Escape to a hidden paradise

Jeram Pelangi (Rainbow Falls).

IT’s a three-hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur to Maran, Pahang, followed by another three hours of hiking along a well-made jungle trail. But the journey to Jeram Pelangi (Rainbow Falls), near Kampung Kuala Sentul, is well worth the effort.

Rainbow Falls cascades down from a 600m hill, with the base camp situated around 300m above sea level. Satellite images reveal that the 30,000ha surrounding this hill is pure virgin jungle, devoid of neatly-arrayed oil palm plantations or jungle trails for lorries.

Licensed jungle guide Suhairy Ismail assures that the three-hour hike is easy.

“There will be no clambering up steep hills. It is a well-made trail and more like a leisurely walk,” he said.

Upon reaching the base camp, phone signals and internet connections are hit-or-miss. Some people find spots with connectivity, while others don’t.

Jeram Tangga (Staircase Falls).Jeram Tangga (Staircase Falls).

However, this trip offers a chance to commune with nature, featuring three waterfalls and two sections of rapids.

Suhairy and his team organise a 2D1N camping trip to Jeram Pelangi during the relatively drier South-West Monsoon. The fee of RM250 per person includes the bus ride from Kuala Lumpur, permits, fees for local guides, a ride in four-wheel-drive vehicles, open tents, meals, first aid, and personal accident insurance.

“Participants can bring their own tents instead of sleeping in the open tents. Some even like to bring their own camp stoves and light rations like beverages and instant noodles.

“Just remember that this is a jungle hike-camping trip, so plan your gear well to avoid being over-burdened with a heavy backpack,” advised Suhairy.

It took nature millions of years to form the neat rows of slabbed rocks.It took nature millions of years to form the neat rows of slabbed rocks.

The base camp has toilet facilities but no electricity, so bringing a power bank for your camera and light sources is essential.

Once you reach the waterfalls, you’ll see why the trip is worth it.

Jeram Kawah (Crater Falls) is adorned with naturally-slabbed rock faces, the result of millions of years of sedimentation and pressure.

For photographers, these slabbed rock faces offer unique natural perspective lines for photo compositions, rarely found elsewhere in Malaysia.

Natural slabbed rockfaces of Jeram Kawah (Crater Falls).Natural slabbed rockfaces of Jeram Kawah (Crater Falls).

Next is Rainbow Falls itself, standing 50m tall. The mist created by the tumbling water casts an intense rainbow under the sun.

“Local guides, along with cooks, will prepare meals and carry rations, allowing participants to focus on enjoying the experience without worrying too much about camp chores,” said Suhairy.

According to him, these falls were the “best kept secrets” of the villagers in the valley for generations.

In 2008, they became known to the Pahang government, which helped villagers leverage them as a source of eco-tourism income.

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