With my parents being active hikers since last year, I have also took upon hiking during the weekends whenever I am available. I would consider myself as a beginner hiker with an alright stamina. During my trip to Sri Lanka, I did a lot of hiking and the most was a 6 hour hike in total (to & fro) which was already my maximum capacity.
Without much thought, I agreed to conquer Mount Irau with my parents and their hiking group in August as I had always wanted to visit the Mossy Forest. Meeting at the rendezvous point at 7am, the person that was hired to do the permit for climbing Mount Irau gave us a short briefing and also introduced us to our guide. We then jumped onto the 4x4 that was provided by our guide and they drove up to the Mossy Forest parking lot.
Tips & Notes:
- If your main purpose is to hike Mount Irau, do avoid visiting Cameron Highlands during public holiday, long weekends etc because it will be very congested. A mere 5km may cost you a 1 hour drive or more.
- A permit is needed to climb Mount Irau. Permit application: Pahang Forestry Department or the service that we used from Andy (017 999 7790) who helped us arranged for the permit, police report etc. Some people go in without permit but it can be quite risky if you get caught by rangers.
- Camping overnight in the forest is not allowed.
- Not for first time hikers. For this I have already been for 'training' in Gasing Hill numerous times, Ah Pek Hill, Bukit Saga & Wawasan Hill once but it might not be enough as you need to be physically fit! Even I had a difficult time...
- Walking sticks are not recommended as the terrain is uneven and requires body strength to climb from one point to another.
- Bring a proper glove that is waterproof. No gardening gloves whatsoever as it is practically wet and muddy everywhere.
- Wear proper gears (ie: hiking shoes).
- Bring enough water to stay hydrated during the hike. Pack along some oral rehydration salt just incase.
- Bring along some food, sweets and snacks to keep you energized throughout the hike.
- There is no toilet or changing rooms. So you will have to go behind the bushes to do your business.
- Bring along a change of clothes and a shoes/slippers to change out from after the hike.
Starting off at the Mossy Forest, we passed through steps and wooden path that was built mainly for visitors who want to have a stroll around the Mossy Forest only. As we got in deeper, the wooden path disappeared and brought us to the dirt path, further into the forest. Due to heavy rain at the previous night, it made the paths so much muddier and slippery. Some of the paths that we stepped on are quite soft as it is the forest floor, which is a mixture of leaves, branches etc that are in the decomposing process above the soil surface.
Our guide mentioned that going up to the peak is relatively easy but going back out to the forest is much harder. There is two peaks at Mount Irau where there isn't much of a view or scenery to be seen. In fact, do not put any hopes into it as these peaks are mainly covered by the trees and bushes. Conquering Mount Irau would just be about enjoying the beautiful mystical forest with trees covered in moss and the uniquely shaped trees and branches.
The hike was pretty pleasant due to the cooling weather and you don't get as tired quickly. I wore about 2-3 layers when I first entered the forest as it was cold in the morning. However, as the hike started and the body warms up, it all got down to one layer in the end. Luckily it did not rain during our hike!
If you want to spend time taking photos in the forest, best to start your hike as early as possible as the sunlight may be different from time to time. Our guide advised us to take photo when we are on the way back but we were dead tired! It is best to take photo when you still have the energy as you won't give a shit after that, when all you are focusing on is just to get out of the forest (like me). Also, the mist will start to form around afternoon so you won't get much nice photos then.
As all of us are inexperienced in this terrain, we kept stepping into muddy paths which our shoes and pants were full with mud. Luckily I did not step into any knee-deep mud but my shoes did come out once or twice as it got stuck in the mud. Best not to wear anything white or light coloured!
Like I said earlier, the tough part was getting back out of the forest. As when we went up to the peak, the trail was mostly descending, which was
a piece of cake relatively easier. However, when we were getting out, most of the energy was spent climbing back up the steep & uneven terrain that we previously descended from. We held onto tree roots and rocks to go to one point to another that seemed never ending!
We took many breaks in between as we were so tired. My legs literally felt like jello and I kept telling myself that we will be out soon! For seasoned hikers it would only take them about 6 hours in total. But for us, our hike was about 8 hours. 3.5 hours spent going to the peak and about 4.5 hours getting out. Super glad that I managed to complete it :)
It was quite fun as well as we got to meet different people along the way. There was a big group of primary school students who went up to the peak and also a bunch of university students who drove all the way from KL during the wee hours in the morning and then went to hike immediately. For me, I would not be able to do that as I need at least 5-6 hours of sleep to complete a hike!
For my parents and me, we took a 3D2N trip as I had work. Took leave from the office on Friday which was spent going up Cameron Highlands and also made sure we were well rested before the hike on Saturday.
It was durian season when we went up to Cameron Highlands so we had durians at the stalls along the way :)
Spotted an Orang Asli plucking Petai from the tree high off the ground
Visited the BOH Tea Estate at Ringlet and went for a short hike up to the viewpoint. This place is not to be confused with the Sungei Palas BOH Tea Plantation up at Brinchang. Both of the BOH Tea Gardens are closed on Mondays.
Enjoyed some freshly baked scones at Sonny Ville where a family friend stayed at. This is only available if you are staying at the bungalow. If not, you may get the scones from The Lord's Cafe in Tanah Rata which I always go to without fail if I am in Cameron Highlands :)
Visited The Lake House for the lovely country styled house and also the for the flowers at their garden. We also stopped by the market to get some fresh vegetables before heading back to KL.
That is all for my 3 days 2 night trip up in Cameron Highlands! :)