Gunung Gading National Park is one of the most accessible places in Sarawak to view Rafflesia blooms.
Gazetted in 1983, the national park is a conservation area for this majestic plant.
The park is located about 80km from Sarawak’s state capital Kuching, near the small town of Lundu.
The name Gunung Gading was believed to come from a tree called engkabang gading (Shorea hemsleyana).
However, according to the book National Parks of Sarawak by Hans Hazebroek and Abang Kashim Abang Morshidi, it’s name comes from a legend behind this mountain.
There were three celestial princesses from Gunung Roban in Java, Indonesia.
The princesses were guardians of Gunung Gading Puteri Gading, Gunung Perigi Puteri Sri Giar and Gunung Sebuluh Puteri Sri Geneng.
They loved to bathe and play in the seventh waterfall. They also planted flowers called Sri Gading on the mountain.
It is said that if you manage to find these flowers, you will be showered with good luck.
Here are the three things you can do at Gunung Gading National Park (on top of looking for a good luck charm):
Regardless if you are a celestial princess or not, the only flower that matters in this national park is the Rafflesia.
Gunung Gading National Park is home to the endemic Rafflesia tuan-mudae, named after Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak.
Since the Rafflesia is a rare flower with a short flowering period, plan your visit carefully.
You can check in with the park headquarters at 082-7355714 on whether the flower is in bloom.
2.Climb to the top of Gunung Gading National Park
Visitors can opt to climb to the top of Gunung Gading although there is no picturesque view awaiting you.
It has a a sign telling you something to the effect of “this is it, you’ve reached the top”.
The climb will take up to eight hours for a round trip so plan to start hiking early in the morning.
Do not forget to pack a lot of water, some food for an energy boost and a bag to carry your trash back with.
3.Visit the waterfalls
Follow the path of the celestial princesses and take a dip in any of the waterfalls.
The waterfall trails pass seven waterfalls but not all of the waterfalls are accessible.
The easiest trail is to Waterfall 1 while the two-tiered Waterfall 7 is the furthest to reach (about 1 hour depending on your stamina).
Every waterfall is a perfect bathing pool offered by Mother Nature for us to relax in so don’t leave any trash behind.
Last but not least, do wear long pants or leech socks as, based on my personal experience, those creepy-crawlies can pop up unexpectedly. So better be safe than sorry!