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Gunung Pulai

"The walk up and down again took us about 3 hours without stopping much. It requires a fair amount of effort so would I have at least an intermediate level of fitness? However, it can be quite steep. While the walk up is exhausting, coming down puts a lot of stress on the knees and feet."

Gunung Pulai (Gunung is Malay for "Mountain") is a 654 meter high hill near the city of Johor Bahru. It is the only significant highlight in an otherwise flat area. But what makes this place special is because it still has significant primary rainforest cover and because it is a water catchment area for nearby Johor Bahru and Singapore and it also has a spectacular waterfall. The Gunung Pulai is easily accessible via the North South Highway and you take the exit Kulai, after which you have to drive under the highway. By following a sign on your right (just after exiting the toll plaza) you follow the road passing oil palm plantations and a quarry. After about 5 or 6 km you reach a village: Kampung Sri Gunung Pulai.


The road that runs through this village leads to the entrance of a recreational forest, which was closed some 10 years ago after a fatal landslide and took several lives. You have to park the car at the beginning of this road. You are not allowed to continue by car, so now you have to walk 5 km to the top (with some telecommunication towers). A few hundred meters away the road splits in two. One goes up to the top and the other enters a picnic area and waterfall area. You see the arch under which you continue to go up.

Reaching the top of the mountain is an easy climb on a narrow asphalt road, which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. Most hikers only climb part of the way. The waterfall, which you will encounter along the way, falls from about 40 to 50 meters in different levels. There are 3 telecommunication towers above, two on the top and one a bit lower. A number of vantage points offer breathtaking views of the rainforest that surrounds the hill.



Most people have absolutely no idea that at least part of the Gunung Pulai forest is one of the most magnificent, unobstructed, dark-filled rainforests in Peninsular Malaysia. There is a very high percentage of large timber trees in this untouched rainforest, most of which are one or more meters in diameter. The sturdy trunks almost all have very well-formed, dense crowns. A majestic sight to behold today, as these forests have almost disappeared.

This part used to belong to the Titiwangsa mountain range, which runs straight through Malaysia. Unfortunately logging has severed the connection between Gunung Pulai and the mountain range. Gunung Pulai is one of the few remaining virgin parts with original rainforest. It has probably been spared because it is an important water extraction area.

The trees here often reach heights of between 40 and 50 meters. The sugar palm, Arenga pinnata, seems to be very common here, while Licuala fan palms also grow scattered on the forest floor here and there.

During my visit, I noticed the call of gibbons, but they seemed rare and limited to a few individuals in just one place. This could be due to the hunting of the gibbons and / or the destruction of their habitat. In fact, I saw some people setting traps in the forest (possibly to catch civets), so you have to assume that as far as wildlife is concerned, very little is left. There may be tapirs and deer walking through the rainforest, but I believe most of the fauna in Gunung Pulai forest has already been eradicated.

At this time, the spectacular waterfall and the road to the top acts as a magnet for visitors to take a dip or jog. Every day, rain or shine, weekends do not come, there are always visitors.





  Ben van Wijnen


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