Bukit Lambir Summit Hike

Bukit Lambir Summit
Bukit Lambir Summit

There are not a lot of clear reviews of the Summit Hike in Bukit Lambit National Park near Miri, in Malaysian Borneo, so for the sake of others, it seemed worthwhile to share some details, especially for people not from Borneo who may be missing local context.

The official site is here.  It lists the one-way distance as 6.3km, and the one-way time as 3:30.  There are quite a few other sites listing different times, distances, elevations, and difficulties.  The total distance is 12.6km and the total time is likely going to be closer to 8 hours if you spend any time at the top.  You will need to start as soon as the park opens at 8 am, in order to be out of the forest by the required 4 pm.

The official distance is probably correct, though my GPS read 11km each way because it was struggling to connect to satellites because of the thick canopy. You likely will be unable to rely on your GPS for accurate distance. The total elevation is probably around 800-1000m The hike is listed as moderate to hard.  It is a hard hike for anyone who does not do such things regularly.

There were three of us on our hike, reasonably fit, though only one of us does regular endurance exercise.  We took the shortest possible route to the summit, stopping at none of the waterfalls along the way, though we probably spent 30-40 mins stopping to film and take pictures. It took us a full four hours to reach the summit.  We were also carrying water on our backs, so needed to stop to drink.  You’d save time if you can move and drink.

We wore technical t-shirts and shorts, with two of us in boots and one of us in running shoes.  The path was frequently very slippery, but specialized footwear didn’t seem to be necessary. It was hot in the jungle though not oppressively so. It was almost always shady with the only real sunny place being the summit.

The hike is constantly up and down with very few flat and easy sections until you reach the climb to the summit.  You need to be constantly looking at where you place your feet, so there’s not a lot of observing the canopy for wildlife.  

The final climb to the summit is HARD and takes about an hour. It is a steep and rooty path, punctuated by a few short cliff climbs, and one sustained cliff ascent. The short climbs, between 2m and 3m usually have not-great-looking ropes to help you.  The ropes are all wet, and sometimes mossy, living as they do in a rain forest.  Your hands will get tired unless you spend a lot of time on ropes.

Most climbs are quite exposed and a fall could be fatal on many of them.  The long climb is a series of wet ropes up very steep and sometimes vertical cliff faces.  There are places to rest, but it’s probably 80m of unrelenting vertical.  You need to be pretty strong and capable to complete this ascent. There is no easy way up.  And you need to go down the same way. 

The summit on a clear day is incredible. It’s a very small area with views all the way to the sea, and steep cliffs on all sides.

The descent is tough, and extra care should be taken if you are tired.  We all found it hard on our knees with lots of large, rooty steps down.

It rained only briefly during our hike, but we were soaked through with sweat within the first 30 minutes.  We each carried 4.5L of water and got through it all. We stashed a bottle near the path to Dinding falls so that we didn’t need to carry it up and down to the summit. Strong recommendation for that. We brought and consumed quite a bit of food. You will need to do this to sustain yourself over 8 hours of activity. 

We wore mosquito repellent, though we weren’t bothered too much by them. What was a substantial problem was the leeches.  They are all over the trail, and not just in the water. When you stop, you can see them quickly trying to get to you from both the forest floor and from trailside plants.  We pulled off quite a number of them. This was pretty unpleasant for us.

Overall, this is a long hard hike. You need to be well prepared with water and food, and you need to be physically capable of climbing cliffs with the aid of ropes. It took us a full eight hours to complete it, though our return leg was slow as one of our party was suffering from the heat and sore legs. 

Hopefully, this is helpful for you.