I had been mentioning about the beauty and legend of the Mount Santubong in my previous articles, yet I have never shared anything about trekking in Mount Santubong, and the reason is simple: I have never got a chance to do it. It was then that I told myself: “Cato, get out from the chair and make something different in your life”. It made sense, so when, while attending the 2016 Rainforest World Music Festival I was invited by my teammates and media friends to join them for a morning walk there, I said yes, and so did my colleague Phyllis. I was so happy she was willing to join me on this adventure.
I must admit that at first we almost change the plans as we were so tired from the festival. The previous night’s concerts had lasted until 1am, and that night we were busy dancing and singing with the band, to the point I have to tell you that Phyllis and I made the perfect back up singers for them!! Hilarious isn’t it?
However, on meeting up with our editor Thomas and with a group of Indonesian friends, we still merged and went ahead with the planned schedule. We were slightly late doe to the indecision, but we still managed to start the hike. The journey was made easy by the fact that we were lodged at the Damai Beach Resort – thanks Sarawak Tourism Board for that – which is less than a 5 minutes drive from the trekking starting point.
By the time we reached the information centre at the Santubong Forest Reserve Office, placed at the mountain’s foothill, it was already 9am. Matthew the kind officer gave us a map and we were on the way. We wrote our name down at the visitors’ list and were soon on the way up.
There are two trekking options: one, the shortest, is a circular route to the Santubong Waterfall; the other is the harsh trek to the peak of Mount Santubong. My friend and I opted for the shortest one, also due to the fact that the time in our hands was limited.
I could still feel exhausted because of the previous night limited sleep, yet my enthusiasm for climbing was still burning. Maybe it was because I could take lots of pictures to match my articles, or perhaps it was thanks to my friend Phyllis, with whom I chatted a lot along the way, or could it have been thanks to the cool air and clear breeze I was experiencing? Whatever it was, I was so happy about the trip.
It was when we arrived at the fork that Thomas, joining a group of students from Perah in Malaysia, continued the trek towards the top and we all continued as scheduled towards the Santubong Waterfall.
It was a tough journey at first; we passed areas covered in stones and some of the track was not so clear after all. Yet, we paid attention to the red and blue markings first and to the blue later and we were fine. To recap: red ribbons towards the peak, blue ribbons towards circular trek. We marvelled at the several species of trees, small water flows, armies of ants, bountiful plant and a few wild flowers. We negotiated a couple of rope-aided climb, which reminded us of Tarzan movies, but the walk was smooth overall.
Phyllis and I reached Santubong Waterfall in less than an hour. I must admit we walked pretty slow, the reason behind it being that we both wanted to appreciate our time in the jungle, enjoying the scenery offered by this amazing mountain. At the waterfall we found a resting place besides the suspension bridge that goes across the stream. From there, we took great shots of the waterfall.
Some may say this waterfall is too small, but I was happy with it. It is perfect for bathing and relaxing, and the water is crystal clear and really cool. There is the chance to clim to the top layer of the waterfall, but it is only recommended if you are sure-footed and experienced. Also, diving or diving in the pool is considered too risky. Phyllis and I did not have swimming costumes on, so we just cooled in it, refreshing legs and face. My Indonesian friends instead enjoyed to the full, swimming and bathing like kids. On the surrounding area, a few people were enjoying the peace and some had even arranged a BBQ.
We then faced the way back with the same enthusiasm, and managed to meet a couple of adventurous girls from Kuala Lumpur. It was their first visit to Kuching so we shared a few tips with them. The way back took us about 30 minutes. We were so happy with the experience that we are already planning a trek to the top of Mount Santubong, which should be rewarding to say the least.
But let me now share some information for those who are keen to visit this place in the future.
The Santubong Waterfall is located within Santubong Forest Reserve, which was gazetted in 2007. It covers an area of 1410 hectares and the main attraction here is the mountain itself. Its peak is at 810 meters above sea level. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the waterfall, and 30 minutes back (which mainly depends on your pace and level of fitness). The trek to the top of Mount Santubong should take 3 to 4 hours for the 3.5 km hike.
It is recommended to start early morning when the sun is not so strong, and to do a bit of stretching both before and after the trek. This should prevent cramps and injuries. Bring enough water and food, use proper shoes and bring insect repellent and sun block with you. The time to be back at headquarters to sign off is 3pm.
DO NOT leave any rubbish behind, and DO collect rubbish if you see any, and take it down to the park rubbish bins. DO NOT vandalise facilities or remove ribbons, DO NOT collect any plant or living being. For information contact Santubong Forest Reserve Office at +62 (0)82370100. Access to Santubong Forest Reserve Office is free of charge. Happy hiking!
National Parks Booking Office: http://ebooking.sarawak.gov.my/
Asianitinerary stayed at the Damai Beach Resort: http://asianitinerary.com/damai-beach-resort/