Hiking to see the World’s largest flower

There is something about the term ‘the World’s largest’  or the ‘highest/tallest in’ They are terms that scream ‘you need to do/see this’.

Although I have been to some of the tallest buildings in cities such as the Seoul Tower, and been disappointed due to high concentration of tourists, and high prices in which to do these things.

Whilst in Malaysia recently, I had the opportunity to see the World’s largest flower – the Rafflesia. Though this wasn’t a mere dander into a forest for 15 minutes to take a picture, then leave .. this was a full on four hour hike, in the heat of midday, but it was well worth it.

When I arrived in the Cameron Highlands, I was told by the staff at the Guesthouse that the flower was in full bloom, and it was the best time to see it, I immediately booked a full day tour, as I knew there were a lot of things to see and do in the Cameron Highlands, and I was short on time. I had wanted to see it in Borneo, but it wasn’t in bloom where I was at the time.

Tour cost

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100RM (US$31 or £19) with Eco Cameron Tours (you can get this cheaper with agencies in town, but they include visits to different places)

Included in the tour

I’m not a huge fan of tours, as I prefer to have my own time to get from place to place, and have as long as I wanted there. However, I thought I’d give it a go.

The hike to the Rafflesia Flower
An early start was the plan of the day, I had some sweet cake bars in my bag, an apple, and figured I’d be fine.

Tip – you need to eat more than a small cake and an apple before doing this hike. Its brutal.

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We were picked up in a Landover by our guide, whose name escapes me. Our group size was only 8, so it felt comfortable, and we all appeared to have similar fitness levels.

Although the Cameron highlands is much cooler, the forest area where the Rafflesia can be found is in another province, a 45 minute drive away. It is much lower down, therefore its warmer. Much warmer.

I wore loose fitting singlet and a pair of leggings and my tramping shoes.

The first part of the walk took about 45 minutes. Initially it was ok, but many hills and the fact that the guide powered on ahead was difficult.

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We reached a small waterfall and were told we had about another hour to go. I was feeling fatigued already, a few cashew nuts and almonds perked me up a little, but ideally a better breakfast and sugary snacks may have worked.

During the walk, we stopped to observe wildlife and various types of plants. There were a few waterfalls and interesting crossings to negotiate.

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Finding the Rafflesia Flower
The flower itself doesn’t really look like a flower. It has no stem, and is grown from a round, pumpkin shaped seed. It can be found up high on a tree, or on the ground.

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Our first discovery was one up on a tree, and the second on the ground.

Facts about the Rafflesia

The flower is only in bloom for seven days, with the first three days being the best days to see it.

The Rafflesia can smell like rotten meat when in bloom (however, there was no smell from the one we saw)

The Rafflesia turns black after 5/6 days and disintegrates into the ground.

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The Rafflesia was discovered in the Indonesian Rainforest in the 1800s and can be spotted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Once we found the flower, it was a quick ‘snap snap’ and off to the next thing; another reason I dislike tours. Although, our tour guide was very good and provided us with lots of facts, and was quite comical through the day.

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I was pleased I did the hike, seeing the flower was amazing; something I’ll never see at home.

It may be possible to do this independently, but often they do not know where the next flower will pop up. They relay on locals to inform them.

If you’re heading to Malaysia, and the flower is in bloom, have a wander to see this flower, but be prepared for a hike, and eat well before you go. I’d also consider doing this for half a day and other activities on another if you have time. Doing 4 things in one day was a bit exhausting.

 

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