Rafflesia Flower Hiking Adventures

Ever wondered how big a Rafflesia Flower could grow? Then this is one great outdoor hiking adventures in Cameron Highlands you should not miss! I took up the offer for Kang Travel and Tours half day adventure tour package with the main objective of having a glimpse of the famous giant Rafflesia plant and a chance to take a picture of Rafflesia flower for my photo album.

This was a good time for me to travel to Cameron Highlands judging from the less frequent rainfalls all around. Well it was the El Nino season and the weather in Malaysia was rather hot for the past few months. Although that would mean sweating it out while jungle trekking, it would keep my photography equipment from getting damage from rain. I brought along my Panasonic Lumix TZ7 compact camera rather than my bulky Canon EOS DSLR for easier hiking. One thing about hiking trails, try to keep yourself light as possible or you will find carrying so much equipment would really be bothersome!

4x4 off road adventure to go hiking adventures for the Rafflesia flower

I woke up in the early in the morning from the rattling of motorbike sound and early morning traffic in Tanah Rata. I was a light sleeper and I guess staying in a shop lot hotel in Cameron Highlands would mean hearing all kinds of traffic. The weather was not very cold during the night so I left the windows wide open and that contributed much to the morning traffic symphony streaming in via the hotel room window.

I had a simple breakfast in one of the Indian restaurant located along the main street of Tanah Rata. Regretted my decision for ordering their Vegetarian omelette but ate it anyway for strength. Should have stuck back with the usual roti chanai breakfast; if I wanted a nice omelette I should have headed out to Cameronian Inn, but I didn't have the time to drive over.

The 4x4 Off Road Land Rover Journey

The adventure travel journey begins

At about 9pm, Spencer the travel guide came around to Kang Travel and Tour office in his 4x4 land rover emblazoned with a buffalo horn! Makes for a lean looking 4x4 off road land rover!

Together with a group of backpackers from Kang Travelodge we set off on our wild adventure travel. To see the Rafflesia flower we need to travel for about an hour heading off on the direction to Gua Musang. The ride was brisk with the cool wind of Cameron Highlands blowing in from the 4x4 off road land rover. We passed by Blue Valley, and since this was the first time passing by this area for me, I was quite shocked at the amount of deforestation, making way for either development or farms. Quite a contrast from the beautiful green jungle to a sorry looking earth and dust.

As a tour guide, Spencer explained a bit about the tour programme to the backpackers seated behind the 4x4 land rover. There were 5 of them, 2 guys from England, 1 guy from Germany, and 2 girls from Netherlands. It will be a full day tour for them while mine was a half day tour. Well they do have the time and they have been travelling for several weeks by now!

The location that we were heading was in Ulu Kelantan, the southern part of Kelantan. We would use the road on half way to Gua Musang. The ride was smooth with many jungle greenery and many farms too!

After about an hour on the road, we reached a little dirt off road from the main highway to Gua Musang. The beaten path was just next to the bridge of Sg Belato. The beaten path was not level and it was a very bumpy ride to the Orang Asli village. I enjoyed all that shaking about and managed to take some photos despite all the shaking! We even picked up a little friend along the way. Quite a big stick insect flew into the 4x4 land rover and Spencer stop briefly to pick up our little friend to show to the backpacker. As we got moving it decided to hang on the 4x4 land rover window.

Orang Asli Village

Crossing the bamboo bridge to the Orang Asli village

It took us about half an hour of shaking about to reach the Orang Asli village. They are not shy about tourist and it is one of the ways for them to earn some income from tourist like us. Orang Asli are one of the poorest indigenous natives in Malaysia, though the government do give out aid, they do so with strings attached. So that left with Christian churches to provide aid helping some Orang Asli community to help them in their education and income generation. I have a church friend who is very committed in providing help to the Orang Asli and have tag along on one of his mission trip. He do face a lot of harassment from the authorities and have many stories to tell. But by the grace of God, and much prayer, he managed to help out many Orang Asli community in several parts around Malaysia.

Giving the Orang Asli blowpipe a go!

This Orang Asli village that we arrive is quite well maintained with good housing structure. Much better looking than the ones I visited in Jelebu. The Orang Asli that we visited was of the Temiang group. Spencer explain a bit about the lifestyle of the Orang Asli that we currently at, and of course we have a little blowpipe session! This is how they hunt, and they still use the nifty blowpipe with poison darts for hunting small prey even now! If you want to help them out, they have shorter version of their deadly blowpipe where you can buy as a souvenir, of course minus the poison in the darts!

Rafflesia Flower Hiking Trail

After this it was time to make our hike to the Rafflesia flower. There is no fixed position of the Rafflesia flower. Usually the Orang Asli trekkers will scout out the location of the Rafflesia plant in advance, and when the tourists arrive, they will guide us to the location. If you are lucky the hiking trail will be short, if not it will take you longer to reach the coveted Rafflesia plant location. The hiking adventure trail could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the location of Rafflesia flower.

Crossing the river before the hiking trail

First thing first, we needed to cross the river, in order to keep our shoes dry, we took them off and crossed the river. Putting back our shoes again, we started our hiking along a steep trail. Despite not having any rain, the hiking trail was rather muddy. The trail that we followed would sometimes follow a stream, and there were many steep sections along the way. Some of the backpackers slip while trying to negotiate some steep path. I also noticed the girls were just wearing sneaker shoes which do not provide good grip while hiking. With all the mud and stream along the way, I could not prevent my hiking shoes from getting soaked, eventually I gave up avoiding the water puddles and just step in them! I'm going to need to wash my muddy trail shoes after this Cameron Highlands trip!

The hiking adventures trail was quite arduous and some steep sections, I was kept busy making my way and trying to keeping up with the rest of the group. I didn't have much time to take any photos along the way and well, my hands were quite dirty too and didn't want to soil my photography equipment.

Muddy hiking adventure trail!

After about half an hour we arrived at an intersection where a couple of Orang Asli trekkers were waiting for us. And there by the side of the hill was a six petal Rafflesia flower. This one has already been flowering for several days, so the colour was not as bright, but nevertheless I have now caught a glimpse of the famous, largest flower in the world. Everybody of course took a photo of the Rafflesia flower plant for memento. I was a little too tired to study the Rafflesia flower, but noted that it was not foul smelling. Most of the Rafflesia flower around Cameron Highlands do not have a stench unlike those found elsewhere. However it still gives off odour that attracts flies and insects for pollination but I couldn't catch a whiff of anything! Perhaps I was too tired and was just glad to have made it!

Yes, the Rafflesia flower!

The Rafflesia flower that we were at was about one to 1.2 meters wide. The largest ever found around this area was 1.4 meters. Nevertheless when I posted the picture in my Facebook, my friends commented that it was so huge!

After a quick photo session, it was time to make the arduous trek back to the Orang Asli village.

Returning to the river, we rested awhile by the river. An earlier group of tourist was having a splashing time swimming in the cold refreshing river stream, while I tried to give my soiled muddy shoes a quick rinse in the river. I guess I just have to wear my soggy shoes back to the hotel.

Having a cool dip in the river

Since I was not following the rest of the tour, Spencer called for a taxi after our lunch in Kuala Terla. The taxi cab would picked me up from Kea Farm and take me back to the hotel in Tanah Rata, while the rest of the backpackers continued with their Cameron Highlands countryside tour visiting the Sungai Palas Boh Tea Plantation, Butterfly Apiary, etc.

So I have finally done it and managed to see the Rafflesia flower in Cameron Highlands (technically it should be Ulu Kelantan) and cross off on one of my to do list!


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