03 November 2017 - 05 November 2017
Benak is a term that the locals use to describe the tidal bore, a phenomenon that occurs when huge bodies of water rush upriver against the current, thus forming tidal waves as high as three metres. This marvel of nature has never been truly understood, although the mechanism of its passage and size are fairly predictable.
There are about 60 known places in the world where this tidal wonder occurs, and Batang Lupar River in the district of Sri Aman, Sarawak, is one of them. It is also ranked fourth among the top tidal bores in the world.
The Sri Aman Bore is believed to have its beginnings at Pulau Seduku, Bakong, before it surges upstream towards Sri Aman town and even further ahead to Berangan where the waves finally settle, a total distance of 45 km. Here in Sri Aman, the tidal bore is a daily occurrence with waves that can rise up to almost five metres high and move rapidly between 10 and 15 knots upstream faster than the rising tide.
To celebrate this natural phenomenon, every year, thousands of locals and foreign tourists alike will flock to the “Taman Panorama Benak”, a tidal bore observatory in Sri Aman for the three-day Pesta Benak Sri Aman or Sri Aman Tidal Bore Festival.
Dare-devils can challenge themselves to battle the Batang Lupar tidal bore with longboat paddling, tidal bore surfing and stand up paddle surfing. But beware, Sarawak is infamous for its crocodile-infested waters!
Besides the main highlight of the festival, which is to witness the tidal bore itself from various vantage points around the venue of the festival, Pesta Benak also features plenty of other activities. They include water sports activities, traditional folk games, a beauty pageant, strongman competition, singing contest, a food and trade bazaar and nightly entertainment. Workshops and exhibitions are also part of the activities that have been lined up.
The town of Sri Aman is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak. To get there, catch a bus from Kuching Sentral.