Spotting a Rafflesia Flower in Borneo

Rafflesia is the largest type of flower in the world!  It grows in Borneo and was on our list of plants and wildlife we hoped to see during our Borneo adventure.  The difficult part is that it’s hard to predict when a flower will be in bloom and once a flower blooms it only lasts for a few days.  Rafflesia are parasitic and grow inside vines, until a flower bursts out, so they are hidden before they bloom.

Once we heard that there was a Rafflesia flower in bloom near Kota Kinnabalu (KK) we realized it may be our only opportunity to see one.  Even the trip to see the flower was a bit of an adventure.  First we had to catch a minibus (local bus that we would call a minivan) to Ranau town (15 ringgit/person).  We managed to find the right minibus and squeeze in for the hot, non air-conditioned, 2 hour ride.  It started raining after a while, which was a welcome relief from the heat.  Once we reached Ranau town we had to hire a taxi to take us to the village where the rafflesia were (30 ringgit).  Even though the taxi ride was only about 5 minutes it cost as much as the 2 hour bus ride!

We both thought we were going to see a rafflesia out in the forest in its natural environment, but when we arrived we realized it was a Rafflesia Conservation Area.  It was oddly located directly behind someone’s house.  We paid our entrance free and headed down the wooden elevated plank way to see the two blooming flowers.  We were lucky there were two blooming at once, which is rare.

The flowers themselves were a bit disappointing.  This type of flower may be the largest in the world, but the particular specimens we saw weren’t the largest ones (about 65cm diameter).  And they aren’t particularly pretty flowers, they’re actually kind of ugly ;).

Side note:  We’re trying a new feature here by inserting an album, instead of posting each photo separately.  Let us know if you like this new option.

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