Apart from the hiking trails there are quite a few tours you can do in the Cameron highlands, some for half a day and others for a full day, and pretty much every guest house and hostel can book you onto one of these. I knew that while I was here I wanted to see the mossy forest and so when I saw a day tour advertised that included this as well as a jungle trek to see the Raffelesia flowers, something else I have always wanted to do, then I knew this was the day trip for me.
This day trip was the most expensive on offer at 95 Rm but was the only one that included all the things I really wanted to see. I was picked up just after 8am in a landrover that was already full of other backpackers for the hour or so drive to an area of lowland jungle where we would hike to see the Raffelesia flowers. Hiking in the jungle is hard going, not only it is very hot and humid but also very hilly, so be prepared to sweat and make sure you bring water.
As you trek deeper into the jungle you start to see more and more of the nature; huge hairy caterpillars, bright coloured flowers, and massive ants. You also soon start to come across young unopened Raffelesia buds…..
Our tour guide assured us that we would get to see Raffelesia in bloom, his company pay the local people who live in the forest to keep them informed as to where the flowers are in bloom so that they then can take the tour to this site in the jungle. After over an hour of trekking we climbed up a steep hill to where a Raffelesia flower was in bloom next to a decaying flower and two unopened buds. The Raffelesia is the largest known flower and looks almost unreal, they didn’t smell as strongly as I thought they would but they were certainly attracting a lot of flies.
After walking back through the jungle to the landrover it was a short drive to our next stop, an “Orang Asli” village. These are small villages next to the road where the original hill people now live and make a living growing vegetables, although they do still hunt in the forest using a blowpipe and poison tipped darts. It was this blowpipe we were here to try out…..
The way the blowpipe and dart are designed means that very little effort is needed to fire a dart about 10 metres, my first effort missed the target completely and ended up stuck in a banana tree trunk, a slight readjustment by the tribesman in the way that I was holding the blowpipe resulted in my second dart hitting the centre of the target.
We then drove back up into the coolness of the hills to the Teh Boh plantation at Sungai Palas, here the hills here are covered in tea bushes. There is a visitor centre here with a factory where you learn about the process of preparing the tea leaves. You can also try the different types of tea that are grown here in the cafe and tea shop.
Also close to Brinchang is the mossy forest, so named because everything is covered in a carpet of moss, this being due to the misty conditions high up on the side of the mountain that it is situated. Not only are the trees covered in moss but there are also many pitcher plants growing amongst the branches.
The final stop on the way back to Tanah Rata was at one of the many strawberry farms that line the road in the highlands, you don’t need long to see how the strawberries are intensively farmed, but it is a good excuse to treat yourself to a huge punnet of strawberries as a reward for a hard day of trekking.