Gunung Gading National Park

by Audrey Lim, Nov 27, 2001 | Destinations: Malaysia / Sarawak

Gunung Gading's unique selling point or must-see is without a doubt, the world's largest flower - the Rafflesia. This flower can grow up to one meter in diameter! The world's record flower gives out an awful smell when in full bloom, which in turns attracts flies and other insects to it. Not a seasonal flower, the Rafflesia takes nine months to mature. It will then flower for a mere 4 to 5 days before it dying off. Therefore, you can imagine what a privilege it is to be able to see the Rafflesia in full bloom!

Gunung Gading's main purpose in the first place was for conservation purposes only, with its main goals in protecting the Rafflesia. However, after extensive environmental impact studies, the National Parks Department decided that Gunung Gading is a treasure that should be shared with the public. It was therefore opened to the public some time in the middle of 1994. Although opened to the public, Gunung Gading National Park is still being watched closely by the National Parks Department to ensure that visitors will get the best possibilities to view the flowering Rafflesia without causing any damages to the young buds and other flora in the surrounding area. In order to maintain the Rafflesia's livelihood, there is a plank walk built close to where the Rafflesias are found. Sometimes, there will be some flowers blooming deeper in the forest. If you are keen to view them, do inform the park rangers and they will be more than happy to bring you on a guided tour to the site. Keep your eyes wide open when on this tour. Obscure brown colored buds on the ground that does not looked like anything to you may be actually baby Rafflesia. You would not want to tread on this valuable plant.

Because the flower is so rare and its flowering period so brief, you will need to time your visits to the park well. With a little luck, you will get to view this special bloom at its best. If you want to know when is the best time to visit, you may call the park headquarters to find out more (Tel: 735 714). Alternatively, you may phone the National Parks and Wildlife Booking Office in Kuching (Tel: 248 088). Peak period is around the months of November, December and January.

Although the highlight of the trip to Gunung Gading is to see a blooming Rafflesia, however, don't allow that one purpose to shadow the rest of the trip, as there are many great things to see and do at the park and around the Lundu area as well. For a breathtaking view, you will love the sceneries of the rugged mountaintops that fringe the park, providing a great backdrop of the nearby Lundu town. There are also great places to visit like the beaches at Pandan and Siar. Adventurous and fitness freaks can take a stroll along the trails or trek through some challenging jungle paths.

Don't have much time to spare? Then take on the Viewpoint and Waterfall trails. These are the shortest trails and the Viewpoint trail will bring you to two scenic spots on the slopes of Mount Gading. It will take about 45 minutes to reach the first spot (if you are coming from the headquarters) and another one and a half hours to reach the second point. If you go on the Waterfall trails, you will trek through the forest and then go pass a few gushing and refreshing waterfalls.

Other trails will require a fitter body and mind, as it will involve some serious hill walking. If you have the time to stay overnight at the national park, do consider going for the Gunung Gading trek that will take up about 3 to 4 hours of trekking time (one way) or even the Gunung Perigi trail that takes up 5 hours one way. These summit treks, although can be completed within a day, is made even more enjoyable if you are able to camp overnight at the peak. Do check with the park's headquarters for more information to each trail. The headquarters, although fairly small, is made up of an information center, rest houses and accommodation facilities. Available here are two 3-bedroom chalet units that can accommodate up to 6 people. There is also a hostel available. However, there is no canteen at the headquarters so, prepare yourself with some food before making your journey here or head on down to Lundu for some food.

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Visitor Information:

Getting There:
To get to Gunung Gading National Park, take a 5-minutes drive from the town of Lundu, located southwest of Sarawak. Either allow a travel agent to plan the tour for you or hop on the STC Bus No. 2B from Kuching to Lundu town center and from there, take a Pandan bus No. 17C and jump off at the park.

Park's Entrance Fees:
RM3.00 (adult)/RM1.00 (child)

Photography Fees:
RM5.00 (camera)/RM10.00 (video camera)

Guide's Fees:
RM5.00 per hour