I value adventure, but I also value a good night’s sleep, as much if not more. So, when I heard about an the Sticks Malaysia glamping site offering comfy beds and ceiling fans, a mere 90 minute drive from KL I gleefully gathered a bunch of like minded friends and we headed there for one night.
A word of warning, accommodation for families of four or more is limited and the place is popular. Do plan in advance to avoid the debate about who has to stay at the tents without a private bathroom and shower.
Once you’ve worked out who stays where, the rest is pretty easy. We arrived at the site around 1pm having stopped at the nearby Restaurant Ninety Eight for a cheap and cheerful lunch. We found the car park for the site without trouble, as it is about 200m past the entrance to Chilling Waterfalls.
When you see a hut with a friendly attendant you will know you are in the right place. If you have packed lightly and are feeling energetic you can complete the 10 minute walk to the camp with your bags. We had a number of intrepid under 5s with us that relished the adventure, tiptoeing down steep steps and crossing the bouncy bridge.
We were also traveling with a six week old baby, and we all know that makes it impossible to leave home without a car boot crammed full of necessities. So the couple that run The Sticks arranged to meet up at the car park to help with the excess luggage, which was taken down in the truck.
Off for some tubing
Although the official check in time is not until 3pm, you can still enjoy the informal communal area with its swinging hammocks and laid back seating. Or you can do what we did and head to the nearby river to take part in some tubing. Big rubber tubes are provided, which are suitable for adults and older children. But you may want to bring your own rubber rings for littler people. Also the river is a tad chilly, so if you have wet suits they might come in handy.
Waterproof shoes would also be a bonus if you don’t want to find yourself chasing after a flip flop that has floated away. Oh and of course towels are always handy when taking a dip.
Having managed to not catch any fish, but also not lose any children or floaty footwear in the river we returned to base camp to be rewarded for our efforts with a tea time snack of deep fried bananas and French toast. My daughter wolfed down this hearty treat, meanwhile I admired the pretty enamel plates they were served on. Another one of the subtle touches that remind you of proper camping.
So with full bellies the kids happily went off exploring and made full use of the available toys, hammocks and their imaginations. At this point I feel it is only fair to disclose that whilst The Sticks does provide some home comforts you are off grid, so you won’t get a phone signal or WiFi. So not only do the kids have to find gadget free ways to pass the time, so do the adults.
The grown ups in our group found gin and charades was a great way to while away the evening. You will be pleased to hear that it is possible to survive without Facebook and Whatsapp for 24 hours. The only thing you may suffer with is a touch of nostalgia, as you watch your kids play the games you used to when you were a child, like jumping over ropes and finding frogs.
After hours of play both the kids and the adult conversation were exhausted, so we headed to our cosy beds. The next morning we awoke to the sound of birds chirping, the river rushing and the ribbits of a frog who had hopped into to our hut, much to the kids delight. Having enjoyed a heavenly hot shower we tucked into a spot of breakfast. You can choose between a continental and cooked breakfast, that is available between 8am and 10am. This feast help set us up for the hike up to Chilling Waterfalls.
Try and tackle the hike up to nearby Chilling Waterfalls
The trip up to the nearby falls was not something we had originally planned with a group of overtired under 5s and slightly worse for wear parents. But The Sticks is within a 10 minute walk to the entrance of the waterfall, so we thought we should give it a go. If you would like to follow in our footsteps, you need to bear in mind that you can only visit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and that it will cost you RM1 each to get in. Also for an extra RM5 you can start a frenzy by buying food to feed the fish.
The trek to the Chilling Waterfalls from the entrance is about 3km and involves crossing a few rivers of various depths and difficulties. We got close but never actually made it to the waterfall as they were just a step too far for some of the kids and adults. However, I will definitely go back at some point and try again with my 6 and 8 year old who loved squelching through the mud and wading through the water.
The cost of a glamping day trip or night stay
If you like the sound of our stay at The Sticks you can find out more details and make a booking by visiting their website. Our family of four fitted comfortably in a tendon by the river called The Nest, however you would be able to squeeze another person in. The starting price to stay there is RM1091, this includes breakfast and dinner. And because it’s glamping, the food doesn’t consist of some cold baked beans and a sausage burnt to within an inch of the its life.
Our friends with their families stayed in the Opera House, Serengeti Tent and the Riverside Tendok. Judging by which family looked the freshest the next morning, I would recommend staying at the either the Opera House or the Serengeti Tent as these are further away from the noise of the river.
If you just can’t face giving up the comfort of your own bed, there is a daytime trip only option. For access to the grounds from 9am to 6pm, a homemade lunch and tea as well as a 45 minute guided walk in the jungle on a weekend or public holiday will cost RM498 for a group of four. Each additional person will cost RM82, but a RM24 discount does apply for children aged 10 years and under.
If you think this price is too steep you can save some ringgits by visiting on a weekday when prices start at RM330 for four people. But you won’t be able to visit Chilling Waterfalls, as it is closed during the week.
Whilst the cost of glamping is the same as staying at a really posh hotel, there are some experiences that are far superior to room service or a state of the art gym. Watching your kids happy faces as they are splashing around in a river filled with fish, surrounded by beautiful butterflies or having the time of their lives squished in the back of a pick up truck as it climbs the step hill is pretty priceless.