Gunung Berembum may not be as well known as Gunung Tahan or Gunung Ledang in Malaysia, however it is no less challenging and indeed a beautiful hill to discover and conquer.
Gunung Berembum is located at Kampung Jongok Batu in the State of Terengganu. Once you reach the park entrance, you are required to register for your climb and pay a fee of RM5.00 per person. The park has facilities for bathing, toilets, Surau and an open hall for hikers to gather before and after the climb. Parking space is aplenty and there is a security post at the entrance to ensure that your car is safe throughout your hike. Those who want to camp overnight but do not want to carry heavy camp and food stuff up the mountain are able to set up camp next to the park building. There’s a stream running next to the camp site for a refreshing bath as an alternative to the bath facility available.
The distance to the peak is 6200 meters (6.2KM) and the trail starts with concrete pavements and surrounding trees that are tagged with their respective names. It is commendable on the forestry department’s effort to educate as well as to provide information for botanists or anyone interested to know more about the wide arrays of trees that are grown in our forest. After a short hike, you’ll come across a junction where on your left is the path where hikers normally take to ascent. We chose the path on the right instead and came upon a beautifully constructed hanging bridge. Further ahead is a stream where this is the start of the many river crossings we are going to encounter.
Hiking up using this route has a mixture of easy to moderate climbs. The backpack that I had on was about 30 kg. and I was worried that I would not be able to make it all the way up with that load on my back as doing a 150 meter hike was like doing 1.5 km! However, after a while the weight of the bag wasn’t much of a bother especially when you have the determination to reach the much anticipated camp site. It is important to have a backpack that is constructed or made for hikers, especially one that comes with a rain cover. We were “showered” with the monsoon rain not long after we started our hike but we still consider ourselves lucky as that was the last week (early November) before the park closes due to monsoon season. Good hiking back packs are not cheap in Malaysia but it is really worthwhile to invest in a good one as they are both comfortable to carry and durable. Get one where it fits comfortably on your back and also where a water pack can be fitted inside as keeping yourself well hydrated is very important in any hike. It is also easier to drink straight from the hose coming out from the side of your back pack. The other factors you might want to consider before buying a back pack are the straps that are available on the outer side of the bag to strap on your tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat.
On reaching 4700 metres point to the summit, you will reach a very steep climb and it is really discouraging just looking at the trail upwards. However rest assured that the climb is only a short one and you will be very happy to know that the rest of the journey to camp Balak, the first camp site, is either flat or slightly downhill. To reach camp Balak, you will have to cross a river and it is about knee deep. Practise caution as the rocks are slippery and the water is fast moving. Camp Balak is a nice place to camp if you are tired and decide not to continue on. It has a sheltered area for campers to do their cooking and nice clear streams and ponds to swim, fish and bath in. Do be careful as certain parts of the pond are quite deep.
Hike a further half hour to 45 minutes and you will reach camp “Y”. The journey to reach camp “Y” involves walking upstream and crossing of numerous small streams. So be prepared to get your shoes wet again. Crossing over and under fallen trees is part and parcel of the whole hike as well as encountering branches with thorns. So always be on the lookout before you hold unto any branches. It is advisable to spent a night at camp “Y” if you only manage to reach the site after 3:00 pm. This is because the journey to the peak and then down to camp Lansir will take another 3 hours or more. It gets dark quite early and it is dangerous to hike in the dark. The time we took from base to reach camp “Y” is about 7 hours with many stops to catch our breath. Camp “Y” also comes with a sheltered area for cooking and the stream has plenty of fishes for you to fish for your meal.
There is nothing much to see or do at the peak of Gunung Berembum but along the way you will see lots of pitcher plants, moss and “bonsai” garden. The best camp site is camp Lansir, a further hike down from the peak. It has a nice water fall view and many individual ponds that may serve as your personal pool. Temperature at night may fall to as low as 20°C. So don’t forget to pack some warm clothing.
Descending down, we used a different route from the one we came up. The trail is narrow as well as slippery and you will need to cross a small waterfall, which can be dangerous especially during rainy season to continue your descent. Immediately after the waterfall crossing, there is a path leading upwards that you can take to catch the best view of the main waterfall which is about 40 storeys high. The view is indeed spectacular and awesome. We just stood there watching in amazement at nature’s wonder at its best. It makes the entire hard and tough hike worth every minute of it.
We continued our journey down with about the same obstacles as the route we took coming up but personally I find that we made the right decision as this route coming down will be tougher to come up. We were unfortunate to be caught in the rain both going up and coming down but it made us raise our hiking fitness and mental strength to the next level. Surprisingly there were not many leeches around to suck our precious blood away. The forestry department should be commended for placing markers around to make sure that hikers don’t stray away from the many misleading trails and also to provide each group of hikers with gunny sack so that they must bring their rubbish down instead of leaving them up in the mountain.
Tips and Advice:
1. Pack your clothes in double layers of garbage bags and tied them before placing them in your bag. Do this even if your bag comes with a rain cover. This is to prevent them from getting wet in case you fall into the many river crossings with your bag pack.
2. Bring along a good rain coat / jacket. Keeping yourself dry and warm is important. Poncho is insufficient and you may find yourself getting caught in the branches from the narrow paths and tear your poncho or fall as a result.
3. Keep your wallet, hand phones (no signal from camp Balak onwards) and other valuables in a zip lock / waterproof bag.
4. Get a good and light hiking shoe or sandal.
5. A waterproof torchlight.
6. Keep your sleeping bag and mat in water tight plastic or at least tie them up in garbage bag. The covers for most sleeping bags are not water proof.
7. If you are hiking in a group, distribute your group’s food, cooking equipments / utensils and camp stuffs equally. Plan ahead on the things and food to bring.
By: Justin Hong. (Active Bugs Resources)