Jul 13, 2010

Gunung Benum

Gunung Benum 2107m Pahang
10th Highest Peak in Peninsular Malaysia
9th July - 11th July 2010

A year ago we were invited to join a day trip to Lata Berumbun Waterfall (Sungai Chalit, Raub Pahang) and the highlight was the 45 minutes 4x4 adventure ride from Sungai Chalit town. Sungai Chalit along with Sungai Klau, Sungai Ruan and Tulai are famous for their agricultural produce and especially the Durian variety of the 'Mou Sang Wong' or Raja Kunyit. Durian plantations here are produced on a large scale and wholesalers can be seen along the road receiving durians especially in the mornings where they have to be transported out. Gunung Benum should not be confused with Belum Forest which is situated in Perak.

The 45 mins 4x4 adventure ride on the Jeep modified to turbo charged engine
provides a thrilling ride and especially if the driver is motivated by screams from the passengers. The driver spoke of the Gunung Benum (10th highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia) which is tough to climb. There are very few local Gunung Benum guides and they charge about RM$150 per person excluding 4x4 trasportation (RM$250 - $300 per vehicle). Our guide Mr. Lim from Kuantan who has taken us to Gunung Tebu (Terengganu) and Cemerong Waterfalls has agreed to take us up to Gunung Benum on July 9th - 11th without any charge.

This trip our group consists of Ah Onn (Klang), See Tho, Michael (driving from Kota Bharu), Wong, KC and myself. We left Kajang at around 5.00 pm 8th July to stop at Bukit Tinggi for tea and snacks. Later arriving in Bentong to buy the famous 'tau hu pok' as one of the ingredient for a 'bak kut teh' dinner which KC plans to cook for dinner during the first night at Camp Tikus (our campsite). We meet at the Restaurant Lo Yong for dinner. Later Lim from Kuantan and another 3 campers join us for the famous 'mou sang wong' durian which was priced at RM$16 per kilo (The price is like share market, sometimes up sometimes down). Later we camp at the Kuan Yin Temple in Kampung Cina Sungai Chalit for the night.

Day 1.
Pack up and breakfast in Sungai Chalit Town before heading back to Kuan Yin Temple where we will park our cars and take the 4wd at around 9.00am to Lata Berumbun Waterfall. Dark clouds can be seen circling around the mountains. It had rained the night before so the 4wd trail gets muddy near the Lata Berumbun Waterfall. We were pack 5 to a vehicle together with our backpacks. It was a bone rattling ride like riding a wild horse. Upon reaching the muddy trail the first 4wd stalled and had to be winched. With the turbo charged engine throttling at high speed with the wheel spinning we were soon splash with mud. 10.00am Finally at Lata Berumbun Waterfall park we disembark and started warming up for the trek to Camp Tikus which will take an averaged 4 - 5 hours. Lim and his friends are strong trekkers and have treked Gunung Benum to camp in one day. They have also trek (small day pack) Gunung Benum and back to Lata Berumbun Waterfall in one day. These people are like commandos.

The start trail (2,000 ft above sea level) goes into the jungle and soon we become aware that this is 'leech' country. At the small river crossing, Lim and his friends started to mark the trail with pieces of paper because tonight at around 9.00pm another 8 campers will start night trekking to Camp Tikus. The others started to check for leeches. Along the trail there are many thorny plants which needs be to cut or chop. There are not too many trekkers to Gunung Benum so the tra
il tends to get overgrown with plants, thorns and fallen trees. The first day climb is a gradual steep 3,000 feet climb and for the first 2 hours leeches big and small are waiting for you. So walk a little slower to let them have their meal.

I was told that the trail towards Gunung Benum you can find 3 distinctive 'items'. 1st is the large pitcher plants usually after the Camp Tikus. 2nd Large millipedes and 3rd Large rats usually near Camp Tikus (Rats Camp). I didn't seen any large millipedes and rats, maybe its their off season but lots of leeches to be found. Luckily I wore knee length ladies stockings and full length tights. Leeches cant penetrate the ladies stockings so sometimes there are some adventurous leeches that will climb all the way up and find a juicy spot around the belly to suck blood.

We reach Camp Tikus around 2.30pm and quickly found our spot to put up our tents. Up in the mountains sometimes the weather changes quickly so it is better to set the tents. Water source is downhill about 2 mins just beside the trail towards Gunung Benum. The water is tea brown in colour probably due to tree trunks and dead leaves but nonetheless very clear. Have tried drinking it and taste like light chinese tea. Its better to be boiled for those with weak stomachs. You can take a bath further down from the collected pool of water (still tea brown in colour) and its icy cool at 5280 ft high. From the campsite you can see Genting Highlands and probably Gunung Rajah on a clear day or night.

KC as usual will be preparing ceylon tea and instant noodle. After a long trek the meals and drinks up here always taste different. As for dinner tonight KC has planned 'bak kut teh' vegetables, mushrooms and fried chicken feet (fried and supply by Onn) with 'bak kut teh' herbal ingredients from Klang famous 'mo sang ko'. Later a sweet desert of longan and 'lo hon go' to cool down.

We just had tea and noodles at 5.00pm and then dinner by 6.30pm! Talking about losing weight with mountain climbing is not possible here. A hash member once told me that he join hashing to lose weight and had four blocks of muscle around his abdomen. After running for about 6 months his four blocks of muscle now becomes only 1 big block and that is his beer belly.

After dinner it rained and we collected water using our flysheet which can be use for drinking and washing. See Tho did not sleep well and he felt chilly throughout the night. Around 1.45am the group of 8 arrived trekking throughout the night. I am thinking to myself another group of commandos. These people are tough.

Day 2
Woke up at 6.00am. Today's climb is suppose to be tough and comparable to Gunung Chamah as there are about 35 hills to climb which consist of small hill and big hills. Small hills from 100 ft to about 750 ft covering about 12 km. We had tea and 'mee suah' for breakfast and carried some extra water to make hot 'milo' drink at the peak along with bread and snack bars. There are no water source from here onwards so you have to ration about 1.5l of drinking water. We started our trek at around 7.30am. We started at altitude of about 5,280 ft and for the next 2 hours we will be going up to 5,800 ft and back to 5,250 ft. Strange huh! but that is the nature of the toughness of Gunung Benum trek.

After an hour we started to notice large pitcher plants about 15 inches in height. They grow all over the place from ground level to tree top level. We started to take photos with the standard pose to ridiculous pose (which I will avoid posting, you know 'lah'). There are about 2 viewpoint of far away mountains which I cant identify.

For the next hour its just tre
kking and walking and walking until you reach a 'left behind' campsite maybe from past expedition and that will be another 1 hour plus to the peak. There are about 2 false peaks of about 750ft in height and the 3rd peak shall be the Gunung Benum Peak. Arrive at the peak at about 11.45am. See Tho looks pale and he then realized that he has high attitude sickness. That explains for his headaches and high heart beat rate. Took photos and hot milo, bread and biscuits for lunch before descending at 12.30 pm to campsite. It took about 3.5 hours to reach campsite at about 4.00pm.

Since it was early KC started chatting with Lim from Kuantan and possibly which mountain for the next climb and it was suggested Gunung Tapis and Pelangi Waterfall at Sungai Lembing, Kuantan, Pahang. Pelangi Waterfall is also known as rainbow waterfall. A little while later sand flies started appearing and what they do best is bite and suck blood. Either you wear socks or apply some anti-insect cream. KC prepared leek fried with sardine and french beans with anchovies which was quickly eaten with nothing to spare. Retired to tent at around 10.00pm and it started raining heavily after midnight. Our flysheet collapsed due to overload of water and my tent in particular was drenched. Had to re-tighten the 2nd layer flysheet for my tent so that water stops seeping in. Went back to sleep in wet and cold condition.

Day 3
Woke up early and started packing while KC prepared a simple breakfast of hot milo with biscuits and snack bars. All pack and ready to go at 7.45 am. It was most downhill and the trail was slippery due early morning rain. Slip a few times and hook by thorns. Leeches were plenty and they were better prepared and got their fill of blood. Reach the river crossing at around 10.15am. Going downhill is definitely easier and faster. Some of us went to the Lata Berumbun Waterfall to wash up in the icy cold water. There were a group of campers who was packing up and getting ready to leave at the waterfall. Our 4wd was schedule to pick us up at around 12.00 noon. We heard the trail was quite inaccessible due to the heavy rains which had made the trail muddy and later Ah Ngah (HP 019-946 0807) our 4wd driver came and told us to walk out towards the next river crossing where they will ferried us back to our parking at Kuan Yin Temple about 45 mins away.

By the time all of were packed and ready to leave Kuan Yin Temple after taking a good bath it was around 1.30pm. The whole group dispersed to different restaurants for lunch. Our group of 6 went back to Restaurant Lo Yong to have our lunch. Later we contacted a local farmer for durians of the 'mou sang wong' variety along with mangosteens and bananas.

Overall it was a good weekend reaching home sweet home.


1. 45 mins 4wd to head trail near Lata Berumbun Waterfalls.
2. 4-5 hours to reach Camp Tikus (full backpack), distance about 8km with elevation of 3,200ft
3. 4-5 hours to reach Gunung Benum Peak (small day pack), distance about 12 km
with elevation of 1,700ft covering 35 hills.
4. 3-4 hours from Gunung Benum Pe
ak to Camp Tikus.
5. 2-3 hours from Camp Tikus to Lata Berumbun Waterfalls.
6. Total distance to and fro Gunung Benum is about 40km

Click on play below to view slide show of trip to Gunung Benum

Gunung Benum Trail
Click to enlarge view
Thanks to malfreemaps.com

1 comment:

Catherine Lim said...

Hi, we are planning to go benum but contacted to many guides and none are available.
Do you have any contacts or maybe can share the gps file? Thank you