Observe the largest and most spectacular Nepenthes!

  • Cost: UK £2,390 per person for 14 days / 13 nights (all-inclusive from start point to end point)
  • Start Point: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
  • End Point: Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.
  • Dates: August 11th to August 24th, 2020.
  • Group Size:  6–11.
  • Bespoke Tour: If you do not wish to join a group tour, we can customise a private trip to fit your dates and interests. Please email us for details and a quote.

This 14 day expedition focuses on trekking up three key mountains to observe the world’s largest and most spectacular species of carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plants. Nepenthes produce highly evolved leaves that form cup-shaped traps to catch insects and other small animals. The very biggest Nepenthes are the largest of all carnivorous plants, and several are known to occasionally trap prey as big as rats!

This expedition consists of three parts. You can come for all of this trip, or just one or two of the parts! We have specifically timed this trip to pair with the Mystery Nepenthes Adventure. Come for part or all of that trip (see extension section below).

Part 1: In Malaysian Borneo, we will climb up Mount Tambuyukon to see Nepenthes burbidgeae, N. edwardsiana, N. fusca, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. tentaculata, N. villosa and N. x kinabaluensis.

Part 2: We then trek up Mount Trus Madi, and in the beautiful, mossy, orchid-festooned cloud forest of that mountain’s summit, we will encounter N. lowii, N. macrophylla, N. tentaculata and N. x trusmadiensis.

Part 3: Then, on the Philippine isle of Palawan, as a group, we can choose to climb either Mount Victoria (to see stands of Nepenthes philippinensis, the carnivorous sundew Drosera ultramafica and the giant Nepenthes attenboroughii) or Sultan’s Peak (to see the little known N. palawanensis, Nepenthes philippinensis plus N. philippiensis, plus a strange, big highland plant like N. philippinensis that might be a new species).

Although this adventure focuses on observing pitcher plants in the wild, the habitats of Nepenthes are filled with beautiful orchids, birdlife, mammals, orchids and some of the most spectacular scenery in Southeast Asia.

Whilst travelling between Mount Tambuyukon and Mount Trus Madi, we have the chance to visit reserves of two species of the giant Rafflesia flowers (R. keithii and R. pricei) , and we may see open blooms of these.

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Adventure Itinerary

August 11th: Early morning pick up from hotels in Kita Kinabalu and 4WD transport to Kampung Monggis, Kinabalu Park to begin ascent of Mount Tambuyukon to Wuluh Camp (10.5 km). A long day of trekking in dense forest across steep terrain. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

August 12th: From Wuluh to Musang Camp. Early arrivals can put up their tents and may choose to visit the lower summit area if energy levels allow (N. burbidgeae occurs within 20 minutes of the camp, N. edwardsiana approximately 1 hour) while dinner is prepared. We may also see N. fusca and N. reinwardtiana today along the way. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

August 13th: Pre-dawn departure under torchlight to explore summit of Mount Tambuyukon and main populations of N. edwardsiana, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. villosa (Tambuyukon form) and N. x kinabaluensis. Descend to Musang Camp in time for dinner. A long and strenuous day of hiking, but nowhere can so many spectacular carnivorous plant species be found in such close proximity. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

August 14th: Descend to the base of Mount Tambuyukon to Kampung Monggis, arriving in the afternoon. We transfer to Poring for dinner. Overnight at a Poring Cottage Lodge.

August 15th: If the giant flower Rafflesia keithii is in bloom and the group wishes to, we will visit a reserve. Nepenthes mirabilis and N. gracilis may be encountered in some roadside areas nearby. We then transfer to Gunung Alab in the Crocker Range where we can stretch our legs whilst exploring the local trails in search of Nepenthes chaniana, N. fusca and N. tentaculata, not to mention many orchids including Corybas, the helmet orchid. Overnight and dinner at Gunung Alab lodge. We can leave laundry to be washed from Tambuyukon (to have it ready for Palawan) while we climb Mount Trus Madi.

August 16th: We transfer to Sinua to begin an ascent of Mount Trus Madi via a rarely accessed trail with great Nepenthes (the route up Trus Madi via Tambunan has seen heavy traffic over the last 10 years and has been quite heavily impacted). We trek up to a camping area and pass Nepenthes fusca and N. tentaculata en route. During previous years, N. stenophylla and hybrids, were also encountered close to the camping area. Dinner is camp cooking.

August 17th: Pre-dawn start to reach summit of Mount Trus Madi and explore populations of N. tentaculata, N. macrophylla, N. lowii and N. x trusmadiensis. By early afternoon, we turn around and begin our descent back to the camp. Dinner is camp cooking.

August 18th: We descend Mount Trus Madi and return to Tambunan. From there we return to Kota Kinabalu via a local butterfly and orchid garden. If any plants are in flower, we visit Tambunan Rafflesia centre. There, we hope to catch a glimpse of a different and arguably more beautiful Rafflesia, R. pricei, which has white blotched perigone lobes. Overnight in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

August 19th: An early morning flight sees us transfer to Manila in the Philippines. In the afternoon, we catch a connecting flight to Palawan, a biologically rich island to the north of Borneo. Overnight in Puerto Princesa in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

August 20th to 23rd: We make a group decision to climb either Sultan’s Peak (to see the giant and little known N. palawanensis, plus N. philippiensis, plus a strange, big highland plant like N. philippinensis that might be a new species). Or instead, we can choose to climb Mount Victoria to see N. attenboroughii, N. philippiensis and Drosera ultramafica. It really does not matter whether we climb Sultan’s Peak or Mount Victoria (both are four days, right next to each other and the same cost). Several people so far have indicated that they might like to climb Sultan’s Peak as far fewer people have seen N. palawanensis than N. attenboroughii. It would seem only three groups have ever climbed Sultan’s Peak to see N. palawanensis. From existing observations, it seems that N. palawanensis can be bigger than N. attenboroughii. 2020 will also be the 10 years anniversary of the discovery of N. palawanensis (so a nice opportunity to see that species again!). On the night of the 23rd, we arrive back in Puerto Princesa.We have a final dinner together.

August 24th: After breakfast, we transfer to the Puerto Princesa airport for departing flights. End of Tour.


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Getting there

An economical way to reach Kota Kinabalu is to fly to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, then catch a low-cost airline (such as Air Asia or Malaysia Airlines) to Kota Kinabalu at the start of the expedition, and a similar low cost flight (such as Air Asia or Cebu Pacific) back from Palawan. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are both major hub airport cities, and are accessible via airlines from airports across the world. If coming from the US, using Hong Kong or Tokyo may also be economical options.

Adventure Rating: Strenuous

This adventure involves multi-day hikes over significant distances on terrain that may be steep, rocky or unstable under foot.

Participants must be capable of challenging hikes and carrying a heavy pack with water, camera, tent and appropriate weather protection. River crossings may be necessary. In some cases local porterage can be arranged at cost.

Possible extensions

- We have specifically scheduled this expedition to take place immediately after the Mystery Nepenthes Expedition. You can mix and match these trips, e.g., come for both the Mystery Nepenthes Expedition and the Giant Nepenthes Expedition back to back, or just part of the Mystery Nepenthes Expedition (e.g. Mount Murud and/or Mulu National Park) and part of the Giant Nepenthes Expedition (e.g. Mount Tambuyukon and Mount Trus Madi).

- As a group, if there is sufficient interest, we could also add on either Mount Victoria or Sultan’s Peak (whichever one we did not do during the Giant Nepenthes Expedition).

- Alternatively, we can set up a private tour (before or after the above itinerary) for you to visit: Mount Kinabalu (3 days extra), Borneo’s greatest mountain, to see N. tentaculata, N. villosa (Kinabalu form), N. x kinabaluensis, and/or Mt. Murud (5 days extra) to see Nepenthes mollis, N. fusca, N. reinwardtiana, N. murudensis, N. muluensis, N. lowii, N. tentaculata and many hybrids. - Plus many other Nepenthes mountains.

To get a quote for any extensions, simply mention which extension(s) you are interested in when you apply to Join this Adventure!

Simplified map of the Giant Nepenthes Adventure itinerary

What's Included

All transport during the itinerary
Professional guide
Porters for group logistics
Accommodation (on a twin/double basis)
All main meals during the itinerary

Note: single room upgrade is available at extra cost

What's Not

International flights
Personal porters (if requested)