What to expect at Mount Ophir (Gunung Ledang)

Mentally prepare yourself for this grueling experience.

A grueling experience, but you can do it with proper mental preparation. If you are considering to do a hike up to Mount Ophir, this post will help you prepare yourself for what to expect. At 1267m, Mount Ophir is the tallest peak in Johor, and is ranked the 6th hardest trek to conquer in Malaysia. The entire hike to the summit and back will take you around 9 to 11 hours. While the trek will test your grit, endurance and perseverance, it will also offer you the peace and tranquility of nature and reward you with a sense of achievement. Read on to prepare yourself for the trek, or check my other post for tips to prepare yourself for any trekking vacations!

1. Be greeted by the stairways to heaven

The very start of the Ophir hike is a flight of stairs. I was told that there was approximately 700 steps by a local guide, even though online information have indicated  it to be around 400 steps. While the stairs are not too steep and relatively manageable, it took my group approximately 1 to 2 hours to overcome it. To me, it feels like the objective of the stairs was to wear us out, like the long marches ahead of the ultimate battle.

The starting steps of Mount Ophir

Steps leading to the start of Mount Ophir

2. Go on all fours and bow down to the might of nature

Behold the mighty mountain. Throughout the climb, there will be points where you are expected to go on all fours, scrambling up the slopes on your hands and knees. There will be ladders that you will need to ascend, ropes to scale, rocks to burrow, or steep steps to climb. At this point, you will wish that you had a pair of light gloves with you.

Using hands and legs to help you with your ascend in Ophir

Using all hands and legs to burrow through rocks

3. Complete the Killer For Climbers challenge

Perhaps the most gruesome part of the climb is when you start the KFC route. Climbers named it after Kentucky Friend Chicken, except in this case, it meant Killer For Climbers. The route starts shortly after a stream where you will have your lunch and break. Hike upwards slowly, with each step that you take approximately the height of your knee (between 50cm and 1m). This will last you for a couple of hours before you reach the top where the land tapers off to a gentle slope again.

Climbing rocks and over fallen trees

Going on ropes is common on the Mount Ophir trek

4. Challenge your fear of heights

Scaling the big boulder using ropes was probably the highlight, but also the ultimate challenge for the hike. This will take place during the KFC route. You will need to scale up a big boulder, approximately five metres in height, using only ropes. If you can, stop mid-way, and turn your head around to enjoy the picturesque view. But don’t look down as it will remind you about what might happen if you fall off the ropes. Use the ropes on the extreme right if you don’t feel confident. If you have intense fear for heights, there are ladders to the side of the boulder to help you clear this part of the trek. Take comfort in the fact that you are probably not too far from the peak when you reach this point.

Scaling the steep boulder is the main highlight of the trip

Scaling the boulder is the fun but difficult part

5. Enter the tranquil garden after a grueling climb

All of a sudden, you have reached the 700 metres mark. The steep slopes tapered off to a gentler, milder, trek. And the rainforest is nowhere in sight. Instead, the air is much cooler, with greenery all around you. Beautiful ferns, pitcher plants and shrubs streteched for miles ahead. Walk through tunnels formed by branches of low lying trees, with colorful flowers attracting the chirps of birds. Suddenly, you are in wonderland.

Mount-Ophir-1

Pitcher-plants

6. Up some rocks to the summit

After all that you have went through at KFC, the remaining hike to the summit should feel like a breeze. At the summit, depending on God’s will, you will either good view of the surrounding landscape, or like us, we just saw clouds everywhere.

Peak of the Ophir Mountain

7. Descending seems easy but it is not

Coming down is usually the toughest part of any hike. It is also where injuries may happen. At this point, you are worn out, legs are aching and your body screaming to go home. Your knees and ankles will probably be wobbling in pain. Go slow. Take care of your knees. You will need to descend down a series of slopes. Even though there are some ropes to help buffer your descend, you might need to grab on to branches or get down on your butt to get off the mountain. Take care of your knees and look forward to seeing the stairways where you started off in the morning (Though I didn’t find a need to, you can consider a hiking stick to help you manage the descend).

Hike is tough but you can be prepared for it

Overall, the Ophir hike is quite tough for beginners and should not be underestimated.  Tough as it may be, with some training and preparation, you can still overcome it and find a rewarding experience for yourself. You can read more about some tips to prepare for a trekking trip here. Or if you are already convinced to proceed with the challenge, find out more about how to plan for a trip to Mount Ophir. 

How to plan a trip to Mount Ophir (Gunung Ledang)

It is really not that difficult. You just need all the information here.

How do you get to Mount Ophir? Mount Ophir, also known as Gunung Ledang, is rumored to be ranked 6th most challenging trek in Malaysia. This post will provide you with all everything you need to know to plan a trip to Mount Ophir successfully!

 1. Reserve a trip with Gunung Ledang National Park

Booking has to be made before you are allowed to climb Gunung Ledang. You can make reservation with the National park either by email or phone. The park rangers are friendly and replies email on time. Previously, my point of contact was Mr Azam, the ranger in-charged of Gunung Ledang National Park. His email is still muhaz65402@yahoo.com.  In my latest correspondence with them, they have an official blog that you can get information on all the price plans. The booking procedures can be found in the official blog as well.

Previously, a booking deposit of 100 Ringgit has to be made to the Gunung Ledang national park’s Maybank account to confirm your booking. Not sure if this is still required as it is not listed in the blog. Basic charges of the climb includes entrance permit, trekking permit, guide fees and rubbish deposit.  The guide fee is a must as it is compulsory to have a guide to bring you up the mountain. Anyway, it is always good to go up with a guide as he may bring you to new and interesting places outside of the trek itself!

2. Where to stay

You can either stay in the nearby town of Tangkak, or go straight to the resort that is located at the foot of Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir). Personally, I would not recommend staying at the resort as it is located far away from all amenities. On the contrary, Tangkak is a better option as it provides travellers with a wide range of food choices. Also, a ride by taxi to Mount Ophir is only 20 minutes and can be pre-booked a day in advance. Getting out is also easier as buses to other part of Malaysia is within walking distance!

3. Find a hotel

5 years ago, I would have recommended Ophir Hotel in Tangkak . Other accommodations are available today, and can be booked through booking.com. Ophir hotel is a budget hotel with decent bedrooms and clean, private bathrooms. Not for a luxurious stay if you are looking for one. The staff are friendly and the cost per night is relatively affordable. They now have a facebook page that you can contact them for reservation. Pricing and room details are there as well. Emails may take a longer reply. Booking through phone may be a better option. You can contact them via ophirhotel@gmail.com, call them at (+60 6-9791661) or WhatsApp them at (+60 011-108 11661). Previously, a deposit of 50% of the total room charges will have to be made to confirm your reservation, which can be quite cumbersome.

4. How to get to Tangkak and Ophir

From Singapore to Johor Bahru to Tangkak

From Singapore, take a bus from Admiralty MRT station to Larkhin terminal, Johor Bahru. where you can get buses to Tangkak. There is only one express bus that goes directly to Tangkak, and the coach service is known as CityExpress bus service. You can see the booth by walking along the interchange (from where you get off when you take SBS 170) until u reach the other end of the bus interchange. Each ticket cost around RM17.50. Once you arrive at Tangkak, you can walk to any of the hotels, including Ophir Hotel. Just ask the locals and you should be able to find it. Remember to book your return bus tickets the moment you arrive. Otherwise the buses for your trip home may be fully booked.

Kuala Lumpur to Tangkak

I have never tried entering from Kuala Lumpur, but here is a website that have helpful bus information that you can explore. My assumption is that the drop-off will be the same as the Johor-Tangkak route.

Tangkak To Mount Ophir/Gunung Ledang (Important!)

You can take a cab down from Tangkak to Gunung Ledang. Taxi can be arranged either at the interchange or through the hotel. The cost ranges between RM20 to RM30. Good if you have a team of 4. Inform the cab driver to drop you off at Gate B, which is where the ranger’s lodge is. Otherwise, you can walk from Gate A (which is where the resort is) to Gate B. Careful of cheats who will try to drive you to gate B for a fee (by convincing you that the distance between Gate A and B is far). They may end up dropping you somewhere further and extort some money before they drive you back.

There is also a bus service (North-west Bus 10) that can take you to somewhere near Gate B, where you can walk in after alighting. The walk is about 2 km to the ranger’s lodge, through a plantation. However, I have never taken the bus and cannot guarantee where it may alight you. The bus number stated here was from a local that I met. Anyway, it cost way lesser if you take a bus, between RM3 to RM5. Do check with the locals at the interchange for what buses to take and where you can take the bus from. And of course, remember to check with the driver where to alight!

5. Recommended duration

Plan for a 3 days trip even though 1 day is possible. You can enter Johor Bahru on Friday, and get to Tangkak on the same day. Relax and enjoy the scenery of the shanty town and the friendly locals. Get a good meal and a good night rest before waking up early to head down to Gunung Ledang for the climb. After the climb, you can return to Tangkak and rest for the night. Remember to have a good and hearty meal to let your muscles recuperate! You can slowly make your way home on Sunday and finish the exciting trip for the weekend.

Now, hopefully with all these information, you are ready to embark on your adventure up Gunung Ledang, Mount Ophir! For what to expect for Mount Ophir, read my other blog on What to expect at Mount Ophir (Gunung Ledang).

Note: Information updated as of Jan 2018