Location: Kota Tinggi, Malaysia
Distance: 2.5 km
Days: Half day
People seen: 0
Guidebook: Lonely Planet Malaysia Singapore & Brunei (Travel Guide)
Kota Tinggi waterfalls in the Gunung Panti Forest Reserve are a popular day trip for Malaysians. Located in a protected area near the town of Kota Tinggi in Johor, the area is apparently known for its abundant bird life.
The entrance and car park to our hike were about 16 kilometres from Kota Tinggi town centre. The hike started immediately from the car park, dropping down below the road and straight into a shallow stream. Like much of this part of Malaysia, there are large palm oil plantations, and the wide path range through these for the first few hundred metres. Quickly enough though, this manufactured landscape gave way to more nature jungle.
Often the path crossed or ran through shallow streams and pools – at most knee high on a 6ft hiker – offering a welcome cooling from the hot, humid sections on the trail. The jungle descending to the edge of the slow, shallow streams reminded me so much of our hike to a beautiful, secluded waterfall near Drake bay in Costa Rica.
Some sections of the hike also pass across narrow and quite slippery rock ledges – there are hand ropes to help hikers along for these parts, and it is nothing too tricky. After about a kilometre we reached our destination (I said it was a short hike!), a series of small pools separated by gentle waterfalls.
Several reports on the Internet mention large amounts of garbage on the waterfall trails near Kota Tinggi. We found this to be a problem at certain points along the trail (places which looked like camping spots). However the waterfall we hiked to was clear of rubbish and we were told it was safe to swim in its pools – which we did.
For stronger hikers with a head for heights, it is possible to continue past this waterfall to another fall which looked more spectacular (according to our guide’s photographs). However, the first section of this path was almost vertical, very eroded, and with dubious looking ropes tied to trees to help hikers. With children in our group we decided to take a swim in the pool and then turn around.
Information about hiking and trekking in Malaysia seems a little hard to find compared to other countries I have visited (though Every Trail does try). With this in mind I will be trying to keep this page about hiking in Malaysia updated whenever I find something new.
Map of the Kota Tinggi waterfall hike: