- Elevation: 2,187 m (7,175 ft)
- Prominence: 2,140 m
- Ribu category Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Peninsular Malaysia
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
At 2,187m, Gunung Tahan is the highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia and is located in the Taman Negara National Park. It is also the highest peak in the Tenasserim Hills chain (Banjaran Tanah Seri), a 1,700 kilometre-long granite ridge older than the Himalayas which runs all the way down from mid-Thailand to southern Peninsular Malaysia.
It’s probably this region’s most challenging trek and the word ‘tahan’ means ‘endure’ which is certainly rather apt! There are two main trailheads, with one route being longer and requiring a lot more time than the other. The views from the higher slopes of Gunung Tahan are excellent, as the vegetation is mostly low-growing shrubs rather than tall trees.
Elephants and tigers still live in this region, though the chance of seeing any is very, very small. You will almost certainly meet plenty of sweat bees although they are relatively harmless unless they get stuck inside your shirt.
The newer, shorter route is 32 kilometres long and starts at Sungai Relau, which is 7 kilometres from Merapoh. A return hike can be done in 4 days and 3 nights. The route is as follows: Sungai Relau (290m) – Kuala Juram (309m) – Kuala Luis (306m) – Lata Luis (558m) – Kem Kor (750m) – Permatang (974m) – Kubang (1,406m) – Belumut (1,493m) – Bonsai (1,705m) – Bukit Botak (1,943m) – Tahan summit (2,187m).
The other, traditional trail (which is regarded as the most beautiful) is 53 kilometres long and starts in Kampung Kuala Tahan and a return hike typically requires 7 or 8 days. There are numerous river crossings. The route is as follows: Kuala Tahan (60m) – Kuala Melantai (100m) – Gunung Rajah (576m) – Kuala Puteh (112m) – Kuala Teku (168m) – Gunung Pondok Dua (Wray’s Camp, 1,110m) – Gunung Pangkin (1,462m) – Gunung Tangga Lima Belas (1,539m) – Gunung Resket (1,666m) – Gedung Camp (1,830m) – Gunung Gedung (2,085m) – Padang (1,800m) – Tahan summit (2,187m).
Obviously, the best hike to do is a traverse from one side to the other and most who do this seem to opt to start in Sungai Relau and finish at Kuala Tahan so that the lengthy Kuala Tahan route is more descent than ascent. This is around 85km in total and apparently the standard National Park requirement is that it is done over 7 days although as little as 5 days and 4 nights is possible if you can find a willing guide for this and you are sure your group is very fit. The shortest itinerary timewise is briefly outlined below based on our online research so far. Be sure that you start no later than 8am each morning.
Day 0: Get to Gua Musang or Merapoh by train or bus.
Day 1: Sungai Relau-Kuala Juram-Kuala Luis-Lata Luis-Kem Kor-Permatang-Kem Kubang (1,406m). 7-8 hours of hiking.
Travel 13km by 4WD to Kuala Juram (309m) and begin the hike to Kuala Luis (306m). Start the proper climb here to Lata Luis (556m) and Kem Kor (750m) which you should have reached in around 4 hours total. It is then a further 3 hours or so to Kem Kubang. If you don’t make it to Kem Kubang, then stay at Kem Kor and be sure to set off early on Day 2 to ensure you reach Camp Botak or the summit on the second day.
Day 2: Kem Kubang-Belumut-Bonsai-Botak-Summit (2,187m). 6-7 hours of hiking.
From Kubang, it is about 30 minutes to Belumut. From Belumut to Bonsai is a further 3 hours. Bonsai to Botak is 1 hour and Botak to the summit is 1 hour. The last water source is at Camp Botak (1,943m) but if you can make it to the summit (one further hour) then it is obviously preferable for sunset and sunrise photos.
Day 3: Summit-Gunung Gedung-Gunung Reskit-Gunung Pangkin-Gunung Pondok Dua / Wray’s Camp (1,110m). 9-10 hours of hiking.
From the summit to Gunung Gedung is around 4 hours. Gn Gedung to Gunung Reskit is 1.5 hours. Gn Reskit to Gunung Pangkin is 3 hours and Gn Pangkin to Wray’s Camp is 1 hour. Wray’s Camp is named after a member of the 1905 Herbert C Robinson expedition here who were the first recorded hikers to have reached the peak, requiring two weeks in total. Unfortunately, Mr Wray was stuck here with diarrhea and didn’t make it to the summit.
Day 4: Gunung Pondok Dua / Wray’s Camp-Kuala Teku-Kuala Puteh (112m). 8-9 hours of hiking.
Wray’s Camp to Kuala Teku takes around 3.5 hours. Kuala Teku to Kuala Puteh requires around 5 hours and no less than 7 river crossings (some sources state 9 river crossings!) Watch out for leeches here.
Day 5: Kuala Puteh-Gunung Rajah-Kem Tengah-Bukit Malang-Kuala Melantai-Kuala Tahan. 11-12 hours of hiking.
Ascend to Gunung Rajah (about 2 hours), and on to Kem Tengah (a further hour). From Kem Tengah to Kuala Melantai takes around 4 hours and involves crossing the 27 minor hills of Bukit Malang. It is then around 5 hours to reach the Park Resort from Kuala Melantai. Stay the night at the National Park Resort.
Day 6: Transport home – probably using bus or train from Jerantut.
- Getting there: A bus from KL to Merapoh and Gua Musang takes a little over 5 hours. Merapoh and Jerantut are the closest train stations, with an overnight train between Johor and Gua Musang operating in both directions in 2019. To reach Merapoh from Gua Musang takes about 40 minutes by car.
- Accommodation: Hotels in Gua Musang, homestays in Merapoh and a variety of accommodation available on the Kuala Tahan side.
- Permits: National Park guides are mandatory and your items will be checked by staff to ensure no litter is left behind on the mountain. The trail is closed from November to mid-February every year and even booking at this time for a hike later in the year is strangely difficult as there is nobody to make your reservation with in the office. You can try using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Water sources: On the Sungai Relau-Kuala Tahan traverse route available at Kem Kor, Kubang, Botak, near Wray’s Camp, Kuala Teku, Kuala Puteh, near Kem Tengah, and Kuala Melantai.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
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