Want to go from downtown shopping mall boredom to swinging on jungle vines and splashing in waterfalls Peter Andre-style in the blink of an eye?
You do! Good. Congrats. You’re my kinda person. Well, Bukit Saga has you covered. This is the wildest and most challenging trek so far in my Kuala Lumpur Jungle Hike series. And I’d have to say my favourite.
So, strap on your hiking boots, slide on your neon sweatbands, load up on energy drinks, stick some mozzie spray in your pocket and join me now as I go get sweaty in the jungle. Again.
The Saga Hill hike as we did it was a loop to the peak followed by a bonus out and back to the Bukit Saga waterfall. You can find our exact route here.
The route is signposted. We started climbing Trail A, then joined Trail C to the peak. At the peak, we then took Trail D to the waterfall. We then returned to the peak by Trail D and descended by route C again.
This might all sound like a game of Scrabble but it does make sense when you are there. And a big shout out again to the jungle elves of Kuala Lumpur who hang all these signs and maintain all these glorious trails. You guys are the real hiker heroes.
Both Route A and C go to the peak. Route A is shorter and steeper. Route C is longer and less steep. There’s also a Trail B but we didn’t do that so I can’t say too much on it.
Usually, I’m a public transport fan, see my Bukit Gasing write-up for the adventures that can be had on KL trains. Unfortunately Bukit Saga is a little bit out of the way for a convenient train ride so it was Grab all the way. As always Grab in KL works so well.
Getting to Bukit Saga by train is a little tricky. The closest stop to the Taman Saga area as far as I could work out is Taman Mutiara or Pandan Indah, neither of which are very close at all. You are still going to have to hop on a bus from there or suffer a 1 hour + city walk before you start your hike. Nooope! No thanks.
If you are arriving by gas guzzler to Taman Saga then your best place to park up is the car park along Jalan Saga 22 a few hundred metres from the trailhead. Other than that you are risking the ire of local residents and a costly ticket.
I know you guys have come to think of me as a fearless hiking legend, boldly stepping forth into the unknown. So it may come as a surprise to you when I say I was a little nervous about this one.
Excited nervous I mean, the good kind of nervous. Not the throw-up-before-an-exam bad kind of nervous. I’d read peeps online saying it was a mega steep hike and I’d even read a few accounts from folks who had gotten themselves lost for hours on end.
I liked the idea of some steep jungle action. I did not like the idea of being lost. A night in the jungle with KL’s monster mosquitoes was not my notion of fun. No thanks.
So for protection, I’d invited my lovely girlfriend Sara along for the day. Obviously as I like hanging out with her but also cos if shit hits the fan I wouldn’t be alone and I’m pretty sure the jungle creatures would want to eat her first (she’s less hairy). Giving me time to flee!
Basically, I got the impression this was not a hike for beginners. And you know what. It isn’t!
Bukit Saga (or Saga Hill) is located in the Taman Saga area of Kuala Lumpur, unlike my previous KL hikes that were kinda floating islands of the jungle. Bukit Saga is part of Sungai Puteh Forest Reserve which includes Apek Hill and Ketumbar Hill.
Or maybe it did include Ketumbar Hill until they built a dirty great highway through it. The forest reserve stretches from Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, to Hulu Langat in Selangor, and across into Pahang.
What does all this mean? Well, it means geographically you’ve got a much bigger area to get lost in before you hit a shopping mall, which means more nature, more beasties and creatures.
I was following a route on my trusty AllTrails app which so far in KL has been on point.
It turns out the start of the hike is a little bit tricky to find. You kinda have to start in someone’s parking space/garage and clamber up some rickety makeshift steps through a tumble-down section of fence.
This all felt a bit awkward and a little bit like trespassing. We were wandering about looking awkward and sweaty when a friendly local guy crushing sugar cane in his garage called a friendly “hello” to us.
Some friendly small talk later and I whipped out my AllTrails map showing him what we were looking for and it turned out he knew exactly where it was. It was only his freakin’ garden and his makeshift steps. Serendipitous to say the least!
It was a lovely way to start the hike until he went and ruined the moment. As I clambered up his steps he called out with a big smiley face, “wow, you’re very heavy!”.
Oh, thanks for that complete stranger. Feelings hurt. It’s not my fault Malaysian food is so tasty!!!
It gets more natural, I promise.
After the lovely/abusive encounter with Captain Sugarcane, we clambered the ladder and ended up in a building site. This happens a lot in Kuala Lumpur hikes. You always seem to find yourself at some point skirting some giant building site.
Or in this case, wandering straight through the middle of it. But it was full of construction workers and nobody paid any attention to us. We just kept on and they turned a blind eye. Random walkers must be a common enough site for them.
At the corner of this construction site are some steps, these are your gateway from civilization and into the jungly jungle goodness ahead. Goodbye, real world.
I love AllTrails but obviously, it’s user-generated content so it’s not always exact. Case in point. There’s a much easier way to start the hike than the way we did it. Take a look at the map here.
If you start at the green circle you’ll bypass walking around scratching your head for the entrance and being told you’re fat by a random person at the start.
So it began, and friends a heads up for you, this hike get’s steep quick. There’s no gentle easing in here. Just steep straight off the bat.
As in I hope you like acute angles as you are going to be bent at over 45 degrees for a lot of it!
Not only is it steep it’s also quite technical in places, which is especially hard if like me you’re dragging your “very heavy” body upward against gravity.
We took Trail A upward before switching to Trail C for the remainder of the ascent. If you pass a Chinese Shrine quite early on then rest assured you’re in the right place.
Later on you will pass a weird metal tent-looking structure, it’s down on the map as a “Beirut” but it didn’t look like the capital city of Lebanon to me and I can’t find any info online about “Beiruts”.
So if anyone has an idea please educate this ignorant foreigner in the comments below.
This is apparently a Beirut. Any ideas?
I can imagine Bukit Saga gets busy with hikers during the weekend and as the climb is steep, technical and slippery in places this could be an issue for enjoyment.
However, that’s just an assumption. I can’t say for sure as we were here during the week and as often happens like nutters we had arrived to Sungai Long Hill trail in the heat of midday. So we effectively had the entire hike to ourselves.
What a pair of absolute Sweaty Bettys.
We did see one family enter the jungle stairs ahead of us never to be seen again. At least not by us. I’m hoping they were by the people who know them.
And we also saw one cool cat lounging at one of the rest stops having a smoke. Apart from that it was our own private jungle adventure for the entirety.
This almost goes without saying if you’ve read my other KL hiking stories. But guess what the temperature was?
Yep, you guessed it, it was a full 11 out of 10 on the sweatballs scale! It was as moist and clammy as a sealed shopping bag full of clams in a sauna.
But, at least the narrowness of the path and the dense jungle canopy kept the sun from our skin
And the nice part about doing a hike with a waterfall in the middle is that you know you’re going to get a proper refreshing cool down at the midway point. So we persevered.
Lost my keys, again.
After about 45 minutes we reached the hilltop and were met by one of the things I’ve quickly come to love about KL hikes, a lovely makeshift rest area like the one on Sri Bintang Hill trail.
This is where Taman Saga residents or frequent hikers have taken it upon themselves to create a nice spot to relax and recover from the climb. Here they had set up hammocks, chairs, tables and even a water station.
Or it would’ve been if the friendly locals hadn’t also built a badass jungle gym. So instead of resting Sara and I banged out some sets. I mean I was “very heavy” after all so best I put in a bit of work.
Quick side note, I absolutely love these outdoor gym things. If you’re new to KL and want to get your sweat on without climbing a hill, then check out these ones for starters.
Saga Top is the tops
After enjoying the peak and sharing a bottle of 100plus we set off in search of the waterfall.
Now, this is where things got interesting and the real scrambling began. Mainly as we had some tasty descents to tackle and you really have to trust your abilities in places.
It’s for sure not somewhere to have a crisis of confidence amid a down-scramble. Not that you will fall to your death or anything. Just have a nasty tumble into some prickly trees.
The routes are muddy, and slippery and there is a maze of tangled roots to tackle. Fortunately in the real gnarly spots the local legends have installed ropes to ease your way slightly. Thanks, guys!
Ankle twister alert! We’re rooting for you!
Also, keep your eyes peeled for foot notches in the tree trunks. Making use of these helps a heap.
Keep your eyes double and triple-peeled for spiky bastards. These are branches that look like they would make great handholds for support but are in fact covered in very aggressive needle-like spikes. Grabbing hold of one of these would very much spoil your day. So avoid.
These ropes are your friends, use them.
My advice is if you see a rope, always use it even if you think the section doesn’t look too taxing. They are there for a reason. The reason probably being someone has gone flying in that exact spot before you. Learn your lessons from history people.
You don’t want to be the guy who fell over and bumped his head on a section that had a rope. That would be embarrassing. Definitely more embarrassing than using the rope in the first place!
Yep, friends, that’s the trail. Proper hiking now. Booyah!
We went on a dry day but due to the mountain streams and dense canopy cover it was still damp underfoot in there. So I can only imagine if you visit after some rain it could be very interesting indeed.
When you eventually reach the waterfall you won’t be disappointed. Or at least you won’t be if you double-check you reached the right waterfall.
After descending and crossing lots of jungle streams with very fresh and beautifully cool water, we started ascending again and reached the waterfall. We were a bit underwhelmed but still, we sat down to munch on our Beng Beng bars and Oreos.
Don’t fall for the fake falls, it gets splashier than this.
Until Sara, like a good little hiker nerd, checked the app and it turned out this was a fake waterfall. So we saved the chocolate celebrations and hiked on a little further and we were delighted to find a much more impressive waterfall.
Now that’s what I call refreshing.
We cooled down in the rushing waters, frolicked about like jungle frogs and I reenacted Peter Andre’s moves from his 1990s classic music video Mysterious Girl for Sara. Who was very very impressed even if she might be too embarrassed to say so now.
Don’t worry I’ll keep the photos to myself for now.
After 30 mins of splashy relaxation, we retraced our route back to the peak and back down to the start. This time we opted for Trail A all the way down from the peak as it was quicker. That also meant it was a bit steeper but hey, what are knees for if not to be ruined? That’s my motto!
It’s actually. My real motto is “Look after your knees. You will need them when you are older.” Again it sounds catchier in the original Latin.
Anyway, I digress.
Just as we were about to reenter the construction site to finish the hike we were met by a lovely sunset over the cityscape. It would’ve been nicer without the foreground of concrete but hey, we take what we can get.
What a lovely end to a great hike. Thanks, Bukit Saga.
Nice and splashy, the way I like it!
In short, Bukit Saga is my favourite of the Kuala Lumpur Mini-Jungle Adventure Hikes I’ve done so far. It’s by far the most raw.
Update – Sungai Pisang waterfall trail is now my fave. What a beauty.
There’s some awesome jungle trekking to be had. You feel like you are in the wilderness and it’s both physically and mentally taxing, which is good.
Now, however, if you are looking for a quick hike you can do before getting on with the rest of your day this probably isn’t it. It requires more energy than that.
Also, relatively speaking the views of the city are a bit disappointing and the waterfall isn’t that impressive either in size or beauty. I can see why the Bukit Saga route has some haters amongst the mostly positive reviews on the AllTrails app.
I can see how some would think it could be a lot of work for no real payoff. They however would be wrong. For me, the Bukit Saga waterfall firmly falls into the category of “it’s about the journey, not the destination”.
And when the journey is this much fun, who cares about what the actual destination is. The peak or the waterfall are – to borrow a film term – MacGuffins. They are just focal points to propel the plot forward.
Anyway, dear friends, I hope you enjoyed this little tail from the trail. Join me soon as I take on more of Kuala Lumpur’s jungle jaunts.
Until then, happy hiking!
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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