BY NICK HEARD, 20 MARCH 2018
Discovering the little known hike from Gunung (Mount) Alab to Mahua Waterfall in Sabah’s Crocker Range has proven to be a great little getaway not too far from Kota Kinabalu. Thirsty for adventure and the chance to get out of the city for the weekend to spend some time in the forest getting amongst nature sounded like just what we needed. The Crocker Range lies to the South-East of Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu. The Crocker Range is home to jungle trekking, waterfalls and montane landscapes, a typical image of the region conjures scenes of clouds rolling across mountainous ridges and valleys. Gunung Alab is situated at the far North-Eastern part of the Crocker Range National Park along the road to Tambunan.
The drive through Crocker Range offers stunning views of misty mountains and valleys as the cool mountain air rolls down to the coast. From the Sticky Rice Travel office in Gaya Street it takes about an hour and a half to drive to Gunung Alab through the windy mountainous road. The relatively close proximity to Kota Kinabalu city makes Gunung Alab incredibly easy to access.
At the Gunung Alab Substation several accommodation options are available from the basic rest house and hostel along to comfortable chalet style accommodation that can cater for small groups. There are no food options available around Gunung Alab or at the substation after dark, so we opted to take some basic food supplies with us in order to fuel ourselves for the night we were there and the trek. The rest house has full kitchen facilities allowing us to cook up a feast with relative ease.
The substation sits at around 1600m ASL which means nights here can get bitterly cold compared to the sweaty heat of the city or low land forest. As soon as the sun goes down you really begin to feel the temperature drop. Nearby trails offered the opportunity to go for a night walk to try and find some critters, the night we went was particularly quiet with only a few insects around the place. We did however get really lucky with a clear night sky and no moon so the Milky Way was out, bright and in full view.