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This hilly area stretches tens of kilometres from Seremban all the way down to Tampin in the south. The most popular hikes in the area are the easy Gunung Angsi (825m) in the north and Gunung Datuk (705m) in the south. The highest peak in the range is the much less popular Gunung Rembau (884m) which can easily be combined with a trip to Gunung Datuk.
In truth, Gunung Datuk is not really a mountain of its own but a large outcrop of boulders on the higher slopes of Gunung Rembau. It is popular enough for there to be a car park and a couple of small cafes at the trailhead and at weekends you can expect to meet over a hundred other hikers. Named after ancient village chiefs who used to have meetings here, there are now several metal ladders making access to the highest boulder pretty easy although not ideal if you suffer from vertigo.
The trailhead is just 20 minutes from the town of Tampin, so that is the best base and you can easily find a Grab or taxi to take you to the foot of the well-known mountain. From the car park (100m), drop down slightly on the right, cross a small cement bridge over a stream and then register at the registration booth (90m). Note that you need to sign in and out so remember to do so on your return. Some folk camp near the top of Datuk so they can enjoy the sunrise (around 7am) but it is not necessary given how short the trekking time is.
Given how popular the trail is, it is very easy to follow and single hikers should not worry too much, especially on weekends when there are usually over 100 other hikers. Fit trekkers should be able to cover the steep 2 kilometres in 90 minutes – 2 hours. The trail leads via a small un-named resting spot (270m) and eventually you reach a flat area (690m) where locals camp or eat their lunch and take photos next to a sign with the incorrect elevation of 885m written on it. To the left is the impressive jumble of boulders that is Gunung Datuk peak (705m) and you can be perched on the top in just 2 or 3 minutes. The view is pretty impressive in clear weather and you may be lucky enough to see the western coastline.
Behind you, you will see higher forest, and this is Gunung Rembau, the true highest point of the range which the erroneous Datuk signs take their elevation figure from. If 100 hikers are at Datuk, you can bet that 1 or 2 at most will bother to continue to Gunung Rembau, which lies around 1.5km away (in a straight line). Below is a small cave beneath the boulders which would certainly provide a bit of shelter should it start raining.
From the camp and lunch area at Datuk, follow the minor forest trail on the right of the sign. It is narrow given how few folk hike here but fairly easy going and you should be at an unmarked junction (850m) with a ribbon tied round a tree in just over 30 minutes. This is a very important junction. For Gunung Rembau be sure to take a left and drop down slightly before ascending again. In 10-15 minutes from this junction you will be at a very small clearing which has a couple of signs and a small square cement base in the ground. This is the top of Gunung Rembau and the highest peak for many tens of kilometres.
Whilst there is no view here, the forest is pleasant and you have a good chance of spotting birds such as hornbills and other wildlife including siamangs which don’t often venture near Gunung Datuk due to its popularity with humans!Had you taken the right turn at the unmarked junction, you would have found yourself heading towards Gunung Gagak (807m) which is the second highest here (unless you count Gunung Angsi which is several tens of km further northwest). A trek known by local hikers as Trans Naning continues beyond Gunung Gagak to Gunung Tampin north and south (726m and 728m respectively) before dropping down via Bukit Tampin (560m) where there is a telecommunications tower and Tampin Recreational Forest.
This full day out (supposedly 11-12 hours for average hikers) is around 21km in total and requires a very early start and is not recommended at all to solo hikers due to the length and remoteness. That the trail ends in Tampin means finding transport back at the end of the trail is not a problem (as it might sometimes be at Gunung Datuk) but as you are supposed to sign out at the Datuk entrance, it may be advisable to do it in the opposite direction or at least phone the ranger responsible for Datuk in advance to check.
If you are returning the same way, from Rembau peak back to the unmarked junction takes just 10 minutes, from there back to Gunung Datuk takes a further 30 minutes, and most fit hiker can be back at the car park from there in just over 1 hour meaning under 2 hours total for the descent. Allow around 6 hours total including breaks and photo time for the return hike which is a fairly straightforward trek suitable as an introduction to hiking in Malaysia.