Calling all thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies, and surfing enthusiasts!

Calling all thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies, and surfing enthusiasts!

In Indonesia the heart-stopping Bekudo Bono Festival 2018 of tidal waves is here once more, promising some most challenging barrels that do not crash on the beach but roll deep into the Kampar River in the Pelalawan Regency of the Riau Province. This year, the booming waves are expected to appear between 22nd to 25th November 2018.

Each year the festival attempts to break the world record for the longest and furthest bore ride on the river. The latest Individual Record was made in 2016 held by Australian Surfer James Cotton who successfully rode the tidal bore for 1.2 hours completing the distance of 17.2 km. The achievement broke the previous record held by Steve King from England who covered the distance of 12.23 km in 1.6 hours. James Cotton along with Roger Gamble, and Zig Van Sluys also created the Team World Record by surfing 37.2 km upriver in 1 hour and 5 minutes.


Image by http://www.triptrus.com

The Bono Tidal Bore at the estuary of the Kampar River in Riau Province was “discovered” to be an ideal surfing spot only relatively recent by the international tidal river surfing community. The word spread instantly and the Bono Tidal Bore has since continued to attract surfing enthusiasts from across the world.  Kampar is a long river that springs forth on the west side of the large island of Sumatra in the Bukit Barisan mountain range which forms the spine of Sumatra. The river then rushes down from the west coast to meander across the Riau province, and to finally pour out into the Malacca Straits, on the east coast of Sumatra.


Image by https://backpackerjakarta.com

Along with this long course, the river divides itself into two large branches known as the Kampar Kanan (the right branch of Kampar) and Kampar Kiri (the left branch of Kampar). They then converge again at Langgar in the district of Pelalawan at Kampar’s estuary. Here they are joined by many other rivers, causing Kampar to funnel out into a wide river mouth. At each high tide, huge waves from the sea rush in and meet the downstream current of the Kampar River. Where the two opposing energies meet, and, – caused by the funnel shape of the river mouth, – Kampar’s phenomenal tidal bores are shaped, rushing deep inland, rolling to over 60 km upriver.


Image by https://www.benarnews.org

These tidal bores are known locally as “Bono”, which rush in with loud thundering sound at a speed of 40 kilometers an hour. The surf on the river may rise as high as 4 to 6 meters, at times creating barrels and the darling of surfers. The Kampar tidal waves, named Bono by the local population, occur regularly in the Bay of Meranti, were it was first “discovered” by French and Brazilian bore-riders. Here they found a different and unique sensation. Since then, many bore-riding enthusiasts have ventured to surf the Kampar barrels that are known by locals as the “seven ghosts” for its eerie haunting sounds.


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To reach Teluk Meranti, one needs to fly to Pekanbaru, capital of Riau mainland (not to be confused with the Riau Islands Province), from JakartaMedan or Singapore.


Image by http://www.riaumagz.com

From Pekanbaru airport, it takes some 5 to 6 hours ride by car to reach Teluk Meranti. Here the local population opens their houses as accommodation for visitors. Though quite simple, the homestays are clean and adequately comfortable.

Author: Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.

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