THE LAKE OF CHANGING COLOUR
Lake Bera is located in the central lowlands of Peninsular Malaysia. It lies within the Pahang River catchments area. The wetland consists of a complex of inflowing streams and swamps, measuring some 35 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide. The total catchment area of Lake Bera is around 61,380 hectares, while the Ramsar site of 31,120 hectares include some 6,800 hectares of wetland habitats, known as the biggest natural lake in Malaysia. The lake is patches and joint to one another by a small fast flowing channel between them with full of 'screwpines' plants or Rasau in Malay and 'Pitcher Plant' floating on the water.The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted to preserve and conserve selected bodies of wetlands or swamps, which are of international importance.
HABITAT & FLORA
Lake Bera is an inland riverine swamp, which supports a biological community unique to Malaysia, and possibly represented nowhere else in the world. Of the 6,800 hectares of wetlands inside the Ramsar site, the main habitats comprises of freshwater and peat swamp forests, transitional open-forested swamps and open water, with a highly diverse algae community and beds of submerged macrophytes.
The world's only species of submerged plant, the purple water trumpet is found in the swamp forests along the river banks, whilst bladderwort and floating water lilies are found in the main open water. Pandans and emergent plants such as the rare sedge are abundant in large open swamps.
The forest of the drier lowlands is dominated by dipterocarps, which include some of the commercial timber species. The canopy can reach heights of between 30-40 metres, but some emergent can reach a height of more than 50 metres.
A total of 374 plant species have been recorded at Lake Bera, of which 10 are known to be endemic to Peninsular Malaysia.
Another rewarding river trip is to start your journey from Kuala Bera. From there it will take 2 days for you to reach the lake. Break your journey at Temangan (Orang Asli Settlement) then continue the next day. You need to bring along camping gears, foods and drinking water, cooking facilities, otherwise you will end up to spend the night with their family.
Bera river is quite challenging, the water is deep, winding river, a lot of obstacles like drift wood, thorny Rattan Palm, Pandanus leaves. As you go deeper you will find the river is getting smaller and tougher, you also have to pass through a few rapids, and one of them is called ‘Jeram Panjang’. Long before that, you will meet the Serting River on your right, a tributary of Bera river. Hire a boat with a good and experienced boatman to meander the river so that your trip is safe and enjoyable.
Fishing is ‘paradise’ at Lake Bera. Hire a motorize boat or dugout canoe to go fishing around the lake. From the jetty at Lake Bera Resort you may go down stream as far as to Lubuk Ranting or going up stream until Pulau Benal. If you are on your own, make sure you find your way back, if not hire a guide.
Lake Bera is a vast natural lake where the water is fast flowing and deep. With a little of luck, right baits and right place you could catch the biggest species of the lake called ‘Tapah’ fish. Among the famous fish that can be found are Snake Head Fish (Toman), Cat Fish (Baung), Arowana and Tenggalan. During monsoon, you can enjoy searching for newly hatched Arowana as the demand for it is very rewarding.
Bring along your fishing equipment or you may hire one at the Tourist Complex of Lake Bera. Among the best and most recommended baits are ‘Green Frog’, small ‘Cat Fish’ and Tapioca that being soak into water for a few nights.
PEOPLE’S OF THE LAKE ‘SEMELAI TRIBE’ :
If you happen to be at Lake Bera don’t forget to pay a visit to their little village around the lake. ‘Semelai people (Proto Malay) can only be found at the lake, their physical features and way of life is almost similar to the Malay people some seventy years back. Although, they have their own dialect, they understand and speak Malay too.
Today, they are still cultivated crops for their own consumption, plant rubber, palm oil and some are participated in the Felda Scheme to seek for a better tomorrow. Once a year, during dry season they are also planting ‘Dry Padi’ (Padi Huma) and harvested them three months later. Not to forget, fishing and jungle products are still become their side income. Do not worry, if you meet them in jungle, greet them ‘Apa Khabar’ they are nice and friendly people. A journey by boat through the Bera River will give you a chance to stop at two main settlements, namely Bukit Rok and Temangan. Another main settlement is in the southern part of the lake, Pos Iskandar, about 3 hours by boat. All the settlements mentioned, can also be accessed by road.
The process of extracting resin from the keruing tree is a dying art that is still practiced by the Semelai tribe (local aboriginals). The resin is used for various purposes, in particular for painting and protecting woods. No less amazing is to witness the making of a jungle torch using the resin of the Keruing tree. In the olden days before the invention of torchlights, the Semelais’ have relied on this environmentally friendly jungle torch to move about in the darkness of the forest.
Trekking is another exciting activity, there are 2 different trails near to the Tourist Complex. One is just beside the complex and it’s take only about half an hour return. The other one is near to the camp site, you could start trekking from there for about 3 hours return.
If you look for more adventurous trekking, just across the lake is another exciting trail that take you almost half a day. Here, you could learn to know some herbal plants like Tongkat Ali, Kacip Fatimah and Rempah Gunung. As you trek along, you will find some giant tropical trees such as Keruing, Kempas, Meranti, Tualang and Jelutong. Nothing waste when you go for jungle trekking, take your time, look around then only you know how to appreciate nature and reveal the secret of the jungle.
If you are outdoor passionate, Lake Bera is the right place to visit. Take some of your friends here to go for trekking, boating and fishing. There are Chalet, Rooms or even Dormitory to accommodate you while you are at the lake. If you find the accommodation is a lttle deer, then opt for camping.
A large camp-site near to the complex is ready to cater for at least 250 peoples. Bring your own camping gears or if you are in small group you can rent them from the Lake Bera Resort. The camping fee is very nominal and tap water and toilet is available. Please contact the management of the resort. Tel: 6013-623 1199
WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT INTERPRITIVE CENTRE:
Upon arriving the tourist complex you will find an ‘Interpretive Centre’ situated on the left side of the road. Do pay a visit, perhaps you could learn and gain some knowledge regarding wildlife of the lake. This interpretive centre is open daily to public during office hour.
What an expensive way to go for Mud Bathing. Mud bathing is popular in Europe, it is a kind of traditional facial treatment as well as your body. Here, you pay nothing to get this kind of treatment. Take a boat or dugout canoe to a place where the water is clear and shallow. The place is called ‘Pasir Raja’ only about 10 – 15 minutes by boat/dugout canoe from the resort. Contact: Mr. Aziz Tel: 6013-623 1199 at the Tourist Complex.
BUKIT BERTANGGA WATERFALL:
Within the same territory is Bukit Bertangga waterfall, located about 3 km. from Felda Kumai. It’s a Recreational Forest develop for the public by State Forestry Department. There are some facilities for the visitor like parking, toilet, resting plece and camping site. This 3 hectors of land which is develop into Recreational Forest is part of Chini forest reserve. The river flows to form the waterfall is Kumai river and it is about 30 meters in height.
In addition to that, there is a Herb Garden where herb are planted for the visitor to witness and gain some knowledge about herbs. The road from Felda Kumai to the waterfall is a paved road.