Endau Rompin National Park – like Taman Negara further north – is woefully under advertised and I would be surprised if many visitors to Malaysia even knew of its existence. This is a great shame as Malaysia’s second national park contains pristine rainforest, clear streams, beautiful waterfalls, and clear night skies where we could view the Milky Way. Elephants also live in the park – evidence of their existence is plentiful – and there are even rumours of small populations of rare Malayan Tigers (Panthera tigris jacksoni) and the critically endangered Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).
Entrances to Endau Rompin
Distance: 2km to campsite, then varies
Days: 3 days
People seen: Nobody
Guidebook: Lonely Planet Malaysia
Endau Rompin is so large that there are three entrances, each offering access to a totally different part of the park. The Peta and Selai entrances are both in Johor state and we spent some time determining which was the most accessible. There is a lot of conflicting information on the Internet, but we eventually settled on Peta. It is worth noting that Endau Rompin is closed completely during the rainy season (November to March).
Trips to Endau Rompin must be booked in advance – at least two weeks is a good idea – through the relevant parks office (Johor in our case). This process was surprisingly easy – the hardest part of the booking process was finding the email address (we eventually found it on the Johor Parks page). Our three day / two night trip – which is realistically the shortest amount of time you should spend in the park – was easy to plan thanks to the very responsive and helpful staff at the park office, who responded to our multiple emails quickly and clearly.
Transport, Guides, and Accommodation
The very helpful staff at Johor Parks offered us an initial package which included 4WD transport from Kluang to the park entrance, a guide (mandatory for all visitors), accommodation in chalets, and all food. This came in at 714 MYR per person for 3 days and 2 nights, which is really quite reasonable. However, being a bit more adventurous, we preferred to stay in tents. We had also heard that the campsite was further into the rainforest than the chalets (it is), and we were not sure of the conditions of the chalets. Given the number of leeches and other critters, we preferred the guaranteed seal of our own tents. (As it turned out, the accommodation buildings we saw were very new and of a very high standard). We also preferred to bring and prepare our own food, and as we had a 4WD of our own, we didn’t see the need to pay for transport. The parks staff were fine with all of this and presented us with a final price – including only a guide for 3 days and 2 nights – of 174 MYR per person (less than 45 US dollars). This is an absolute bargain!
Setting off from Johor, we had a two hour road drive to Kluang, where we had to check in at the park office around 10am. The lady at the office was very friendly and organised, and after checking our passports (as with so many things in Malaysia, passports need to be presented for this trip!), we were on our way. The drive from Kluang to the Endau Rompin park entrance at Peta takes about two hours and is along an unsealed road through palm plantation for most of the way. However, the road is reasonable and – in the dry, at least – barely qualifies as off-road. The final part of the road, strangely, is billiard-table smooth tarmac!
At the park office in Peta we had our first taste of wildlife as we saw a beautiful Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) catch and eat a gecko right in front of us – in the office building! After we checked in again and met up with our guide, it was time for the hour long boat trip up with the river to Kuala Jasin. Visiting at the end of the dry season meant we had to get out of the boat several times and push, as the water levels were so low! Along the river we saw a lot of wildlife including kingfishers, monitor lizards, and even gibbons.
The final part of the arrival process was a one hour (2 km) hike from the chalets at Kuala Jasin to the campsite at Kuala Marang. This involved two river crossings which were no more than mid-shin deep. There was also a lot of evidence of elephants along the start of this trail – trampled trees and lots of dung.
So the total journey time to Johor to campsite was 6 hours! (2 hours road driving, 2 hours off road driving, 45 minutes boat ride, 1 hour hiking). We really felt a long way from anywhere – which is what we were looking for!
The campsite had very basic toilets (a bit dirty, but sufficient) and several nice flat areas to pitch our tents. A small kitchen area even had a tap (boil water first) – and, more importantly, there was a large covered area with a table and benches – essential for those jungle downpours.
Walks and hikes
From our campsite the main hike was a 6 km round trip to a waterfall. 6 km doesn’t sound like far, but in the jungle hiking is significantly harder. Although it was rained lightly all morning, the heat was still strength-sapping. The trip to the waterfall, lunch, and a quick swim in the river on the way back took most of our day. Wildlife wasn’t easily spotted, but we did manage to see gibbons with babies in the trees above us on the way back to the campsite.
Another very common ‘wildlife’ encounter was with leeches. Perhaps because of the rain, they were everywhere on the trails. Literally as soon as we stopped for a break or a photo, we could see them moving across the jungle floor towards us. Luckily they are harmless…
A very short walk the next morning took us to a set of large pools in the smooth rock near the campsite (less than 15 minutes away).
Endau Rompin was an excellent getaway for a long weekend and we are actively planning to return – perhaps via the Selai entrance – some time in the future. It is such a shame that information about the park is so hard to come by from official sources, and that much of the information on blogs and other webpages is out of date. At times we felt like we were planning a trip to some unexplored land rather than Malaysia’s second largest national park. One of the most helpful sources we found was the Hiking, Travel, and Food! blog, which has posts on both of Endau Rompin’s entrances. We also found communication with our guide was a bit difficult at times – he spoke very little English and we speak very little Malay. This meant we were not able to benefit fully from his expertise and knowledge of the area and the flora and fauna.
Endau Rompin hiking map
(Created usingGarmin eTrex 30 GPS)