Gunung Ledang, also known as Mount Ophir, sits on the border of Johor and Malacca. Gunung Ledang National Park is about 90 minutes drive from Kuala Lumpur and 2.5 hours from Johor Bahru. The length of the hike means most people stay one night in the area before or after the climb. We stayed the night before at Gunung Ledang Resort – a somewhat shabby place that I wouldn’t rush back to. It is also apparently possible to camp on the summit, though the area is small and exposed.
Location: Johor, Malaysia
Time: 6-8 hours return
People seen: Few
Guidebook: The Rough Guide to Malaysia
Organising the hike
Climbing Gunung Ledang requires a guide and must be arranged in advance. As with many National Parks in Malaysia it is quite difficult to track down information online. We found the easiest method was to call the Tourism Johor through the number on their website.
We were quoted 135 MYR per person plus 10 MYR for lunch. Once we arrived at the mountain this mysteriously increased to 153 MYR plus 10 MYR for lunch plus GST plus 100 MYR garbage deposit.
Our guide set off at break-neck pace up the concrete steps that mark the start of the trail. We were eager to be quick and dozens of people were waiting in the car park to begin the hike. We always prefer a clear trail in front of us! The rude awakening of the steps stopped after about 20 minutes, from where the path continues as a regular trail. The path is shady, surrounded by beautiful, peaceful forest.
The hike is divided into 8 checkpoints. The first two are brutally steep before flattening out and even descending slightly in places.
The section from checkpoint 5 to 6 is known as ‘KFC’ or ‘Killing Fitness Centre’ – a pretty tough ascent up a series of ladders and high steps in the mud. There are several sections where it is necessary to use the fixed ropes to haul yourself up the bare rock face. These sections would be very dangerous in wet conditions, and there is no way to bypass them.
The intensity of the KFC and the ladder climbs gradually reduces and gives way to a small flat false summit. We were shocked by the amount of garbage on the ground here – according to our guide, several decades ago this was the campsite. It served as a stark reminder of how long plastics survive in the environment.
Three or four more ladders brought us to the true summit, at 4187 feet. Happily our lunch of rice and chicken was waiting for us at the top (there is a road almost to the summit on the far side).
The view from the summit is impressive, stretching out across Johor and Malacca states. On a clear day you can see the extent of the beautiful forests of the National Park – and the regimented palm oil plantations beyond.
Even in dry conditions descending the rope sections would be difficult, so we took a different trail down. Much steeper than the ascent, it cut out several checkpoints and rejoined the main track just before checkpoint 3. It is also possible to ascend using this path, though it would be more difficult and less interesting as you would have to descend the same way.
Overall hiking time was 3.5 hours to the top and 2.5 hours down.