White water rafting has always been on my list of adventurous things to do. I’ve never really explored the possibility of actually doing it here in Malaysia — unfortunately sometimes, adventure activities overseas seem more compelling. That being said, we do have our lush forests, raging rivers, and plenty of local rafting companies for a fun day out.
So one fine Sunday morning, a group of friends and I decided to head out of the city of Kuala Lumpur— and battle our way down a river.
Rafting on Slim River
We chose a rafting company called PieRose Swiftwater — they provide good rates and are a pretty safe and trustworthy organization run by a local husband and wife team (Pie and Rose). Established since 2006, most of their guides are local orang asli from the indigenous communities that are experienced and well-trained. We had a really fun time with them.
PieRose offers rafting packages to three rivers; and due to the dry season (in May) and rain from the day before, they suggested we head to Slim River in Ulu Slim, Perak. Slim River is located about an hour or so away from Kuala Lumpur, with a 1 to 3 rapid class. The rafting distance of the river is about 6 kilometers with narrow channels and tight turns. During our trip, the water levels were actually quite low and the water was slightly murky.
My group and I were scheduled to be at Slim River at about 9am in the morning. We had 8 people in total so we convoyed in two cars from Kuala Lumpur, beginning our journey at about 8am. Upon arriving at Slim River, we did not know how to get to the meeting point; but Pie (the owner of PieRose) was kind enough to offer to meet us at the toll gate to direct us there.
We parked our cars at the meeting point, and were told to get ready for our journey to the river. There is a small stall, and a toilet and bath area to prepare and to wash up after rafting. We were told not to bring any electronic gadgets and to be dressed for the adventure — river sandals or laced up shoes, and clothes you’re willing to get wet in (preferably swimwear). We could either leave our belongings in the car, or pass it (in a bag) to Pie.
From there, we were all huddled in the back of a pick-up truck; and transferred half way to another pick-up truck that drove us up to the mid-point of the river — where our journey begins.
Before beginning our rafting adventure, we were given a compulsory safety briefing. Pie showed us how to properly put on our safety jackets and helmets; and also demonstrated how to navigate the raft. He showed us how to paddle, how to move around the raft to control it, as well as what to do should we fall into the water. Pie was extremely funny and entertaining — which made an otherwise boring safety briefing pretty interesting.
After the briefing, we trekked a short way through the jungle down to the river banks. Pie informed us that due to the low water levels that day, we were to begin rafting halfway down Slim River. The rapids are also milder at this part of the river. Even then, we took more than 2 hours to reach the ending point. I was informed that if we started upstream, it would take at least 5 hours!
The Adventure Begins
There were 8 people in our group, so we were divided into 4 on each raft. Each raft can take a maximum of 7 people; inclusive of the two guides. We got onto our rafts, two on each side, with our paddles all ready in our hands. The main guide at the back of the raft yelled our his instructions, and we began paddling our way down the river.
Our white water rafting journey downstream was exciting and exhilarating. We paddled our way down the river; and there were lots of times where we had to move as a group towards the front back and sides of the raft to navigate it through the waters. I was screaming, laughing, and probably panting as well, because moving around and paddling can be really tiring!
The Ride Down the River
I have to say, the people who had to do most of the rafting work were our guides. The water levels during our trip was really low — so our raft got stuck on the rocks quite a bit. Even with the raging waters, our guide had to constantly jump out of the raft to pull us through the rock crevices. With the heavy load inside the raft (that’s us!), I’m sure that it was no easy feat.
Our battle down the river was not as smooth (or maybe the right word to use is rough) as it should have been — there were a lot of pauses and stops along the way, and instances where we had to get out of the raft and walk along the river banks. However, there were also the rare times where we had to fight the currents with our paddling, screamed as we floated down a steep drop along the river, and laughed as the other raft overturned with everyone tumbling into the water. My raft overturned once too — I enjoyed that part the most!
We had a short break halfway rafting down the river; and the guides had supplies of water, chocolates and candies. We also took the time to dip into the cool waters, and to slowly float a short way down.
End of the Journey
At the end of the journey, the guides deliberately pushed the rafts at the last hurdle to make us fall into the water. It was to be the ‘grand ending’! One of the groups fell in (mine didn’t) and everyone floated downstream. I decided that I wanted to be in the water too, and jumped in. I enjoyed leisurely gliding down Slim River — and constantly lifting my butt to avoid the smooth (and sometimes sharp) rocks underneath. The journey ended at a shallow calm pool.
After getting out of the water, we were then huddled again onto the pickup truck and brought back to the meetup point. Pie had prepared a meal of delicious local nasi lemak (coconut infused rice with fried chicken and chilli sambal), and some ingredients to make sandwiches — which I hungrily devoured after my 2-hour white water rafting adventure down Slim River.
My friends and I had our rafting adventure during the dry season (in May), and therefore the water levels were low and we didn’t have many choices of which river we wanted to raft in. Of course, any time is suitable for rafting, but the best time to go white water rafting in Malaysia is during the wetter months of October to January.
I had a wonderful time outdoors, and it was so much fun experiencing the rapids at Slim River. I went home completely drained, but my adrenaline was still pumping from the excitement and the full-body workout — it was definitely a Sunday morning well spent. It’s a great option to add to your list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur.