Jangkar Waterfall’s unspoiled beauty is set amid lush green surroundings.
Tucked far away from Kuching city is a magnificent waterfall not many might have heard of.
This waterfall is known locally as Air Terjun Jangkar or Jangkar Waterfall. It is accessible via Kampung Jantan, a small village near the coastal town of Sematan and about 30 minutes by car from Lundu.
The waterfall is roughly the height of a five-storey building and along the length of the river it plunges into, there are several other smaller waterfalls. These falls present visitors a wonderful opportunity to spend the entire day walking from one to the other, taking their time to dip in the cool waters and soak in the beautiful surroundings.
There is also an upper tier with another big waterfall about three storeys high and several shallow pools to swim in.
One of these pools on the upper tier affords one a bird’s-eye view of nearby hills, valleys and villages on a clear day.
At the bottom of the main waterfall is a deep pool that is perfect for swimming. However, swimmers are advised to avoid the deepest part near the base of the waterfall as there may be strong undercurrents and tangled fallen trees and branches at the bottom of the pool.
Care must also be taken when exploring the different tiers of this waterfall, as one misstep could spell disaster. Personal safety must be observed at all times and never go against your better judgement.
The jungle surrounding the waterfall is also worth some attention. There are many different interesting plant species to be found here. Some climbing vines such as those from the genus Hoya may sometimes be seen flowering at the same time.
Dangling from the tops of tall trees, these vines are a pretty sight when they start to flower, their little clumps of whitish flowers appearing like little cream coloured dots on a green canvas.
If the season is right, visitors may also come across a plant, Aeginetia indica blooming en masse. Also known as the “ghost flower”, this curious plant is a root parasite that remains mostly hidden from view until it flowers. Its beautiful hood-like flowers stand about half a foot from the ground.
Visitors should wear proper outdoor attire such as good hiking or walking shoes and bring along sun-block or wide-brimmed hats.
The trail to the waterfall will take them across different types of terrain, first moving through a rubber plantation, then a fruit orchard and into pristine jungle full of vines, rattans, tall trees and dense undergrowth.
Finding one’s way to the waterfall is easy with the help of a local guide. The main trail is well-maintained by the villagers and the village co-operative welcomes visitors to the waterfall. Guides may be hired from the co-operative.
Met in the village, Jessy Arun who is the treasurer of the village co-operative (Koperasi Jangkar Jantan Lundu Bhd), said that all visitors who intended to visit the waterfall must first sign in and register at the co-operative.
“We welcome everyone to visit but please register with us. We will then assign a local guide to each group who will lead the way to the waterfall using the proper trails.”
The guide’s fee is based on the size of the group.
“For groups of 10 and above, we collect RM10 from each person while groups of fewer than 10, we collect a single sum of RM100,” said Jessy. “We get visitors from all over the world and they come here either with a tour agent or as independent travellers. On average, we get about 100 visitors per month and we have seen an increase in the number of visitors coming here over the past two years.
“The trail to the waterfall and the surroundings are much cleaner and well maintained now,” she said.
In the past, some visitors would go to the lower part of the waterfall, have a picnic and leave all their trash there. Sometimes, they would have a barbeque beside the waterfall and do not clean up the area before leaving.
This is one of the reasons why every visitor is now required to register themselves before proceeding to the waterfall with a local guide. The local guide will also ensure that visitors do not take the wrong route and end up lost.
The increase in the number of visitors to the area also helps to generate income to the locals and stimulate the local economy but only when visitors do not bypass the co-operative.
Jessy admits that they could not force everyone to use the services of a local guide. Sometimes, there are visitors who trek to the waterfall by themselves without informing anyone or hiring a local guide.
She mentioned an incident involving a group of picnickers who went directly to the waterfall without registering or engaging a guide. When it started to drizzle, the group remained at the waterfall. The rain caused the volume of water pouring down the mountain to increase dramatically and a flash flood occurred in a matter of minutes.
As the group frantically tried to make their way back, one of them was nearly swept away by the torrent of water while another was stuck on top of a large boulder in the middle of the raging river.
The others were trapped on the other side until nightfall when one of them finally managed to call for help by mobile phone.
Jessy said that such incident could have been avoided if visitors had registered their intentions with the co-operative and hired a local guide.
“The experienced guide will know when it is safe to go to the waterfall and when it is time to leave.”
To get to Jangkar Waterfall, drive towards Lundu from Kuching until you reach the Lundu-Sematan junction.
Take the turning to the left and drive towards Sematan. Keep an eye out for a signboard on the left pointing drivers to Kampung Jantan. Take this turning and drive along this road which is only half sealed.
It takes about two hours to get there by car over a distance of about 90km from Kuching city.
Some time will be spent driving slowly over the unsealed stretch of road that leads to Kampung Jantan. Unfortunately this part of the road is currently in a very bad condition as it is in the process of being upgraded to a fully-tarred dual lane road.
Drivers need to drive carefully and slowly over this stretch. The reward is an amazingly beautiful high waterfall set amidst natural, green surroundings and unspoiled beauty.
Upon completion of the road leading to the area, it should be more accessible to both locals and foreigners alike.
Jangkar Waterfall is definitely one of the state’s natural treasures. Hopefully, with more exposure it will get the attention it deserves.
For details, contact Jessy at 013-827 2345. - By JOSHUA HENDRY
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