Whenever you find yourself in the east coast of Sabah, take a trip to the Tawau Hills Park and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the wonderful natural forest.
Why you should go
If you’re keen to spend some time in nature but don’t really want to venture into the bigger conservation parks in Sabah (Maliau Basin, Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Reserve etc) then consider Tawau Hills Park.
Spend a day or two in the jungles learning about nature, wildlife and conservation. The park is home to the world’s tallest tropical tree – it’s 96.9m! – as well as the world’s second tallest (it was “dethroned” just last year).
The Tawau River flows through the middle of the park, therefore forming natural pools and waterfalls around it.
You can find a number of animals here too including the long-tailed macaque, civet cat and leopard cat, as well as birds like the hornbill and kingfisher. If you’re really lucky you might even catch a glimpse of the Borneo pygmy elephant.
What to do
Hike to the three mountains – Magdalena (1,310m), Lucia (1,201m) and Maria (1,083m) – or just work your way to Bombalai Hill (530m) if you’re only visiting for a day.
Follow the trail to the Bukit Gelas Falls to cool off after your hike. There’s also a sulphur spring nearby. The guides and rangers are well informed and can take you on the trails for a fee. You can find out more about the giant trees that grow there, discover animal tracks and learn basic jungle survival skills too.
If you’re not up for any of this, then just have a picnic by the stream.
There are benches and tables in the main park that you can use. Trails are clearly marked for hikers so don’t worry about getting lost if you’re travelling alone.
Who will like it
Nature lovers, hikers and adventure seekers would love this park. Young children are welcome here too, although you need to be aware that there are mosquitoes, as well as leeches, all around the place.
Accommodation includes a handful of chalets that are big enough for a family, and a hostel with shared bathroom.
There is also a canteen but it is probably best to bring some snacks along with you as it is not open 24 hours. Entrance to the park is RM1/RM3 for Malaysians, and RM6/RM10 for non-Malaysians.
The park is about a half hour’s drive away from Tawau town or one hour from the Tawau Airport. You can get a taxi or Grab there. Otherwise, book your stay with a tour agency and they will sort out all necessary ground transportation for you. The park is open from 7am to 6pm.
Tawau Hills Park
Air Terjun, Gudang 4,
Bal Estate,91031, Tawau, Sabah
Tel: 089-768 719/ 089-925 719
Article appeared on the Star Online.