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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.