“Giant Flower” at Tambunan
Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world is a magnificently beautiful, fascinating and unique flower. It has no leaf, stem or roots of its own and yet has the biggest flower. At VJR Rafflesia, a conservation area dedicated to the conservation of Rafflesia, you can see this impressive flower, literally, from the comfort of your car seat. The nearest site where Rafflesia pricei grows is just 20 metres from the Tambunan/ Kota Kinabalu highway.
The Rafflesia conservation area covers 356 hectare of prestine highland forest within the Crocker range. From Kota Kinabalu, it is a little over an hour’s drive and from the town of Tambunan, a mere 20 minutes. The conservation centre was established in 1984 and was officially open in 1990 with the setting up of the Rafflesia Information Centre.
The Rafflesia Information Centre is a pentagonal shaped building, depicting the five petals of the Rafflesia flower. Inside, there is a Rafflesia information gallery where photographs, drawings, text information are displayed. A model showing the relief of the conservation area and the location of Rafflesia plot is also displayed. At the centre of the building stood a 20 feet tall Selangan Batu stump. At its base, lie 2 life-size flower of Rafflesia pricei. T-shirt, key-chain, postcard, mini Rafflesia replica, books, pamphlets and other souvineurs item can be bought at the counter.
Besides the Rafflesia Information Centre, the conservation area also has a picnic ground, look out pavilion and nature trails. The picnic ground is located at Masakob where a 20 feet waterfall is found. Other facilities provided at the picnic ground include a cooking area, changing room, washroom, resting hut and parking area.
For the more adventures, the centre’s nature trails lead to many interesting parts of the conservation area where visitors can see giant trees, and Rafflesia plots. An old ‘salt route’ which the centre calls Sunsuran Trail is one such trail. It is the path treaded by our otherwise self sufficient forefathers from Tambunan to get their salt supply from Kota Kinabalu. This trail lost its glory when the Tambunan/ Kota Kinabalu highway was opened in the early 70’s from the look out pavilion visitors can get a glimpse of the forest that is part of the conservation area, the Sunsuran river valley and Sunsuran Village in the distance. The pavilion is just about 5 minutes walk from the Rafflesia Information Centre. Within the jungle area, there are lots to see besides the Rafflesia flower. The forest is rich with flora and fauna-birds, insects and small mammals, giant lianas, orchids, tall seraya trees and Agathis area a common site.
The Rafflesia information:
Open: 8 am- 4.30 pm (daily)