A blossom as big as a coffee table, that is the world’s largest flower – the Rafflesia. Measuring a metre across, this parasitic bloom is the main attraction at Gunung Gading.
After 10 years as a conservation zone to protect these unusual plants, the park opened to visitors in 1994. Park planners have taken strict measures to allow the public to see the plants without damaging the park’s delicate ecosystem and particularly the young Rafflesia buds springing up all over the forest floor.
These measures include a carefully laid plankwalk so visitors can observe the flowers’ habitat without walking on the ground. The rafflesia only flowers for a few days, but you can make sure of seeing a flower in bloom by calling the park or visitor information centre advance. The rangers monitor the buds and know when one is about to flower. A phone call will ensure that your two-hour drive from Kuching will be rewarded.
It is not only giant flowers that make Gunung Gading worth visiting. The park covers a rugged mountain range near Lundu in southeast Sarawak. Jungle trails will take you to waterfalls and clear jungle streams that make excellent bathing spots.
Accommodation is available with cooking utensils provided. There is no cafeteria. The park’s is very near to the Lundu Town.
The Rafflesia is a rare flower with a short flowering period. Therefore a certain amount of luck is required if your visit to Sarawak is to coincide with a Rafflesia in full bloom. The park staff monitor the progress of the Rafflesia buds very closely, and usually know when a flower is about to bloom, so visitors can check with the park headquarters (Tel: 082-735714) or the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching (Tel: 082-248088).
A plankwalk is situated near the park headquarters in an area where Rafflesia are often found. Park wardens also take visitors on guided walks to flowers that are blooming deeper in the forest. Visitors should take notice of the warden’s instructions and tread carefully, to avoid damaging any buds on the forest floor.
Although Rafflesia have no set flowering season, blooms are more common at Gunung Gading during the wetter months (November to February). They are also more common on the lower slopes of the park’s mountain peaks.
Although most people visit Gunung Gading solely to view the Rafflesia, the park has other attractions, including a series of challenging jungle trails and a number of waterfalls and excellent bathing spots. All jungle trekking trails are colour coded. Official trekking guides are necessary as Gunung Gading is a conservation zone, and only small trekking groups are allowed.
The park includes four mountain peaks – Gunung Gading, Gunung Perigi, Gunung Sebuloh and Gunung Lundu – so most of the jungle treks involve a significant amount of hill walking and a reasonable level of fitness is required. The summit treks are for serious hikers – they can be done in a day but this requires 7-8 hours of hiking, so an early start is essential in order to enjoy the rainforest scenery. Make sure you take enough drinking water and some snacks for lunch. Enquire at the park HQ for further information and to arrange a trekking guide.
The following table provides details of trekking times and the colour codes used in the park.
|Trail Name||Length||Colour Code|
|Waterfall||1 hour to Waterfall No. 7||Red & White|
|Gunung Gading Summit||3 1/2 hours||Yellow & Red|
|Batu Berkubu||5 1/2 hours||Red & Blue|
The following paragraphs provide brief details of each of the trails. If you require further information, please enquire at the park HQ.
The Waterfall Trail
This is the easiest and shortest trail in the park. The trail follows a river and passes seven waterfalls, although not all of the waterfalls are accessible. Waterfalls 1, 3 and 7 are signposted. If you need to break the trek up, waterfall 3 provides a pleasant resting spot. It is only a 10 metre detour from the main trail. The whole trail passes through some great jungle scenery before reaching the final waterfall, and a perfect dip pool surrounded by forest.
Gunung Gading Summit Trail
First follow the red and white Waterfall Trail until you reach the junction for the seventh waterfall. The trail’s marking then changes to yellow and red. This is the start of Gunung Gading Summit Trail. From the junction it takes another two and a half hours to reach the summit, which was the location of a British army camp during the communist insurgency of the 1960’s. The remnants of the camp – a helicopter pad, water tank and barbed wire fencing – still remain to this day, and appear somewhat out of place in the middle of a national park. However, they are of historical significance and the park staff intend to preserve the summit area as it has been for the last 30 years.
It is essential that visitors return to the park HQ the same day, either directly or via a side trek to Batu Berkubu (see below). Visitors are not permitted to camp overnight in the forest for conservation and security reasons.
Batu Berkubu, on the slopes of Gunung Sebuloh, served as communist base camp during the insurgency. Although it is often called a cave it is in fact a huge rock which along with the surrounding trees provides a cave-like sheltering area. The trek from the Summit of Gunung Gading to Batu Berkubu is relatively easy, taking about 2 hours to cross a valley.
Gunung Gading National Park is located near the small town of Lundu in Southwest Sarawak, about 2 hours drive from Kuching. From the Brooke Dockyard (Gambier Street) bus station take the Sarawak Transport Company bus to the 3rd Mile bus terminal. From there take the express bus to Lundu – the journey takes approximately one and a half hours. From Lundu, take a van or taxi and ask to be dropped off at the park office. Alternatively, Kuching tour operators offer guided tours to the park.
Both individual chalet units and hostel accommodation are available at the Park Headquarters. Please contact the National Parks Booking Office for the latest room rates and to make reservations. There is also a budget hotel and lodging house in Lundu itself.
A permit is required for professional photography or filming, which should be arranged in advance with the National Park Booking Office.
As the Rafflesia has a brief flowering period, visitors should enquire beforehand to avoid disappointment. Both the Park HQ (Tel: 082-735144) and the National Parks Booking Office in Kuching (082-248088) can tell you if a Rafflesia is in full bloom or about to bloom.
National Park Opening Hours:
8.00am to 5.00pm
Monday – Sunday including Public Holidays
Gunung Gading National Park
Tel : (+6) 082 735144 Fax : (+6) 082 735715