A few days at the rivers and waterfalls is a great way to spend the holidays. – Pic courtesy of Coral Dive Recreation
Malaysia is blessed with many unexplored places just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid traveller. Draco Nature Camp serves as a shining example of such a natural paradise.
Located just 8 km north-west of the small town of Chenderiang in Perak, Draco Nature Camp comprises a camping ground with a pristine river running behind it. It only takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the hamlet from Kuala Lumpur, making it an ideal weekend getaway for city folks.
The camp, established in 2007, was previously known as River Sound Cottage. At the time, it was only open on weekends for survival demonstrations to a maximum of 10 people.
It was renamed Draco Nature Camp circa 2013, and has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Interestingly, the name is a nod to the abundance of ‘draco’, the genus name of a type of flying lizard, in the area.
The camp is a magnet for weekenders from the city. – Pic courtesy of Draco Nature Camp
Services provided by the establishment include nature education and awareness programmes, nature guide, cooking facilities and meals.
Getting there is a breeze: Just head to Tapah on the North–South Highway and take Exit 132. Drive on to Jalan Tapah, turn right to Route 1, and on to Route A118. Upon reaching Chenderiang, turn left to A19 before taking another left midway upon seeing a sign reading ‘Kem Sentosa Chenderiang, Tapah, Perak’. Keep on driving till you see the ‘Draco Nature Camp’ sign.
The small path leading towards the camp is quite rocky, so a four-wheel drive helps. But fret not, you can still drive pretty much any car just as long as you drive very slowly.
This writer was greeted by Nor Bani Abd Rahman, an affable expedition head who has kindly curated and arranged for the trip via his leisure travel company Coral Dive Recreation.
A medium-sized hut acts as a mess area for reception, gatherings and mealtimes with its ample hall size and a well-equipped kitchen. There’s even a small reading corner with books by Judith McNaught and John Grisham as well as back copies of the National Geographic magazine among others.
Bath and toilets — just opposite the mess hut — are shared, and guests must bring their own toiletry articles. Apart from these amenities, there’s a grass clearing where guests pitch their tents. A river runs through the back of the campsite.
A clearing further up after the mess hut is where tents are erected. – Pic courtesy of Draco Nature Camp
Birders will have a field day here, for there are plenty of lowland species not commonly seen in cities.
The first thing that will strike visitors is the cleanliness of Draco Nature Camp.
“We always remind vacationers to keep the area clean, and discourage littering especially near the river. We also encourage visitors, especially in large groups, to help us by taking all rubbish back with them,” said proprietor Ahmad Hisham.
He’s a very able cook as well. Throughout the duration of our stay, he prepared delicious local fares such as dried fish curry, sambal belacan and manok pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo).
The clean and ice-cold river is a thriving habitat for freshwater fish. Helpers at the camp feed the fishes daily. However, the part of the river where the fishes live is off limits to tourists to protect its precious resources.
A separate site further up is where most campers end up if they want to indulge in a refreshing swim. The water is cool and crystal clear, a balm for those who are weary of the stress brought about by the daily grind.
The river is a haven for freshwater fish.
Tip: Make sure you proceed with caution to the small ‘waterfall’, as the rocks beneath the water can be very slippery. Bathers will be rewarded with a ‘mini massage’ once inside the water, thanks to the currents created by the cascading fall.
Among the trip’s main highlights: Lata Kinjang, one of the country’s tallest waterfalls.
A trip to Lata Kinjang happened on the third day of our stay. This breathtakingly beautiful waterfall is actually visible to travellers who journey northward on the North–South Highway.
The marvels of Lata Kinjang are simply spectacular!
As it is a popular destination, it can get crowded during the weekends. Our group merely enjoyed the scenery and looked for a good photo op before heading back to our camp for another dip in the resort’s river.
A delectable lunch of manok pansoh and condiments is what everyone needs. – Pic courtesy of Coral Dive Recreation
The team took a two-minute drive from Draco Nature Camp to an Orang Asli village in Sungai Lerek, the starting point for the day’s hike.
The area's waterfall is clean and beautiful. – Pic courtesy of Draco Nature Camp
Our objective for the trek was to get to a river and waterfall situated about an hour and a half away. It was an arduous trek as we had to wade through some streams along the way. It’s no walk in the park as the trails are covered with thickets and thus aren’t well-trodden.
There were also plenty of tiny leech-like bloodsuckers, known to locals as pacat.
Members of the group enjoy a dip in the river. – Pic courtesy of Coral Dive Recreation
All the team members had to wade through cold rivers with slippery rocks. Risky, but the end is worth the hike! We came to a clean and picturesque waterfall, and the wondrous sight made the excursion thoroughly worthwhile.
All too soon it was departure day and we were sorry to leave the camp. The lovely highland air, green surroundings and calm atmosphere create a winning formula that has turned this experience into a truly enjoyable and memorable adventure.
Coral Dive Recreation conducts leisure dives, outdoor activities, diving courses and trips. For information on programmes and courses offered, visit www.coraldivestore.com, its Facebook Page or call Nor Bani at 019-286 7180.
Draco Nature Camp (Batu 7, Kampung Asli Sungai Cincin, Chenderiang, Tapah, Perak) is a camping-only lodging for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts. Packages for stays, tent and equipment rentals, and activities can be negotiated upfront for greater enjoyment and comfort. Call 019-387 3696 or visit its Facebook Page for bookings and enquiries.