The Pahang River is Malaysia’s longest river. It measures 459 km from its source, near Gunung Tahan, to the sea. We began our trip at Kuala Tahan, and paddled a distance of 339 km to reach the South China Sea seven days later.
The river itself is not spectacular, but visiting the villages and hospitable people along the way made this trip worthwhile.
With a large group, such as ours, certain safety conditions and logistics requirements had to be met. We had a safety crew on the water with us in two boats: a safety boat up front and a supply boat bringing up the rear. On land, a truck, carrying additional supplies, would meet up with us each evening. It was the logistics that would end up giving us the biggest headaches. Roads would be washed out causing delays and difficulties for the land crew. The safety boat crew would be stretched to their limits, as the group could be spread out over a distance of 10 km or more during the course of each day.
In theory, a small group of 4 people on 2 kayaks could do this trip without additional support. One of the problems is the lack of information available for a kayak descent of the river. In practice, this turned out to be pretty straightforward. Google Earth maps make river navigation easy. Villages are marked out on the map and, although the riverbanks are high, each village has a jetty where you can take out the kayaks at the end of each paddling day. The villagers are curious and hospitable and it should be no problem finding a place to buy food or even stay for the night. Still, you should be prepared to camp out and cook for yourself. Having someone along who can speak Malay is essential.
Add a sarong to the equipment list. None of us had brought one along, but almost all of us had bought one by the end of the trip. Use it for a quick change into something dry, wearing around camp and as a blanket at night. Other essentials for the trip are St. Luke’s Prickly Heat Powder (useful to help ward off fungus) and standard mosquito coils.
Photos from Top:
Morning Paddle 1. Taken by Aloysius Wee with a Sea & Sea DX-1G, 1/130 f/7.9 ISO 100;
Paddling Down The Pahang River I. Taken with a Sea & Sea DX-1G, wide-angle adapter, tripod mounted to kayak and camera on interval timer. 1/1000 f/3.2 ISO 100;
Morning Paddle 2. Sea & Sea DX-1G, 1/640 f/8.1 ISO 100;
Drifting... Sea & Sea DX-1G, 1/270 f/4.6 ISO 100