I just came back from a refreshing trip to Tawau, Sabah.
A 12 days school holiday trip with 2 of my kiddos, Azzim (16 yrs) and Arissa (10 yrs old). Instead of the usual eat and sleep trip, I plan to have an adventurous and eye-opening trip for my 2 champs. Keeping in mind that I need to be flexible with my plan as travelling with young teenagers is challenging. Their mood swings could definitely kill my mood to explore the place.
I always love a short walk or a short hike in the jungle and Tawau has a lot of short length hiking tracks. One of the mornings, we decided to go for a short hike to Bukit Gelas Waterfall, Tawau.
Location: Bukit Gelas Waterfall in Tawau, Sabah
How to go: Waze for Taman Bukit Tawau or Tawau Hills Park
Attraction: A zen-like waterfall
Difficulty: Relax and easy hike
Distance go and back: 3.2 km in total
Time spent: Half day trip
Tips: This place is very crowded on weekdays. The best time to enjoy this place is on weekdays.
Leech level: A lot
Entrance Fee: RM3 per person
Bukit Gelas waterfall or Air Terjun Bukit Gelas
Located in Taman Bukit Tawau or Tawau Hills Park, approximately 30 minutes drive or 22 km away from the town. This place is properly maintained and enlisted as one of the Sabah Park (1979). The pristine clear water running through the river, the humid foresty tropical forest and the peaceful sound of the jungle are soothing for any nature lover soul. I always love the smell of the forest.
Azzim, Hafiz and Izan decided to hike with me while Arissa opted out.
The 3 young teenagers looked eager to explore the forest. We plan to trek to the nearby waterfall, the Bukit Gelas waterfall. The kids were curious and as we stepped into the track, their eyes started to focus on the route and on the hungry leeches. It is interesting to watch their reactions throughout the journey.
We are surrounded by greens and all sorts of nature sounds. Tall giant trees are randomly scattered along the trail, beautiful sight to look at.
The track is well guided with visible road marks every 100 meters and the trail is relaxingly easy to follow. Suits a family with young teenagers day outing, looking for a relaxing light hike. The route follows along the river and as you walk, the sound of running water accompanies your walk, very calming.
Strolling slowly along the track would take you 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the Bukit Gelas waterfall. A few places along the trail are slippery and muddy, watch your steps.
Checklist for hiking
This hike suits novice or anybody who needs a quick dose of nature. Nonetheless, you always need to be well prepared whenever you are in any jungle. It’s good to be well prepared than be sorry right?
My usual checklist includes:
- Good hiking shoes. No slipper or sandal, please.
- Water bottle. Please bring your own water bottle and refills as you go. Empty mineral water goes back into your backpack. Don’t just dispose the rubbish along your trail. I have seen hundreds of empty bottles thrown along my trails in Bohey Dulang a few days ago. Please, please, please do your part to save our earth.
- Well powered handphone.
- Food. I always prepare energizing tidbits in my backpack in case I got hungry while trekking. Energy bars, apples, bread or a bar of chocolate, maybe?
- A hat
- A small towel
- A small camera and a GoPro (optional)
- A small tripod (optional)
The National Park front gate opens from 8 am to 4.30 pm. You might spend around 4 hours on a light track, so plan your journey accordingly.
Start early as morning hike is very therapeutic. If you are early, you could hike to 3 different trails here. I would suggest you start with Bukit Gelas Waterfall. Spend about 30 to 45 minutes for a quick dip then walk down the trail at km 1.5 and hike for another 1.7 km for the Sulfur Hot Springs (total distance 3.2 km from the base). And, on your way back to the base don’t forget to visit the world’s tallest tropical tree (88.32 m) and walla! you are done for the day.
Please be reminded that this place has hungry leeches, crawling quietly for food, lol. I am scared of leeches. Actually, I hate those sucking blood insects but I could not avoid their existence in our Malaysian rainforest. So, I put on extra effort to avoid them. To minimize your encounter with leeches, I would suggest that you choose your hiking time properly, those leeches are super active during the rainy season.
Ahh … another thing.
Locals here think that this place is haunted. So, just be extra cautious about your actions and your surroundings while you are here. They said this place is ‘keras’. But I didn’t experience any weird incidents during my visit there, alhamdullilah. Most jungles are naturally haunted, I think. After all we humans are not the only occupants on this earth.
If you happened to visit Tawau, you might want to check out this place with your family. Taman Bukit Tawau is easily accessible and it is worth your time. For those who have been to this place, please share your experience here. Leave your note in the comment section below.
Have you been to Taman Bukit Tawau or Air Terjun Table? How was your experience there?
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