Thursday, October 26, 2006

National parks accessible via Kuching: Gunung Gading

I spend almost 80% of my time in a year in a city environment. Not really to my liking but what other choice do I have. When I do get the chance, I enjoy a quick break to nearby national parks, of which some are very accessible fortunately for city guys like me. The one I've been to most recently (that being 2 years ago) is Gunung Gading National Park. It's located in the Lundu District, northeast of Kuching. The Park is just 5 minutes drive from Lundu town or about 2 hour's drive from Kuching. The Park consists of rugged mountain peaks which provides a scenic backdrop to the nearby beaches at Pandan and Siar. Best places to go to are the waterfalls in the upper reaches of Sungai Lundu and of course the 800 meter plus hike right up to the peak of Mount Gading. The climb is a piece of cake for those of you who've scaled the likes of K2 and the Himalayas. 4 hours tops, including time to stop and take photographs.

On the celebrity profile, the Park is famous for being home to the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia tuan-mudae (bunga pakma). At full bloom this giant flower streches nearly one meter in width. However, these unique plants bloom infrequently and have brief flowering period. If you want to see it bloom, check with the The National Park & Wildlife Division (Forest Department Sarawak) before you go. The Park has plank walks and jungle trails constructed close to where the Rafflesia are commonly found, these allow the visitors to tour the park without damaging the delicate ecosystem particularly the young Rafflesia budding all over the forest floor.

There is no canteen within the Park but we had a barbeque the night we were there, bought fresh seafood from Lundu town. The seafood in Lundu is fresh and cheap. There are several restaurants there too. Accommodation at the Park is either a 3 bedroom chalet or a forest hostel (4 rooms each with 2 double bunk beds). Check out the rates with the Park people if you want to book the rooms.

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