Climbing up mountains is a wonderful way to discover the diversity and uniqueness off Malaysia’s natural landscape, starting from the tropical rainforest in the lowlands to the mountain vegetation in the high elevations. River crossings and gushing waterfalls along the way add to the adventure.
From easier walks in the cool comfort of Peninsular Malaysia’s Main Range to the more challenging peaks of Malaysian Borneo, there are mountains to tempt every level of climber. Be it high or low, with each ascent you make, you will be rewarded with awe-inspiring sights and discoveries that will expand your mind.
MOUNTAINS IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA
The Peninsular has a range of scenic accessible heights as well as steep shrouded mountains. For starters, there are less arduous climbs with well-marked trails at popular sites such as legendary Gunung Ledang in Johor, Historic Gunung Jerai in Kedah or Gunung Angsi in Negeri Sembilan where trips take several hours to a day to complete. These are easily accessible and guides are not compulsory. Gunung Berembun and Gunung Brinchang in the Cameron Highlands offer sweeping views of tea and vegetable plantations and are ideal for those who prefer light trekking. The latter at 2032m is the highest point that can be reached by road in Peninsula Malaysia. Those who want more than a leisure outing can choose a summit that requires a journey through the wilderness first. Gunung Gagau in Taman Negara is a day’s climb, but to reach the base you need to traverse lake, river and jungle and throw in a cave or two along the way before the peak rewards you with a view of three states. For a bigger challenge, head to Gunung Tahan, the highest point in the Peninsular. The 130km return journey takes up to 8 days and traverses over rainforests, tricky rivers and mountain ridges in the unspoilt heart of Taman Negara. An experienced guide is a must.
MOUNTAINS IN SABAH & SARAWAK
Some of the world’s most unique mountain environments can be found in Malaysian Borneo. Gunung Kinabalu, one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia at 4093m is located in the World Heritage Site of Kinabalu Park, Sabah. Accessible to all trekkers, the Summit Trail leading to low’s Peak has clear paths and ropes at steep rocky sections. Exotic plant life found only in the area such as the Necklace Orchid can be seen on the climb. Nearby Gunung Trusmadi is a more adventurous week-long trail through mossy forest, steep hills and rain-swollen rivers. The summit will reward you with the one of the best views of Gunung Kinabalu and a chance to see the remarkably large and rare pitcher plants found only on the ridges of Trusmadi. Most other mountain can be reached in two days as long as you are fit enough to tackle any steep terrain. In Sarawak, Gunung Santubong is one of the most popular mountains with its spectacular view of Kuching. Guides will be needed on the tough trek to Gunung Penrissen, but the 1329m vertical scramble to the top can be completed in a day or two. The long uphill trek to the sandstone summit of famed Gunung Mulu take four days and passes through primary jungle, with swampy patches and huge clumps of colourful rhododendrons before the white clouds disperse to reveal the massive limestone outcropping of Gunung Api just across the valley.
MOUNTAIN CLIMBING TIPS
While many mountains, especially those located in the national parks, have overnight camping facilities and provide some equipment for rental, it is always wise to plan ahead and make inquiries for bookings, weather conditions and other current information. Some remote or protected sites may even require special permits from the authorities. It is best to hire a guide for the trip, unless the trail is well marked. Besides guiding you to the best campsites and rest spots, local guides know the natural history and folklore of the area and are invaluable when plans change and alternative routes need to be taken. The exertion of carrying a heavy pack is compounded by the altitude, so it is always best to choose to climb mountains within your ability. Do not overload yourself with camping equipment. As a rough guide, the weight of your pack should not be more than a quarter of your body weight, the lighter the better for longer journeys.
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT ADVISORY
- Comfortable long-sleeved shirts and pants for protection from leech bites, abrasions and the elements.
- A hat with a wide brim against intense sunshine and light rain.
- A poncho or rain cape.
- A pair of gloves and a balaclava will help protect you from cold summit winds.
- Wear roomy lightweight jungle boots with good ankle supports and a deep-ridged sole, and wear two pairs of socks to prevent blisters.
- A comfortable rucksack with padded shoulder straps, hip belt and internal frame is a must.
- A map and compass for navigating jungle trails; under some dense jungle canopies, the sun might not be clearly seen.
- A whistle is a useful too for attracting attention and signaling others.
- A basic first aid kit for the treatment of abrasions, insect bites and wounds.
- Extra batteries for your torchlight; candles and matches.
CLIMBING SITES IN MALAYSIA
|Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill)||821 m||Pulau Pinang|
|Gunung Jerai||1217 m||Kedah|
|Gunung Korbu||2183 m||Perak|
|Gunung Bubu||1568 m||Perak|
|Gunung Angsi||825 m||Negeri Sembilan|
|Gunung Ledang||1276 m||Johor|
|Gunung Belumut||1010 m||Johor|
|Gunung Tahan||2187 m||Taman Negara, Pahang|
|Gunung Gagau||1376 m||Taman Negara, Pahang|
|Gunung Brinchang||2032 m||Cameron Highlands, Pahang|
|Gunung Berembun||2075 m||Cameron Highlands, Pahang|
|Gunung Jasar||1696 m||Cameron Highlands, Pahang|
|Gunung Perdah||1529 m||Cameron Highlands, Pahang|
|Gunung Stong||1422 m||Kelantan|
|Gunung Chamah||2171 m||Kelantan|
|Gunung Silam||883 m||Lahad Datu, Sabah|
|Gunung Lotong||1667 m||Maliau Basin, Sabah|
|Gunung Kinabalu||4093 m||Kinabalu Park, Sabah|
|Gunung Tambuyukon||2580 m||Kinabalu Park, Sabah|
|Gunung Trusmadi||2643 m||Sabah|
|Tama Abu||2113 m||Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak|
|Bukit Batu Buli||2082 m||Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak|
|Bukit Batu Lawi||2046 m||Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak|
|Bukit Batu||2092 m||Sarawak|
|Gunung Penrissen||1329 m||Sarawak|
|Gunung Santubong||810 m||Sarawak|
|Bukit Batu Iran||2018 m||Sarawak|
|Gunung Mulu||2376 m||Mulu national Park, Sarawak|