Tawau Hills Park (Taman Bukit Tawau)

Tawau Hills Park (Taman Bukit Tawau)

Jungle within reach

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If the outstanding wilderness areas of Danum Valley or Maliau Basin are not on your agenda (or even if they are) and you want to get a bit of jungle in, Tawau Hills Park, 22 kilometres north of Tawau, may not be as untouched as the former two, but it’s still wild and palpable and is well worth the minimal effort.

Travelfish says:
Over you go. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Over you go. Photo: Sally Arnold

At the entrance to the park, Tawau Hills Park Nature Centre has a small exhibition with information on the flora and fauna found within, including some very unfortunate looking taxidermied animals and birds. It’s mildly interesting, but if you’re only in the park for a day, give it a miss and get on with the business of exploring the trails. A short walk leads to the most popular local area, a river with an inviting swimming hole crowded with families on weekends. You could easily join them and spend a day here splashing about. Inner tubes can be hired, and there are toilets and change rooms.

Suspension bridges take you over the river, and lead to hostels and chalets for an overnight stay. A small botanical garden is open 08:30-16:00, which requires a separate ticket—5 ringgit adults, 2.50 ringgit children. If you are into plants, venture in, but if not so, you’ll see just as much along the trails.

It gets crowded at the weekends. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
It gets crowded at the weekends. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you intend to continue along the trails, you must register with the ranger at the botanical gardens. The most popular walk is to the “world’s tallest tree”, a yellow meranti (shorea faguetiana) standing 88.32 metres. The 900-metre trail has a slight elevation, and you’ll huff and puff a little. Watch out for flowering orchids and giant ants along the path. The trail to the hot springs (3.2 kilometres) crosses the river via a bridge, the track isn’t that well maintained, and a large fallen tree (which looked like it had been there some time) blocks the path. It took us a while to find a way past, but once through, the path is quite easy to follow, ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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Reviewed by

Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.

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