Spoiler Alert: This walk is awesome.
Sungai Pisang Waterfall is my current favourite Kuala Lumpur mini jungle hike adventure. It’s just the right level of jungle and just the right level of adventure.
Even slipping on a rock and falling flat on my back in a river couldn’t dampen my love for this hike. Read on below to find out the ins and outs of Sungai Pisang.
Sungai Pisang is a pretty gentle short hill climb, so gentle it’s effectively flat for 45 mins as you follow a gentle river upstream to a glorious waterfall.
There are not many signposts on this one, which is weird for a KL hike which often have as many handpainted signs hanging from trees as they do actual trees.
But despite the lack of signage it’s hard to get lost as it’s an out-and-back and you’re following the river the entire way. If in doubt see the route we did here.
In terms of what to bring. Your swimming stuff obviously as the trail ends at a glorious waterfall which you are going to want to splash around in.
Apart from that just the usual. Load up on suncream, a hat, snacks and drinks.
Getting there and away
Hire a driver for half a day. You can do this on the Grab app. I didn’t know this at the time but I do now and recommend it. We had no problem getting to the waterfall but Grab failed us on the way back. Leaving us a bit stranded. Don’t worry. We survived.
There might be a way to get here by bus but I couldn’t work it out.
If you are coming by car aim to head up the Old Gombak Road until your reach the Jungle Lodge Alang Sedayu Resort. When you see the sign swing left and there’s a parking spot there where you can park your trusty steed for a small parking fee (RM 10 I think).
This could be a waterfall or it could be my sweat. Not sure.
Have you ever heard of the peak-end rule? It’s the idea that the final experience of an event holds way more weight than the rest. If the ending is good then we tend to remember the rest with a greater fondness than it might deserve.
Why am I talking about this psycho-babble? Well, this was my final Kuala Lumpur hike. In the last two weeks, I’ve done nine KL hiking trails in and around the Malaysian capital. Some have been truly great like Taman Tugu, and all have been good, apart from Sungai Long Hill, the one with trucks, which kinda sucked.
But overall there were many peaks, both literally and figuratively. And I really really wanted my “end”, my last hike to be memorable. So in preparation, I saved what sounded like an exciting one for our final day. Say hello to Sungai Pisang Waterfall.
Yep, a jungle waterfall. Boom! I was excited for this one.
Located in the hills behind the Batu Caves area in Selangor. This is the most out-of-town hike we’ve done in Kuala Lumpur. Getting to the start of the by public transport would be a bit too much of a trek. So we of course hailed a Grab.
I’m so glad we did as we were blessed with Firdaus. Who was the best kind of Grab driver, he waited politely until he realised we were the type of passengers who liked chatting and then he opened up and chatted our freakin’ faces off. He was a chat machine. The OG Chatbot.
He had answers to all our questions and we heard all about his dreams to study in New Zealand one day and explore the islands. And Firdaus if you end up reading this, thanks for the fun ride and I hope it all works out! Selamat berjaya!
It wasn’t until we just about reached the destination and I saw how remote it was that I had a small worry about how we would get back after the hike. But I pushed that thought into the “worry about that later” section of my mind and said goodbye to Firdaus.
After final goodbyes and a quick selfie for posterity. We were alone in the wilderness. Well, almost. Wilderness adjacent. There was a little walk to the trailhead proper.
As you leave the car park and walk toward the trailhead with the river on your left we saw loads of families of locals splashing around in the cool water generally having the mega lols.
We then had to navigate a whole heap of construction work that we later found out was for a new high-speed train thing that will fire commuters to work at mind-bending speeds in the future.
Maybe even so fast it will fire them into the actual future. Imagine. Great Scott!!
Don’t worry, it gets more wild than this.
We had that feeling of being somewhere we shouldn’t be here like we were trespassing. Note: This is quite a regular feeling on Kuala Lumpur hikes such as Bukit Saga trail. But the workers paid no attention to us, they must be very familiar with hikers coming through.
Take a sneaky left here and let the real fun begin.
When you see a gate to a water plant up ahead that seems to be blocking your route, that’s when you go off-piste and delve into the forest on the left side.
This is where the hike gets going.
You gonna get soggy toes, just accept it.
Sara (my girlfriend, also known as the Hiking Queen) and I did this hike like sensible people in proper hiking shoes and I recommend you do the same.
We did pass a family with two children later in the hike who were all rocking flippy flappy flip-flops but I don’t know how far they’ve been or how often they had slipped over.
The benefit of flip-flops is that you could just wade through the water without worrying about soggy shoes or repeatedly taking for shoes off.
The first section of the hike involves a lot of stream fording and you can have great fun coming up with elaborate routes to avoid going in the water. There’s an art to working out combinations of rocks, roots and logs to leap between to stay dry.
But at some point, you will fail and get wet feet. It’s inevitable. Maybe it’s possible to do the hike without going in the water during dry season but now when we were doing it in February when the water levels were high.
I cairn a lot about these things.
I love a good stack of rocks I do. This is one of those hiker traditions you find everywhere across the world. One person makes a stack of rocks, so someone else makes another next to it. And soon you have a whole city of rock towers.
The early stages of the Sungai Pisang Waterfall hike has one such rock stack zone so we spent a good few minutes fashioning pebble towers. Good clean fun.
I heard once (in Scotland I think) that it’s bad luck to walk past a cairn (rock stack) and not add your own stone. I’ve no idea if this is true or not but since then I also make sure I do. I don’t wanna curse myself now, do I?!
After the rock stack zone the path continues to follow the river and starts getting more junglified. Fear not, it’s easy to follow but doesn’t look like it gets too much action. At least not much recent action.
Let the adventure begin.
After a bit of an exciting rapids section, you will come across two tunnels allowing the river to flow under the Karak Highway above. It’s at this point that the easy hike along the river starts to feel like a real jungle adventure.
At the time we were there the left tunnel was blocked by a whole heap of fallen branches so we went with the right one.
Here we go. Into the abyss.
There’s something so cool about walking through tunnels like this, and it’s not just the water. Which was lovely and refreshing.
I think there’s something cinematic about it. There are so many cool scenes in movies of tunnels.
The “they were never seen again after this” photo.
You can either wade through the ankle-deep water or if you’re scared of tunnel monsters you can opt to stroll along the strip of concrete on either side of the stream.
After you emerge out of the tunnel it’s like being reborn into a jungle world. From here on out the walk has a superbly wild feeling. Quickly the rumble of the cars from the Karak Highway will fade and be replaced by a whole heap of jungle sounds. It’s just you and nature.
Trail! What trail? Go freestyle!
After the iconic tunnel section, the part gets much less path-like. It’s still there on the right side but there’s also another path on the other side. Or the path disappears completely and you walk on sand or the water.
You can go freestyle and make it up as you go along. Get freaky. As long as you are heading upstream you are going the right way.
On multiple occasions, we had to – or chose to as we’re mad – cross the water on fallen logs. This was great fun and felt like real Indiana Jones adventure stuff.
Watch out mind, those logs can get slippy. Even brave ol’ Indie must sprain an ankle at some point. Or worse still, slip and land legs akimbo on a log crushing his crystal skulls. Eek!
This is how people use to log-on before the internet.
The logs were cool but we have logs at home in the UK, the coolest thing on this part of the trek was to see how wild the jungle was here without any human presence messing it up.
A terrible place to drop your keys.
In particular, the roots of the trees were mindboggling, these guys were straight-up mental. They wiggled their way out from their respective trees like an explosion at a spaghetti factory or an orgy at the worm factory. Weird visual but look at the picture and you’ll get it.
It was hard to work out which roots belonged to which trees, it was a whole root spectacular.
On top of the raunchy root action, the creatures we spotted and heard along the way really created a feast of nature for us to devour.
There were ants of all shapes and sizes. Well, mainly ant-shaped but lots of different sizes. Including bullet ants. Watch out, you don’t want to step on one of those bad boys! No sirree.
There were butterflies galore and so many plants you’d have needed a year and a bus full of botanists to identify them all, including some mad bright blue ones the like of which I’ve never seen before.
Oh and the noises. So many weird jungle noises. There was one particular “squark” noise that was both fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. If you ever meet me ask me about it and I’ll do an impression of it for you.
We have no idea what creature it came from but if you ask me to guess I’d say a ten-foot lizard monster with sixteen eyes and snakes for fingers.
It was all so freakin’ fascinating. We loved it.
After all the rock stacking, rooting around, log crossing, splashing about, and avoiding being devoured by the Squarkmaster, you will finally reach the grand finale. The falls. Oh, and it’s a doozy!
For those who want to visit the waterfall themselves and don’t want to spoil the surprise then look away now. Or better still just scroll down super quick past the photo below.
Time to get our splash on.
Yep, the falls are awesome. Worth the hike. This one made the Bukit Saga waterfall feel like a sad trickle. Don’t get me wrong we loved the Bukit Saga hike but Sungai Pisang is a waterfall of a whole different calibre.
The water is cold, and fresh and there’s a big enough splash pool to swim around in. At around 20 metres in height the water picks up some serious speed on the way down and is way too powerful to stand directly underneath. Good fun trying though.
As we were here on a weekday we of course had the falls all to ourselves. It might get busy at weekends with groups of friends or families but for us, it was our private piece of jungle paradise for an hour.
But all things must come to an end. After cooling down in the waterfalls and lounging on the rocks like a pair of sea lions we sadly had to pack up and set off back toward reality.
Look how happy I looked seconds before I ended up in the water.
Because I’m a weirdo I was wearing a pair of those toe socks things for this hike. Toe socks you ask? You know the socks that make your foot look like a Monster Munch crisp (a reference mainly for you Brits there). Foot gloves.
Putting wet-toe socks back onto your feet is an almost impossible task. So on the way back after our swim in the waterfall, I decided to go barefoot. Mistake.
My meat feet were much less grippy than my hiking shoes and I slipped on a rock, flew what felt like ten feet into the air and fell clean into the water with a giant splash.
If You’ve Been Framed was still going I would’ve easily made my £250 (another one for you Brits).
Once Sara stopped laughing she helped me up and reminded me this was karma getting its revenge for the time I dropped her on her face on the Ivinghoe Beacon Walk. Which reminded me how funny that was and that cheered me up.
The good thing about falling in the water is that I no longer felt sweaty, I just felt wet. Which was a double bonus as just before we reached the end of the trail it began to rain.
As I was already soaked I was immune but out of respect for Sara I jogged with her and we found shelter at the construction site. Since this was the end of the hike we tried hailing a Grab but my concern from the start turned out to be legitimate, no Grabs anywhere to be seen!
Hmmm. Not good. Town was a long way away and we had no desire to walk for an hour to find a bus. Just then a gruff-looking man started walking toward us carrying a box. He looked like the site foreman. Oh shit, we’re gonna get booted out in the rain!
A free coke from a stranger tastes even sweeter than normal.
Nope, we weren’t getting our marching orders. The opposite. This is Malaysia, people are awesome. He was just carrying over an ice box full of drinks. He offered us a Coke and wouldn’t take no for an answer. We chatted for a while and he went off to make some calls.
Ten mins later he returned and found us still sitting there trying in vain to summon a Grab he offered us more drinks and announced that he had finished work early and that he was giving us a lift to the train station. Again “no” wasn’t an option. Superstar!
As we jumped in his car he then announced that not only was he giving us a lift to the station he was going to take us to McDonalds first. What a mega legend!
I mean, I’m usually a Burger King guy but when your savour is offering to buy you a Big Mac you don’t say no. I mean I tried, I tried telling him I’d buy him a Big Mac but he was having none of it!
I couldn’t believe his kindness, when I told him that this was one of the nicest things anyone has done for me he refused to believe things like this don’t happen all the time. Man, Malaysia must be super kind if this is considered normal behaviour.
Fed, full of Big Mac and with a newfound belief in the goodness of humanity we were dropped off at the train station and from there we sorted ourselves out. The end.
Waterworld we live in!
In short, awesome. We loved this hike. The jungle was the most authentic of all the Kuala Lumpur hikes I’d done over the last two weeks.
In terms of physical effort, it was a pretty easy hike most of the effort came in the logistics of getting there and away. Learn from my mistakes and either hire a driver or come by private car. Or maybe jump out the window of that new high-speed train at just the right moment.
What was great about our Sungai Pisang Waterfall hike was it was just the walk itself that we loved so much, our ride with Firdaus to get there and then being rescued and fed by the foreman on the way home were such heartwarming moments.
In terms of the peak-end rule, we nailed it. Not only was our last hike not a disappointment, but it also ended up being our favourite of the lot.
I loved hiking in Kuala Lumpur and looking at the map there are so many other areas to explore. I can’t wait to get back to this great city and see what other gems I can discover.
Until the next time hiker heroes, may your pocket be forever full of trail mix!
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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