Rafflesia Flower at Gunung Gading National Park in Sarawak is one the things you must see if you are an Eco lover and enjoy some rainforest trekking here in Borneo. This is also one of my achievements in jungle trekking to date. The mountain national park covers a total area of 4,196 hectares is located in the district of Lundu in Sarawak. The mountain is also about 906 metres in height. This nature loving national park is also famous for the worlds largest flower and the park opened it's doors to the public in 1994.
Trekking up Gunung Gading is no easy task so you need to be prepared for this trek. For my exploration here, it took me a good 2 hours of trekking uphill to find the famed and unique Rafflesia flower. Anyway, I was on a mission to seek out this amazing flower as I had never seen one in real life so this journey was my maiden journey.
On reaching the park headquarters, we were met by our local guide who was booked 2 days before we arrived. We started out our journey about 9am and it looked fairly simple at the beginning. Selvam, our pro-Sarawak guide came along with us on this trek to seek out the beautiful Rafflesia flower. He had called the park the day before we arrived to check if there were any flowers on bloom. Lady luck was on our side!
As we trekked in to the lush rainforest, we encountered many critters along the way. From large ants as big as your little finger to strange frogs and lizards. For nature lovers, this is one excellent place to go trekking. Well, if you look at my attire, I was not prepared for this, at all!
One hour into the trek and the path keeps going uphill. I forgot to mention, you must have a local guide when going trekking in Gunung Gading as getting lost in the dense rainforest is quite easy here. Not many people seem to trek here as when I was there, I probably saw about 2 other small groups trekking here.
The trekking paths are marked with coloured flags on the trees so you know which way you are trekking as there a number of treks here like Viewpoint Trail and Waterfalls Trail. We took the waterfall trails as the Rafflesia flower was last spotted nearby the waterfalls by the last guide that went up there the day before.
You have to be extra careful when trekking there as on the ground, there are also many critters who move around and you would not want to step on them. As for leeches, we did not come across any on our trek but there have been reports so best be prepared.
Rafflesia Flower of Sarawak
And finally after two hours of uphill trekking, the local park guide spots the beautiful Rafflesia flower off the trek. He signals us and we head off trek to see this bright red orange thing in the distance. I had to take a picture of this.
The Rafflesia Flower (Bunga Pakme in Malay) species found here at Gunung Gading is called the Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae (Beloved Prince). There are about 27 species of this flower in South East Asia and some of them can grow up to 1 meter is diameter and weigh in about 10 kilograms.
I think we spent a good 2 hours there as while we were busy photographing the Rafflesia, our park guide found another flower in bloom about 200 metres from where we were. It was a bonus for us! Even the park guide mentioned that it is quite rare to find 2 full bloomed flowers in one area. Finding one alone is quite hard at times.
You may have also heard that this flower smells like a rotting corpse. Well, I cannot agree or disagree as when I was 1cm away from the flower, I did not smell anything at all. Yups, my nose even touched the petal of the flower. From what I was told, the Rafflesia will smell bad only after it's full bloom of 5-7 days. So, I did not smell anything dead as claimed.
The Rafflesia is also an amazing flower because the bud of this flower takes a whole 9 months to develop into the beautiful flower. And the sad thing is that the flower only lasts for 7 days. The Rafflesia bud is also very much sought after by locals as there are traditional medicinal values in them. So, the park rangers keep a watch for local poachers for the flower buds.
From my research, the traditional medicinal values of the Rafflesia Flower Bud where the bud is boiled in water and the concoction given to recuperating new mothers to help them regain their strength. It is also known that it can shrink the womb and restore the female figure after child birth. This is much practiced by the local 'Orang Asli' in Sarawak but is less nowadays.
Buds are usually found near rocks or near rivers and streams so it is always wise to check with the park head quarters or guides to see if there are any in bloom as you may not want to just go there and trek for hours to find nothing. I was told by the local park guide that tourist just came there on hearing about the Rafflesia and trekked to return not seeing anything.
Seeing the Rafflesia flower up close in real life is one of the things I had dreamed about for years. Not many people have seen a live one up close. I have about 10 good friends and none of them have ever seen one in real life.
Finally after enjoying the special moments, we made our way to the waterfalls which was almost at the top of the mountain. Beautiful and peaceful, the waterfalls was just perfect to end our exploration here. The entire trek took us about 6 hours up and down. By the time we got down, my legs felt like they had been beaten by 10 men with sticks. I guess I need to exercise more if I plan to do any more major trekking.
Gunung Gading Park Entrance Fees:
Adults: RM3.00 (US$1.00)
Children: RM1.00 (US$0.33)
Camera: RM5.00 (US$1.60)
Video Camera: RM10.00 (US$3.00)
Park Guide Fees:
RM5.00 per hour
Directions to Gunung Gading:
By Bus: Travelers should take STC (Sarawak Transport Company) Lundu Express Bus or Bus No. 2B from Kuching City to Lundu town center. From there, take a Pandan bus and ask to be dropped off at the park. As accommodation facilities in the Park are limited, hostels in Lundu, Pandan and Siar offer alternatives.
- Park Head Quarters Telephone: 082 735714
- National Parks Office in Kuching Telephone: 082 248 088
- Official Website: Gunung Gading National Park
- More information: Sarawak Parks