Last weekend I went on one of the most relaxing jungle retreats in Malaysia. Since moving here, the jungle has become my favourite place to be. I’m fortunate enough that my condo faces one and for ages I’ve been dreaming of taking things one step further and sleeping in it too!
If you prowl the internet for jungle retreats from KL, heaps of results will show. But what I’ve found is that many of them are either hugely expensive and lovely, hugely expensive and a bit too rustic or could potentially get busy with big groups. I don’t know about you, but when I come on a jungle retreat, I’m looking for nothing but undisturbed views, remoteness and tranquility.
I definitely found it.
Just a 1.5 hour car ride from Kuala Lumpur you will find The Dusun, perched opposite the Berembun Forest Reserve in Seremban. The resort has been strategically positioned not only to be amidst nature, but have complete views of it.
The owners, expats Helen, David and their 5 children used to come to the region in the 80’s for weekend getaways. Back then they had to do everything themselves, like sourcing water, clearing land and building their traditional Malay-style house. After some time in 2009, they decided to open their retreat to guests and built five houses to accommodate.
When we arrived, we were greeted with undisturbed, panoramic jungle vistas that became our eco-friendly living room TV. There was not a house, road or car in sight. It was utterly therapeutic.
Interestingly, the morning before I started to feel like I was coming down with something (half of my class fell ill that week) and all the way in the car I felt nauseous. But no word of a lie, as soon as I stepped foot through the gate and gazed upon the green terrain, listening to the mild buzzing of life amongst the trees, I immediately felt better. If that isn’t the best medical care, I don’t know what is.
The Dusun have a few different houses which are all sparsely positioned. On their website, they clearly state that privacy is valued (we so speak the same language!) but I thought our stay at Lanai House was the best because it was even more private. No-one needed to walk past as it was the farthest house in front and had it’s own path leading from the small car park.
The living room is open plan with a kitchen behind, allowing the gentle breeze to keep you cool. We stayed here most of the time and dined, read, or just gazed upon the lush flora as we spoke about how amazing it would be to live completely off the grid.
The resort is self catering, although they have a small restaurant on site that serves breakfast and pre-booked lunch/dinner. The breakfast was nothing special, but the coffee and fruit was good. You may wish to cook your own brekkie for something more substantial.
Our kitchen was fully equipped with a stove, fridge, and enough pots, plates and utensils for you to whip up almost anything yourself. They even have a large water dispenser so you don’t have to bring your own.
But better than that, they have a BBQ. Everything is made easy for guests and the resort provides coal and firelighters for 20 RM. They also arrange a time to come a light it for you. As the Sailor cooked up some tasty lamb cutlets, I sat facing nature speaking to my sister over Whatsapp at dusk whilst the noisy cicadas woke up in song.
As much as she loved the pictures of where I was, I told her that she probably wouldn’t be able to cope with all the bugs around! (She’s from London and squeals at the smallest insect.) We had quite a few uncoordinated cicadas, beetles and other unidentified bugs pay us a visit on the first night, as well as a couple of swooping bats, but we stupidly had all the lights on. The second night was much better as we reduced the amount of lights!
Parallel to the Batang Penar River that flows below, there is an entrance to a jungle track that leads to a waterfall. Although it’s a relatively easy walk, the resort recommended that we take a guide as there’s several forks in the track. It only takes about an hour to get there, but you can get very lost in that time! Apparently they’ve had to rescue guests on a number of occasions.
As we prefer wandering on our own, we bypassed the walk and opted for what we really wanted to do. Chilling by the pool. We only had one full day after all and needed to squeeze in as much ‘do nothing’ time as possible.
The Dusun has two well-maintained infinity pools to relax during the day. The first is next to the restaurant and Berembun House. The second is positioned down a few steps that lead back to our house. We went after midday and had it to ourself for hours.
After two nights of bliss, we could have easily stayed a week. The Dusun is the perfect place to recharge batteries after a crazy work schedule and leave feeling zen. As it was made so comfortable, it felt like a home in the woods.
I also loved how sustainable their practices were. They pride themselves on hiring staff from the local Kampung (village) and shop from small entrepreneurs and other responsible businesses. Their resort respected nature and honours sustainable farming and building. From eco-friendly body wash, to the non-use of pesticides and in house composting, they take responsible tourism seriously.
As it turns out, when I left The Dusun I started feeling my immune system weaken again and felt crap for the few days that followed. Could the jungle really have healing powers? I’ll let you be the judge.
For the best rates, you can book via Booking.com.
As I searched for jungle retreats previously, this January a 20% off deal popped up as a sponsored link on my Instagram account. Do keep a look out at the beginning of the year for discounts.
The Dusun is just a 1.5 hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur.
We don’t have a car but always rent one using GoCar. There are multiple GoCars dotted around KL and it’s usually more convenient than venturing to a car rental.
You can register via their website and then book via the app. They have a newer fleet of Renault Capturs at RM 109 per day, as well as their older Nissan Almeras at RM 90 per day.
Tips For The Trip
- Traffic from KL can be a nightmare on a Friday! Try to leave as early as you can to avoid the build up on your way out of the city.
- If you rent a GoCar, get additional car insurance. We normally use RentalCover.com and it cost about £10 GBP per day.
- For about 10 minutes, the road leading up to the Dusun is only big enough to fit one car. If you’re going uphill and approach an oncoming car, let them reverse to a safe spot for you to pass. We tried to help by reversing into a small grassy area and ended up taking off the front number plate. (Get insurance guys!)
- Although the kitchen is fully equipped, you may wish to take your creature comforts from home, like: a chopping board, kitchen knife, salad bowl and wooden spoon. They have basics like oil, salt and pepper so you don’t need to take your own.
- There are 3 big ceiling fans in the open living area which blow away the mosquitos, but don’t forget to bring repellant. You may also wish to bring your own coils.
- They have heaps of candle holders but no tea lights. It would be nice for some added ambience in the evening should you have some spare.
- The altitude can make it a little chilly in the mornings and evenings, so you may wish to pack some comfy trousers and a light jumper (note: I have however fully acclimatised to Malaysian weather!)
- When I arrived, I asked if there was a key for our house. I was told no, so I didn’t even bother asking about the internet! They do have the internet however, but I’m not sure how strong it was. We used our 4G coverage the whole time.