The hike up Gunung Berumbun holds numerous rewards – beautiful trails, burbling streams, the cool respite of a waterfall, and a World War 2 relic – but be prepared for a challenge.
Setting off from Pantai, a small jewel of a village in Negeri Sembilan, the KL Hiking group led by Alex convoyed its way up past the boutique eco-resorts of The Dusun and Shorea to the gates of the Pantai Water treatment plant.
There’s space to park on the right and the Gunung Berumbun trailhead is located on the left by an electric distribution box. It starts easy enough, up a short slope before bearing off to the right.
From here the trail is a long but lovely, well-maintained leafy walk that meanders alongside the river as it rushes past below. Unlike many Malaysian forests, the Berumbun range is a protected primary forest rather than a secondary one and is a popular site for birders.
Within 40-minutes and multiple small stream crossings, we arrived at the picturesque Berumbun Falls, a gorgeous wide 2–tiered set of falls that cascades into a wide but deep pool with shallow sandy sides and lots of small smooth rocks to sit on. The cool water was invigorating and the perfect temperature for a dip.
There are two means of getting across – a makeshift bridge and the river. Fashioned out of two monsterously large tree trunks that meet in the middle in a v shape, the “bridge” is a balancing act that requires a bit of care due to its slippery nature. I’m not sure how much longer it will be of use though since I sensed some give due to rot. The second log has a rope stretched along it to provide balance.
From here it’s approximately 50 minutes to an hour to the next checkpoint – Gua Kambing or Goat Cave, a makeshift shelter from the rain and sun, tucked underneath a massive boulder and set by the last fresh water point. The route there is a little hillier along a narrow pathway that tumbles down a ravine into the waters below and reminds me of the upper reaches of Sungai Chilling.
We stopped at the ‘cave’, taking a seat on the makeshift bamboo benches and waited for the group to catch up. I used the break to hungrily scoff a Tupperware full of mee hoon (noodles) heavily spiked with lashings of spicy anchovy sambal. Bought from the only shop open for breakfast in Pantai and criminally cheap, it was absolutely delicious but I realise soon after that I shouldn’t have been so greedy.
KL Hiking classes the Gunung Berumbun hike as moderate to hard and the last half an hour stretch to the peak is where the hike lives up to its reputation. Almost immediately the hill climbs upwards in a steep vertical 80 degree ascent for several hundred metres. Lightheaded and nauseous from my piggery I had to stop a few times before I could pull it together.
A liana and rope provide much needed stability here, especially coming down as the combination of seasonal rainfall and mud means there’s next to no grip.
At this point, even the shortest flat is a relief but there are few of them. The slope gradient eventually decreases to about 45 degrees, and 50 minutes after leaving Gua Kambing we came upon a small flat area with views valley below. The peak, a spacious clearing with a beirut under which to shelter is just a few metres to the left. Trailhead to peak in under 3 hours.
It’s a 45 minutes to 1 hour trek to the wreckage site of the crashed WW2 RAF B-24 Liberator from the here. Not all of the group choses to come along. For some reason I mistakenly expected the journey to take 10 minutes tops, not unlike the walk from the peak of Bukit Kutu to the ruins of the sanatorium. It’s some consolation that apart from an initial slope, the trail is mostly flat and along a ridge with cool breezes.
When we finally arrive at the clearing and access point to the remains of the plane, there are hikers camped out there. Debris is littered on either side of the mountain but mostly to the left.
We hike down for a look. I’m surprised at the size of the aircraft and just how catastrophic the crash must have been, but also how intact many of the parts are after all these years. 70 years on, the tires look as fresh as the day the day the plane took off and the paintwork though hidden under mildew and moss is still apparent. You can read a more detailed account here.
Our trip back to the starting point took 2 1/2 hours. I had planned my hike poorly and at the return trip to the peak I ran out of water. Fortunately Khairul and Akram were quick to share.
By the time we had arrived at Lata Berembun, some of the KL Hiking crew had already stripped off and were taking a dip. Khairul and Akram who were in the car with me weren’t keen but I sunk down into the water anyway – it was divine! Our reward instead were some small but delicious malay kuih (sweets) from the stall at the Pantai.
At 8 hours, our hike up Gunung Berumbun out to be a long one but with Berembun range’s breathtaking virgin forest, its beautiful falls and historical wreckage, it was a rewarding one.
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Altitude 1014 meters.
Distance and time It takes approximately 2 ½ to 3 hours to reach the peak from the trailhead at Loji Air Pantai. From the peak to the crash site takes an additional 45 minutes to an hour. If you just fancy a nice day out by the Berembun waterfall with the family – kids included, the walk is relatively easy and takes only 30 minutes to 45 minutes from the trailhead.
Getting there Set your Waze/Google Maps for Pantai, Negeri Sembilan, a small but charming village at the foot of the Berumbun Forest.
Facilities There are none, but you can clean up in the river or drive back to Pantai. They have public toilet facilities opposite the mosque, which though small are reasonably clean.
Safety advisory Due to the trail’s numerous stream and river crossings and the steep slippery nature of the section up to the peak from Gua Kambing and back, the trail can present some dangers during heavy rain. Leeches though small are present during the wet season so wear leech socks or cover up.
Post-hike reward There’s a traditional Malay kueh (sweets) stall frying up banana fritters and selling a generous selection of tiny little kueh for cheap at the intersection between the main road (Jalan Jelebu) and turn off towards Sekolah Kebangsaan Pantai. The kueh loci and karipap sardin are exquisite, so don’t miss this.