- The jungles of Taman Nagara
- Sepilok’s Orang-utans
- Summit of Mt. Kinabalu
- Food tour of Kuala Lumpur
- Walks through the jungle
Those making their own way to Kuala Lumpur can arrive at the hotel at any time today. There will be a welcome meeting with your tour leader this evening.
Malaysia prides itself in its diversity and this is reflected in its capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL) with its mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese traditions and people. One of the best ways of exploring this diversity is through a food tour of city. We discover different neighbourhoods with their distinct sights, sounds, smells and, of course, delicacies.
We start our journey at Masjid Jamek and learn about how city of Kuala Lumpur started. What better way to enjoy the day by sampling typical food that Malaysians enjoy at a local eatery. Wandering through the small streets of KL, uncover the cultures of the Chinese and Indian communities who came to KL to make their fame & fortune, but stayed on instead to add on another cultural dimension to the Malaysian cultural landscape. We also visit KL’s oldest Chinese and Indian temple to understand more about these communities.
Our visit to Chinatown is rewarded by tasty noodles amongst the locals. After this, take a short ride on KL’s modern local transport system towards Brickfields. This is Little India for KL, and our senses will be assaulted by loud and colourful architecture, music and food as we walk through the Indian neighbourhood. We sample delicious Indian dishes served on banana leaf and seek out street vendors for snacks to end our food journey.
This afternoon we use public transport and visit the Batu Caves. These limestone caves are a holy Hindu site and are guarded by a giant statue of the Hindu god Lord Murugan. This is the 2nd tallest statue of a Hindu deity in the world. Behind the statue are the 272 steps that lead to the caves, and large numbers of monkeys.
Those wanting to have a drink with some amazing views may wish to go to the Heli Lounge Bar later this evening for 360′ views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline light up at night.
An early start to the day as we aim to check out of the hotel around 6:30am to drive about 30 minutes to the start of the trail on Apek Hill, which is part of the Sungei Putek forest reserve. A popular place with locals to exercise, we can expect to come across some locals on the trail. We will follow a loop trail which starts off with a moderate climb up to about 400m, where we pause to enjoy a packed breakfast before hiking down another trail back to the start (some sections may be a little slippery along the way if it has rained).
We will then re-join our minibus and transfer 5-6 hours to the Cameron Highlands with a lunch stop along the way.
The Cameron Highlands is a British-era hill station and the nights are noticeably cooler here. The area is known for its strawberry farms and tea plantations. For those who are interested, there may be time to visit one of the local tea plantations or simply enjoy tea and scones.
Century Pines or similar
Update August 2022:
The Apek Hill hiking path is currently closed until further notice due to restorations works. Until the path re-opens, this morning your group will instead enjoy an alternative hike on Ketumbar Hill, which is closely located to Apek Hill and offers a similar hike in terms of terrain, duration and wonderful views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.
Once the hike on Ketumbar Hill is completed, your group will transfer to the Cameron Highlands and follow the standard itinerary for the remainder of day 3.
Meeting our local guide at the hotel at 08:30 we embark on a jungle trek through the highlands up to Gunung Jasar. The well maintained trail gradually takes us up the side of a river valley on an undulating path with a fairly steep final ascent to reach the summit (1,700m). The Jasar range is protected primary forest and the air is generally cooler, though it can get very humid. There’s a lot of birdlife and, thanks to the altitude, lots of mosses and lichen.
Reaching the peak we can enjoy views of the tea plantations below. We head back along a different route which can be steep in places and you may need to help your balance by grabbing on to tree roots.
Leaving the highlands we journey to one of the oldest remaining rainforests in the world in Taman Negara National Park (about 5 hours plus stops). These primeval forests, dating back 130 million years and covering 4,343 square kms are home to rare animals including Malayan tigers, Indian elephants and crab-eating macaques (though these animals are rarely seen). We should arrive mid-afternoon and settle into our jungle lodge. There should be time to relax or explore the grounds and watch the many monkeys who hang around the lodge. This evening there is the option to go out on an optional night walk in search of interesting insects and nocturnal animals.
Today we explore Taman Negara’s primary forest as we head deep into the jungle on 3-4 hour trek to Tabing. The trek itself is mostly flat and follows the meandering river. As we head further from the park entrance we get a better feel for this primeval forest, one of the oldest in the world.
As we reach the end of the trail we are met by our boats which take us to Lata Berkoh (Cascade Waterfall) some 20 minutes away. Here we have some time to enjoy our packed lunch.
We eventually get back on the boats and head back to our lodge, 45 minutes away. We will be arriving back at the lodge mid-afternoon and the rest of the afternoon is free to either relax or go on some hikes independently along the boardwalks near the lodge.
We spend today exploring the park from the canopy, ground and water. We start off by walking along boardwalks before taking to the treetops on a 300m long canopy walk rising up to 40m above the forest floor. The canopy walk is along a series of fortified rope bridges, these are perfectly safe but if they make you nervous it is possible to wait for the rest of the group at the bottom of the canopy walk. This gives us the chance to discover the forest from a different angle before returning to the ground.
We then take a hike up Teresek Hill along boardwalks. Whilst only 350m high, Teresek Hill offers panoramic views of the oldest rainforest in the world!
Later this afternoon we take to the park’s rivers and ‘shoot’ rapids. Boarding motorised canoes we have a trip along the river including through several sets of rapids. Whilst not quite like white-water rafting, it is still good fun to go down the rapids, Be ready to get wet!
Leaving the rainforest behind we return to the urban jungle, KL. The drive from Taman Negara to KL should take about 4 hours.
Depending on what time we arrive back in Kuala Lumpur there may be a bit of free time for some lunch before we head to the airport to catch our flight to Borneo. Please note there is a 15kg restriction on checked baggage for the domestic flight, but it is possible to pay for excess luggage at the airport or your leader can arrange this at the start of the tour.
Malaysia is a country of two-halves, the Malaysian Peninsula on the one hand and Borneo on the other. This afternoon we leave the Peninsula and our first leader behind and head for the island of Borneo where our next leader will be waiting for us. The flight to Sandakan takes about 3 hours arriving in the evening, then transferring to our lodge in Sepilok.
This morning we visit Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary. Set up in 1964, the 43 sqkm reserve of primary forest is the largest Orang-utan sanctuary in the world and helps rehabilitate orphaned or captured Orang-utans back into the wild. We visit the informative park headquarters and go looking for Orang-utans during feeding time. As the ticket is valid all day you’ll be able to return for the afternoon feeding if you wish. We may also watch young Orang-utans in the nursery section. There is also the opportunity to visit the nearby Sunbear Conservation Centre. Other options include visiting the rainforest discover centre and the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
Today we have an early start and head out on the Sepilok Laut Trail. This walk, of around 9.2kms, starts from the rainforest discovery centre where we have a chance to do a canopy walk. From here the trail makes its way through primary forest giving us the opportunity to experience flora and fauna of eastern Borneo’s lowlands. The reserve we walk through is home to 350 species of trees, 90 species of mammal and 200 species of birds. The trek itself includes two fairly steep hills along with several smaller hills and can get particularly muddy during the rainy season. We also recommend wearing leech socks (which can be purchased locally) or tuck your trousers into football socks.
The trek ends at the Sepilok Laut reception center where boardwalks allow us to explore a mangrove area filled with fiddler crabs, macaques and monitor lizards. We later take a boat for around 20 minutes to Sandakan Jetty before catching a 30 minutes transfer back to Sepilok.
Today we head towards the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mt. Kinabalu. The journey will take 5-6 hours. Depending on time we should have the opportunity to visit the Kundasang War Memorial (optional) which commemorates Prisoners of War who died during the infamous death marches during World War II. The memorial is made up of four gardens, the Australian, English, Malaysian and the Contemplation Garden that represent the different nationalities. There are also a number of self-guided trails through the gardens at the base of the mountain.
This evening we will have a briefing about the 2-day Mt. Kinabalu trek and we will need to pack our bags for the trek. Our main packs will be left behind. Porters are available to carry bags up to the hut we will be staying at tomorrow night, please ask your leaders about this. It is recommended that each trekker brings a rain jacket, warm hat, waterproof gloves, fleece, personal first aid kit, head-torch, sun cream, sunglasses, a change of clothes, toiletries, snacks, water and earplugs. Ideally you should have a 30-35L pack.
Tonight we stay in dorms with shared bathrooms and depending on the gender make-up of the group couples may have to be split into separate dorms.
Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia at 4095m. It is an impressive mountain with its lower slopes covered in thick vegetation rising up the huge granite walls.
Due to its great height, Mount Kinabalu has a number of different climatic zones. It has an enormous variety of plants and animals and is a naturalist’s paradise. There are half of the world’s flowering plants on this mountain alone. There are rhododendrons, innumerable mosses, fungi and ferns, over 1,200 species of orchid and the largest flowering plant in the world, the Rafflesia. Particularly interesting are the carnivorous and insectivorous pitcher plants. There are many animals including badgers, monkeys, squirrels, flying lemurs, and deer. However the chances of seeing many of these on the mountain climb are rare as the trail is well trodden and frequently visited. We are more likely to encounter the many birds, snakes, and insects of the region.
The ascent of Mount Kinabalu is not technically difficult but most people find it challenging so you need to be fit and prepared for a tough two days. The path is wide and clear so you can climb at your own walking pace. Obviously the altitude makes it tougher the higher you climb but it really only becomes harder on the summit day. The trek climbs up through a multitude of vegetation zones and cloud forest to reach Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,300m. The temperature is noticeably colder due to the altitude and really feels chilly, especially when it clouds over. There is a very eerie feel to the place with the huge summit cliffs looming up behind the mountain huts.
We spend the night in dorms in the hut and make the summit climb very early the next morning. Note that, once again, couples may be split depending on the gender makeup of the group.
We awaken around 2am to slowly make our way to the summit. The challenging climb from Laban Rata takes up to 5 hours, depending on fitness and the impact of altitude. Upon leaving Laban Rata it is approx. 350 meters through the treeline to some viewing decks before a section of wooden steps with handrails all the way to the summit. The path levels out as we pass through a boulder field and join Sayat Sayat, the last check point before the summit, where there are toilets. From Sayat Sayat a final rope marks the route to the summit a distance of about 1.8km. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). A torch, waterproofs and warm layers are also essential. As the dawn breaks we will be close to the summit, Low’s Peak. The momentous summit feeling is easily matched by the tremendous view stretching across this part of Borneo as the early morning unfolds. On clear days you can see as far as the southern islands of the Philippines. With a long way to descend and aching legs, we return to the base at Laban Rata to collect any belongings and have breakfast. We continue down the mountain back to the start where there is normally a simple afternoon tea (with fried rice and bread) for trekkers.
Once we have returned to the bottom we will transfer to our beach hotel by bus, approximately 3 – 4 hours’ drive. Arrival time will obviously be determined by what time we leave Kinabalu Park so this will be sometime in the afternoon or evening.
This day is free to explore Kota Kinabalu, relax by the pool or have a massage to soothe aching muscles at a nearby spa. Alternatively you can take a short boat journey to one of the nearby islands to take advantage of the snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities or there is also the option to hire a kayak.
The trip ends today after breakfast, those on the group flights transfer will be taken to the airport for their flight home via KL.
- 7 days walking, some muddy terrain
- Altitude maximum 4095m, average altitude 1500m
- 7 nights hotel and 5 nights guesthouse, 2 nights mountain lodge
- Separate leaders in Borneo and the Peninsula
- Countries visited: Malaysia
- All Accommodation
- All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinners included
- Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Images courtesy of Exodus Travel