- Elevation: 2,183 m (7,162 ft)
- Prominence: 1,993 m
- Ribu category: Tinggi Sedang
- Province: Peninsular Malaysia
- Malaysian state: Perak
- Range: Banjaran Titiwangsa / Main Range
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: The traditional name is Gunung Riam.
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. Some Malaysian groups take 4 leisurely days, with an extra night camping higher up than Kem Seroja which is the most popular and largest camp spot.
Below is the typical itinerary for a 3 day hike, camping at Seroja both nights and therfore not needing to carry heavy camping equipment high up towards the peak.
Day 1 (1-2 hours of admin followed by 3-4 hours of hiking)
After the time-consuming process of sorting out the paperwork and then driving to the end of the private Ulu Kinta dam road (for which a second permit is required, also in advance), you can finally get started on the actual hike from the end of the road with just enough room for a handful of cars (291m). The trail gradient is rather gradual to begin with and there are numerous river crossings (including at 445m, 493m, 510m, 514m, and 562m) before reaching Kem Balak Waterfall (569m). This could be used as a camping area by a very small group, but in reality almost no groups camp here because it is between the start (or end) of the trek and not much further to reach Kem Seroja which is the finest and largest camp spot on the entire trail. It is, however, used by almost all hikers as a place to stop and take a break.
The waterfall is a very scenic spot with a mini beach of sand and a huge log stuck over the side of the waterfall presumably after being washed down from higher up in a major storm. Beyond the waterfall there are another couple of stream crossings (761m and 765m) before the spacious Kem Seroja (773m) is reached. There are sweat bees here, but also a lovely little river where you can bathe and get rid of the sweat! The temperature is exceedingly pleasant here. Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep before starting an epic Day 2, probably not long after midnight!
Day 2 (13-18 hours of hiking)
Most groups start incredibly early, at 1am or 2am, and this is a good idea if you want to make it back before or shortly after dark. The first part of the onward trail is not easy to navigate in the dark, and there are many river and stream crossings (at 788m, 837m, 1,027m, 1,040m, and 1,053m) where the trail is not totally clear and you need to rely on your guide and a few fluorescent markers. After around 90 minutes to 2 hours you should have reached Kem Kijang (1,095m and easily missed unless you are seeking it out) after which the trail gets steeper and steeper including a ladder section (1,297m), Last Water Point (1,503m, with the water available at a stream just 1 minute down to the right of the trail), rock and rope sections (1,637m) and then Botak (1,829m), a small opening on the ridge which gives you your first decent view both of the surrounding hills and mountains and also the journey that lies ahead.
Botak is a good place for a break, and you should be up here around 4-5 hours after starting from Seroja. Korbu looks severe and improbably steep from here. Between Botak and Korbu summit, the trail is delightful with decent views, plenty of pitcher plants, and some seriously-challenging ladders and ropes to use to haul yourself up the face of Chuban (2,065m), then Anak Korbu (2,075m) before finally emerging through mossy forest at the summit of Korbu (2,183m), the highest spot in the entire Titiwangsa Range.
The top of Korbu has a few different flattish grassy areas suitable for camping on, but unless you are doing a longer traverse it is not recommended to have to carry your camping equipment all the way up here. The famous yellow summit sign is there, alongside some more temporary signs left by various hiking clubs. A reasonable view down to Ipoh is found just a few seconds away to the left, near where the obscure Senooi trail reaches the top from a different direction.
Korbu summit is a good place to take a break and wait for the rest of your group to catch up. It should have taken you around 6-7 hours to reach the summit from Seroja, and a descent would be a little quicker at 5-6 hours. However, most soldier on to bag another of Semenanjung Malaysia’s seven 7,000ft peaks, Gunung Gayong (2,173m). It’s around 4 hours, or 2 hours each way, to walk the 2.5km from Korbu to Gayong and back again, including dropping down to the col at around 1,980m. Despite the added time and likely exhaustion, it really is worth it, as the trail between the two peaks has some of the most beautiful mossy forest in all of Malaysia and in several places some truly excellent views, especially towards Yong Yap and Tok Nenek.
The summit of Gunung Gayong has a fair bit of space for camping too, and this is most likely used by groups doing a much longer multi-day traverse of the Titiwangsa range. Just prior to Gayong top is Simpang Proton (2,163m), an important junction for those either heading from or to Gunung Yong Belar. In total, it should have taken you around 8-9 hours to get to what is probably your furthest point for the day before turning back and starting the long return journey to Seroja.
The most important thing is to take rests when you feel tired, eat snacks, but no excessive breaks because otherwise you may have challenging and potentially dangerous sections to negotiate in the dark, such as the very steep part of the trail between Chuban and Botak. All being well, you can be back down at Seroja around sunset or shortly after dark. You will probably feel elated at having made it back in one piece!
Day 3 (2.5-3.5 hours of hiking)
This is simply Day 1 in reverse, but after a mammoth Day 2 you (and your feet) may not wish to start hiking early in the morning. Once back down at the trailhead you can congratulate yourself on having reached 2 of the 7 highest peaks in Peninsular Malaysia in a single trek.
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 – Chuban – 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
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
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- 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. Getting to the trailhead itself is a challenge with public transport so best discuss with your guide how best to arrange transportation.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Korbu information pack can be downloaded here.
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- Permits: Two permits required – Dam permit and Forestry permit required usually at least 2 weeks before. Most local guides in Ipoh are familiar with the procedure. 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 (773m) / Kem Kijang (1,095m) / Last Water Point (1,503m).
Local Average Monthly Rainfall