Gunung Gading, not just a home for Rafflesia
By Patricia Hului
Just because the Rafflesias aren’t in bloom yet, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Gunung Gading National Park (NP) in Lundu.
About one and half hour’s drive from Kuching, this national park is widely known for being the go-to place to see the world’s largest flower in bloom.
Gunung Gading NP was gazetted in Aug 1, 1983 mainly for the protection of the Rafflesia but was only open to the public in 1994.
Ever since then, many have been making their pilgrimages to Lundu to see the flower up close.
Out of 17 species of Rafflesia in the world, only one species Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae is found at Gunung Gading.
Other than the flower
For those who find joy in jungle trekking, they will find their trip to the park well worth it.
There are three main trails in the park; the waterfall, Gunung Gading summit and Batu Berkubu trails.
All of the jungle trails are very well-marked and it is almost impossible to get lost in the jungle unless you are not paying attention to the signs.
The longest trail is the one heading toward Batu Berkubu, a former communist base camp during the insurgency.
It takes roughly five and half hours from the park HQ to reach there.
Reaching the summit requires stamina and plenty of water; make sure to pack them.
The journey will take you roughly three and a half hours to reach the summit of Gunung Gading.
Before setting your expectations too high – like thinking that a breathtaking view of the world down below would greet you the moment you reach Gunung Gading’s summit – the reality is you will only found a wooden sign telling you that you have reached the summit and there will be no view to admire.
The easiest trail is the waterfall trail, perfect for those who want to take it easy and end their trekking with a dip in the water.
Altogether there are seven waterfalls in the park but only Waterfalls 1, 3 and 7 are accessible from the trail.
As for Waterfalls 1, 3 and 7; they would take roughly 30 minutes, 45 minutes and one hour to reach respectively.
At the end of waterfall trail, the two-tiered Waterfall 7 offers a perfect bathing spot for visitors to unwind.
According to Sarawak Forestry’s official website, the park is home to animals such as civet cats, wild boar, small deer, porcupines, monkeys and giant squirrels.
Due to the park’s location surrounded by villages, most of the wildlife are usually found in the upper slopes of the park.
Two years ago, the state Forest Department found a new wildcat species known scientifically as Kiarsuii near the park.
With an area that sprawls over 4,106 hectares, you will never know which fascinating animal is within five metres radius from you.
Tips and tricks
I have been to Gunung Gading NP three times so far; each time with different destination.
I would recommend any visitors to wear long pants. If you have a pair of leech socks they would be great.
My last trip had me leaving the park with four leech’s marks on my legs.
It took me three and a half hours to reach the summit of Gunung Gading and if it wasn’t for my packed lunch, I would have been beaten by exhaustion and starvation.
That is no exaggeration, so if you do not have the time to prepare a hearty meal, swing by Lundu town to pack some food before your climb.
If you are planning a climb to the summit in a one-day trip from Kuching, make sure you start your drive from the city by six in the morning.
That would provide enough time for you to reach the summit sometime in the afternoon and be able to take your sweet time on your way down before the park closes.
For conservation and safety reasons, no visitors are allowed to spend the night in the jungle, but there are chalets and hostels provided at the park HQ for those who want to stay overnight.
Do not forget to pack a lot of water, mosquito repellent and a change of clothes.
You can take proper showers at the park HQ once you are done with all the hiking.
On your back to Kuching through Jalan Bau-Lundu, do drop by at Kampung Stunggang Melayu Baru right before Batang Kayan bridge.
The wooden stalls located at the roadside are hard to miss and many stop to buy local snacks particularly ‘keropok ikan parang Lundu’.
A trip to Gunung Gading is worth-taking even if you have only one day to spare and there are no Rafflesias in bloom.
But of course, if you are looking forward to see Rafflesia’s blooming, you can always check with the park HQ by calling them at 082-735144 to ask when the next bloom will be.
Some of the local snacks found Kampung Stunggang Melayu Baru’s stall: