Gunung Ledang National Park lies just inside Johor’s border with Melaka, about 30 km from the town of Muar.
The park surrounds the fabled Mount Ophir, now called Gunung Ledang, which is 1,276 metres high.
According to a sign at the entrance to the park, Gunung Ledang is Malaysia’s 64th highest mountain and the sixth most difficult to climb, however, as you can see from the more detailed list on myMalaysia Mountains page, Ledang is actually only the 134th highest peak, and it does not rank in the top 20 peaks in terms of difficulty.
Be that as it may, it is the highest mountain in Johor and its accessible location, being only a couple of hours’ drive from both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, means that it is one of the most popular and frequently climbed mountains in Malaysia.
That does not mean that it is easy to climb. It is a five- to six-hour energetic hike to the summit for a reasonably fit person and there are some steep rocky faces to negotiate with the aid of ropes.
Accidents happen and there has been some fatalities, which is why it is compulsory to engage a guide from the Ranger’s office.
If the most popular trail from in front of the Gunung Ledang Resort is closed to climbers, you can take a short 20-minute trek along stone pathways and steps to the Puteri Waterfalls, a cascade of about 60 metres with pools and a pleasant picnic and bathing area further downstream.
There are other trails to the summit, notably one from the National Park’s Office about five km from the Gunung Ledang Resort and another from the Melaka side via Asahan.
There is also a road you can drive up almost to the summit which you access through Gate B.
The legend of Gunung Ledang
There are various legends pertaining to the mountain involving a magical princess, gold and silver deposits, the famous warrior Hang Tuah and more. It is regarded as a spiritual place.
One of the reputed origins for the name Ophir is the Greek word Ofis meaning snake and some say the mountain is guarded by legions of snakes.
Thankfully none were spotted, except a large monitor lizard scavenging for food scraps in a litter bin. In the process he was scattering rubbish everywhere.
Visitors to Gunung Ledang National Park sometimes complain about the amount of litter around but as this example shows, it is not always the humans who are responsible.
Of course the park management should install animal-proof litter bins but, better still, visitors should take their rubbish home with them.
For this reason, climbers have to declare all their belongings at the Ranger’s office and pay a rubbish deposit of RM20, refundable after the Ranger checks their belongings at the end of the hike.
Besides the monitor lizard, there were tell-tale digging marks left by wild boars. There are also plenty of birds around, indeed 160 species of birds that have been recorded here.
Once upon a time the wildlife at Gunung Ledang National Park was even more exotic.
When Alfred Russel Wallace, the famous naturalist who discovered the boundary between the Oriental and Australian zoological regions (Wallace Line), visited Mount Ophir in 1854 he was so enchanted by the place that he spent a week there during which time he noted the presence of tigers, rhinoceros and elephants.
Admission charges, fees and permits
To enter the park at the Gunung Ledang Resort entrance you have to pay RM2 per car and RM1 per person (RM0.50 for kids aged 4-12).
To climb the mountain, you must register (RM3) and pay RM13 per adult (Malaysians) or RM23 (foreigners) for a Day Trip.
You also need to hire a guide at RM 140 per day. Other fees apply for camping. You should call in advance to book a guide and check which trails are open.
You can try this number at the Gunung Ledang Resort: 06 9772888
Or contact the Johor Parks Corporation at the following address:
Perbadanan Taman Negara Johor
Aras 1, Bangunan Dato’ Mohammad Salleh Perang,
Kota Iskandar, 79795 Nusajaya,
Johor Darul Ta’zim, Malaysia
How to get to Gunung Ledang National Park
Exit the North-South Expressway at Junction 235 and head to Tangkak. Just after Tangkak turn right towards Sagil on Route 23.
You will see signposts for Taman Negara Gunung Ledang. Depending on which entrance you want, take either Gate B (Pintu B) or where you see a large billboard for Gunung Ledang Resort.
From Gate B you will need to drive through a palm oil estate for some distance before arriving at the Rangers’ Office.
This article first appeared in malaysia-traveller.com