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Saturday December 25, 2010

New route in Sungai Koyan makes destination easily accesible

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Most visitors here are not aware of a mossy forest located in the Batu Gangan Forest Reserve.

This natural attraction, believed to be more than 200,000 years old, is nicknamed ‘Lord of the Rings Forest’ and ‘Fantasy Forest’ by local tourist guides.

Tourism Malaysia Pahang had recently organised a familiarisation trip for 60 people comprising travel and tour operators, hoteliers, media as well state tourism officers from Terengganu, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

Challenging trek: The difficulties when trekking in the forest

The trip also included visits in homestay villages in Kampung Kuala Medang, Lipis and Kampung Sungai Pasu, Raub.

During the trip to the mossy forest, participants had to endure travelling in 12-seater vans on narrow and winding roads.

They stopped at the tallest point in Cameron Highlands where two towers were located - Brinchang lookout tower and a telecommunication tower.

The lookout tower stood at 16m and offered some of the best views of the mountain range.

It was said on a good day, one can see some parts of Perak and on a lucky day – you can even spot the Straits of Malacca.

Meaningful stone: The participants having their photo session at the ‘boundary stone’ which marks the Pahang and Perak boundary in the forest.

However, the tower is normally shrouded by heavy mist especially in the morning.

Those who trek along the mossy forest will have a unique experience of seeing a layer of velvety green carpet covering the trees and plants there.

Bird-watching is equally popular and there are at least 70 species of Montane rainforest birds in the area.

Another exciting natural element is something called ‘fog drip’ where fog droplets condense on the leaves and drips.

Bright red: One of the species of flora found in mossy forest.

There are also a few rare species of beautiful flowers such as the pitcher plant.

Tourism Malaysia domestic deputy director Raja Normala Raja Shamsudin said apart from the existing routes to Cameron Highlands such as Tapah and Simpang Pulai in Perak and Gua Musang in Kelantan, there is a new 80km-route from Sungai Koyan in Lipis.

“It makes the Highlands more accessible to tourists.

“More than two million tourists visit Cameron Highlands with peak seasons recorded during school and public holidays,’’ she added.

Raja Normala said during peak season heavy traffic won’t deter visitors from heading up to the highlands as many wanted to experience the cool environment there.

“The popular attractions are strawberry farms, orchid farms, bee farms, markets selling fresh vegetables and the tea outlets in Sungai Palas, Habu and Bharat tea plantations,” she said.

She added the golf courses are also popular among foreigners especially with Japanese tourists topping the list.

“There are some tourists who stayed for six months just to play golf,’’ she added.

Cameron Highlands is made up of three districts, Ringlet (5,165ha), Tanah Rata (2,081ha) amd Ulu Telom (63,981 ha).

Tourism Pahang director Amran Abdul Rahman said there were plans to include the visit to Cameron Highlands in homestay packages in Kuala Medang in Lipis and Kampung Sungai Pasu in Raub.

“This is because of the new Sungai Koyan route has reduced travelling time.

“There are orang asli settlements along the route and visitors may get to experience their lifestyle as well,’’ he added.

The settlements are in Pos Betau, Kampung Meter, Pos Sitom and Pos Pantos.

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