Are You Ready To Conquer Mount Tahan – The Roof Of Malaysia Peninsular?
Mount Tahan is the highest peak of Peninsular Malaysia (2,187 m) in the Tahan Range, West Malaysia. It is the central feature of Taman Negara National Park which is a large natural area situated about 200 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur with 4,343 square km.
Taman Negara consists of a world’s oldest tropical rainforest, which is 130 million years old. The dry season lasts from February until September and high season is April to August. Besides Mount Tahan, the park also encompasses a wide plateau, rivers, and limestone outcroppings. The nearly pristine rainforest is home to thousands of species of trees and flowering plants, including parasitic plants such as orchids and monster flowers. Wildlife includes a variety of monkeys, over 300 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and exotic insects. The park is a refuge for many of Southeast Asia’s rare large mammals, including elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, Sumatran rhinoceroses, and Malayan tapirs. It also offers fishing, fish feeding and kayaking. That is the reason why Taman Negara is a popular tourist destination.
Tahan Mount is considered as the most difficult summit to conquer in all of Malaysia. The mountain can only be reached after several days of jungle trekking through many rivers and steep rooted paths. You are likely to encounter blood-sucking leeches, torrential rains, and monkeys, poisonous snakes, tapirs, wild elephants or tigers.
There are 2 approaches to the mountain and guides are compulsory from either direction. The traditional route which is a 55 km trek is from Kuala Tahan in the south. Guided trips advertise a minimum of 7 days for the round trip. Tourists can start from the city of Jerantut, take a taxi or bus to Kuala Tembeling, then take the 2-3 hour boat ride to arrive at Kuala Tahan. The alternate approach is from Merapoh in the west that is 46km from this direction and it takes 5 days. At Merapoh, a sign marks the main highway for Taman Negara – Pahang with a 7-km drive to Sungai Relau where you can register, get a permit, and arrange for a guide. You are likely to see elephant dung and track along the road to Kuala Juram, the final point for the trek. Here there are restrooms with water, a bunkhouse and a mosque.
Upon departing, you will immediately cross a suspension bridge over a wide stream. The trail starts relatively flat through dense foliage and the river 3-4 times. After 13.5 km, you will arrive at Kem Kor which is easily the best campsite between the road and the summit. The next trail starts to get slightly steeper with many roots and several river crossings. After reaching Bonsai, a mere 5 km to the summit, you can see better views of the surrounding landscape. There is a good campsite that is 2.4 km from the summit with a convenient water source. There are also a couple of sites on the peak and some small trees providing shadow.
Since the paths are well marked and guides are required, getting lost should be difficult. However, you can get the risk of a tiger or leopard attack, snake or wasp bites which can cause paralysis and death. This is the rainforest so get used to getting wet and soaked, probably every day. Just try to keep your food in a waterproof bag and sleep in a tent. Rubber water proof shoes and insect repellant are highly recommended by locals. There is no need to bring too much water because there are places to find water through some sources. Remember to drink a lot to stay replenished.