If you are equipped with a GPS, look for Jalan Saga 28 in Ampang, this should lead you straight to a metal ladder taking you up to the trail that leads up to Saga Hill. If you are not equipped and need directions, then it gets pretty ‘messy’. ;) But here goes…
Starting from the MRR2, take the exit out into Jalan Kuari. Road signs should be quite distinct as it is one of the main arteries leading into the Cheras ‘hive’. Drive along Jalan Kuari passing about 3 traffic lighted junctions before you reach the first roundabout. Take the 3 o’clock turn into Jalan Mawar 15. Proceed down the road until you reach the 2nd roundabout where you’ll have to take the turn at 12 o’clock going into Jalan Bunga Melati 8. Keep going until you reach a traffic lighted T-junction. Turn right and head down Jalan Teratai 1/2 until you see another traffic light not far away. Take a left and you’ll be on Jalan Teratai 1/1. You’ll have to go almost to the end of the road before you find the turning into Jalan Melur on your right. Take the next right and you’ll be on Jalan Saga 5. Drive all the way down the length of the road and it will connect with Jalan Saga 29. Turn right. Proceed down this road until you can make a left turn whereby you’ll now be on Jalan Saga 22. There will be a small mound on your right where you’ll see a kindergarten and play ground of some sort. Most visitors to the hike would park here and continue down the road on foot to the start point, otherwise you can drive straight down and you’ll finally hit Jalan Saga 28 with the metal ladder spanning a drain leading up the trail head.
The metal ladder on Jalan Saga 28, marking the starting point of our hike to Apeh Hill Waterfall...
We reached the start point after parking our cars in the surrounding housing estate at about 10am, a little bit late by most standards, no thanks to the maze we have to weave through to get to the site. As usual, we have had breakfast at a local mamak stall to charge up our batteries before we went. The ‘car park’ on the small mound by Jalan Saga 22 was filled to the brim and we could see groups of people already coming back from their early morning hike. Some of these people are surprisingly elderly, deceptively masking the actual difficulty of this particular hike!
For this expedition, we have Aurelius leading the pack with our trusty trail blazer Dennis showing us the way. Our resident troublemaker and ‘renowned’ filmmaker, Linus Chung was on stage as well, although thankfully, we had Carol to temper his sometimes suicidal tendencies. Others in the group included veteran hikers Chris Kok and Sum as well as newcomers Tracy Loh, Pey Chern, Sean Shienrun, Jady Ong and Sum’s younger brother. We even have a ‘mat salleh’ tagging along courtesy of Mr. Linus Chung.
The jungle canopy on the slopes of Saga Hill
After the ladder, we passed some small shelters housing stalls set up by enterprising people selling drinks and refreshments to tired hikers. Just starting the hike, we skipped these for the time being, passing some large ponds on the right. Immediately, Saga Hill loomed overhead starting with a trail of cement steps to lead the way up.
There are actually 3 trails going up to Saga Hill, labeled track A, B and C. Track B is the longest, followed by track C, while track A offers the most shortest and direct route up to Saga Hill. The trail branch can be reached shortly after the flight of cement steps end, there are plenty of signs posted on trees to show the way. Somehow, our group missed the signs and following Aurelius, we ended up on trail C. The hike up on this trail was surprisingly tough, the route rising at inclinations of between 30o to 45o!
Certain parts of the climb requires the use of ropes... it's that steep!
It was a real test of endurance which took its toll on Aurelius and a few others. We paused a few times for them to catch up. A little bit more than an hour later, we reached the summit of Saga Hill, crowned by the characteristic triangle constructed of metal sheets and surrounded by what looked like a camp site.
The Saga Hill Camp Site...
Surprisingly, there were a lot of people at this site and even more surprisingly, there were a few stone ‘bar-bells’ lying about!
Hmmm... thinking... barbells on the floor... should I 'curl'? ;)
We stayed here a while, admiring the view of the valley below and catching our breath. It was getting close to noon before we decide on our next move. Aurelius made the decision not to continue to the falls which was originally our destination for this expedition, citing time constraints for his subsequent activities. ;) Linus on the other hand was adamant on heading straight to the waterfall. Yours truly, who organized the trip chose to side Linus. And so the bulk of the group continued down the track from the Saga Hill summit following the clearly marked trail to the waterfall. Aurelius, Tracy and Chris went down the hill to ‘await’ our return. ;)
The trail from Saga Hill to the waterfall was unexpectedly long. Told by some hikers to be about 45 minutes long it took almost another hour to get there! It started rather easy enough on a flat plane before the trail rises up to another hill, which I believe to be Apeh Hill. Then it goes down where we were unexpectedly attacked by stinging wasps from some hive close to the track! Sean, Sum and our resident mat Salleh were stung while the rest got away unscathed. We continued down, clambering over a couple of fallen tree trunks and passing yet another wasp hive (this time prominently placed on the base of a tree stump right on the track) before reaching the foot of the hill where a stream passes through.
We were one hour into the hike from the hill and it looked very clearly that we will have difficulty returning back to the trail head where Aurelius was waiting for us. We didn’t know how far the waterfall was here and after all that hiking and dodging wasps, some of us were rather reluctant to just give up and turn back. Once again, Linus offered to scout ahead, telling us to give him 15 minutes for him to return with good news. In the meantime, Carol and Jady ‘attended’ to Sum who was groaning and moaning about the stinger embedded on his head by extracting it.
15 minutes passed and there was no Linus in sight. Dennis and I started to get restless and told the others that we would go ahead to find him. It didn’t take long before we spotted the long haired dude balancing himself over a series of logs, heading back to us. Reassuringly, he told us the falls weren’t that far from where we were.
Unfortunately, there was no hand phone signal at this point to contact our ‘kungfu’ panda waiting at the trail head. So we risked his ‘wrath’ by going ahead… balancing ourselves on the logs before getting our feet wet at another stream.
Another stream to cross before we reach our goal!
The elusive falls lay just beyond the stream over some flat ground at a small depression.
The approach to Apeh Hill Waterfall...
...with what looked like Genghis Khan's Mongol horde camped below... ;)
The number of people there however took us by surprise. There were more than 30 people there setting up camp by the falls, a large number of them rather ‘elderly’, going about their business drying up clothing and cooking, no… FRYING of all things, YONG TAU FOO!
Cooking YONG TAU FOO in the jungle?! I want one too! ;)
Indeed, it looked like home away from home for these people with kids running around the place well. We doubted these people hauled up all their tents, stoves, cooking oil, sacks of rice and others via the way we went and suspected that they probably came from the other reputedly ‘closed’ route outside Jalan Wangsa 1/6.
The falls itself consists of a wall of water tumbling over a precipice wide enough for 4 or 5 people to stand side by side.
Searching for inner peace... ;)
The pool beneath wasn’t big or deep enough to swim in. The water was however, refreshingly cool and after waiting for the ‘residents’ to have their turn at the falls, it was time for us to move in.
We took turns to enjoy the ‘rewards’ of our labors.
Mat Salleh, Sum and myself... ;)
Group Photo at the Falls...
At length, some of us chatted with the camp people all the while stealing a ‘sniff’ at the tasty smell of fried yong tau foo.
Around 2pm, we packed up and head back, moving quickly in the hope of avoiding the possible rain brought down by the threatening clouds overhead. We reached the trail head via track A only to be informed via sms that Aurelius, Chris and Tracy had gone home. ;)
Clambering down the slope with ropes via track A, it's even more steeper than track C though definitely shorter...
Taking in Dennis into my car, we went to Ampang’s famous Yong Tau Foo for lunch, the lingering smell of the dish fried in the jungle imparting to us subliminally the destination to quench our hunger.
Subliminal message! Where else to get good Yong Tau Foo other than in Ampang? ;)
Overall, despite the surprising toughness of the trail and unexpected extension of time to the expedition, we generally enjoyed ourselves. Aurelius, despite fuming at our ‘tardiness’ still managed to participate in our next expedition and we all can safely notch off yet another waterfall conquered in yet another corner of Klang Valley! Onward! ;)