Monday, October 29, 2012
Kubah National Park
Almost every visitor to Kuching has seen Kubah National Park, whether they realise it or not. This massive sandstone ridge with its three mountain peaks – the 911m high Gunung Serapi and the slightly smaller Gunung Selang and Gunung Sendok – is clearly visible from the Kuching Waterfront. Situated only 22 kilometres from Kuching, Kubah is not only the most visible but also one of the most accessible of Sarawak’s National Parks.
Kubah was established in 1989 because of its exceptionally rich plant life, and only opened to the public in 1995. The Park covers an area of 2,230 hectares, and comprises the heavily forested slopes and ridges of the Serapi range. At heights of between 150-450 metres, Kubah’s soft sandstone is punctuated with bands of hardened limestone which have created a number of beautiful waterfalls.
Kubah’s most famous feature is its palms. Almost a hundred different palm species can be found in an area of just over 22 sq km, making Kubah probably the richest palm habitat for its size anywhere in the world. But Kubah’s palms are not only abundant – they are also historically and ecologically important. Many of Kubah’s palms were first described by the great Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari (1843-1920), who spent 3 years in Sarawak from 1865 to 1868, and recorded his findings and experiences in a remarkable book, Wanderings in the Great Forests of Borneo.
As well as its palms, Kubah has many other striking attractions; its spectacular primary rainforest, its rich selection of orchids and ferns, and its crystal clear jungle streams, waterfalls and bathing areas, to name just a few. The rainforest scenery has even caught the attention of Hollywood; in 1987 Gunung Serapi was the principal film location for Farewell to the King starring Nick Nolte - as you approach the entrance to the park HQ you will see the film set to the right. The Sleeping Dictionary, starring Jessica Alba, was shot in the nearby forest foothills adjacent to the park, which provided a stunning backdrop for the film.
The forest at Kubah is mixed dipterocarp, with small areas of scrub forest and isolated patches of kerangas. This rich forest, the park’s proximity to the coastline and its general terrain all ensure that Kubah is home to a variety of wildlife, including bearded pigs, 50-plus bird species (including argus pheasants and black hornbills), sambar deer, mouse deer, civets, porcupines, squirrels and numerous species of amphibians and reptiles.