Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Kiara is a hiker's paradise

  • Fitness
  • Wednesday, 28 Aug 2019

Hikers shaded by a bamboo canopy along the hiking trail.

For hiking enthusiasts, Bukit Kiara (BK) may not seem to be a good choice to trek up as the highest point is only 250m. But for those who hike up on a regular basis, the rewards can be immense and immeasurable. The diversity of trails there has attracted a big following for being an excellent hiking site.

There are several trails up BK, formerly a rubber estate. There are easy trails with gentle inclines, such as the popular Twin Peaks trail; not-so easy ones; and finally the challenging trails that involve steep inclines which cyclists shy away from.

Judging from the hash papers strewn on the various trails, BK is popular among many Hash chapters. This gives an indication of the awareness shown by hashers on the interesting and challenging trails at BK.

I have been hiking up BK for the past 35 years, and have somewhat become addicted to this pleasurable activity. And I still do it with great passion each time I hit the trail. What is the magic in BK that attracts me and an increasing number of people to hike up this jungle trail ever so often?

Firstly, the hike gives one a super workout and an adrenaline rush. After hiking for about 5km to 10km, which can take about 1.5 to 2 hours, an indescribable “feel good” sensation emerges which money just cannot buy. Those who have had good workouts will know exactly what I mean.

The writer (middle, wearing a headband) briefing hikers before their hike in Bukit Kiara.

Hikers shaded by a bamboo canopy along the hiking trail.

As you huff and puff up the hills, your stamina starts to improve and you breathe more easily. If you do it regularly, over time, you will see and experience the benefits to your health and overall well-being.

Your bones get stronger and your mind, sharp; the backache that you have been suffering for so long just disappears!

Personally, this hiking activity has toughened and strengthened me significantly – body, mind and soul. In fact, when I saw my doctor the other day, he congratulated me and informed me that my last visit was 22 months ago and I looked good.

One of the lovely hiking trails in Bukit Kiara.

What I like about a hiking trip on the jungle trails, compared to walking on the tarmac road, is that one has to fully concentrate while hiking as there are several obstacles on the trails such as uneven surfaces, fallen trees, rocky and muddy patches, and even tortoises, wild fowls and snakes to contend with.

In the process, all parts of your body get a good workout. Unlike walking on the road which can be so boring, here you have to be careful with each step you take as you bend under or hurdle over fallen trees.

As I am very familiar with all the trails, and often hike alone, I’m virtually in a world of my own – most of all, I like the peace and quiet as well as the flora and fauna with plenty of greenery on both sides of the trail.

This is also the time when my brain gets hyperactive – wild and creative ideas just pop up. It also gives me an opportunity to dissect issues and come up with ways to resolve them or see them in new perspectives. It’s incredible how much inspiration and fresh ideas I get then.

And there are challenging and punishing trails with steep inclines which takes you up to the top in the shortest time possible, provided one is fit and has lots of stamina. It is not uncommon to cling on to the tree trunks, roots or ropes to help one go up, on such trails.

Those unfit ones who are not ready for such steep climbs usually pay a price for taking the challenge. They will not only struggle to reach the top – by taking numerous breaks – but they are a spent force once they are at the top. So beginners, please use the easy trails initially.

Be mindful that a hike is never a race or any sort of competition. Time is not of the essence. It is not the destination but the hike to reach the top while immersing yourself in natural surroundings. Take a break if you have to, and observe the greenery and the flora and fauna.

The popular Twin Peaks trail.

A must-stop rest area is at the bamboo grove located along the Twin Peaks trail. And all confess that they feel much rejuvenated and re-energised after a break here. Besides the good workout, the money-cannot-buy feeling at the end of the hike is indescribable. Not forgetting the panoramic view of KL and PJ from the top.

The good thing about hiking up BK is that you can do so anytime during daylight hours, even at noon! Once you get into the trail proper, the excellent BK tree canopy will shield you from the sun’s rays.

Yes, you will be walking under the shade, with fresh air blowing in your face, especially when you are about to reach the top.

A recent encouraging trend has been for parents to hike up BK with their young children. Not only the whole family benefits by exercising and spend quality time bonding together but the kids will begin to love and appreciate nature in their formative years.

On the social side, I have made so many friends along the trails. Somehow I found that we hikers tend to be more open with each other as we pass one another or trail behind the person in front. We are quick to make friends as we greet one another and sometimes indulge in some small talk.

In fact, I have two WhatsApp groups with a motley group, the majority of whom are in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

A word of thanks and appreciation should go to members of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (TRAKS) who have not only been instrumental in “opening up” the jungle trails but continue to maintain them, especially after a thunderstorm when trees get uprooted and block the trail.

So for those who would want to take up this sport, hiking up BK would be an excellent start.

Beautiful canopy along the hiking trail in Bukit Kiara.

Although there are so many hills to conquer in the country, BK will, at least in my mind, remain a hiker’s paradise. Finally, a word of caution: with greedy developers eyeing to commercialise BK, enjoy it while it’s still there and in a pristine state.

Dr Pola Singh, 70, is a health freak and co-founder of Friends of Bukit Kiara. He is thoroughly enjoying his senior years. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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