5 must do adventure sports.
Thanks to the country's many limestone caves, caving or spelunking is fast becoming a popular adventure sport. With challenging conditions such as dark flooded chambers and tight cramped spaces, the sport of caving is of exploration and discovery. The caves of Malaysia are home to exotic and unique insects, bats and reptiles. Some caves are also shrouded in mystery and steeped in history as well as folklore. A few of the best adventure caves found in the country suitable for beginners are Gua Tempurung in Perak, Gua Hari Malaysia in Pahang and Gua Batu Maloi in Negeri Sembilan.
Rock climbing is a sport that builds up one's strength, endurance and problem solving skills. The sport of rock climbing is gaining attraction and there are now even indoor climbing facilities for people to train such as Camp 5 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Even so, nothing beats the thrill of climbing up a natural rock surface and with its many limestone, sandstone and granite hills, Malaysia has a unique selection of rock climbing spots for almost all levels of proficiency. One of the best spots to try rock climbing is Gua Damai Extreme Park near Batu Caves, Selangor with their on site trainers and mostly vertical routes suitable for beginners.
Malaysia's many tropical islands surrounded by crystal clear waters is naturally the perfect location for scuba diving since it is an activity that lets people go deeper underwater and really take in the magical scenery. Nevertheless, some may view scuba diving as an expensive sport to dive in due to the costs in certification training and investing in scuba gear.
For those who want to give scuba diving a try but are still a bit hesitant to fully commit and sign up for certification, there are actually Discovery Dive programmes available at almost all scuba diving centres on islands. Under the supervision of diving instructors, the discovery dive lets beginners feel what its like to breathe underwater while up close with the colorful marine life. So if you happen to find yourself on Redang Island in Terengganu or Gaya Island in Sabah on a holiday, why not drop by any of the dive centres and ask about their discovery dive programmes.
Malaysia' s rugged landscape and highlands have resulted in mighty gushing rivers that serve as the perfect playgrounds for whitewater rafting activity. Undeniably thrilling, white water rafting is an adventure sport that requires team work and is often used in team building programmes all around the country. Graded according to the international scale of river difficulty, there's always a river waiting to be navigated for almost all levels of rafters. Rated from grade 1 to grade 3 in difficulty, Kampar River near Gopeng, Perak is the best spot for beginners to visit and give white water rafting a try.
The undulating terrain of Malaysia's jungle capped hills is not only attracting weekend hikers but also mountain biking enthusiasts. Often time the same routes are even shared by hikers and cyclists.
Mountain biking is but another way to explore the wilderness of a particular location albeit in a more fast paced and adrenaline pumping manner. Rough terrain, steep climbs and hidden obstacles only add to the thrill of the sport.
Perhaps one of the most popular mountain biking trails is at Bukit Kiara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor with almost 30km length of trails. For beginner cyclists the
Putrajaya Challenge Park MTB trail is the best choice, and there are even mountain bicycles available for rent.