For hardcore hiking enthusiasts, Bukit Kiara in Kuala Lumpur may not seem to be a good choice to trek up as the highest point is only 250m. But for those who want a satisfying and challenging workout, and are prepared to hike on a regular basis like myself, the rewards can be immense and immeasurable.
Bukit Kiara is a serene green lung strategically located in the heart of the city offering beautiful jungle trails with lush greenery. The diversity of the trails here has helped gain its reputation as an excellent hiking destination, and attracted a big following too.
There are several trails up the hill, which was formerly a rubber estate. There are easy trails with gentle inclines such as the popular Twin Peaks, not-so easy ones and challenging or “killer” trails that involve steep inclines which cyclists shy away from.
Judging from the bits of paper strewn on the various trails, Bukit Kiara is also popular among many Hash chapters (or local running clubs). This gives an indication of the awareness shown by hashers on the interesting and challenging trails at Bukit Kiara.
I have been hiking up this hill for the past 35 years, and am somewhat addicted to this pleasurable activity. I still do it with great passion each time I hit the trail.
What is the magic in Bukit Kiara that attracts me and an increasing number of people (especially first-time hikers) to go 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 between 90 minutes and two hours, an indescribable “feel good” sensation emerges. Those who have experienced a good workout will know exactly what I mean.
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 may disappear too!
Personally, this hiking activity has toughened and strengthened me up 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 that I looked good. With the Covid-19 pandemic, hiking is one effective way to boost one’s immune system.
What I like about hiking in the jungle compared to walking on tarmac roads is that one has to fully concentrate while hiking. 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. Walking on the road, meanwhile, can be boring.
As I am very familiar with all the trails, and often hike alone, I’m virtually in a world of my own. I like the peace and quiet, as well as the flora and fauna that surrounds me.
This is also the time when my brain gets hyper active – wild and creative ideas just pop up. It 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 while hiking.
Be mindful that a hike is never a race or competition. Time is not the essence. It is not the destination but the hike itself that is rewarding. Take a break occasionally; observe and enjoy your surroundings.
A must-stop rest area is at the bamboo grove located along the Twin Peaks trail. Many have said that they feel rejuvenated and reenergised after taking a break here.
Besides a good workout, the money-cannot-buy feeling at the end of the hike is indescribable. And not forgetting the panoramic view of KL city and Petaling Jaya from the top.
The good thing about hiking up Bukit Kiara is that you can do so at any time during the day, even at noon. Once you get onto the trail proper, the trees will help shield you from the sun rays.
A recent encouraging trend sees parents going hiking with their young children. It’s not just the workout that is beneficial, but the quality bonding time too.
On the social side, I have made so many friends along the trails. Hikers tend to greet each other on the trails. Sometimes, we indulge in small talk.
A word of thanks and appreciation should go to members of the Trails Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor who have not only been instrumental in “opening up” new jungle trails in the Klang Valley but continue to maintain them, especially after thunderstorms when trees get uprooted and block the trails.
So for those who wish to start hiking in the Klang Valley, Bukit Kiara comes to mind. To me, it is a hiker’s paradise.
And with greedy developers eyeing to commercialise the place, enjoy Bukit Kiara while it’s still around and in its pristine state.
The views expressed are entirely the reader’s own.
Dr Pola Singh, who is 72 years old, is a co-founder of Friends of Bukit Kiara. You can get in touch with them on Facebook (facebook.com/BukitKiaraFriends/). Hiking is not allowed under the current lockdown phase but let’s hope we can do so soon.
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Tuesday, 22 Jun 2021