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Hill Top Travel and Tour – Hike to see Rafflesia

By on August 25, 2015 in Malaysia

As part of the Hill Top Travel and Tour there was a hike in to see Rafflesia, which is a genus of plants that produces some of the largest flowers on the planet. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots, and leads a parasitic lifestyle. For more information about the plant see Rafflesia wikipedia entry.

The drive to the trail head took nearly an hour, and the hike in was surprisingly tough. I was told that I would only need 500 ml of water, and so I packed 1,000 ml, and I ran out on the route back.

The hike in took 1 hour 20 minutes, and then we only spent around 10 minutes or so looking at the flowers. On the hike in, and out, the guide gave us no information about the forest, and only a 5 minute briefing about the flower once we arrived.

Technically the hike, and hence the flower, were outside the Cameron Highlands area.

The going was quite tough.

There was a lot of loose material underfoot and it was quite slippery in places. There were also lot of roots to trip over. A lot of low hanging material had been cut back by machete. Unfortunately this give a nice spike at the end of a lot of small branches just at my head height and I nearly skewered myself on a number of occasions.

There were also two rickety bridges to cross, and two streams, one of which was quite tricky.

A section of collapsed bamboo really impressed me – both for the density of the material, and the size of the bamboo.

The black pipes seen in the photo below ran along a lot of the trail and they carried freshwater down the mountain to the fields and villages below.

Finally we arrived at the flower (after 1 hour and 20 minutes in some steamy heat).

And there it is…. The flower looks almost false, but it was real. This one was coming to the end of its three to four day flowering period.

From the first flower we crossed over a stream to another are to look at some new buds that were forming.

The photo below is of a small Rafflesia bud.

There was also a very dead Rafflesia nearby…

As well as a larger bud that was still some way off from flowering.

The flowers don’t only appear on the ground, but can also appear up trees.

Nearby there was also some flowering ginger.

Overall the hike was very tough and I would strongly recommend good hiking boots (or good trainers) as the terrain is tough. I would also recommend, if you are tall, wearing a hat to protect yourself from some of the trimmer small branches.

Was it worth the effort? At the time I would say no as it was hard work, but looking back I would say yes it is worth the effort as you get to see one of the true oddities of nature in its natural environment.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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