Korbu

Facts

  • Elevation: 2,183 m (7,162 ft)
  • Prominence: 1,993 m
  • Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
  • Province: Peninsular Malaysia
  • Google Earth: kml
  • Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes) Add your rating
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  • Other names: none.

Photos

Bagging It!

At 2,183m, Gunung Korbu is the highest peak in the Titiwangsa range and also the second highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia. It is part of 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 was thought for some time that nearby Yong Belar (2,181m) might be the most prominent in the Titiwangsa range based on SRTM data but accurate topographic maps suggest that Korbu is indeed around two metres higher. This was recently confirmed by Malaysia’s Department of Survey and Mapping who state that both peaks were surveyed in 2012.

The trail starts at Ulu Kinta Dam (Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah) and the trail is around 15km in length. It is just about possible for very strong hikers to do Korbu over two very long days, but if you want to bag nearby Gunung Gayong (2,173m) too then you’ll probably need three days minimum (most Malaysian groups take 4 more leisurely days). It’s around 3 hours to walk the 2.5km from Korbu to Gayong and back again, includingg dropping down to the col at around 2,000m.

The trail is as follows: Ulu Kinta Dam (Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah) – Waterfall – Kem Seroja (c800m) – Kem Kijang (c1,100m) – Last Water Point (c1,550m) – Botak (c1,850m) – Cuban (c2,100m) – Korbu summit – Gayong summit.

It takes around 3 hours from the trailhead to Camp Seroja, a further 1.5 from Camp Seroja to Camp Kijang,  2 hours from Kijang to Botak (via the last water source which is signposted after one hour) and 1.5 hours from Botak to Korbu summit. So 8-9 hours in total, not including continuing to Gayong summit. The final section just before Korbu summit involves hiking up lots of metal ladders.

For those wanting to spend 5 days or so exploring the Titiwangsa range, it could also be hiked along with Yong Belar in the following way: Trans Titiwangsa V1 camping trip (Blue Valley Dam or 4WD to Kebun Sayur – Kem Tudung Periuk – Kem Kasut – Yong Belar – Kem Kuali – Anak Yong Belar – Puncak H20 – Kem H20 – Gunung Junction – Kem Cerek – Gunung Gayong – Gunung Korbu – Chubun – Botak – Last Water Point – Kem Kijang – Kem Seroja – Waterfall – Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah).

Water source for V1: Kem Tudung Periuk / Kem Kasut / Kam Kuali / Kem H20 / Kem Cerek / Last Water Point / Kem Kijang / Kem Seroja

Practicalities

    • Getting there: Tasek or Ipoh is the closest train station. In 2018, there is a northbound train leaving KL around 2330 and one returning south arriving KL again around 2000.
    • Accommodation: Plenty available in the nearby city of Ipoh.
    • Permits: Two permits required – Dam permit and Forestry permit. Most local guides in Ipoh are familiar with the procedure. RM15 required in advance, usually at least 2 weeks before. The Dam gate opens at 6am and closes at 7pm. You can register and pay for an e-Permit online from the Forestry Department of Malaysia website. The dam gates are open from 6am to 7pm.
    • Water sources: Available at Kem Seroja/ Kem Kijang / Last Water Point.
    • 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.

Local Average Monthly Rainfall
Average precipitation (rain/snow) in Gua Musang, Malaysia

Location

6 thoughts on “Korbu

  1. So…. another gunung trip to add to the huge and growing pile of cancellations due to coronavirus. How many more will there be across the world this year? And how are people going to retain any sense off sanity being stuck indoors, away from hills and beaches and so on?

    Foreigners anywhere in the world at risk of being abused for ‘travelling’ and ridiculous scenarios at least in Indonesia of Regents (‘Little Sultans’) closing off certain areas to foreigners only, even ones who are resident in the country and should have every right to travel just as much as a local ‘born and bred pribumi or otherwise’. See the news story about surfers who had legally entered the country via Bali being turned away at ports in Sumba, running out of food and water and then our own story of being told the Regent of Tolitoli had signed a letter to keep out foreigners arriving whether by land, sea or air! Surely decisions like this can be made at a national immigration level unless the president allows it to be otherwise in the current climate, but that is not to say that these local ‘rules’ will not be acted upon. Sadly, many Indonesians aren’t nuanced enough in their thinking to understand that non-Indonesian citizens also call the country home – the number of times I get asked when I will be going back to the UK, just minutes after I have explained at length about my teaching job in Jakarta! I am sure they would be pretty offended were the same thing to happen to them if they lived and worked overseas, but perhaps thinking from other perspectives is rather hard for many of them.

    Anyway, back to Malaysia. The day before flying in to KL from Jakarta (15th March), I was looking at the news, and our itinerary (Korbu, Tahan, Benum then off to Sabah for Magdalena), and being completely 50-50 about it. Who could give us a straight answer about borders closing in the forthcoming days or mountains being shut down by authorities? Nobody…. not even government ministers….total gamble based on whatever news you could find. The risks… obviously not a good idea to be flying, but a small group hiking in the forests is not likely to pose a significant threat of transmission (though it’s a great argument against these bloody horrendous groups of 20 or more making noise, litter and yes probably more likely spreading disease amongst themselves!)

    Given the uncertainty over whether or not we would (a) be able to get back to Indonesia or (b) go hiking at all and some considerable concern about leaving relatives at home at a vital time to be keeping each other safe from transmission, I decided reluctantly to cancel. People were understanding but disappointed.

    The next day (16th March), news came in firstly of Indonesia closing off mountains in Central Java, then from my workplace of staff being banned from leaving the Jakarta area, then of Taman Negara being closed down for at least 2 weeks (meaning Tahan would be impossible anyway) and finally late in the evening of Malaysia being shut down in terms of activities and tourism and entering and exiting from 18th March until at least 31st March. So…. it was the correct decision to cancel as we would have been stuck in Malaysia with no way out! Sometimes it pay to be cautious and listen to the sensible part of your brain, however much you want to bag Korbu, Tahan, Benum and Magdalena.

    Success rate on Tahan and Magdalena for me is pretty bad – both 2 fails now due to not even starting the hikes! Third time lucky, but when will that be? 2020 is likely to be a very disappointing year for outdoor enthusiasts across the world. I am going to use this time at home to work on a self-employment plan I have to hopefully be able to have more flexibility from next year to hike more regularly and not just during one or two longer breaks from work which cannot be extended.

    As for corona itself, based on what we currently know about its source, it is yet another great reason why becoming vegetarian is a noble cause. Leave the endangered species alone!

    • 4 for noodle-eating groups at a leisurely pace, 3 for faster hikers, 2 for the ultra-fast or those not bothering with Gayong. Some folk have done it as a very long dayhike with no camping, but I imagine this requires running and starting and finishing in the dark.

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