The Shah Alam National Botanical Garden, or better known as 'Taman Pertanian Negara' is home to a variety of fun activities. However, I do believe that the SkyTrex Adventure Park is one of their more exciting attractions, giving the opportunity to climb up into the trees for a few hours of tightrope walking, rope-swinging and flying fox, among other things.
There are three circuits to choose from in the park.
Bookings and payments can be done online at their website, and then it's simply a matter of bringing the booking confirmation to the park at least a half hour before the start of the circuit. Parking at the Botanical Garden is RM3 for a car's single entry, then a further RM3 to enter the park, as the entrance fee isn't included in the SkyTrex Adventure package. Once inside, keep an eye out for the SkyTrex bus stop sign, where an open air bus will swing by to bring participants up through a winding road deep into the reserve where the adventure park is.
At check-in, participants have to fill in and sign a disclaimer form. Gloves are recommended, and can be bought for RM3 though I personally prefer to go without - feels like I've got more grip that way. There's also locker hire and a bottle bag available for rental.
I've been here twice now, the first time being over a year ago. There are three circuits to choose from: Little Adventure, Big Thrill and the Extreme Challenge. My first time was with a group of friends going on the Big Thrill, which costs RM45. My second time was with the Extreme Challenge, slightly more expensive at RM55 and with some platforms soaring as high as 22 metres compared to Big Thrill's highest at 17 metres. The Little Adventure (RM35) is for the little ones, with the platforms reaching between 3 to 5 metres. Even the less adventurous adults can take part as well, or if the kids need a familiar hand with them on the platforms.
Once the harnesses are on, all participants go through a brief training session where we're shown how the carabiners and pulley works. Then it's time to start! As the circuit is high up in the trees, there's really only one way up - the ladder. It's a good workout to begin with, and really gets you warmed up for the rest of the journey, which can go up to three hours.
Instructions for attaching the carabiners on each platform.
Once the circuit has started, it's just a matter of going between platforms in a number of ways. Some platforms will have instructors waiting to help out, and there are even some platforms that have an emergency exit route straight back onto solid ground if anything happens. Most of the time though, the platform will be unmanned - even so, there will be an indication to remind you how to clip the carabiners onto the rope.
The best part I think is the flying fox, especially after a long sweat going through other more challenging crossings. The higher the better. The day I went for the Extreme Challenge was a public holiday, and one of the instructors said that there were a lot more people than usual. Because of this, there was a bit of a 'traffic jam' along the platforms. Some challenges take much longer to complete than others, so there was a bit of a hold-up, especially where climbing up a ladder is involved.
One challenge you don't find on the Big Thrill circuit.
The Extreme Challenge is different from the Big Thrill in a few ways. As mentioned before, it's slightly taller at some points and the Big Thrill doesn't have any monkey bars. I loved the monkey bars, it's really exciting to clamber across the bars while being so high up. The best part is there being no fear of falling - even if you're not keen on using the bars, you can always pull yourself across with a rope.
Take a moment to admire the lush jungle surrounding you.
During the few times alone on a platform, it's nice to pause for a while and take in the view. The surroundings are beautiful, and when you're up high among the trees, there's just the breeze and the low hum of other participants' carabiners moving along the cables. Even on a hot day, the trees give ample shade.
We finished the route in about two and a half hours. After trying both the Big Thrill and Extreme Challenge, I think I much prefer the former, though I wish it had the monkey bars available in the latter. The Big Thrill had a more exciting ending as well - a flying fox all the way back to the ground while the Extreme Challenge ended with an anti-climatic walk down a netted walkway.
When we got back to solid ground, there was a smoky smell in the air - someone had a barbecue going. There was even a birthday party happening next to the Little Adventure circuit, and the atmosphere was busy with people enjoying themselves. While the park is usually only open for the weekends, they also do weekdays with the condition that there has to be at least 25 people present. It's a nice place for a more unorthodox picnic party. The only thing I have to warn about is the less than stellar conditions of the toilets. All things considered, the park is a good place to go for a fun day up in the trees.
The rope bridge - one of the more relaxing crossings.