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Tasik Bera
Ben van Wijnen

Tasik Bera

We visited Tasik Bera, during our stay in Temerloh (Green Park Hotel). Temerloh is a town between the East and West coast.
It's a good option, because you can visit from here:
- Kuala Gandah (the elephants),
- Lake Chini and
- Tasik Bera.

There's a regular bus service at the Pekeliling bus station in Kuala Lumpur to Temerloh.

The reception of the hotel Green Park was very friendly and did help me finding a good taxi-driver to bring me to Tasik Bera and Lake Chini.

It's a one-hour ride to Tasik Bera and on our way we visited a palm oil factory and a rubber plantation.
A taxi-ride to Tasik Bera (60 km) will cost you RM80.-
The taxi-driver was also our guide and we paid him for that day RM160.- (2 x RM80.-). Waiting, visiting the palm oil factory and rubber plantation was no problem  for him.

 

Tasik Bera is not tourist destination. We were the only tourists of that day.
Upon arrival you have to register (no charges), there's a visitors centre and at the restaurant near the lake you could have a cold drink or a meal.
There's also a small resort. Tasik Bera Resort has five air-conditioned rooms, two dormitory type hostels for 40, a camping site for 200, four Semelai traditional hut chalets. Opened throughout the year.

Visitors would have no shortage of activities and it's good to start by first stopping at the information centre, which has a museum, to find your bearings. There are brochures of the lake, Semelai tribe and importance of wetlands and their bio-diversity.

Tasik Bera is the home of 94 fish species, approximately 200 bird species; and endangered reptilian species such as the Malayan False Gharial (a freshwater, fish-eating crocodile), the totally protected Striped Giant Soft-Shelled Turtle, the much sought after Malayan Giant Turtle, reticulated pythons that can grow to a length of 18 feet, prehistoric looking monitor lizards and lots of frogs species.

Visitors centre
Visitors centre at Tasik Bera

  Tasik Bera is  one of the two natural freshwater lake systems in peninsular Malaysia covering.
The other one is Tasik Chini.

Tasik Bera is 35 km long and 20 km wide and drains into the Pahang River. As the largest freshwater swamp in Peninsular Malaysia, Tasik Bera or Bera Lake remains both a unique and remote wetland wilderness.

The lake has a complex lake-cum-forest eco-system with diverse flora and fauna including a number of endemic and endangered species.

Tasik Bera has many functions. While being a source of biological resources with direct practical uses, they help in conserving fresh water, flood mitigation and sediment control.

Bera is 35km long and 20km wide. It covers 6,150 ha. It doesn't seem big, no one knows how deep it is and the water in front of the Tasik Bera Resort jetty is unbelievably still and calm all the time.
It's the largest freshwater lake in Malaysia.
The lake, which is rich in wildlife and vegetation, is in itself an ecosystem that supports a diverse species of flora and fauna including 200 different types of birds, 68 species of mammals an 94 species of fish. The area is also a sanctuary to several endangered species.

Tasik Bera plays an important role in flood control, water flow regulation and purification and provides many natural resources for the local community. The peaty-oil is also said to retain huge amounts of carbon and thus acts as a 'carbon reservoir".

In realising the importance of its bio-diversity and of its international significance, Tasik Bera was gazetted as a protected area under international treaty called the Ramsar Convention in November 1994. Ramsar Convention is the world's oldest environmental treaty named after the town of Ramsar in Iran where it was launched in 1971.
Tasik Bera is also an excellent place for bird watching, studying insects and fishing, including for the ikan tapah (wallago attu), a freshwater catfish that could grow up to 30kg.
Then there are the jungle walk, including at night, and full moon cruise on the lake, something for honeymooners.

house of the semelai

  To some, the highlight would be a visit to the Semelai settlement at Kampung Jelawat to see how the Semelai harvest oil from the kruing minyak. A fire is lit in a large hole hacked in the trunk to draw the oil.

The tribe cultivate padi huma (hill padi) as well. The Semelai call themselves "the lake people". They lived around the lake for 600 years. They plant hill padi, banana, tapioca, sweet potato, sugarcane as well as hunt for small animals and fish.

The tribe is known for making handicraft using mengkuang frond and carve miniature perahu jalur (canoes) from balau wood for sale.

Guests can stay at a traditional Semelai house. Built in the traditional Semelai way, the house, which is called Balai, can accommodate up to 10 people.
It provides spartan amenities in the form of a well, an out house and bathroom located outdoor. Kerosene lamps are used at night. Another good way to experience local hospitality is to participate in a homestay programme.

The homestay programme gives you the chance to stay in a traditional Semelai house and experience the everyday life of a Semelai family.

A ride through the narrow waterways, consisting of a labyrinth of the pandanus (screw pines) trees in the swamp with a lot of dead ends, is another distinct Bera experience.
The lake features interlocking eco-systems of open water, reed beds, ponds, rivers, dry lowland forests, and freshwater, pandanus and blackwater (peat) swamps.
Water lilies and lotus are in abundance while pandanus cover most part of the lake.
Buaya jenjulung (tomistoma schlegeliia), a fish-eating crocodile with long snout, is native to the lake but very rarely sighted.

Semelai on the lake

 

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   Ben van Wijnen

 

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