Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang)

malaysia

Mount Ophir, or Gunung Ledang, looms over the city of Malacca in Peninsular Malaysia.

It was once supposed to be the location of the fabled gold mines of King Solomon, and finds a mention in the Torah. The name “Ophir” is supposed to have its origins in ancient Hebrew, and found a place in a 1801 British map that would have been carried by naturalist Alfred Wallace when he climbed it in 1854. Today, it is a popular day hike from Melacca, and offers a plethora of waterfalls to relax in after summitting.

Country
malaysia
Height
1,276m (4,186 ft)
Climbing Height
1,150m (starting from Gunung Ledang Park Entrance)
Rank
  • Outside of top #20 in Malaysia
  • Outside of top #50 in SE Asia

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Natural Form and History

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - History

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Geological history

Mount Ophir (also called Gunung Ledang) belongs to a parent range named Titiwangsa, and is the highest point in its southern foothills. The Titiwangsa range is part of a suture zone that runs between Thailand and peninsular Malaysia. It was divided into two halves – the western half in peninsular Malaysia and the eastern half in Thailand – by the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. The western half is an amalgamation of continental terranes called Cimmeria which separated from Gondwana some 400 million years ago during the Devonian era and attached itself to Laurasia – the northeastern arm of Pangea some 200 million years ago. The eastern half on the other hand separated from Gondwana much later and the two portions collided in the Late Triassic, resulting in the closure of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean and the formation of the modern Titiwangsa range.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Modern climbing history

Mount Ophir has a huge place in Malay cultural history and is the subject of a popular folklore about a King who wanted to marry a princess who lived in the mountain. It is also supposed to be the location of the fabled gold mines of King Solomon and finds a mention in the Torah. The name Ophir, which is supposed to have its origins in ancient Hebrew found a place in a British map that was published in 1801. The mountain was visited by Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Charles Darwin and a co-originator of the Theory of Evolution in 1854. The area surrounding the mountain was notified as a National Park in 2005.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Current popularity as a climbing destination

With its proximity to Kuala Lampur and Singapore, Mount Ophir is a very popular trekking destination and probably among the most climbed mountains in Malaysia. It straddles the border between Malacca and Johor and is an easily accessible location. A board at the Park notes that it ranks #6 in terms of climbing difficulty among mountains in Malaysia. It offers a good mix of difficulty and doability, which explains its popularity among tourists. With an eye to protecting the mountains, the Park authorities have in recent times had to put a daily cap on the number of people who are issued permits for the climb and tourists often book their permits months in advance to ensure they are not turned away.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Overview of the Trail

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Overall Assessment

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Summary of trail accessibility

Steep rock faces, gnarled tree roots, ladders and ropes are all part of the experience of climbing Mount Ophir on whichever of the available trails you choose. The trek can be completed in a day and does not require any special mountaineering skills, but still has its difficult moments may not be one for complete novices.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Trail options

Number of options
4
Summary

The Malaysian Government website on National Parks lists 4 different trails by which to summit Mount Ophir. However, most tourists opt for the first or thee second.

The Asahan Trail, starting at the Asahan Rangers Office at 300 m on the Malacca side of the mountain. This is considered a shorter but considerably more difficult route than the more popular Lagenda Trail. It is also a more scenic route with lesser rock faces to contend with and more of waterfalls and camping sites if you are so inclined. It is thought that this might have been the trail that Alfred Russel Wallace took when he climbed the mountain.

The Lagenda Trail, starting at the Park Office at 115 m. This trail from the entrance of the Johor National Park (or the Gunung Ledang National Park) is the most frequented. It consists of some pretty steep slopes and near-vertical rock faces, but is clearly marked and divided into sections each with a different topography and climbing experience. There are rest stops all along the way and while many make a family trip of this, the climb can be an exhausting and physically challenging one.

The Ayer Panas Trail also known as the Sagil Trail, starting at the Mount Ophir Resort. This is a longer route as compared to the two above but is thought to be slightly easier on the legs and offers a far more spectacular view of the lush mountain vegetation, including pitcher plants. This trails merges with the Lagenda Trail after Check Point 5.

Though marked as a trail on the map of Gunung Ledang National Park on the Government website, this is a seldom used route and is easily the longest, taking a full two days to get to the Summit.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Most popular trail

The Lagenda Trail

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Standard itinerary

Number of days
1
Summary

Though this is a day trip, expect some grueling stretches and factor in plenty of time for rest both ways. Because of the steepness of the mountain, climbing down is every bit as exhausting as climbing up. Hence climbers who are physically fit and have some exposure to trekking will find it easier.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Day 1

7:00:  Arrive at the National Park and complete formalities that include securing your permit and hiring a guide. Thereafter you have to subject your backpack to a thorough search. In Mount Ophir the trash menace is tackled by use of a refundable deposit. The Park officials document every little thing you take with you including snack packets and bottles. If everything is still with you on return, you get your deposit back.

07:30:  Begin trek, pausing briefly at each of the first 4 CPs (Check Points) to catch your breath.

10:30:  Reach CP 5 where you will have a slightly longer break for refreshments. There is a spring here if you need to refill your water bottles.

10:00:  Resume trek. The next 3 hours to the summit will be the most challenging part of the climb, but will also reward you with impressive views as you get higher.

13:00:  Reach summit. Take pictures and have lunch.

14:00:  Park rules stipulate that whatever point of the trek you are on, you need to turn around at 2pm.

18:30:  Reach the starting point, and begin your journey back home.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Climbing Difficulty

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Terrain

Number of distinct sections
8
Summary

Starting off simply enough with a flights of stairs, the Lagenda Trail has 9 different sections. Together, they call upon your physical endurance with sheer rock faces to climb, ladders and even ropes to be tackled and tree roots and boulders to be overcome.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Park Office – CP 1
The very first stretch consists of about 500 steps, not too steep but can still leave you a bit winded. On this stretch you find yourself surrounded by tall trees till you reach a clearing with some logs laid down for you to rest your legs.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP1 to CP2
This is a fairly easy stretch with more or less flat ground until you reach another clearing for a quick rest.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP2 to CP3
The topography in this section remains the same as you navigate another fairly flat stretch of leaf strewn pathway, untill you reach your third point of rest.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP3 to CP4
From this point, the nature of the path changes as it gets more uphill and you find yourself walking on a natural stairway of intertwined tree roots offering foot rests for the climb up. At CP4 the path bifurcates and you have the option of turning left to Triangle Lake or right to Kolam Gajah (Elephant’s pond). Guides normally turn right at this point.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP4 to CP5
This is perhaps the most (in)famous stretch of the trail, where you will encounter boulders and ladders that you need to clamber over. No one can fault the Malay sense of humor in naming this part the KFC – no, not a break for chicken but a ‘Killing Fitness Center’ meaning it will try to kill your fitness and you just have to soldier on!
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP5 to CP6
This is perhaps the most (in)famous stretch of the trail, where you will encounter boulders and ladders that you need to clamber over. No one can fault the Malay sense of humor in naming this part the KFC – no, not a break for chicken but a ‘Killing Fitness Center’ meaning it will try to kill your fitness and you just have to soldier on!
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP6 to CP7
This stretch can be really tricky with its sheer rock faces that you need to climb over with ropes or ladders. There is much clambering over rocks and entering and exiting caves between the boulders on this stretch. Just above the rock walls, you reach a section where you get to spot Bonsai trees and finally you get to CP7 from where you can see the summit of the mountain.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - CP7 to the summit (CP8)
After more boulder climbing and ropes and ladders, you reach what is called the ‘false summit’. This area offers some spectacular views all around. The actual summit is another short but steep climb away over a further series of tall ladders.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Weather

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Overview of climate

Malaysia’s equatorial climate means the mean temperature throughout the year is 27 degrees Celcius. What you really need to watch out for when planning a trip are the rains. It is best to avoid the rainy season between mid-October and March.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Best time to climb

April to September are the best months to climb Mount Ophir. It is ideal that you start the trek no longer than 07:30 am as Park rules stipulate that whatever point of the trek you are on, you need to turn around at 2pm. Factoring in rest stops and your pace on the steep slopes, the chances of making the summit before 2pm are only good if you start bright and early.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Common weather challenges

Rains:  Unexpected rains can happen at any time in the equatorial regions and this can really be a dampener for your climb. Do check local weather before starting on the trek.

Heat:  Though the temperatures are not at crazy high levels, the slopes will have you sweating before you cross the first stretch and it gets worse with each subsequent stretch, especially if the sun is out. Most trekkers have a change of clothes in their backpack that they can wear after a shower back at the Park office.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Safety tips

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Climbing safety

Cuts, scrapes and bruises:  With all the clambering over rocks, you can expect some amount of bruising on the trek and it is advisable to have a basic first aid kit in your backpack. If you suffer more serious accidents or get a sprain, you may need to ask your guide to help you down the trail.

Insects:  While walking through the forests, it is advisable to use insect repellant. If there have been rains prior to your visit, also watch out for leeches.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Personal safety

Being one of the most popular trekking destinations in Malaysia, it is unlikely you will ever be too lonely on this mountain.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Safety for women travelers

Mount Ophir is considered a safe trek for women, and many make this trek every day. Even so, if given a choice, you may wish to travel in a group and stick close to your fellow climbers to avoid getting lost.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Recommended equipment

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Footwear

Closed (ideally waterproof) shoes are essential but you don’t really need sports shoes. It is more important that whatever you’re wearing offers a good grip for the rock faces.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Clothing

Clothes that allow your skin to breathe; you will definitely be sweating before long. Long sleeves and pants can protect from insects and minor cuts and scrapes.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Bags

Waterproof backpack

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Weather protection
  • Rain coat / poncho
  • Waterproof cover for backpack
  • Waterproof cover for camera
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sun glasses
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Climbing support

Not required

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Navigation tools

Not required

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Medical equipment
  • Basic first-aid kid, for cuts and bruises
  • Insect repellent
  • Muscle-ache relief creams / sprays
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Food
  • Drinking water
  • Packed lunch and snacks for the 10 to 12 hour trek
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Hygene sanitation
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet and dry tissues
  • Personal toiletries
  • Water purification tablets
  • Disposable plastic bags for waste collection
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Connectivity

Mobile phone(s)

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Documents
  • Climbing permit (if you have gotten one beforehand)
  • Passport (and other IDs): for registration and emergencies

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Support facilities

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Resting stops and facilities

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Rest stops

There are 8 rest stops on this route. Most of them are basic clearings under the trees with logs laid out to rest for a bit. CP 1 called Bukit Sempat is right after the first stretch of steps. CP2 or Hentian Meranti is a larger clearing with logs. CP3 or Batu Orkid comes about a half hour after CP2. CP4 has only a sign board to indicate it is a rest stop. CP5 which is known as Sg Segi Tiga is where most groups break for a longer spell of rest and refreshment and has a fresh water spring near to it. CP6 or Gua Tambing is a welcome spot after the KFC stretch. From CP7 or Bukit Botak you get to view the summit and catch your breath before the final heave. CP8 is Puncak Maligai or the Summit of the mountain.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Base camp

Being a one-day trek there is no real base camp for this trek. The starting and finishing point is the same – the Park office, which offers basic amenities like a shower at the end of the climb.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Guides and porters

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Do you need a guide?

It is mandatory to have a guide.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - How to find a guide?

A guide is assigned by the Park office once you have secured your permit.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Tips while working with guides
  • Specifically ask for an English speaking guide if you require it.
  • Stay close to your guide on the trail so you don’t get lost or in case you need help on the difficult stretches.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Porters

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Do you need a porter?

A small bagpack on your back will suffice; no porters required.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - How to find a porter?

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Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Tips while working with porters

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Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Food & water

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - At the start of the hike

It is advisable to have breakfast before entering the Park as there are no facilities for food inside. The guides do not carry food for you on this trek but if you have instructions for a packed lunch with your tour operator, collect it before embarking on the trek. There are no restrictions on what you can bring; the only rule is that you do not leave anything on the mountains.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - During the hike, along the trail

There are no food facilities along the way. So carry a packaged lunch and other snacks as may be required for the day. There are natural springs along the way, but be warned that this is untreated natural water and in case your stomach can’t handle it, it is safer to use a purification tablet or put it in a filter bottle before you drink it.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - During the hike, at base camp

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Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Network connectivity

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Phone and data (3G) connectivity

Though a signal is available in patches of the mountain, do not depend on it as it is not available throughout.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Accessibility

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Getting there

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Nearest airport
Melaka International Airport; many tourists also drive from the bigger cities of Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - From the airport to the starting point

From Malacca to Johor where Mount Ophir is situated, the drive is merely a one and a half hours by taxi. If you want to take the Lagenda route for a one-day trip, make it a point to start early from your hotel or spend the night in the neighbouring town of Tangkag, close to the Park.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Climbing permits

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Is a permit needed?
Yes, a climbing permit is needed for the trek.
Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - How to get a permit?

The permit can be taken from the Park entrance but taking into consideration that there is a daily cap on number of permits issued, it is safer to book your permit well in advance through a tour group.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - Special Tips

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - For amateur climbers

  • If a day trek does not offer much of a challenge, opt for a night in the mountains which offers many interesting camping sites for added excitement.
  • For a full experience of Mount Ophir, plan the ascend via the Asahan route and continue down the summit via the Ayer Panas/Sagil Trail. You get to experience not only the entire challenge of the mountain, but also enjoy every visual brilliance the mountain has to offer including scenic pools and waterfalls.

Climbing Mount Ophir (Guning Ledang) Malaysia - For advanced climbers

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