Sungei Pelepah waterfalls

Date: September 2003

Updated: July 2008

Main waterfall(19 Feb 2000)

Main waterfall(19 Feb 2000)

Sungei Pelepah is located near the town of Kota Tinggi, Johor, about 20mins ride by cab. Most people are more familiar with the Kota Tinggi waterfall where visitors have to pay to enter. Sungei Pelepah is located just outside the entrance to that waterfall inside Lumbong forest. For Singaporeans, this is perhaps the cheapest trekking location in West Malaysia. To reach there by public transport, it cost less than S$10 and about 2 hrs of traveling. Most people take 2 days 1 night to go there and come back to Singapore.However, the initial part of the trek is now currently
developing into an oil palm plantation and there is also a fence that block access into the plantation. It is still possible to enter the plantation via the river. But it remains to be seen whether trekkers would be refused entry into the plantation in the future.

There are 3 large waterfalls, several small ones and a very small cave along the river. The main waterfall, which consists of 3 large waterfalls forming a series of cascades, has a total height of more than 80metres. Behind the falling water of one of the small waterfall, there is a small cave that you can swim into it and stand inside. When the water level is high, the entrance to the cave might be submerged. But when the water level is lower, one can just walk through the waterfall to enter the small cave.

1st large waterfall(19 Feb 2000)

1st large waterfall(19 Feb 2000)

Sungei Pelepah is very clean, as people prefer to visit the waterfall outside than to trek into the jungle. Sadly, there are many changes to the landscape at the start of the trek where there is a private plantation. Trees are being felled to make way for the new plantation making the river water murky. Fortunately, the upper reaches of the river are still unaffected. But as the number of people visiting the river increases, so is the amount of rubbish.

2nd large waterfall(30 July 2003)

2nd large waterfall(30 July 2003)

The most common route up the river is a combination of both land and river trekking. There are many river crossings to be made and one have to trek on the river itself on several occasions. Fortunately, the water is quite shallow and does not exceed waist level at the deepest crossing. The land trail is narrow and generally runs parallel to the main river. Other than the initial 20mins trek, the rest of the land trail involves trekking in primary forests. On certain parts of the trek, one has to rely on both hands and legs to overcome the obstacles, which is usually in the form of steep slope.

The main campsite is well situated. The campsite is actually surrounded by hills and it can get quite cold in the open, as the mist will tend to gather in the early morning. The campsite is flat and covered with soft sand. It is about 40mins trek up stream from the top of the second large waterfall. It can easily accommodate 30 trekkers and there are many small “ridges” where trekkers can set their toilet behind them. Of course, the campsite does have its faults, lack of beautiful scenery, trees for firewood and hammock, and the nearest water source is about 40m away.

Main campsite(25 May 2002)

Main campsite(25 May 2002)

Pitcher plants

Pitcher plants found at the edges of the campsite(30 July 2003)

To reach the water source, walk along the ridge at the back of the campsite to the left end and descend by the other side of the ridge. There is a small stream with crystal clear water. Although there is a large pool of water located at the campsite, it is not advisable to collect water from there, as it is rather stagnant. Apart from the main campsite, there are other smaller campsites that can hold about 12 trekkers each on the way to the first large waterfall.

As for the wild life in Sungei Pelepah, do not expect to see much as wild animals usually shy away from human beings. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a Hornbill flying over the campsite at dusk. There are the usual mosquitoes although not many and some sandflies at the campsite. Mosquito coil is generally good enough to chase away the biting insects. Leeches are rare in the waters of Sungei Pelepah but there may be odd cases of leech bites. It is not advisable to leave food unattended overnight outside the in tent as there are sometimes, rats loitering
around in the middle of the night. There are also many pitcher plants at the edges of the main campsites.

Land Route to the Campsite

Probably due to the recent developments at the initial part of the trek, an old logging trail now connects the starting point of the trek to the main campsite. However, a stream separates the end of the logging trail and the main campsite. The start of the logging trail is found behind the 2 storey high house to the right edge of the plantation. The trail is undulating and at the current condition, the only vehicle that can reach the main campsite is using a 4-wheel drive. As the plantation is a private property using the logging trail would bring you close to the management of the plantation which may not be a good idea. Nevertheless, this trail can be used in times of emergency to get help as it takes only 70mins to reach the main road from the campsite.

*** September 2003 ***

Getting There

From Singapore to Johor Bahru
Take SBS bus 170 from Singapore to Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru

From Larkin(Johor Bahru Bus Interchange) to Kota Tinggi Bus Interchange

Bus Service : G.P. EXPRESS(Platform 33)
Frequency : Hourly
Cost : RM 3.50 per person
Remarks : Free seating

Find out which bus bay to take the bus

*** September 2004 ***


Bus Service : Causeway Link bus no. 66
Frequency : 15-20 min
Cost : RM 3.50 per person
Duration : 1 hr
Remarks : Free seating

Bus tickets are bought on the bus itself

This is not an express bus so the bus would make frequent stops in towns along the way

*** September 2004 ***

From Kota Tinggi to Sungei Pelepah
From Kota Tinggi Interchange to Wet World resort entrance (Starting Point of trek)

Tell the driver that you are going to Kota Tinggi waterfall.

Cost : RM 2 per person
Duration : approx. 30-45min
Remarks : Bus ticket is bought on the bus

Bus stop at the carpark in front of Wet World resort

There is no bus shelter

The bus makes a U-turn in the carpark of the Wet World resort before heading back to town.

*** September 2003 ***

From Kota Tinggi Interchange to Wet World resort entrance (Starting Point of trek)

Tell the driver that you are going to Kota Tinggi waterfall.

Cost : RM 10-12 per vehicle (for one way)
Duration : 20 min

*** September 2004 ***

By Van
Cost : RM 3 per person
Duration : 20 min
Remarks : Usually taken on the way back from resort to Kota Tinggi town

*** September 2004 ***

From Johor Bahru to Sungei Pelepah
Take taxi from Johor Bahru (outside customs) to starting point of trek

Cost : RM 50 per cab
Duration : 1 hr

*** 27 June 2001 ***

From Johor Bahru/Kota Tinggi to Sungei Pelepah
Chartered vehicle
Contact person : Idris
Contact Numbers : 07-8911084(H)
Johor Bahru customs to Wet World resort entrance
Cost of van (10 seater) : RM 100 (one way)
Duration : 1 hr
From Kota Tinggi town to Wet World resort entrance or back
Cost of van (10 seater) : Rm 3 per person or Rm 10 per van whichever is a higher price (one way)
Duration : 20 min
Remarks : Can speak passable English

*** September 2003 ***

Trek Details
According to a fellow trekker, the forest ground is quite unstable with sections of the route badly eroded. Thus part of the route described below is likely to be different. (July 2008)

*** September 2003 ***

Duration(min) Description Instructions Remarks
00 Either from gate or from the stream
under the bridge about 40m from the entrance of Wet World resort
If starting from stream, turn left to return to the main trail Walk parallel to the stream
20 River Cross river There is a small clearing before the river
05 T-Junction Turn left and cross river
01 Stream with the remains of a make-shift bridge. There are trails on left and right side of the
fallen bridge a few meters before it. After getting to the other side of the stream there is a Y-Junction.
Cross stream and turn left at the Y-Junction into the vegetation. At the Y-Junction, the trail that goes straight to the river is much wider than the left trail which is
very narrow and leads through the vegetation but obvious.
05 River with a small waterfall on the right Cross river There is a campsite after the river
01 Path leads to the bank of the river Keep to the right side of the river
10 Small waterfall in front Cross river
01 Cross river to the right bank
01 Steep slope about 2 storeys high Climb up using fixed ropes.
01 Small waterfall Cross river followed by steep climb by the left side of the waterfall. Walk through the narrow valley. There is a very small cave behind the small waterfall.
06 Climb up left bank of the river
05 River with 1st main waterfall on the left side Cross river, route is directly opposite.
10 River. 2nd main waterfall can be seen on the right. Cross river followed by a very steep climb
05 T-Junction Turn right
05 Y-Junction Turn right, descend to the top of 2nd main waterfall. Keep by the left bank of river
05 Cross river
01 Last main waterfall Cross river and climb up from the right side of the waterfall Trail is on the right side of the waterfall
20 Top of waterfall A mixture of land and water rout along the stream
30 Fallen tree right across stream Turn right onto the bank with another campsite. Turn left and cross the stream with the route directly
02 Main campsite beside a large stagnant pond. There are sandflies at the main campsite

Useful Timings

Starting point to 1st large waterfall : approx 1hr
Total time taken from starting point to
main campsite
: approx. 2hrs 20min

Land Route from campsite to main road

*** September 2003 ***

Duration(min) Description Instructions Remarks
00 Campsite Head back towards the stream where you
came from.
03 Stream Cross the stream. Walk straight across
the open space and there is a logging trail visible. Follow the
logging trail
20 Inverted Y-Junction Go straight
50 House at the edge of the plantation Proceed to main road

NB: There are very few incidence of leech bites.

Note: In 2006, there were reports of big-foot sighting in the region and forest rangers were stationed at the starting point of the trek to check for permits. However, a fellow trekker has kindly informed me that the forest ranger is no longer there.

*** July 2007 ***

According to a fellow trekker, since the beginning of the year 2006, forest rangers are stationed at the starting point of the trek to check for permits.
Permit can be applied from the Forestry Department, Penisular Malaysia in Johore

Pejabat Hutan Daerah

Johor Selatan

Aras 9, Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim

Jalan Bukit Timbalan

80000 Johor Bahru

Permit Cost : Rm150 per group
Contact number : 60-7224 3048
Information to provide : Namelist, Passport number, Contact number

*** March 2006 ***


Pejabat Perhutanan Negeri Johor

Tingkat 2, Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim

Jalan Bukit Timbalan

80990 Johor Bharu

Telephone : 07-2243566 Fax : 07-2243840

Mr Koh Hock Lye, Director.

Johore State Forestry Dept


*** November 2003 ***

Something to share

*July 2008*

With the oil palm plantation at the starting point of the trek, there will be workers present but they generally do not stop trekkers from going into the forest. However, the
ground in the forest seems to be very unstable with many fallen trees and eroded banks. Thus, sections of the old route may not be passable.

~ Information from S.J

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