LOVE the idea of exploring uncharted grounds but don’t know where to go? Well, for a start, Ulu Chepor in Perak is so “ulu” (remote) that it’ll take your breath away!
You can trek in the million-year-old rainforest that escaped the last Ice Age. Wallow in an uncharted creek and “discover” rare plants that may not even be listed in any botanical references. And the best part is… it’s all just minutes away from the nearest Plus exit toll in Jelapang near Ipoh.
Once in a while, it’s refreshing to uncover a hidden gem with such great potential for eco-tourism. Ulu Chepor is unpretentious and untainted by the bane of commercialization.
The villagers of Kampung Ulu Chepor take pains to keep Sungai Chepor clean as it’s the river that attracts visitors to the area, especially on weekends and public holidays.
After I wrote about Sungai Chepor last year, I returned to this place with my buddies one sunny day to trace the river upstream.
What To See
The river enchants with multiple falls at 20-30m intervals. There are shallow sections where you can wade in knee-deep water and admire peculiar plants populating the banks.
Look out for strikingly-coloured butterflies gathering near water pockets and you will particularly enjoy looking at a plethora of fungus mushrooming everywhere. These add colour to the dull forest floor.
What To Do
Take a dip in the icy cold water. The waterfall can also give you a soothing back massage. For a cool thirst quencher, leave your water bottle in the riverbed for a couple of minutes and voila, a chilled drink, courtesy of Mother Nature.
It’s also nice to drop by at the many small warung (stalls) to enjoy food, fruit and a steaming cup of teh tarik before heading for home. This way, you’re also helping the local community, which is what eco-tourism is partly about.
1. The banks of Sungai Chepor are infested with leeches. That’s an adventure in itself. Wear a pair of high-cut jungle boots that choke down on your calves to prevent these creepies from sneaking up your pants. Alternatively, a pair of tight, long football socks can be used for the same purpose.
2. Bring along food and water. You never know how far or how long it’ll take you to reach the water source. We spent three hours traversing Sungai Chepor upstream and came to a dead end where huge boulders blocked our efforts to go deeper.
3. As with any jaunt into uncharted territory, it makes sense to bring along equipment such as a compass and first-aid kit. All major mobile phone signals are available but they are faint in Ulu Chepor.
4. Don’t be fazed by obstacles like fallen trees and rutted terrain. Don’t forget you’re in no man’s land. Moving around in untouched wilderness requires effort on your part. A good machete will prove indispensable.
Watch Out For…
Wet and slippery edges are the real peril, not leeches. In one part, we stumbled across a 2m wide elephant trail. Their fresh droppings were a good tell-tale sign.
Wild boars are another hazard you don’t want to cross path with. We came across numerous wallow pits with fresh wild boar tracks. It’s best to avoid these grounds as they may return and catch a whiff of your scent.
These animals don’t take well to intruders.
Last piece of advice: Scour the jungle by all means but never stray too far from the river if you don’t want to get lost. It will be your guide for getting in – and out – of the forest.
Ulu Chepor is not marked in any tourist or recreation forest map. To get there, exit the Plus Highway at Jelapang and take the road leading to Chemor. Look out for an arch (on the left) that welcomes visitors to Kampung Ulu Chepor. Drive in slowly as chickens, goats and children can dart across your path without warning.
On weekends, visitors are required to pay RM1 to enter the riverside picnic ground. The fringes of the rainforest are dotted with warung and picnic huts. There’s also a public toilet.
Location, Driving Direction and Map to Ulu Chepor: