Princess Santubong

Most Sarawakians will be familiar with the tale of Princess Santubong, who upon an altercation with her sister Princess Sejinjang over Prince Serapi (another mountain that we hiked), were cursed by their father, the King of Kayangan.

All became mountains, Mount Sejinjang and Mount Santubong. Mount Santubong has a distinctive feature where if you look along the breadth of it you see the profile of a sleeping woman. It is now a gazetted national park, with the highest point being 810 metres aboves sea level, overlooking the Damai Bay and the South China Sea.

Within the geography of Kuching City, Mount Santubong isn’t the tallest (Mount Serapi is 911 masl). But it has been known to make grown men and women who attempt to summit it cry. 

On a blustery, cloudy Wednesday, we decided to scale Mount Santubong. By the time we got there, it was raininv moderately. We decided to persist and registered ourselves at the national park office.

It started easily enough, trails snaking through virgin jungle, fallen trees and rushing whitewater. As our elevation increased, what was normally dry trails became cascading mini waterfalls. We got our shoes soaked through in the first 30 minutes.

Note: When attempting to hike in tropical jungles, ignore GoreTex or any waterproof hiking shoes. It will almost never stay dry. Not to mention light and well ventilated shoes makes the water pour out faster. 

We reached the viewpoint (about 2 hours hike), only to realize the summit was a further 760 metres (distance not elevation). We thought, “Hell, it couldn’t be that far.”

I was never more wrong.

From then on I finally understood why it makes people cry. The inclines in some places were almost vertical, with nothing but wooden and rope stepladders. The mist grew thicker. Everything was slippery. 

By the time we got to F12, we both were exhausted. We thought we finally made it to the top. It was a clearing on top with a gazebo. But there wasn’t any marker. The mist lay thick around us. We took a break to gather our bearings. Off to the side was another trail leading downwards. I reasoned it must be an alternate route back to park HQ.

And then the mist slowly lightened and I saw the true summit. Suffice to say we headed back. The journey down was even worse as we both were acrophobic.

Later on we found out F12 is about 750 masl. There was another 30 minute hike down and up another steep incline with lots of stepladders.

We were a bit disappointed. Oh well, next time, princess.

The trail itself is beautiful hike through virgin rainforest, giant trees and amazing forest symphonies. If it wasn’t for the rain, we would’ve played in the numerous waterfalls. You don’t need a guide because there are blue and red trail markers, but it can get confusing and disjointed as some paths are blocked by mounstrous fallen trees which require a few backtracking. General common sense and a really reliable pair of hiking shoes is enough. And lots of water. 


2 thoughts on “Princess Santubong

  1. Years back Mel went for a team building in a hotel near the border with Indonesia. Cannot remember the name but one of the things they did was to trek and hike in the mountains. Mel lost his shoes to the mud!


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