Mount Stong State Park

The rugged landscape of Kelantan’s interiors offers many exciting adventures for anyone who loves the great outdoors. From limestone hills to rushing rapids, from thick tropical jungles to cool cavernous caves, Kelantan is a pleasure to experience.

The best way to enter the interiors of Kelantan and, at the same time, get a first-hand look at the typical village life, is to take the KTM train – once romantically known as the Jungle Train in the spirit of adventure and exploration – right through the state.

One of the stops along the way is in the quaint village of Dabong, about 155 kilometers from Kota Bharu, the state capital. Dabong lies in the area dedicated as Mount Stong State Park (formerly called Jelawang Jungle) and is situated on the fringes of Malaysia’s massive Titiwangsa range. The mountainous backdrop there is made up of a chain of majestic peaks, waiting to be conquered – Gunung Ayam, Gunung Stong, Gunung Tera, Gunung Saji, Gunung Koh, Gunung Baha, Gunung Beirut, Gunung Che Tahir. (Gunung is the local word for mountain).

One of the main attractions at the state park is Gunung Stong (1,422 meters), a dome-shaped granite complex more than 100 million years old. Here, the seven-tiered Stong Waterfalls, reputed to be the highest in Southeast Asia, drops from a height of about 990 metres. Reaching the peak of the falls takes two hours of trekking for about one kilometer on steep inclines of between 60 to 90 degrees.

The Mt.Stong State Park, gazeted as state park on October 2005 is listed among the top five unique ecotourism destinations in Malaysia. It covers an area of 21,950 hectares of land dotted with high peaks, dense forest, a variety of caves, rivers and waterfalls. Its thick jungle is home to elephants, tigers, bears, gibbons, hornbills and a range of other exotic wildlife, as well as a variety of flora and fauna including the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia of the kerii meyer species, and the endemic long-sectioned bamboo, a type of purple herb (didymocarpus calcareous) and a unique palm species (licuala stongesis).

With the assistance of a qualified and knowledgeable trekking guide, the journey uphill is made more meaningful as he points out species of wildlife sighted along the way. In good weather conditions, an experienced guide can take travelers along the scenic route of the waterfalls from the foot of Gunung Stong at least halfway before continuing inland for the rest of the hike up. This route showcases the waterfall cascading down from great heights along the solid granite rock structure, a breath-taking sight to behold.

At the peak of Stong Waterfalls is Baha’s Camp – and much-appreciated rest for tired legs. Weary travellers often make Baha’s Camp their pit stop for the night before continuing up Gunung Stong the following day. It has eight wooden huts and two camping grounds that can accommodate between 200 and 300 people at one time. From here, one can sit at the edge of smooth, large rocks and watch the crystal-clear waters of Stong river rush down over the steep edge of the mountain. In the mornings, a thick fog floats in the air creating the dreamy effect of walking on clouds. By noon, the fog clears to reveal a magical view of the lush green valley below. When night descends, snuggle up by the campfire as the mysterious legends and folklores about the origins of Gunung Stong are unraveled.

From Baha’s Camp, it only takes a minute to walk over to the Kolam Tuan Puteri (Princess Pool) where one can enjoy a refreshing dip by the falls. About 25 minutes trek from Baha’s Camp is Telaga Tujuh (Seven Well), a series of smaller waterfalls that empty into mini pools.

Other places worth visiting and easily accessible from Baha’s Camp are:
  1. The Y Waterfalls, also known as the Last Waterfalls, where separate waterfalls from two mountains, Gunung Stong and Gunung Ayam, meet. Legends abound that it is the proverbial fountain of youth as those who drink from it are said to retain a youthful appearance ( 30 minutes away from Baha's Camp)
  2. Sungai Rantai @ Check Point One (1) to Mt.Stong & Mt.Ayam :- can be reach after 60-90 minutes walked.
  3. Beta Balak @ Check Point Two (2) to Mt.Stong & Mt.Ayam :- suitable for bird watching & camping. 60-90 minutes away from Sungai Rantai.
  4. Bogor Caves @ Check Point Three (3) to Mt.Stong :- a cave-like formation by two huge boulders and a suitable resting point for the night on the way to the peak of Gunung Stong. River & nature pool just next to the cave. 30-45 minutes from Benta Balak.
  5. Sungai Baha @ Check Point Three (3) to Mt.Ayam :- suitable for resting point (lunch) before climb up to Mt.Ayam peak. 60-90 minutes from Benta Balak.
  6. The summit of Gunung Stong (Mt.Stong), which can be reached within two (2) hours of trekking from Bogor Caves.
  7. Gunung Ayam (Mt.Ayam), the highest peak in the area, standing at 1,504 metres needs about six hours of trekking to reach its peak. It is the ideal spot to watch both sunset and sunrise. A campsite is available for overnight stays.
Kelantan, cloaked in dense jungles, high peaks, mysterious caves, swirling rapids and shrouded in mystery and folklore, hides the promise of romantic and thrilling adventures that will test your endurance, push your physical and mental limits, and simply take your breath away. It is an off-the-beaten destination that few travelers venture to but one that will definitely make you return for more.

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