Mount Kinabalu and the Kinabalu Park aren’t the only natural attractions of Sabah. The Crocker Range Park offers equally promising adventures and experiences for visitors.
Located in Keningau, the Crocker Range Park is a part of the mountain range that runs along the western side of Sabah. The location and topography make it an important water catchment area for the west coast of Sabah. The park is a source of water for 12 major rivers.
The Crocker range river valley was hence marked as a forest reserve in 1968. Additionally, because of the diversity of flora and fauna within the park as well as the presence of multiple endangered species, it was recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2014.
Crocker range- The largest park in Sabah
Did you know that the Crocker Range is the largest park in Sabah? The area spreads to 1400 square km. Spanning across 8 districts, the park is managed by “Sabah Parks” through 10 substations within the area.
Additionally, the park is also highly diverse in its landforms, temperature conditions, and wildlife.
Elevations within the park range from 100 meters on the lowland to 2050 meters at the peak of Mount Alab (also known as the Minduk Sirung Peak). The weather ranges from 18 degrees Celsius to 26 degrees Celsius.
With its misty mountains, untouched forests and jungle trails and deep valleys, this national park is a “must visit” Sabah travel destination for tourists.
The Park is home to many species of flora and fauna. Some of these species are endemic to Borneo while others like the Orangutans are marked as critically endangered species.
How to get to Crocker Range National Park, Sabah?
Regular bus rides are available from Merdeka Field in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to reach Keningau for a fixed fare of RM16 per person. Tourists can also opt to take a direct taxi from Kota Kinabalu. A day tour from Kota Kinabalu can also be taken.
Once in Keningau, a taxi is required to be taken to reach the Crocker Range headquarters. Keningau is at a distance of 105 km from Kota Kinabalu. The administration office for the Crocker Range is located in Keningau and is the main place for getting all your things done. Form bookings, fees payment, check in and check out, this is where it gets done.
Accommodation Options at Crocker Range
Once you’ve checked in at the administration office, you’ll be advised on the multiple accommodation options and tour packages available within the Crocker Range National Park, Sabah.
The park provides the following stay options for visitors:
- Chalets- Two types of chalets, namely, the Bayan and Pine Chalets are available. A total of 4 such units are there. Each comes with a large bedroom and an attached bathroom.
- Nature Lodges- There are three lodge options. Kayu Manis Lodge has 2 family rooms, 5 other rooms with common bathrooms, kitchen and living room. The lodge can house up to 40 people at a time. Next to it are two other lodges- the Orchid and Rafflesia Lodge. Each rainforest lodge comes with one family room and 3 other rooms along with common bathrooms.
- Single Bed Dormitories- These are perfect for budget travelers and cost around RM 40 per bed/per night.
- Camping Ground- Camping ground has four hut structures built on it with common shower rooms and toilets nearby. A camping fees of RM 20 per person needs to be paid at the registration office. You can set up your own camping tent in one of these huts for a close-up feel of the Crocker range jungle.
Things to do at Crocker Range
Being the largest park in Sabah, Crocker Range is full of natural wonders. Hiking up Mount Alab, the highest peak in the park will present some stunning views of the valley beneath. Similarly, a hike up to Mount Trusmadi which is the second-highest peak in Sabah is an enriching experience for nature lovers.
The park has various hiking trail options for avid nature lovers. Crossing the pristine forests, rivers, mountain ridges, and some remote villages can be an unforgettable experience.
The Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve is home to more than 500 species of plants, 107 species of mammals, 52 reptile species and 500 species of insects. Additionally, there are around 265 species of birds which makes it a bird watching paradise. A stay here is hence a complete Borneo eco-tour in itself.
Following are some of the key activities for tourists to take up during their stay at the park.
1. Visit the Insectarium
With over 500 species of insects residing in the Crocker Range Biosphere, it is only natural for the park to feature an insectarium. The Insectarium is a short walk on a wooden pathway that takes you through some natural settings and insect habitations. You can spot a good variety of insects during your day time eco tours.
However, if you’re staying at the Crocker Range for a few days, a night -walk is highly recommended. The grounds get buzzing with a huge variety of insects at night. Guided night walks can be arranged with the Administration office.
Night time is the best for spotting some of the most interesting species of bugs in the region. Malaysian Earth Tigers, Crickets, stick insects, tarantula spiders, wooly aphid insects, fireflies, etc can easily be spotted under the torchlight.
With so many bugs around, the area is also a happy playground for reptiles and amphibians like Agamids, lizards, tree frogs, river toads, etc.
2. Check out the Fern Garden
The moist and cool climate of Crocker Range Park is perfect for the growth of ferns. 55 species of ferns are present within the Biosphere Reserve, some of which are endemic to the area.
The Fern Garden area within the Crocker Range Park displays an interesting variety of ferns found in the region. From huge elephant ferns to the new species named as Adiantum marianum, the range will surprise you.
3. The Rafflesia Plot
Spotting a blooming Rafflesia is definitely on the checklist of every traveler coming to Sabah. Rafflesia is the world’s largest blooming flower. However, there is no fixed period for the blooming. Additionally, the blooms only last for about a week.
You’d hence need a stroke of luck to catch the flower in bloom!
The Rafflesia Plot within the Crocker Range is dedicated to the conservation of these rare flowers. Located just behind the Administration office, this plot hosts rafflesia keithii, the biggest rafflesia species in Sabah
4. Hike on the Crocker trail, Pine trail, Salt trail
The Crocker Range Park has two popular trails for the tourists. The first one, called the Crocker trail is about 2 km long. The route starts right next to the administration office. The leisure walk takes around 2 hours and is popular with tourists looking to explore the Crocker forests.
The terrain is almost flat with some steep stretches. The humid conditions in these forests are perfect breeding grounds for insects and leeches. Carrying an insect repellant is hence advisable. The forests are full of interesting varieties of insects and birds.
Guided private tours along the Crocker trail are also available at night. Avid wildlife observers find it a better idea to go trekking in the night for spotting other large mammals.
Pine Trail is another walk that takes you through the dense pine forests. While the trek looks very beautiful and lush from the distance, it is not an easy one. The ground is covered with dense thorny shrubs which makes it hard to recognize the trail at one point.
The Salt Trail is an interesting walk that’s been taken up traditionally by the villagers. The route was used by villagers to get their harvests to the markets in exchange of salt.
While there are 4 routes that cross the Crocker Range Park, the only one available for tourists is the Terrain- Buaya-Konop-Tokolod trail.
The trail goes up for a distance of 34km and can take around 3 days and 3 nights of nature tour. Village homestays are available for spending the night.
The Salt trail starts at Inobong which is one hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. The first stretch involves climbing to Mt. Kebambangan.
The walk is definitely not for those standing low on the fitness scale! The climb will take you to Kg. Terian which is at about 10km distance from the starting point.
The next challenge involves crossing the Papar river between Kg. Buayan to Kg. Konop (around 5km). The trail then follows the Ponobukon river. After a total of 22.5 km of walk from the starting point, the trail moves up to the ridge area where it meets the Bolotokon river. The walk will then take you to Kg. Tikolod around the park boundary.
5. Visit the Observatory Tower
If you want postcard views of the Keningau town and the valley, the Observatory Tower is the perfect spot for it. Located right next to the Crocker Nature Centre, the structure is made of steel. There is a good cafe right next to it if you want to grab a quick bite.
The list of adventures in the Crocker Range National Park is endless. For those willing to take up bigger challenges, hiking up to Mount Alab is a perfect adventure activity to add to your kitty.
The hike will take you to the highest peak in the park, the Minduk Sirung Peak (2050m above sea level). Not easy but the stunning views are definitely worth the effort!
Refresh your eyes and your soul with the virgin beauty of the misty mountains and the dipterocarp jungles below. And when you’re hiking down, don’t forget to rejuvenate your tired body with a dip in the Mahua Waterfall!