After my husband told me umpteenth time how much fun he had rafting in Africa last year I decided to search for a kid-friendly white water rafting in Malaysia. I knew there are a few in East Malaysia but was not quite ready to travel all that way. As it happens, a friend just returned from Gopeng and told me they had done a range of activities run by a company called Riverbug, including white water rafting – bingo! White water rafting in Malaysia would be our next long weekend plan!
The journey to Gopeng, located near Ipoh, took us about 2 hours from KL. Patrick from Riverbug waited for us at the Gopeng toll and led us to Riverbug’s camp through a kampung area, palm oil plantation and finally a narrow jungle road.
Riverbug’s base is surrounded by greenery and fresh air. We had booked and overnight stay as we also wanted to do caving the next day. If you book a room package it comes with two lunches, a dinner and a breakfast. Rooms are basic chalets with cold showers, and there are a few room types to choose from. You need to bring your own toiletries and towels. Electricity is from generators and only runs from 7pm – 7am.
We could hear the sound of the river flowing just right in front of our room. Bliss! We dropped our bags and headed for lunch at their canteen before our afternoon white water rafting.
White water rafting
I had initially been informed that my five-year-old was too young to join, but wen I spoke to the guide he told me that she can come along as the water level was low and it was safe even for younger children. Yay!!
We were ushered to jump on the back of the lorry – yes, you heard me right! – and taken to the starting point of the rafting. The journey took about 20 minutes. The kids were excited as we needed to duck from low-hanging tree branches along the way. Once at our destination, the guide gave us a safety briefing and went through the essential commands we would use during the ride. We then got fitted with life jackets, helmets and oars and off we went. We needed to carry our boat with the guide… oh boy it was heavy!
There were a few rapids along the way and it was so much fun – the kids called it the ‘water roller coaster’. We had a couple stops to have drinks and a little swim. Kids even climbed up a low hanging tree and jumped into the river. Salute to our guide Jasry as he was so professional and experienced as well as kept a watchful eye on my kids along the journey!
The whole journey took about two hours and ended at the base of our accommodation. The kids still wanted to play by the river relaxing, collecting stones and lazing around on the big rocks. The only complaint was that the water was rather cold! Who would have known you can do white water rafting in Malaysia, and so close to home too.
We had a BBQ dinner at night and after dinner Patrick, the caretaker, lit up the bonfire for the kids. Unfortunately we hadn’t brought any marshmallows but kids were more than happy collecting sticks and twigs to ‘spice up´ the bonfire.
We thought the food was pretty good in general: we had a local lunch with fried fish, curry chicken, mixed vegetables and rice. For the BBQ dinner we had chicken, lamb, spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti pesto and corn. Breakfast was simple: just cereal, bread and fried eggs. For lunch before we left they served fish & chips and fried chicken.
We ended the night with happy and tired kids.
Tips for a rafting trip in Gopeng:
- There are about 15 companies operate the white water rafting in Gopeng. Beside white water rafting Riverbug also runs other adventure trips like water tubing, waterfall abseiling, caving and jungle trek and Rafflesia trek.
- Children under the age of 10 or below 120cm are not allowed to join the white water rafting in Gopeng during monsoon season (Nov – Jan) as the water level is high and rapid levels increase.
- I had requested them to prepare more Western food as my children are picky when it comes to local spicy food.
Caving in Gopeng
We only able to do the stage 1 caving – with stairs all the way to the top. It was an easy walk with lights all the way. You could actually do the stage 1 on your own without the guide, but we had a guide who took us to the Gua Tempurung – Tempurung Cave – and explained to us how the stalactites and stalagmites are formed and showed us where the bats are.
We were unable to do the wet caving with crawling all four in pitch dark as it required a minimum height of 130cm. For the extreme caving they will provide helmets, but you will need to have your own headlights. This has to be a guided tour. If you have asthma or claustrophobia this is not your thing!
You can bring snacks as kids can get hungry after the activities. They also prepared some snacks at tea time (3pm) – banana and local kuihs.
We had a fun weekend trying something completely new. White water rafting in Gopeng was a fun family activity, and particularly my 9- and 10-year-olds had a blast!
For more ideas on what to do with kids in KL, check out this post.