Updated: Dec 29, 2020
If you are adventurous, interested in playing Lara Croft to uncover a mysterious WWII plane crash, hiking through dense rainforest, trampling through leeches, crossing or scrambling centuries old fallen trees, clambering in the jungle and even swinging from tree to tree, this would be the perfect trail for you!
However if you are looking for vantage points, scenic rewards, this would not be your top choice!
Starting point: Kampung Pantai Baru Trailhead
a picturesque ride through the village, through Minangkarbau roof, stilt houses.
Gunung Berembun is situated in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan, about 50minutes away form Kuala Lumpur. If you are coming from Kuala Lumpur, exit at Lekas. Follow the signboard to AMPANGAN. There are a few renown luxurious home stay around the area.
Hike Duration: Allow around 8 hours from entrance of the jungle, 10km in and 10km out.
End Hike: It is a backtrack
Hike Difficulty: 3.5/5
The journey of 20km to and fro is arduous. But terrain is moderate.
Scenery Rewards: 2/5
Hiking in the dense rainforest where there is no phone signal let alone 4G, it is of utmost important to track in a group with a leader and a sweeper behind.
In the thick rainforest sunlight is filtered through the layers of vegetation and leaves, it gets dark early and bright late. A torch will come in handy especially during overcast days.
The hot and and humid weather would require at least 3l of water for a hike this long. 5km to Gunung Berembun 1093m, and another 5km to the crash site and back!
Leech! If this is a problem for you, better come well equip to avoid seeing red.
1. Spray Listerin mouth wash on exposed areas such as legs!
2. Salt apparently deters them and also acts as a proactive antidote for their bites.
3. They apparently hate the smell of tobacco. Soaking your socks in tobacco may or may not deter them.
4. If spraying insect repellent on your feet is ok with you, that works wonders!
5. Leech proved socks have you nicely wrapped up but you will be suffering in that steam bath!
Leeches don't discriminate where they bite! Sometimes the most unlikely places!
Nature toilets are available at every rock or huge trunk! Just beware of an opportunist leech waiting to capitalise on the day!
What to bring
1. Basic first aid stuff such as disinfectant, ankle guard in case you sprain your ankle, band-aid.
2. Walking stick
3. Raincoat and Pancho ( you will be able to find them at any convenience store or Daiso shops for about RM6.00)
5. At least 3l of water, pack lunch, snack
6. Change of clothes, especially if you want to refresh yourself by the waterfalls at the end of the hike.
7. Good pair of hiking shoes is absolutely necessary
8. Gloves, in the jungle you never know what you touch or grab on to that may create a reaction to your skin.
9. Check the weather forecast
Start hike to Lata Berembun
Park the vehicle along the road of the Loji Rawatan Air Pantai (Gunung Berembun, Negeri Sembilan Trailhead). There are about 3 Gunung Berembun in Malaysia, this one is located in Negeri Sembilan!
From the entrance, take a flight of stairs up the trail and make a right. This
requires some clambering up onto the main path towards Latar Berembun. First test of the trail starts from the very beginning!
After about 2km hike over fallen tress, some ascend and descend, you will arrive at the Lata Berembun Waterfalls. The hike at the first session is like a warm-up lap with few obstacles of crossing fallen trees. Apart from the few obstacles, there are one or two stream crossing and all long the way you will hear the murmur of the river indicating that you are not too far from your first checkpoint!
The journey to the waterfalls will take no more than 20 minutes and is relatively flat.
The rainforest is rich in flora and fauna and every layer is bursting with life, fruits and flowers. I found the Scarlett Earth Ginger most impressive due to the flaming red colours!
Gua Kambing, Goat Cave
It is a quick 30-45minute to reach this 2nd check-point. The trail through primary forest is rather undulating with few stream crossings!
Some of the wild flowers and trees you will find on the way.
Gunung Berembun 1014m
From Gua Kambing to the peak is a good 1 hour/ 1.5 hour of steep climb. This will be the hardest part of your hike. Ascend and descend both requires clambering. There are ropes to aid your hike up and down the track. Go slow when you decent as there may be loose gravel. However, during rainy season this part can get rather muddy and slippery.
This is the good place to refuel and refresh before you head on to the plane crash site.
World War II Plane Crash Site
From the peak of Gunung Berembun to the crash site is around 5km of relatively flat undulating trail. It will take around 1 hour to reach the crash site. As you approach, you will be able to see the wing of the plane on the right, and the other wing down the gully and the fuselage deeper inside.
It is a steep 70 degree descend to the main crash site. In the rainy season there is a small stream running through the gully. Hold on to the rope and watch as you step on the muddy and slippery surface!
When you see the wreckage of the plane you do feel overwhelmed. At the fuselage site, you do have an eerie and heavy feeling as you investigate what's left of the plane. It is incredible how well the plane is preserved by the jungle! Until 2019, visitors could walk inside the cockpit but recently a huge tree fell on the cockpit crashing the structure considerably.
But as you walk around the wreckage you could make out the red and blue colours on the body of the plane!
The 8 crewman from RAF who perished on August 1945 was on the way to drop supplies after the World War II.
Some history about the plane
The B-24 Liberator Flight KL654/R was missing for more than 60 years until its wreckage was found in 2009 at Gunung Telapak Buruk. And until recently in 2012, a proper burial and ceremony conducted with full military honours at a Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in Kuala Lumpur.
Back track, Gunung Berembun Jelebu will take you about one hour to complete 5km. The hike down to Gua Kambing is most challenging and will take most time as some parts of this stretch is rope climb and therefore you need to be very careful as you descend. It would take roughly around 45-60 minutes.
It takes a good 40 minutes to arrive at the waterfalls in Lata Berembun. If you have time the water is absolutely tempting to freshen up.
But always remember that dark falls early in the jungle, embark on your exit journey by 17-1730, it takes a good 20-30 minutes to hike back out! Although you could follow the markers, tied on the trees, sometimes it gets dark quite fast and every path will look like the exit path. And it can get darker quicker on overcast days or when it rains every single afternoon especially during the monsoon October-December! Therefore carry a torch in case of emergency!
Hiking means different things to different people. But most of us are drawn to the destination, not the journey.
The trophy of this hike has to be the plane wreckage after the 10km hike into the jungle.
The crash site of 70 years, the memory plaque, reminds us of the hardships of war. The 7 RAF crewman were only in their early 20s on the ill-fated day their plane hit a tree and crashed into the jungle.
On a lighter note, we now can share the bragging rights of this 20km hike to a World War II plane wreck site! It was indeed some strong perseverance and endurance that brought us in and out of the hike safely! This is a cruel test of character!
We joined a group www.BackToNature.my on this hike. I have to emphasize how important it is to have a leader to lead on a hike like this! There are many lost trackers who got stuck and had to spend the night in the jungle. And anything can happen during a track 20km long!
Orientation in the jungle is also very important, in any event, you do get lost, stay on the main trail and don't venture away! Or else take note of any unique trees, pay extra attention to forks and junctions in the jungle and backtrack your way out!
How to prepare for a 20km jungle hike
A hike in the jungle is not exactly like doing a city marathon.
Start doing short hikes and runs around 5km and slowly adding to 10km.
Load on the carbs before the start of the hike! You will need heaps of energy traversing the hills and slopes of the thick jungle!
Lastly, bring a positive and optimistic attitude with you and you will conquer it all!
Date visited: 11st January 2020 my first long hike of the new decade!