Observe the largest and most spectacular Nepenthes!

  • Cost: £2,100 per person for 16 days / 15 nights (all-inclusive from start point to end point).
  • Start Point: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
  • End Point: Palawan, Philippines.
  • Dates: To be agreed jointly with group members (email us for details). We recommend June, July or August 2018.
  • Group Size:  6–10
  • 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 16 day expedition focuses on trekking up three key mountains to observe the 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. These are truly incredible plants.

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. 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.

Then, on the Philippine isle of Palawan, we will ascend Mount Victoria and pass impressive stands of Nepenthes philippinensis and the carnivorous sundew Drosera ultramafica, to reach populations of the recently discovered Nepenthes attenboroughii.

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. Also, whilst travelling between Mount Tambuyukon and Mount Trus Madi, we have the chance to visit reserves of two species of the giant Rafflesia flowers, and we may see open blooms of these.

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Adventure Itinerary

Day 1: Depart at 8am to transfer to Mamut Copper Mine, on the flanks of Mount Kinabalu, to see to see Nepenthes stenophylla, N. macrovulgaris, N. reinwardtiana, N. burbidgeae and N. fusca in a natural setting. We overnight in purpose built, on-site mountain huts where we prepare for the Mt. Tambuyukon climb. Overnight in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2: 4WD transport to Kampung Monggis, Kinabalu Park, ascend 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.

Day 3: 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. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 4: 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.

Day 5: Descend to the base of Mount Tambuyukon to Kampung Monggis, arriving in the afternoon. We transfer to Poring for dinner. Overnight at a Poring inn.

Day 6: 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.

Day 7: We transfer to Tambunan to begin an ascent of Mount Trus Madi. A relatively easy ascent along a boardwalk sees us pass Nepenthes fusca and N. tentaculata en route. Overnight in mountain bungalow where tree shrews frequently investigate our lodging for scraps. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 8: 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 to the mountain bungalow. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 9: 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.

Day 10: A lunch time 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 a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 11: Rest day in Puerto Princesa. There is an opportunity for laundry and, in the meantime, you can explore the city, go on a local snorkelling excursion or undertake a tour to Palawan’s underground river (at extra cost). Preparation for Mt. Victoria climb. Overnight in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 12: Early departure for Narra to meet guides and porters, organise equipment and start the ascent of Mount Victoria. We follow rivers and see large stands of N. philippinensis. We sleep in tents at the aptly named ‘Nepenthes Camp’ and dine on camp cooking.

Day 13: Attain pre-summit camp of Mount Victoria. Quite a long day of trekking, but we reach beautiful montane forest rich with ferns and orchids. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 14: Early start to explore summit of Mount Victoria and populations of N. attenboroughii and Drosera ultramafica - both of which have only ever been seen by a handful of expeditions. Enjoy spectacular views from the summit, weather permitting, to the lowlands and across the summit of the little explored Victoria Massif. By noon, we quit the summit in order to descend back to ‘Nepenthes Camp’. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 15: Descend to the Mount Victoria jump-off point and, following a well deserved lunch, return to Puerto Princesa for late afternoon. Overnight in hotel and dinner in restaurant.

Day 16: After breakfast, we depart for flights back to Kuala Lumpur, arriving in the late afternoon for onward evening departures.

 

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Getting there

We recommend flying to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, then catching a low fare airline (such as Air Asia or Malaysian 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 hub airport cities, and are accessible via airlines from major airports across the world.

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


- Mount Kinabalu (3 days extra), Borneo’s greatest mountain, to see N. tentaculata, N. villosa (Kinabalu form), N. x kinabaluensis.
- Mt. Murud (5 days extra) to see N. hurrelliana, N. murudensis, N. reinwardtiana and N. vogelii.
- 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
Souvenirs
Personal porters (if requested)
Alcohol