With a height of nearly 17 Meters and open to public since June 2003, Mahua Waterfall (local name: Air Terjun Mahua) 26 KM away from Tambunan town, is gaining popularity and you can find many blog and photos about it online. I visited Mahua days ago and strongly recommend this beautiful waterfall to those who drop by Tambunan. To go there, you need to drive 1.5 hours from Kota Kinabalu to Tambunan. Before Tambunan town, you will reach a roundabout with ginger and machete statue on it.
Turn to your left to Jln. Ranau Tambunan (Ranau Tambunan Road), Mahua Waterfall is only 13 KM away. You will see a brown signpost to Mahua Waterfall shortly. Driving for about 6 KM, you will see the Mahua signpost again at a junction at the left, which leads to a 6-KM small road in Kg. Patau (Patau Village). The road is nicely paved so you don’t need a 4-Wheel drive.
In the beginning, you will pass by the beautiful paddy fields of the village. Drive slowly and keep a wary eye on the roaming dogs, buffaloes and kids along the road. Very often you will find village dogs sleep in the mid of the road and don’t even bother about approaching cars.
Then you will enter a hilly road with forest view of Crocker Mountain Range. I saw many Yellow Wagtail birds, the common winter visitors called “Beras Beras” (rice) in local Malay language. I spotted some Ashy Drongo and Pacific Swallow birds perched on power lines too.
At the end of the road is the Mahua substation (of Crocker Mountain Range National Park) managed by Sabah Parks, where you buy entrance ticket (RM3 for Malaysian adult, RM10 (USD3) for international tourists). The opening hour is 8am-5pm daily. You also can pay a small fee to camp here. Though basic, the toilet there is quite clean. Hostel and cafeteria (open at 9am daily) are available for visitors.
The start of 500-Meter trail to Mahua Waterfall is just behind this building. You already can hear the sound of thundering waterfall at this point. Mahua Waterfall receives about 1,600 visitors a month, making it the most popular attraction in Tambunan. Besides locals, it also attracts foreign tourists from Canada, USA, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Australia, Japan and Brunei.
Crocker Range is an important water catchment area. Water means life, so Mahua is also a magnet for variety of fauna and flora. Like the 3-inch-big lacewing in photo above is new to me. Seeing my camera and tripod, the park janitor asked if I took photo for National Geogrphic. Haha.. if I answer Yes, not sure if they will charge me thousand$ for commercial filming.
Above: an interesting cricket. I was so busy shooting photos at the entrance. It was 2:30 PM and the weather seemed to turn bad, so I better hurry up.
Only a few Meters inside I found big mushroom to photograph. Mahua Park is more than just waterfall. I am so glad that I discover a natural eco-garden.
The trail is under a mossy, shady and moist secondary forest, so the dim and wet environment promotes the growth of mushroom and fungus. The fungus above look like the skin of Chinese Bun (Bao) and Dim Sum. Edible?
Above: another type of fungi, they are very tiny.
Despite the hot day outside, the shady forest and running stream make the surrounding very cooling and refreshing. The temperature hovers around 23 degrees Celsius, as if I am in an air-conditioning room.
Normally I need to walk a long away on hostile jungle trail to see a waterfall. But the 500-Meter trail to Mahua Waterfall is so short, friendly and accessible, I didn’t even sweat. The trail is quite flat and mostly covered with cement, boardwalk and plank walkway. You only need to watch out the slippery wood surface. There are some hut shelters, benches, trash bin and toilet along the trail, very well-facilitated for picnic. But sorry, BBQ and fishing are not allowed here, as these activities are bad for the conservation. Most visitors come here for swimming, picnic, camping and other nature-based activities. Jipp has a very nice blog on facilities of Mahua if you like to learn more.
Not only human likes waterfall, you also can spot many insects and bugs wandering above and under the undergrowth, ferns and shrubs along the trail.
Finally I saw the majestic Mahua Waterfall from a distance.
Above: closer view of Mahua Waterfall. It is about as tall as a 6-floor building. I went there in weekday, so there was no swimmer around.
There is a ladder leads to a viewing platform.
Here you go, the photo of Mahua Waterfall. The force of water is so strong that it pounds the pool and create a mini storm and earthquake around it. Even though I was more than 10 Meters away, my camera and I was bathed by wind of misty spray.
Mahua Waterfall is nearly 17 Meters (55 feet) tall. But don’t try to jump from the top to the pool, as the water is only about 1+ Meter in depth. It sounds shallow but be careful. If you got drown (touch wood!), don’t quote me for saying that it is not deep.
You can swim around the waterfall, but be cautious of the falling rock from top.
Ok, that’s all about Mahua. You may watch my 3-minute video below if you want to see Mahua Waterfall in action.
Taking video really doubles my work and time on blogging. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and I’ll make more video in future.
Photos taken in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo
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