Gunung Gading National Park
The extremely rare rafflesia flower at Gunung Gading National Park. Photo by Greg Rodgers.
There is something special about the Gunung Gading National Park in Sarawak. Yes, it has beautiful waterfalls and challenging treks, even a summit you can climb. Never mind rafflesia flowers, one of the rarest, smelliest, and largest flowers in the world that bloom here on a regular basis. Gunung Gading National Park is a blessed place still relatively undiscovered by the crowds in Borneo.
Plan at least on three days and two nights to enjoy this amazing national park.
Rafflesia Flowers at Gunung Gading National Park
The rare rafflesia flower,often mistaken as the largest flower in the world, is actually the heaviest. The rafflesia attracts flies along with day-trippers from Kuching when in bloom. According to the park’s official board, only a small number of either local or foreign visitors decide to stay overnight in the national park. Unlike Bako National Park, Gunung Gading National Park is the perfect place to hide from the crowds and explore some of Borneo’s natural wonders!
The rafflesia flower blooms unpredictably and has a brief flowering period; there is no way to time your trip according to the flower – it takes a bit of luck. Check with Sarawak Forestry Office in Kuching; the rangers stay in-the-know about flower timing. The friendly rangers in the office are proud of their foul-smelling flower and will be happy to assist you.
Contact the Sarawak Forestry Office (Tel: +6 082 248088) for rafflesia inquiries and booking accommodation. Opened Monday to Friday from 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., the office is located near the Information Centre in Kuching on Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg.
2013 Update: The entry ticket costs 20 RM for foreigners and 10 RM for locals; bring your student ID card for a discount!You pay just once, even if staying for several days.
The accommodation has to be booked in advance through the Sarawak Forestry Office in Kuching – turning up without reservations is a gamble. Budget travellers will be happy to know the park HQ offers simple but comfortable cabins that are very reasonably priced.
Forest hostel longhouse-style units offer four fan rooms with double-bunk beds each for 40RM per room or 15 RM per bed; it is possible to have the entire room to yourself. If travelling in a larger group you might opt for the Forest Lodge house which can accommodate up to six people for a total of 150 RM per night. If you prefer camping, the Gunung Gading National Park has ten official camp sites equipped with showers and toilets for 5 RM a night per head. Mosquitoes are a problem!
In a worst-case scenario, there are some guest houses in Lundu town – around 30 minutes walk – if the park’s accommodation is fully booked.
Note that there are no canteen or shops within the Gunung Gading National Park – bring supplies or go hungry! The cabins come with fully-equipped, shared kitchens with cooking utensils and a fridge. It is smarter to carry your groceries from Kuching as the small shops in Lundu town have very limited choices. So unless you want to live on instant noodles or rice and beans, pack some good stuff from Kuching!
There are some restaurants in Lundu town that serve delicious seafood for dirt cheap prices. The park HQ sells some water and soft drinks, but do not bet on them as they tend to sell out quickly.
Trekking in Gunung Gading National Park
Hiking in Gunung Gading National Park is mainly along one main trail; smaller trails branch off to suit every fitness level. The main trail becomes steeper and more difficult to navigate as you approach the summit of Gunung Gading.
The beauty of Gunung Gading National Park is that you do not need to hire any guide; you can take your own time and go at your own pace to explore. Disregard what the official website and brochures in Kuching say – you DO NOT need a guide to go trekking in Gunung Gading National Park.
The treks are well marked so there is no chance to get lost. Bring plenty of water and some snacks.
The Gunung Gading Summit Trail starts at the end of the Waterfall Trail and takes about three hours from the Park HQ. Be prepared for a challenging, steep trek up the hill. The trail is your best chance to spot some wildlife of the national park as there is only very little human traffic. There is no view point at the top of the summit, which is a bit disappointing, only a small wooden board informs you that you actually reached the top. The remains of the abandoned British Military Camp dating back to 1960’s can be found on the top of the summit; use your imagination to bring you back to the old days when soldiers patrolled for communist soldiers there.
A relatively easy, two-hour trek through the valley from the top of the summit will bring you to Batu Berkubu, a massive, sheltered rock that once served as a communist based camp.
Please do not forget that it gets dark relatively early in the rainforest; allow enough time for your return back to the park HQ and carry a torch!
The Night Trail is great fun and an adventurous way to spend evenings in the Gunung Gading National Park. Switch off the torch, find a comfortable spot to sit, and listen to the night sounds of the rainforest as shiny eyes watch.
The easiest and shortest trek involves following the river uphill, passing seven waterfalls. Not all the waterfalls are accessible for swimming however. Waterfalls 1, 3 and 7 are marked on the trail map; swimming is possible only at waterfalls number 1 and 7. The water is cold as hell but really refreshing after a sweat hike. The trek up to the last waterfall takes about an hour.
Getting to Gunung Gading National Park
To reach Gunung Gading National Park, you must take a bus from Kuching’s Express Terminal to Lundu town. The express terminal is located outside of the city, you can either hail a taxi or take local bus #3A or #2 from the Sarawak Transportation Company (STC). The STC station is located near the open-air market in Kuching; The bus ride to the express bus terminal takes about 30 minutes.
There are several buses from the express terminal in Kuching to Lundu town every day. The last bus is at 4.00 p.m. and the ride takes less than two hours. Tickets cost around 11 RM. In Lundu town you can either walk 30 minutes to Gunung Gading National Park or use a non-negotiable car taxi that brings you to the park’s gates. The ride takes five minutes and costs 5 RM.
- More about Gunung Gading National Park website.
Check out some Photos from Gunung Gading National Park: