Crocker Range Park (part 1 of 4)
Crocker Range Park (Taman Banjaran Crocker) is the largest terrestrial park of Sabah. The Park spreads over 139,919 hectares of densely forested terrain, mainly lowland, hill and montane forests, and covering an area of 1,399 sq. Kilometers, which is twice the size of Singapore! As Crocker Range Park has many species of flora and fauna endemic to Borneo, I had a 4-day-3-night tour there last month.
Crocker Range Park is approximately 75 KM in length and 15 KM wide, run along northeast-southwest axis in west coast of Sabah. The altitude of the Park is 100 to 2,076 Meters at the peak of Minduksirung, with temperature ranges from 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F).
As shown in the map above, Crocker Range Park spans across 8 districts. The Park is so big that it has 10 substations, such as the Rafflesia Information Center and Mahua Waterfall in Tambunan. Sabah Parks manages this Park since 1984 to protect its ecosystem of forest and watersheds of rivers.
Being a significant biodiversity site, the Park is also an important water catchment area as the sources of 12 major rivers. These rivers supply clean drinking water to the people in west coast and interior of Sabah. If I pee in these rivers, half of Sabah people will have a taste of my urine. Just kidding..
The headquarter (HQ) of Crocker Range Park in Keningau district is 105 KM from Kota Kinabalu city and very accessible. Just drive on the new Kimanis-Keningau road to Keningau town, in less than 2 hours (about 14 KM before Keningau), you will see the Park office is just next to the road side. I reached there at 9:30am by a bus and it only costs me RM15 (about USD$4.50) one way.
You may watch the 30-sec video of Crocker Range Park entrance below:
Click Here to see bigger video
Compared to other substations, Crocker Range Park HQ (main station) has better facilities and is more “tourist-ready”. In contrast to our noisy and overcrowded Kinabalu Park, this Park is very quiet, when my visit was on Sunday of Muslim fasting month, and I was the only tourist (I like it though). Just remember the Administration office building in photo above, because EVERYTHING (i.e. booking, registration, check-in/out, operation, activities) is done there.
The Sabah Parks staff, Ms Ridianna, was expecting my arrival coz I had booked the room by phone earlier. I registered in the reception office and got my room key from a boy (just joking, he is the son of Ridianna). For 16-bunk-bed dormitory room in Kayu Manis Cabin (Asrama Kayu Manis), it costs only RM20 (about USD$6) per night, quite affordable if compared to the minimum RM100 (USD$30) per bed per night room rate of Kinabalu Park, under the blood-sucking management company named Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.
I also got a layout map of Crocker Range Park. You may click the map below to download it.
Actually I modify the original map and translate the Malaysia language terms to English and add more details to it. Other park maps you find on the Internet are outdated. You may need to refer to this map when you read the rest of my articles.
After checking in, I face my first problem. My accommodation is 3 KM away from the administration office and I didn’t bring my car. For you who plan to stay in the Park, please take note that you need to drive to your hostels/chalets at Gate No. 2 (refer to map).
Above: Kayu Manis Cabin
Luckily Sabah Parks has office vehicles move and work around the Park, and they are very keen to give me a lift to my cabin. FYI, there is a Celcom telecomunication tower nearby so my mobile phone got nearly full bar of signal anytime.
Instead of one room key, they hand me all the keys which allow me to access all the rooms in this cabin, include the better rooms.
Anyway, being an honest traveller (cough…), I stay in what I pay for, the cheaper dormitory room with 16 bunk beds. Guess what? I own the whole room/cabin as there was no other tenant during fasting month.
Then came the second problem, I was informed that the water pump was malfunction so there was no water. Fortunately, I managed to collect two buckets of water remained in the pipes. The plumber fixed the pump on next day.
Third problem, there was no restaurant in the Park and the only canteen in front of the Park was closed for fasting month.
Above: I only brought a small amount of food such as biscuits, oatmeal, instant noodle cups, creamy soup, can, 3-in-1 Nescafe and some chocolate bars, which are not enough for 3 days. Again, luckily Ridianna lives in Keningau and she helped me to buy some food supplies such as rice. The Sabah Parks staffs there are “naturally” friendly and helpful. Thanks for their help, all my problems were no longer the problems.
Crocker Nature Center (CNC)
Now everything is settled, I start to tour inside the Park. Crocker Nature Center (CNC), which is 500 Meters away from accommodation zone, is the second most important building you should remember, as it’s the Exhibition Center and the starting point of most activities. You may Click Here to see its opening hours.
Crocker Nature Center exhibits some information, specimens and photographs about the flora & fauna of the Park. Some traditional farming and fishing tools are also on display.
You may watch the 2-minute video of Crocker Nature Center below:
Click Here to see bigger video
Above: the direction signage near CNC. It is in Malaysia language. You may Click Here to see them in English.
Insectarium (Kebun Serangga)
Crocker Range Park is famous for its rich variety of insects, so I checked out the Insectarium, just behind CNC.
The ranger told me that an Asian Paradise Flycatcher (a beautiful bird with long tail looks like paradise bird) nested here before and attracted a lot of bird watchers. I saw magpie robin, buff-rumped woodpecker, bulbul, sunbirds, and flowerpeckers around this area. Besides, I also spotted hornbill, white-breasted waterhen (Ruak in Malay), Cuckoo doves, Emerald doves, green pigeon, white-breasted woodswallow, yellow-vented bulbul, orange-bellied flowerpecker, Pacific swallow, Barn swallow, pied fantail and chestnut munia near my cabin.
The walk in Insectarium takes less than 30 minutes on cement or paved walkway inside a wood, which used to be a farm land. There are shelters, pond and some flowers, but too bad I didn’t see any interesting insect. Instead, the most common insect here is mosquito, and a lot of them. Do take insect repellent with you if you come here. However, this place will turn into a party ground of various bugs and insects at night. More on this later.
FYI, if you see a field like photo above, you can turn left to follow the trail to the Administration Office, which is about a 10 minutes walk (500 Meters).
Above: junction to Insectarium and Fern Garden
Worm snake (Ular Cacing) spotted at the junction. It’s neither poisonous nor aggressive.
Fern Garden (Kebun Paku Pakis)
55 species of ferns can been found in Crocker Range Park. These includes the endemic and newly described species of Adiantum lamrianum, found near the Mahua waterfall.
You can find hundreds of fern plant, in different sizes and shapes, in the Fern Garden of Crocker Range Park. Many would look familiar to you as they are commonly used as ornament plant in local gardens. The huge elephant fern is also in their collection.
About 100 Meter behind the Administration Office is a Rafflesia Plot area for the biggest rafflesia species of Sabah, rafflesia keithii. There were about 4 rafflesia buds during my visit. The biggest bud is still 3 months away from blooming. You can Click Here to see the blooming rafflesia.
Rafflesia flower doesn’t have predictable blooming period and the flower lasts less than a week, so you need luck to see the blooming flower.
You may check out the photo album of Crocker Range Park for more nice pictures:
Photos taken in Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo