Mount Santubong is situated on the Damai peninsular about 35 km north of  Kuching and take only about 45 minutes to reach from the city centre. Many travellers staying at the nearby hotels and beach resort are not aware of this gem of a mountain at their virtual doorstep.

Although at only 810 metres high, Mt Santubong is a "single rise" mountain with a short range out of a relatively flat terrain by the sea, hence its impressive facade as you drive towards it from the city. In fact, it looks rather intimidating in part due to its extreme steep slope especially near its summit.

Start the climb at the base station of a restaurant on the right side of the road as you approach the big DAMAI signboards. There is checkpoint 1 where car park fee RM5 (parking lot belongs to the restaurant) and admission fee RM8 per climber payable to the Green Paradise Jungle Trek, the company which fully managed and maintained the trek for years. Upon registration they will inform or giving a briefing session about do and don't. The climb takes 3-4 hours to the summit (depends on your fitness level). There is also the shortest way to the summit which is fromBukit Puteri (3 hours to the top) and 2 hours downhill - a total of six hours - and does not include rest time. So advice is to start really early, say about 8 am and be at the checkpoint 2 (Bukit Puteri) by 5pm, making it a total of 9 hours.

By the time is 5 the trek is getting dark and very risky to stay longer so manage your time wisely. This is because of the delightful waterfall and mountain streams along the way will entice you to go for a dip, and the rest stops along the way you will definitely need. and if it rains, as it often does in the tropics, thunderstorms, the jungle can be dark and miserable even at 3-4pm, if you are ''lost'' by 5pm, it can be a scary experience, there had been cases of this happening, with the climbers stranded till late night with search party looking for them.

 mountain stream

waterfalls along the way

 the trail up

Start the climb slowing at first and enjoy the amazing nature and the sound of the tropical jungle and mountain stream, to get your body into rhythm with the ascent. Ropes are strung along difficult and steep stretches, and often you have to clamber over huge  uneven boulders the size of chairs or even bigger.  On rainy days, these boulders, often covered with moss, are treacherously slippery. At the final approach to the summit, the ascent is practically perpenticular, but ladder are strung, it is like rock climbing1 

A word of caution, Mt Santubong is not for the couch potato and the unfit and those who hate trekking on slippery rocks and fording muddy stream, there will be tumbles, bruises, cuts and even insect (ants, spiders) bites (surprisingly no mosquitos!), so wear a pair of walking shoes with good grip. and bring al least two large bottles of drinking water per person. Bring bananas and fruits so you can throw away skins, and not plastic wrappers of candies or chocolates (unless you throw them into your own bag, remember the motto: Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints).

For those who persevere to the summit , the reward is a panoramic views of Kuching city in the distance and the surrounding area of Damai peninsular, the South China Sea, and of course the cool breeze. For those who do not want the rigour of climbing, a delightful trek to the rushing mountain stream or waterfall, still require 2 hours one-way, for a swim and picnic or barbecue is highly recommended. Read a forums post about climbing the mountain here.

 

a very hard climb