Giant Nepenthes Adventure

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 species are known to occasionally trap prey as big as rats. These are truly incredible plants.

Key Facts

COST: UK £3,150. Personal porters can be hired at extra costs (contact us for details).

START POINT: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

END POINT: Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.

DATES: Redfern Adventures will run three trips this year: Trip 1 in April, Trip 2 in June/July/August, Trip 4 in November/December. Please email us for the exact dates. We will finalise the group of participants, then finalise the exact dates for each trip to best fit everyone’s schedules.

GROUP SIZE: 6–10 (on double/twin room basis – single room supplement available).

If you do not wish to join a group tour, we can customise a private trip to suit your dates and interests. Please email us for details.

observe the largest and most spectacular species of carnivorous Nepenthes

In Malaysian Borneo, we will climb 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. We then transfer to Mount Tambuyukon to see Nepenthes burbidgeae, N. edwardsiana, N. fusca, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. tentaculata, N. villosa and N. x kinabaluensis. We then take a flight to Palawan, in the Philippines, to ascend Mount Victoria to see Drosera ultramafica, N. philippinensis and Nepenthes attenboroughii.

Although this adventure focuses on observing pitcher plants in the wild, the summits of these mountains are filled with beautiful orchids, birdlife, mammals and some of the most spectacular scenery in Southeast Asia. Also, whilst travelling between Mount Trus Madi and Mount Tambuyukon, we have the chance to visit reserves of two species of giant Rafflesia flowers (open blooms cannot be guaranteed). No technical climbing skills are required, although a good level of fitness and a high stamina are needed to complete this expedition.

Getting there: We recommend flying to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, then catching a local 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 Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are both hub airport cities, and are accessible via airlines from major airports across the world.


Day 1:

Pick up in Kota Kinabalu at 8.00 am and transfer by private charter minibus to Gunung Alab in the Crocker Range where we can explore trails in the cloudforest to see Nepenthes chaniana, N. fusca and N. tentaculata, as well as many orchids, including Corybas (helmet orchids). We can visit a Rafflesia pricei reserve, and call in if any blooms are open. Rafflesia pricei has white blotched perigone lobes and is one of the most beautiful Rafflesia species. Overnight in a local hotel in Tambunan. Dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2:

We transfer into 4*4 vehicles and drive to the start point of the trail up Mount Trus Madi. It is a relatively easy ascent along a boardwalk, along which, we see Nepenthes fusca and N. tentaculata. We overnight in mountain bungalow (with bunk beds) where tree shrews frequently investigate our lodging for scraps. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 3:

Optional pre-dawn start to trek to the summit of Mount Trus Madi for sunrise and to 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 mountain bungalow. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 4:

We descend Mount Trus Madi and return to Tambunan. The afternoon is an opportunity to wash clothes and relax. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 5:

After breakfast, we depart Tambunan. We will apply for permits to visit Mamut Copper Mine (permits are usually granted, but not guaranteed), on the flanks of Mount Kinabalu, to see impressive stands of Nepenthes stenophylla, N. macrovulgaris, N. reinwardtiana, N. burbidgeae and N. fusca. Then transfer to the start point for climbing Mount Tambuyukon. Overnight in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 6:

4*4 vehicle transport to Kampung Monggis, Kinabalu Park, to begin the 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.

Day 7:

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 (Nepenthes 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 along the trail today. Overnight in tents. Dinner is camp cooking.

Day 8:

Optional pre-dawn start to see the sunrise from the summit of Mount Tambuyukon and to explore the main populations of N. edwardsiana, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. villosa (Tambuyukon form) and N. x kinabaluensis. Descend to Musang Camp. 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 9:

Descend to the base of Mount Tambuyukon to Kampung Monggis, arriving in the afternoon. We transfer to Poring. We have a relaxed afternoon and can visit the geothermal Poring Hot Springs (for a well deserved, hot water swim)! There are many reserves nearby for giant Rafflesia keithii flowers, and can visit if any blooms are open. Nepenthes mirabilis and N. gracilis may be encountered in some roadside areas nearby. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in a hotel at Poring.

Promo video for this expedition:

Day 10:

We transfer by private charter minibus to Kota Kinabalu, arriving in the late afternoon. We can explore the city and relax before the next stage in the expedition. Overnight in a local hotel, dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 11:

We catch a flight 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.

Note: depending upon the flight schedule, we may need to fly out from Kota Kinabalu on Day 10. The cost of the flight is included in the cost of this expedition. Redfern Adventures will book the transfer flights for the group, from Kota Kinabalu to Puerto Princesa. 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. Weather permitting, we enjoy spectacular views from the summit to the lowlands and across the summit of the little explored Victoria Massif. By noon, we depart from 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 transfer to a local restaurant for a well deserved lunch. We return to Puerto Princesa for late afternoon. Overnight in hotel and dinner in restaurant.

Day 16:

We enjoy a final breakfast together, then say goodbye in Puerto Princesa. END OF TOUR.