Just 45 minutes drive from KL city centre, Selesa Hills could rival Cameron Highlands as a hilltop escape. A valley of lush vegetable farms surrounded by forested hills, it is dotted with attractive holiday homes, and for the roving gourmand there are seafood restaurants to dine at and stalls selling fresh produce for cheap. Sure, Selesa Hills’ climate is not as temperate and it lacks the tea plantations, but its bucolic setting is just as soothing, and its accessibliliy and absence of crowds are hard to beat. Besides, if the heat does get to you, there’s always Tanglir Waterfall.
A tall 20 metre vertical drop of cool mountain water that plunges dramatically into a large but shallow pool, Tanglir Fall is named after the river that runs through the area, even though it is actually a tributary that feeds into Sungai Tanglir.
Though devoid of crowds, getting there is not difficult, particularly if you’re here with a small group of friends on motorbikes or in a single 4×4 as you can park closer to your destination. But I was one of 70 KL Hikers carpooling across 20+ vehicles, we left our cars at the junction to Song Yan Eco-Leisure Village/D’ Hillpines Resort and walked.
The route is straightforward with few junctions and begins as a tarmac road that disintegrates into a mix of cemented sections, dirt roads and stony ground. Mostly uphill, the worst of it at 45 degree angles, it climbs up into the hills taking us past holiday homes like Villa Indah and vacation rentals like Brickhouse and The Acres, alongside farms, then through what appears to be secondary forest. To the left rows of crops continued to follow us the length of our journey but were hidden from view by a thick band of undergrowth.
An hour after we began, we came to a junction punctuated by two competing signs, one reading “Hutan Simpanan Kekal – Di Larang Mendirikan Bangunan” (Permanent Forest Reserve – The construction of buildings is prohibited), the other for the Xian Ling Gong Guan Yin and Brahmarishi Hill Temples. No vehicles are allowed past this point, but there’s enough space to park one or two cars or a few motorbikes if you want to save yourself the walk; anything more would be an obstruction.
Proceeding in the direction of the temples towards a sheer rock wall, we skirted around a curtain waterfall. Around the corner was our first glimpse of the river. Consisting of several tiers that gently cascade down into one another, one particular small but deep hole just behind the “Danger Deep Water” sign became the focus of our group, as note sweaty hikers keen to cool down, queued up to dive bomb and cannon ball into the chilly froth.
A 5 minutes walk further along, on the other side of two water crossings are the temples. Separated by a small pond filled with pink water lilies, both harmoniously stand side-by-side sharing space beside the river.
The most breathtaking falls of all was yet to come. To get there we had to backtrack to the junction and scramble down a steep embankment. It’s not signposted but look for a small clearing on your left if you are facing the signs. The trail is on the other side of a black rubber pipe.
Once you spot the magnificent drop from between the trees, I can guarantee you’ll be enrapt. Best of all, although we were overtaken by one or two vehicles as we made our way up, when we arrived we had this tiny slice of paradise to ourselves – that would never happen in Cameron Highlands.
8.30am Start of hike
8.35am Pass Villa
8.40am Pass Brickhouse and The Acres
9.30am Junction and entrance into Xian Ling Gong Guan Yin Temple and Brahmarishi Hill Temple
9.35am Arrive at waterfall
Altitude 626 metres (at hike’s highest point).
Time and distance Approximately 1 hour there, 1 hour back. Approximately 3.5km one way.
Rating Easy. A gradual hike up via undulating terrain along disintegrated tarmac road.
Facilities None available but there are food stalls, restaurants and a petrol station at Kampung Bukit Tinggi as you exit Karak Highway.
Parking If you’re in a very small group you can park at the junction leading to the temples. Otherwise park alongside the road opposite Selesa Hill Homes or Villa Indah. GPS coordinates 3.357089, 101.820866.
Post hike treat
For lunch, Kampung Bukit Tinggi on the other side of the Karak Highway is a swarm of seafood restaurants, but if it’s tea time treats and delightful conversation you’re after, head to Galeri Antik Dan Cafe Yen Fang Terk Jia.
Amongst the displays of Malaysian antiques and nostalgic bric-a-brac collected by highly-decorated former police officer and proprietor Woon Kim Teh, his wife serves a small selection of beverages and halal light bites like Penang pancakes, hard boiled herbal eggs, tong shui and and potato curry pau. We tried the latter and loved it. But what will have you making a detour here whenever you’re in the area will be the couple’s kindness and Woon’s genuine warmth and eagerness to share his love for the past. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.
Galeri Antik Dan Cafe Yen Fang Terk Jia P6 Jalan Taman Seri 2, Taman Seri Bukit Tinggi, Pahang. T: +60 19 268 7818 Open: 10am-8pm GPS coordinates 3.351743, 101.818883
Selesa Hills is only half an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur, but if you want to make a holiday of it, it is dotted with countless places to stay. These are two we walked passed on our way to Tanglir Waterfall.
Brickhouse must be rented in its entirety. It can accommodate 12 guests across 10 beds in 4 rooms and is available through Airbnb. Prices start at RM1500/night.
Brickhouse Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Bentong, 28750, Pahang. T: +60 12 333 8882 F: www.facebook.com/BrickhouseBT
Opened in June 2017, The Acres has 12 rooms (6 Double and 6 family rooms). Doubles start at RM480 on weekdays and RM580 on weekdays; family rooms start at RM780, RM880; includes breakfast and dinner.
The Acres Lot 28431, Kampung Bukit Tinggi, Bentong, 28750, Pahang. T: +60 12 223 5866 W: theacres.com.my F: www.facebook.com/TheAcresResort/ I: www.instagram.com/theacresresort/