Sunday, 19 July 2020

Hiking Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri, Parit Sulong, Johor

Note: Visited in September 2019. Published in July 2020, courtesy of procrastination.

There are plenty of small, albeit relatively unknown hills and mountains in Johor for hiking. There is a cluster of hills with multiple peaks around the vicinity of Muar. one of them is Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri, which are located in Parit Sulong, a village about 20 minutes drive from Batu Pahat.
Fun fact: Bukit Botak literally translates to "Bald hill" - and there's a reason to it being called that. A quick search for "Bukit Botak" on Instagram would probably yield photos of a giant boulder that looks like the head of a bald man.

A quick google search for Bukit Botak entrance will render you a few results - there are a few entrances, all will lead you to the peak. I entered via the official entrance here.

All entrance will eventually lead you to the peak of Bukit Botak. However, the length and difficulty of the trail may vary. My friends and I tried to hike Bukit Botak sometime in May 2019, but we used a different entrance that time, and due to the lack of markings or direction, we ended up...on Bukit Payung, which is another peak within this cluster of mountains. Lol :p
If you use the same entrance as me, you'll see a few wooden kampung house scattered along the stretch of road where the official entrance is located at, with water lilies in the ditch. 
The first part of the trail is an oil palm plantation. There are orange markers sprayed over the trunks of the oil palm - follow them to prevent getting lost or going off-track. I felt as though I got consumed alive by mosquitoes on this part of the trail!
The arrows will lead you to a junction, just follow the arrow scribble on this wall..
And please adhere to the advice scribbled on the wall (Translation: Bring home whatever you brought here ; though I really disagree with vandalising the walls).
Beyond the wall was... a steep hike up, but just for a short stretch! (Probably around 200m!). This stretch is uncovered too so if you started hiking late, brace yourself to get burn under the scorching sun!
There were a lot of junctions during the first stretch - make sure you follow the orange marker, on the trees, or the trail that has ropes for support
After 10 minutes, you'll reach the (self-proclaimed) first look-out point
And you'll be entering the shaded part of the trail.
The path from here onwards leading up to the peak is much easier and not steep at all :)

Except for this part where you've got to hoist yourself up this giant boulder.
After about 30 minutes of trekking hiking, you'll reach this place which is seemingly a base camp - the terrain is flat and there are many structures to support a tent. I'm assuming that this place may be popular for overnight camps too.

Once you see this sign, Bukit Berdiri peak is located less than a minute way!
The peak of Bukit Berdiri

The peak was okay. A panoramic view of the oil palm plantation below.
Now after you reach the peak, you can turn back and descend the same way you ascended. We met a friendly Pak Cik who was a regular there and offered to show us the way to Bukit Botak peak, which he claimed was only about 20 minutes away. 
The path from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak is kinda...unmarked. We couldn't have known where to go, if it weren't for the Pak Cik.

We just followed this kind Pak Cik (uncle), who kindly led the way. My apologies as I am not able to give clear directions to get to Bukit Botak peak from Bukit Berdiri.
We had to cut across some plantations again. As we were walking, a (wild) wild boar crossed out path! It was quite an interesting sight :p though we were told that wild boars may get aggressive and it was kinda dangerous - so the pak cik that was leading the way took a branch and started disturbing the bushes as we moved along the trail, just to send out a "WE'RE HERE" signal to fend off any potential wild boars.

Was quite sad to see trees being cleared off :( the pak cik suspect that these may be the work of illegal loggers :(
After what seems like forever (the hike from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak wasn't 20 minutes, I swear), we finally saw some markers!
And...the signature Instagrammable boulder at the peak of Bukit Botak!
I very much prefer the peak at Bukit Botak :) You get a more panoramic view of the surroundings at Bukit Botak, whereas the view is slightly obstructed at Bukit Berdiri.
We had a picnic there, courtesy of the pak cik and his friends.

From this peak, we took about 30-45 minutes to get back to our starting point. The pak cik brought us to a mini waterfall in the oil palm plantation but again, we just followed the pak cik so I can't give any clear directions, my apologies :( The waterfall though was littered with trash though, it was quite a sad sight. The pak cik said that the waterfall used to be much cleaner, but due to the irresponsible actions of mankind, sigh. I have no words for this. We buried what we could and left. 

Shout-out to the pak cik who kindly showed us around. He had a plastic bag with him and he picked up trash along the way. This was our "yield" by the end of the hike (excluding the trash at the waterfall - there was too much trash :( ).

Let us all be responsible hikers and leave behind no trash when we hike, please! I really enjoyed this hike and the company. Though be warned that the trail from Bukit Berdiri to Bukit Botak is kinda confusing unless you can get someone who is familiar with the trails, I really wouldn't recommend doing it alone especially for first-timers!

Bukit Botak & Bukit Berdiri
Difficulty: Moderately easy
Duration of hike: 2-3 hours (for the entire loop)

Other places to visit in Johor:
1. Pulau Mawar, Mersing
2. Gunung Arong, Mersing
3. Blue Lagoon of Kangkar Pulai
4. Rainforest Treehouse, Pulai
5. Aw Pottery, Ayer Hitam
6. Island hopping @ Mersing

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