rugged terrain, dense rain forests and numerous mountainous regions make
it an irresistible destination for off road driving enthusiasts. Mud,
heat, sloping hills and rainstorms add to the challenge in the grueling
and exhilarating sport of off road driving.
With 58 per cent of the
country still under jungle cover, Malaysia’s terrain bring out the best
of man and machine in a test of skill under ever changing conditions.
The three international
off road events held in Malaysia annually around October and November
are the Trans Borneo International Rally, the National Challenge and the
Rainforest International Challenge of Malaysia.
The casual visitor may not
be cut out for the rigours of world class international event like the
year-end Camel Trophy or the Rainforest Challenge, two of the world of 4
X 4 driving’s most competitive events. However, there is nothing to stop
an interested novice from learning the rudiments of off road or 4X4
driving and having an exciting time exploring places off the beaten
TO DRIVE AND WHEN
The East Coast offers the best terrain
in Peninsular Malaysia for off road driving. Gua Musang in Kelantan and
Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu, Endau Rompin in Johor, Tasik Chini and
Cameron Highlands in Pahang are the routes most often used for the
sport. The are around the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah and Bintulu in
Sarawak are places of off road enthusiasts in East Malaysia.
There are also some good places to
drive closer to Kuala Lumpur and the Peninsular. The most notable are
Pertak in Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor which is two hours drive from Kuala
Lumpur. The route is especially scenic with fruit plantations and fresh
produce stalls fringing the approach road.
Pahang and Terengganu still remain the
favourite off road driving destinations. The Sungai Lembing mines in
Pahang are a safe though challenging route and anglers may like to pack
their rods for some fishing as well. The Endau Rompin are in Johor is a
more trying route and a group expedition is strongly recommended since a
lone vehicle may encounter difficulties.
Kenyir Lake, Kuala Berang, Sungai Loh
and Sungai Kelamin in Terengaanu are also great spots for off road
adventures. The proximity of these places to small towns make it easy to
get provisions or fuel.
Because of the ruffed terrain and jults
and bumps sustained during a drive, participants need to be of a sound
body and constitution.
Off road driving is a year
round activity, but depending on the level of expertise of the drive,
some months are better than others. The dry season from March to
October make for firmer terrain and less mud. Visibility is also much
better without the slashing November – February monsoon rains and so
the dry months are recommended for the Casual driver.
EXPERIENCING OFF ROAD DRIVING
of companies offer safe, true to life off road driving packages. These
are designed to suit individual visitor’s time constraints.
Enthusiasts can choose between day trips and a two night short haul to
Cameron Highlands. A six days long haul trip flies a prospective
adventurer from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu where a 4X4 whisks them
of to a campsite in the beautiful Kenyir Lake before heading to a beach
resort and returning to Kuala Lumpur.
drivers and camp beds, where needed will be provided by the operators.
Although visitors can rent 4X4s by themselves, they are advised not to
venture into wilds without a guide and a few other driving partners as
the terrain is difficult to negotiate without the help of a seasoned
driver. Monsoons, landslide and rain may also change the tracks and make
them impassable or inaccessible. Some operator also offer off road
training training courses of a one or two day duration with a
certificate upon completion.
PARTICIPATING IN OFF ROAD
two major off road driving competitions held annually in the country.
The national Challenge is held in July and the top ten teams are
eligible to take part in the November Rainforest 4X4 International
Challenge of Malaysia which pits the 50 teams against the full force of
nature’s tropical rainstorms.
need to take charge of the transport and freight expenses of their
vehicles and fuel. Although teams can hire 4X4s, these are limited and
arrangements need to be made two months in advance. In soft or open
topped vehicles, it is mandatory for competitors to wear certified crash
helmets. Alcohol and drug abuse is banned and will result in immediate
Rainforest Challenge covers 2,500 km through seven states in Peninsular
Malaysia with varying competition stages. The major emphasis first and
foremost is on safety, 4 wheel driving and recovery skills. Awards given
include Team Individual Spirit awards for exceptional motivation,
leadership skills and the ability to act on ideas to assist other;
Jungleman award for outstanding teamwork, survival, mechanical and
outdoor skills and the Environment award for demonstrating the most care
and attention to the preservation of the environment.
itself takes eight days but most contestants take three days prior and
after the event for repairs, adjustments and a holiday in beautiful
Malaysia whether by the sea, or in the city or wilderness.
The casual driver as well
as the contestant must always bear in mind that off road driving seeks
to unite man and nature. It is never a test of wills of one against
another. Internationally accepted practices are to be abided by when
traveling and camping.
Always remember to take
your garbage with you. No burying of thrash is allowed. Carry out bodily
functions at least 100 meters away from campsites and well away from
water. Keep to marked trails and do not drive over vegetated sand dunes
while on beaches.
Never run over or flatten
any living undergrowth or saplings if your vehicle can safely go around
it. Attempt also to move fallen obstructions blocking your track rather
than trying to drive over them.
ROAD DRIVING TIPS
- Wear light but
absorbent natural fiber clothing
- Nights in the
rainforests may bet cooler than expected so bring along water-proof
jacket to keep you warm as well as protected from the rain.
- Sturdy shoes are a must
especially in competition events. Bring a pair of thongs or sneakers
to let your feet breathe and relax when you make camp.
- Socks are a must to
keep your feet dry and unchaffed.
- A pair of heavy duty
gloves are also advisable.
- Bring a sleeping bag
and a camping tent for overnight shelter.
- Always check vehicles
before starting out on a drive. Pay special attention to tires which
can develop punctures from the rough terrain.
- Carry a first aid kid
with elastic bandages, surgical dressing, antiseptic, burn cream, eye
drops, scissors and tweezers