The mention of Taman Negara (National Park) in Pahang would conjure up images of lush, green and pristine jungles apart from the rapids with their crystal-clear water.
This virgin rainforest, believed to be 130 million years old, is spread over 4,343 square km, comes under the jurisdiction of the National Parks and Wildlife Protection Department. With its priceless treasures of flora and fauna, Taman Negara offers attractive packages for aficionados of jungle adventure.
The journey from Kuala Lumpur or Kuantan to this National Park takes about three hours. But, upon arriving at the Kuala Tahan jetty, one can feel the sudden desire to explore further upstream of Sungai Tahan.
Another way to Taman Negara is via Jerantut town using either the river or land route.
There are many attractions in Taman Negara like the canopy walkway, Berkoh rapids, Bukit Teresek, safari night, Gua Telinga, Lubok Simpon, Nusa Camp and Orang Asli settlements.
LATEST TOURISM PRODUCT
The National Parks latest tourism product that is worth the effort to visit is the Kelah Sanctuary at Lubuk Tenor.
This site not only has a research and conservation centre for the Kelah fish, also known as Malaysian Mahseer, but provides various attractions for the visitors.
From the Kuala Tahan jetty, visitors can reach Lubuk Tenor by going upstream Sungai Tahan, usually in a boat moved by a 15-horse power engine and the journey takes some 15 minutes. However the boat fare is RM120, but split four ways, it will cost RM30 per person.
FEEDING THE KELAH
Among the activities available at the sanctuary is feeding the Kelah, apart from swimming and playing with this freshwater fish. Angling is allowed, but strictly on a catch-and-release basis. The visitors can also view schools of Kelah fry swimming in the crystal-clear water.
It is fascinating to watch the Kelah's lightning reaction as it feed on the pellets, which are thrown onto the water surface.
The Kelah is known as the king of the freshwater fish or king of the river, as its flesh is so tasty that even the scales are eaten crisp-fried. That is why it commands a very high price at the market.
The creation of Lubuk Tenur Kelah Sanctuary is due to the collaboration between USAINS Holdings, a subsidiary of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Perhilitan in 2001.
The management of the sanctuary was taken over by Golden Mahseer Sdn Bhd (GMSB) in January 2006, with the villagers providing the manpower.
GMSB managing director Roslan Abu Kasim, 43, said the task to conserve the Kelah was delegated to the local villagers including the Orang Asli from the Batek tribe.
The villagers also act as agents to promote the sanctuary among the visitors, he said, adding that almost 90 per cent of the some 2,000 Kampung Kuala Tahan folks are involved in the tourism industry at Taman Negara.
KELAH ADOPTION PROGRAMME
As the sanctuary is opened to the public only from 8am to 5pm daily, the visitors have a choice of staying overnight at the nearby campsite. Roslan said there are 30 tents that provide accommodation for visitors.
A 3-day/2-night package for four people is available for RM350 and is inclusive of boat fare and food.
Those who sign up for this package can go for activities like jungle trekking to Bukit Kementor, kayaking, netting the fish fry as well as a trip to the Berkoh rapids.
The Kelah Adoption Programme is available where for RM20 each, the visitors can release their adopted fish fry into the river. Participants will be awarded with a certificate for their effort.
The sanctuary also provides facilities for the staging of seminars and workshops but this is limited to 30 people at a time.