Monday, June 23, 2014

Kenyir Lake in Terengganu, Malaysia

Believe it or not, Tasik Kenyir or Lake Kenyir in Terengganu, Malaysia is man-made. It's the largest man-made lake in Southeast Asia, created when the Kenyir River was dammed for a hydroelectric power station. The 260 square kilometer lake is home to many species of freshwater fish and wildlife. Plus hill above the water level became 340 small islands creating a spectacular landscape. And that makes it worth a visit!

It's great that the local authorities were able to protect the local fish species which are abundant in the lake. At the visitor's center, there are aquariums where you get to see some of them up close. Around the lake is said to be the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. In fact, it is another gateway to Taman Negara.

To get around, you need to take a speedboat since the lake is really vast and the attractions quite a distance from each other. Some of the islands have been developed into resorts and there are several of them to choose from, perfect getaways for those who want some quiet time with nature.

Some of the islands are being developed into gardens and scientific research centers such as the Kenyir Tropikal Garden (Taman Tropika), a research and development center for tropical fruits, particularly wild and endemic fruits which are in danger of extinction, and the Orchid Garden (Taman Orkid) which features Malaysian and ASEAN orchid species. There are also a Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Herbal ParkRambutan Garden and Heliconia Garden that have been created or are in the works.

There were a good number of orchids in bloom in Taman Orkid which was on several islands connected by bridges. The garden is a research and preservation center for both local and international species.

One of the highlights of a trip to Lake Kenyir is a visit to the Kelah Sanctuary at Sungai Petang (Petang River). The presence of the Kelah fish or Malaysian mahseer (Tor tambroides) is an indicator of excellent ecological balance since they only thrive in rivers that are clean. You actually get to swim with the Kelah fish which rush to you, giving you a soft ticklish nibble. They are so friendly, you can catch them by hand.

Before returning to Kuala Terengganu, we stopped by the Kenyir Elephant Village just in time to watch them take a bath in the river.

How to get to Lake Kenyir in Terengganu
There is a direct bus service from Kuala Lumpur to Lake Kenyir which departs at 9:00 p.m. daily. The Tasik Kenyir Express departs from Hentian Putra. Fare is RM44.10. For more information, you can contact Nikaniaga Sdn. Bhd +60 (9) 8221276 or Hentian Putra Counter +60 (3) 40444276.  

Lake Kenyir is 55km from Kuala Terengganu. A taxi from Kuala Terengganu costs about RM100.00. There are also regular buses to Kuala Berang from Kuala Terengganu (RM8.00 per person). The taxi from Kuala Berang to Lake Kenyir is only RM50.00. But it's best to book a package via travel agency.

At present, there are approximately 70 boat operators providing boat services within the lake. All boats are located at Gawi Jetty. Aside from the regular boats (maximum of 8 people), double deck houseboats are also available (maximum of 12 people).
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