Gunung Santubong

This one is long overdue considering the mountain is only 40 km from Kuching. That is not to say I have waited this long to go there, I have climbed it 4 times now. But It has taken me this long to post it in this blog.


View of Santubong Mountain from Kuching, this photo taken from the Riverbank building right in the town center.

Santubong Mountain is very close to Kuching and can be reached easily by taxi or by shuttle buses which travel between town and the nearby Damai resorts (which are walking distance from the beginning of the trail). It is about 850 metres high (dont quote me on that, havent looked it up for a while). You can climb the mountain on your own without a guide, though if you are not experienced in the outdoors or out of shape it may be wiser to go there with someone who knows the way.


The trail is marked by paint strips on trees, but it does at times become quite hazy as to where the next one is while the trail splits into two or three paths 😉

My last visit to the mountain was… well yesterday, which is what got me to finally post something about it. It is my favorite mountain in Sarawak so far. The climb to the top is challenging physically but as long as you are in ok shape it is doable for anyone. I have seen whole groups of retirees on the summit. Just make sure you take the time you need, pushing too hard early often leads to people giving up half way.

When you get to this rope trail you may be tempted to think this is all the mountain has to throw at you...


...and then the mountain hits you with these.


The climb is quite varied, you start with some easy walking through the forest (all be it on a very slippery trail), after an hour or two depending on speed you get to the ridge of the mountain. From there you have another two hours of fairly steep climbing. It is not uniformly steep though, there are some flatter sections, there are small descents and finally there are sheer cliffs of rock which can be up to 8 metre high, but luckily for the average climber are covered by rope ladders. The path also takes you over a lot of streams and a couple waterfalls, mostly with small wooden bridges.

A waterfall on one of the streams the trail crosses over


The forest on the slopes of the mountain has never been disturbed as it is too steep for logging. So you will see a real rainforest with some giant trees, monkeys, hornbills and other, small animals. It is this mixture of beautiful rainforest, animal sightings and a varied path which means that you will never be bored. Tired yes, bored no.

Clean undisturbed rainforest


In total my last trip took 7.5 hours both ways. Including a rest at the top. If this sounds like too much…you are a sissy, ok sorry just kidding ;). There is a second trail which starts from a nearby road higher up the mountain so you can cut the trip by about 2 hours, which can be important when you are tired on the way down.

View of Kuching from the summit on a clear day


There is also a smaller loop trail which only goes to a waterfall at the bottom of the mountain. This trail should not take longer than 3 hours total at a relaxed pace. It is a good one to take if you can not do much outdoor activity but still want to see the rainforest and waterfalls. And actually I have to admit the best waterfall with a large pool for swimming is on this trail not on the main summit climb.


9 Responses

  1. You know, I’ve been here all these years and still haven’t made the climb. I’ll have to blame it on my small children. What are you doing here in Kuching?

    • Was working in Kuching. Now waiting to hear about a position in Singapore. Dont blame the kids go without them. its nice to have the family tag along on trips but there are some trips your wife and or kids just cant take with you. imagine if Christopher Columbus said: i will only go if my wife and kids can join me on the ship 😉

  2. Just came back yesterday for holiday with family and relative from Kuching Sarawak.
    On the last day of our holidays, we went to Mt. Santubong for trekking. Early plan to scale to the peak. Reached the entrance at 7.30am with in 10 persons but at about

  3. 15 mins later 4 back-off when start to find it getting harder when going upwards and need to pass few obstacles. When we reached the point where the color marking separate the route, we decided to follow the blue marking. It going round back to where we started but it still took us trekking for about 1hr 50mins with 4men & 2lady just for the shorter route.
    So the next time around I’m going for the summit.

  4. How lovely it has been reading your blog. I was in the British Army in Kuching in 1966 stationed at 10 Inf Workshops,Taneh Puteh.. All my memories are treasured and seeing your Tuak recipe, and the Santubong mountain tour were magic for me. In 1966 about 10 of us ‘borrowed’ an assault boat and went from Kuching down river to Santubong where we saw an island off the coast It took 2 hours to get there and found it to be named Turtle Island. One family lived there and they bred turtles. He, the father, was the official governor and we duly signed the visitors book! The island had its own flag of a turtle on a white background. Happy mamories, many stories to tell, what a lovely place and people. I’d love to go back before it is too late…

    • Hi, do you remember anything more about the Island? Was it alone or was there another one near by? There are five sizeable islands off the coast of Sarawak. All of them are at times referred to as the “turtle islands”. From Santubong I would imagine you may have seen the Satang Islands most easily (Satang Besar and Satang Kecil). But slightly further south west is also Sempadi and further west again are the Talang Talang islands (again Besar and Kecil). I am asking because more recently I happen to be doing some scientific work on those islands (to do with corals). Satang Islands I think are still sort off privately owned, though there is a National park on the Islands. Quite good places to go snorkelling or diving, and almost no visitors there.

    • Hi there Rod, I was stationed with 99 Gurkha Bde LAD in an old rice storage GoDown on the outskirts of Kuching, Green Road from 0ct 1964 to Oct 1965. Yes as you say many happy memories of those days. I remember a group of Brit Expats got together, with their very nice motor launches, and took a bunch of us squaddies down river to Santubong on Christmas Day to give us a break. I remember taking a smaller motor boat, along with 4 or 5 guys, round the headland of the Kuching River from Santubong to a lovely beach, the only way in or out was through a gap in some very high rocks. The interesting thing about it was the brit expat told us categorically, not to swim out through the gap in the rocks but to stay inside the gap. When we questioned him as to why he said take a close look outside the gap….the large grey shapes of numerous sharks could be seen passing the entrance, for some reason they wouldn’t swim through the gap. Needless to say we didn’t venture out.
      I remember TUAK very well, from the headaches, i’m not sure of the recipe, but wasn’t it the local version of ARACK a rice wine.
      I also spent time in The Cameron Highlands, and was stationed in Kluang, Malaysia, with the Gurkha Engineers and then with 75 Ac Wksp REME. They were wonderful years, my wife and I have very fond memories of our time out there, perhaps the reason we have been spending our holidays in Thailand for the last 22 years. We still haven’t totally given up on going back to Thailand and visiting Malaysia.

  5. Very helpful info for climbers. Thanks & we plan do our climb by this month.

    • Try to pick a dry day, coming back down in the rain makes it a bit tough. But enjoy the climb, it is a tough one but one of the most fun of the mountains I visit around Kuching.

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