Fishing, swimming and kayaking are common activities one can do in the river. But in Kampar river at the eastern side of Sumatra island, you can do something completely different: surfing. Kampar is one of a few rivers in the world that has the infamous tidal bore and in this river, the special wave is named “The Bono.” Just like the powerful voice of Bono, the U2 group rock singer, the wave will rock you with its 4 meter high barrels.
The Bono is created from a unique mixture of nature: a clash between the water flow of Malacca Strait, South Cina Sea and Kampar river itself. The result is completely amazing. Brown tide extends up to two kilometers with seven layers of waves following behind. Thus, Bono is also popular as “seven ghosts” though it sometimes comes in more than seven layers.
Bono looks just as amazing as the ocean wave. Every time the swells come, the tree branches get broken swept by the strong stream overflowing onto the river bank. The type of the wave also vary ranging from mellow (slow wave), high-speed hollow waves to barrel with a tunnel shape. It sounds dangerous but for the true wave riders, that will be another perfect challenge for them to show off their surfing skills.
You can come at any time to enjoy the Bono because this wave can be found throughout the year – day and night. The best part comes during full moon, when the moon’s gravity pulls the water surface till it reaches its maximum height. Years ago when the river hadn’t got widened and the base was deeper, the wall of water can reach 6 meters high. But now, it will only rise to 4 meters.
The exact location of the Kampar river is in the district of Kuala Kampar, Pelalawan in Riau Province. You can access it from Pekanbaru city by private vehicle to Pangkalan Kerinci, Pelalawan’s capital. It’s them followed by a trip along a bumpy dirt road for roughly 3-4 hours to Teluk Meranti, favorite base for surfers. The area is lined with Pelalawan’s typical stilt houses with hanging honeycomb-designed roof which are mostly functioned as an inn. The surf lovers can find a surfing center there that provides boats to get to the best surfing spots in Kampar.
Kampar river is getting more attention after Pelalawan government promoted the Bono at the Deep and Extreme Indonesia 2012 in Jakarta. The visitors were attracted with various videos showing tourists having good time riding the spectacular waves. And to make Kampar more well-organized, the government has helped provide two speedboats and several units of surf boards following the event.
Riding Bono is not the only highlight Pelalawan has to offer. Spend a day or two to tour around the city and enjoy the varying cultural treats such as rhyme game, kompang instrumental music show, Lukah Gilo ritual and Zapin dance regularly staged at the city hall. Don’t miss to enjoy the local tastes ranging from Nasi Padang, Aceh noodle, catfish Sempedes and more. Happy surfing for you!