Mount Santubong

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Mount Santubong
Mount Santubong from Santubong Bridge.jpg
Mt. Santubong from Santubong Bridge
Elevation 810.2 m (2,658 ft)
Prominence 810 m (2,660 ft)
Location Sarawak, Borneo
Coordinates 01°44′N 110°20′E / 1.733°N 110.333°E / 1.733; 110.333
First ascent Unknown
Easiest route Hike

Mount Santubong (Malay: Gunung Santubong) is a mountain in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It is located about 35 km north of the state capital Kuching.

On a clear day, it can be seen from Kuching. The mountain and its surrounding area is a popular tourist attraction.

View from the mountain top
Mt. Santubong with Sarawak River in the foreground


According to the Encyclopaedia of Iban Studies the original inhabitants of Santubong were the Iban. Si-antu-ubong means 'spirit boat' in the Iban language. Antu is hantu in Malay which means spirit or ghost. Santubong are boat like coffins made from a single hollow log designed to represent the vesell in which a dead person will travel from this world to afterlife.


Excavations of the surrounding area uncovered Hindu and Buddhist relics from the 9th Century CE. Song and Tang dynasty ceramics are also found, indicating that the area around the mountain was a trading port from the 11th to 13th century.


A legend often associated with the mountain is of two beautiful princesses of heaven, Santubong and Sejinjang. Santubong was an expert weaver while Sejinjang was an excellent rice tresher. When war broke out between two villages, Kampung Pasir Puteh and Kampung Pasir Kuning, the King of Heaven sent the princesses to keep peace in both villages. The villagers saw both beautiful princesses and stopped the war. After the war, both princesses taught the villagers their expertise and both villages began to trade and became prosperous. Many princes heard of them and came from the whole island to marry them, but all was denied by them. One day, a handsome prince came, and the princesses had a quarrel and exchanged blows because both of them fell in love with the prince. Sejinjang swung her tresher which hit Santubong's cheek. Santubong threw her weaver at Sejinjang, hitting her in the head. Putting an end to the quarrel, the King of Heaven cursed both of them into mountains. Santubong turned into Mount Santubong while Sejinjang was turned into Mount Sejinjang. It is said that both mountains resembles women lying on their back and a crack on Mount Santubong was the scar on Princess Santubong's cheek.

Biological importance[edit]

In 1855 a British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace[1] who was staying at Santubong while collecting specimens in Sarawak, wrote a paper while called "Sarawak Law" [2] which can be considered as a precursor to the biological theory of evolution. A year later, Wallace left Sarawak and wrote another article on evolution based on his years of observation in the Far East, that was sent to Charles Darwin and was presented together with his theory at the Linnean Society of London. Similar to Galapagos, Mount Santubong should be considered as a scientific world heritage in biological science and should be preserved for the future generations. Unfortunately, the proposal to established the area as a national park never materialise and human settlements as well as touristic development (hotels, golf course and condominium) are claiming most of the low lying areas. It is suggested the world community to set up a fund to buy back the land and save Mount Santubong that is very important in the development of concepts and theories in biological sciences.


Mount Santubong lies within a gazetted national park[1] of the same name. Entry to the park is now via the temporary Sarawak Forestry Corporation park headquarter entrance. The issue of custodian of park entry has now been put to rest by the relevant authorities [2] Climbers will pay the scheduled entry fee of RM20 (adult) each. Children below the age of 6 get in free. This is a moderate difficulty day-trip from Kuching, and one of the best in the region. It involves some steep climbs, including up rope ladders, but the trail is well made, and it provides very rewarding views from the top. The trail passes through beautiful and diverse rainforest and offers a good opportunity for seeing wildlife, especially on weekdays when the trail is quieter. A pretty waterfall offers a great way to cool off at the end of the walk, located at the foothill of the mountain. An easy loop trail joined by a suspension bridge overlooking the waterfall gives an alternative to those who are not keen on the climb.

Villagers say the well at the top never dries up, however this pond is often sadly full of rubbish today and should not be relied upon as a source of water. In fact Lord Medway reported it to be dry on his overnight expedition to the top in the 60's before the ropes and ladders were installed. Cub scouts and guides once camped at the top too on their expeditions.

Part of the arduous ascent


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Further reading[edit]

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