Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister cum Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai along with several tourism players exploring the Wild Orchid Garden at the Gunung Alab Substation.
TAMBUNAN: The lush greenery and cool temperature of the Crocker Range Park make Gunung Alab one of Sabah’s best “lung cleansing” destinations.
With temperatures ranging 11-18 degree Celsius, this place has become an alternative destination for a cold-weather and nature adventure getaway.
Trekking trails from the Gunung Alab Substation leading to several waterfalls also provide visitors a rich “forest bathing” experience – a term and concept used in Japan that means spending mindful time in nature to improve health and wellbeing.
There are three waterfalls along its 1.5km trail namely Kitomoling Sokid, Kitomoling Tengah, and Kitomoling Siba.
To reach Mahua waterfall will require trekkers to trek and climb through a 12km trail, passing Minduk Sirung peak that sits 2,075m above sea level. The trail to Mahua Substation will take about eight hours.
“Many locals and international tourists have trekked this trail to enjoy the fresh air and nature. There are camping grounds along the trail and some trekkers will opt to camp in the forest,” said Sabah Parks ranger Benidict Joseph Busin.
Busin, who manages the Gunung Alab Substation, said visitors could also go on a short tour to learn about orchid plants at the Wild Orchid Garden managed by Sabah Parks.
He noted Sabah has more than 6,000 wild orchid species and that many can be found at Gunung Alab.
“We have collected some of the species in deep forest and replanted them in the garden so visitors can view them close up. The garden has over 100 orchid species.
“About two years ago, we also discovered a new species and named it Thrixspermum benidicti,” he said.
The Wild Orchid Garden, built among forest trees, features a 400-m walking platform that surrounds the park for the convenience of visitors.
Recently, Tourism, Culture, and Environment Assistant Minister and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) chairman Datuk Joniston Bangkuai visited Gunung Alab Substation along with STB deputy general manager (finance and rural products division) Julianus Jimit, and other tourism players.
Bangkuai said there was a market for “lung-cleansing” tourism products, especially when the locals are now eager to explore Sabah’s nature during pandemic.
“Apart from working with the relevant agency within the Ministry, STB is always working with district office tourism committees to identify more areas for such a back-to-nature product.
“We must continuously develop lung-cleansing tourism because of its importance. It inspires the people as well as the local community to reconnect with nature and protect our environment,” he said, adding it provides a source of income to villagers.
Among the popular districts known for their potential lung-cleansing tourism products are Kadamaian, Kiulu, Ranau, and Tambunan..