Recognized as the second–largest national park in Peninsular Malaysia, the 800,000 hectare Endau-Rompin National Park is swathed in dense jungle, waterfalls and rich flora and fauna.
One of the last remaining lowland dipterocarp forests in the world, the park straddles the Pahang - Johor border and is home to the nearly-extinct Sumatran rhinoceros, tigers, elephants and tapirs.
Endau-Rompin’s beautiful landscape and rare flora and creatures make jungle trekking the foremost activity for visitors. Featuring 250-million year old rock formations and prominent sandstone plateaus, you can find unique varieties of plant life, including enormous umbrella palms, in the park. Additionally it is Malaysia’s last refuge for the Sumatran rhinoceros and is a tiger habitat – although these beasts are rarely spotted; the park’s birdlife includes red jungle fowls, black hornbills and grey wagtails.
There are several sights to take in when you pay a visit to the Endau-Rompin Park. Firstly take a 45-minute boat ride across the scenic river to Kuala Jasin – along the way, you’ll get to see an orang asli settlement. The Jakun, one of Malaysia’s indigenous tribes, call this park home; if possible you should make a detour to this commune, located in Kampung Peta – there, you’ll get to purchase handicrafts as well as observe their way of life. Meanwhile located 15 minutes east of Upeh Guling Waterfall, Tasik Air Biru – also known as Blue Water Lake – is a beautiful freshwater lake that is one of the jungle’s prominent sightseeing attractions. Alternatively you can simply choose to spend your time here taking a slow stroll along its many trails to study the various exotic flora and fauna of the park including the giant fan palm.
The watershed of several rivers including the Endau River, Selai River and the Jasin River, Endau-Rompin’s name is derived from the two rivers that run through the park – the Endau river in the south of Johor and the Rompin river to the north of Pahang. The park features three entrances and each point of entry offers different attractions and activities.
The Johor Endau-Rompin East approach takes you through Kampung Peta. This route is acknowledged as the more popular and time-saving way; you’ll pass through rubber and oil palm plantations as well as hike along dense jungle dirt tracks to the base camp. The second entrance takes you through the Johor Endau-Rompin West entry near the town of Bekok – 4WD vehicles are usually recommended for this journey and you’re sure to experience a bumpy and adventurous ride. The third entrance comes in via Pahang from the town of Kuala Rompin – the trip takes you along paved roads to Seladang, followed by a 26-kilometre dirt track to the park boundary at Kuala Kinchin.
Dining options are pretty thin on the ground here – there is only one restaurant within the park and it’s located in Kampung Peta. Park headquarters has a canteen with a gas stove, piped water and kitchen utensils but they’re not very clean so unless you’re joining a tour, it’s advisable that you bring along your own food and cooking utensils. Tour packages often allow you to have picnics by the waterfalls and lunch with the orang asli in their village – each an unforgettable experience. If you go camping, be sure to remember to bring along a portable gas stove since you’re not allowed to start a fire directly on the ground.
Endau-Rompin is a gazetted national park and only certain areas of the park are accessible to visitors. Before entering this nature reserve permits must be obtained from park headquarters, a large two-storey wooden structure with a library; also within the vicinity of the headquarters is a 100-metre suspension bridge, a few chalets, a dormitory, a canteen and the staff members’ houses.
The majority of travellers to Endau-Rompin arrive with tours arranged by private operators – you can organize a private visit to the park but you’ll have to make arrangements with park headquarters as well as lug along your own camping gear. Additionally it won’t necessarily work out any cheaper and the isolated location can make transport to and from the park highly inconvenient. Guides can be hired for RM50 per day and a park entry permit is RM10. Further charges include fishing permits to travel within the park to destinations including the Buaya Sangkut and Upeh Guling waterfalls, and the Janing Barat plateau.
It comes as no surprise that Endau-Rompin isn’t a hotbed of exciting activities when the sun goes down. The best way to enjoy a night spent here is to join in on a night safari tour or simply camp out under the stars – you’re sure to see stunning sights either way.
Part of Endau-Rompin's attraction is that the park is intrinsically tied up with numerous legends and myths handed down through the years. There are several orang asli legends that tell of the origin of the park – the first story is that of an old crocodile that lived in the pools above the waterfall. One day it floated downriver and got stuck between two boulders where its body formed the cascades of the fall; thus Buaya Sangkut waterfalls were formed (buaya means crocodile and sangkut means trapped). Another lesser recounted story is about a family who lived along the banks of Sungai Jasin – one day the father dreamt of his son's death in the jaws of a crocodile that lived in the river. Believing it to be an omen, he moved his family upstream and as the dream kept recurring they kept moving further upriver. Meanwhile a crocodile had followed them but upon climbing the waterfalls, it lodged itself between two boulders; the father sprang into action and killed the croc instantly – later he fashioned a drum from the leather of the beast and hung it in their home. One day, as his son was playing in the house where it hung, it fell and killed him instantly.
The park has slim pickings when it comes to shopping venues – in point of fact if you’re looking for souvenirs and knick knacks, you should either ask around at park headquarters or join in on a trip to the orang asli village where you’ll be able to purchase small handmade trinkets to commemorate your trip here.
Established in 1993, Endau-Rompin is the country’s second-largest national park. Popular with conservationists and nature lovers, this 260-million year old untouched wilderness straddles the Pahang – Johor border and is acknowledged to have some of the country’s best waterfalls, most notably Buaya Sangkut, Upeh Guling and Batu Hampar. These water features are located within two-hour treks from each other; reasonably-priced tour packages are the best way to explore the park. Trails are sometimes hard to navigate and guides are helpful when traversing them.
The park’s best-known attractions are the numerous waterfalls that are sprinkled throughout it. Start out by visiting Buaya Sangkut Waterfall; the journey begins from the Batu Hampar waterfall where you can cool down before you begin a three-hour journey to the falls. Along the way you’ll climb the steep 2,307 foot-high Semanggong Hill before you reach Endau-Rompin’s highlight – Buaya Sangkut. Alternatively, the noteworthy Upeh Guling Waterfalls – formed by ancient volcanic rocks – have a series of whirlpools with four cascades and it’s a great place to get a free shoulder-and-neck ‘massage’.
Meanwhile you can also try rubber tube rafting down one of the park’s rivers or climb Gunung Tiong – the second highest mountain in Johor. Additionally, other activities you can enjoy here include water abseiling, joining a night safari, trekking through the forest or having an off-road adventure in a 4X4 vehicle.