Just when you thought Tawau is just a gateway to the world’s Top diving destination; Sipadan Island, I am sorry to say but you have underestimated this coastal town of Tawau. If you wish to indulge in the cool mountain stream, flora and fauna as well as the symphony of jungle creatures orchestra, Tawau Hills Park is place for you.
Nestled in the Northern South of Mt. Andrassy Forest, Tawau Hills Park is one of the conservation areas of Sabah Park Authority. To experience the real Tawau Hills Park, you will need to walk into the low land garden and follow the trail that leads you to a primary Jungle and discover the beauty of a phenomenal ecosystem in this jungle.
From Tawau town, take a cab , 30 minutes drive to get here. Entering this park is actually walking into the oldest virgin forest in the world. On a sunny day, you might be lucky enough to see some wild but small animals like long Tail Macaque, Red Leaf Monkey, Bearded Pig or even the largest hornbill (Rhinoceros Hornbill).
After trekking for about 1 hour, you will reach the Hot Springs in this park, or even less then 30 minutes walk, you come to touch with your own fingers the tallest Tropical Tree in the world- a Dipterocarp species that was once logged due to high commercial value. Before you trek, never forget to put on insect repellent, or else you might enjoy free blood detoxification by the brown tiger leech clinging anticipatingly along the plants by the trail.
One day in Tawau Hills Park is absolutely not enough. The hidden treasure is not merely what you see but what you experience and feel. One of the attractions in Tawau Hills Park is the 11 warm Sulphur Springs situated 3.2km from the main entrance. This sulphurous water is lukewarm and strong hydrogen sulphide smell can be scent along your trek towards the spring. According to local beliefs, the spring water has its own medicinal benefits for skin treatment- thus bathing and soaking here is popular. Once you reach the Sulphur spring, the satisfaction and the thrill of soaking in clear white sulphur spring would splash away your trekking exhaustion. This place is a hidden yet romantic natural spa that you could never get anywhere else!
Accommodation here is somewhat simple. However if you are someone who enjoys basic living and doesn’t mind facing many stars (camping at night ) inside basic lodging facilities. The accommodation here is considered fine.
Lodge Bombalai & Lucia Jungle Lodge: A 9 rooms with 3 beds at RM 50 per person inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each has basic amenities – bed and cabinet with a sharing shower room at the back of the lodge.
Chalet: Magdelena Chalet which is more private and spacious for families with kids. Price RM200 per unit per night.
Campsite: Sleeping in tents or camping around are most of the teenagers choice at only RM50 per adult and RM2 per kid per night. The site can accommodate up to 1000 campers.
Other then serving as a conservation and recreational place for the public, Tawau Hills Park is a research and development ground for many .There are researchers from all over the world who travel here to view and conduct Bird species observation, especially the largest Hornbill in the world. Japan Eco-Host experts even took some samples, of the plants for their research on medicinal purposes.
Feeling hungry? No worry. The Begona Canteen, offers traditional local food, include wild ginger , banana trees, breadfruit and potato leaves which you may never try before. These meals are not only healthy but amazingly tasty too!
The park headquarters is just 24 kilometers away from Tawau. Visitors have to make their own transport arrangements to the park which is accessible via occasional rough gravels roads but that’s part of the adventure! It is advisable to contact or pre-book before doing the trekking. This is to ensure park rangers are aware of your interest and the level of physical fitness and surviving skills so you can maximize your experience while visiting Tawau Hills Park.
For tour itinerary, please click HERE.
By Melissa Lim