Rafflesia is perhaps one of the two groups of plants that are associated with Kinabalu more than any others, besides orchids. The spectacular Rafflesia grows wild in these forests as well. A parasite, Rafflesia has no stem or leaves of its own and gets its nourishment from thread-like filaments spreading through the roots and stem of its host forest vines.
The buds appear as small knobs covered in dark brown bracts on the stem of the vine and take about nine months to develop to the size of a cabbage before they open. The flowers are notorious for their bad smell, but this has been exaggerated and in any case lasts three to four days. Two species have been found on Kinabalu, the huge Rafflesia keithii, which really is a giant, growing up to a whopping 94 centimeters (37 inches) across and the smaller R. pricei, about 30 centimeters (12 inches across).
If you want to see Rafflesia, Tambunan Rafflesia Center is the best place for you to go. It is located an hour’s drive from Kota Kinabalu city.
Trekking should be prepared and a moderate level of fitness is needed. The trek can be slippery during the rainy season. A guide will lead you along the way to point out any sightings of the elusive Rafflesia (usually snuggled between tree trunks) in full bloom or in bud.
The Centre is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. The entrance fee is RM20 (for single person or per group, maximum 6 people), inclusive of a guide.
To obtain further details on the whether there are any Rafflesia in bloom at the Tambunan Rafflesia Centre, Sabah Tourism Board at +6088-212121 or Sri Pelancongan Sabah at +6088-232121. Otherwise, you can contact me to help you plan your next trip there!