Giant Nepenthes Tour, Part 3, Mt Tambuyukon


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Hi guys

Here's part 3 of our trip, Mt Tambuyukon

After visiting the Ranau site, we were a couple of hours behind schedule and arrived at the base of Mt Tambuyukon (Mongis sub station), where we had lunch and then quickly set off on our ascent at around 12.30pm. Being behind slightly affected our plans as Alastair was hoping to reach the Musang camp at the 10km mark, but due to the difficulty of the first few km's I'm glad that we stopped at the Wulah camp after 6km as I had nothing left in the tank.

The climb to the summit of Mt Tambuyukon is 14km long and is known as one of the hardest mountains to climb in all of Borneo due to the steep up and down sections through valleys and peaks and then the last 4km which is quite steep at an angle of 50-60 degrees all the way to the summit.

As this was my second ever mountain climb, Mt Kinabalu being the first. I found Mt Tambuyukon extremely difficult on some of the steep areas and very slippery at times.

Due to my slower pace than the others, I never quite made it to the summit and stopped around about 1km away to take more photos of N. edwardsiana. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to keep going to the summit, take photos, then descend back to our camp, pack up and descend down another 4-5km to our next camp.

Tough choice, but I'd already seen N. rajah and N. villosa before and really wanted to spend more time photographing and observing N. edwardsiana in the wild, a plant that I've always dreamed of seeing.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one there!

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A 4WD is essential to get to get to Mongis sub station as the road to Mt Tambuyukon involved a couple of river crossings and some very rough and slippery sections that normal cars would never get through. Thankfully the rivers weren't too deep at the time.

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Our group getting ready at the Mongis Ranger sub station.

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group photo of our team. The eight of us and our porters, who did a amazing job, each lugging at least 15kg of our clothes and equipment. I wouldn't have made past 1km with my pack. A big thanks to our guides who aren't in this photo too.

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Day 1 of our ascent: Alastair pointing out the Musang camp site at the 10km mark that he hoped to reach.

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Jeremiah working his way up one of the steep embankments on the trail.

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Darren O'Brian at our camp site at Pondok Wulah. A site right next to a small stream where we could get fresh water supplies and clean ourselves up a bit after an exhausting first 6km of trekking.

Day 2 of our ascent: The section to our next camp 4km on was a lot easier and not as steep. We reached the camp around midday, set up our tents, had some lunch and then headed off to see N. burbidgeae, N. tentaculata and N. edwardsiana which we were all bursting to see. Alastair told us that these species grew in areas next to the trail over the next 2km up the mountain. Little did we realise how steep and hard this section was to see the plants and then on the way up it poured with rain and we all got completely saturated. I managed to take a few photos of each species, but as it kept raining photography was difficult.

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Day 2 of our ascent: Pedro and Adriana packing up getting ready for the next part of our trek.

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A small N. burbidgeae plant growing on a fallen log that crosses the trail.

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A juvenile lower pitcher off the N. burbidgeae plant on the log.

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A huge N. burbidgeae lower pitcher.

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This pitcher ended up being the biggest one that I found and nearly measured 20cm in size.

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The plant from which the huge lower pitcher belonged to. Notice the extremely long tendril.

This plant was about 90-100cm in diameter.

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Also growing around the area where the N. burbidgeae grew was, N. tentaculata.

Pictured here is a large group of lower pitchers off a plant that had branched several times and was growing along the ground.

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A lower pitcher of N. tentaculata.

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Quite a bit further along the trail we finally found what we'd come so far to see, N. edwardsiana.

This 13-15cm lower pitcher was just a taste of what was to come.

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Now that we'd seen our first N. edwardsiana, it took us a long time to find another plant and we had to struggle up the incredibly steep path in the pouring rain for another 100-150m before we found our next plants. But it was well worth the pain, this stunning red intermediate pitcher was spectacular.

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Hanging a few metres away in the trees from the intermediate I spotted this spectacular and huge 35cm red upper pitcher.

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Front view.

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Me holding the stunning red upper pitcher.

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Me holding a nice deep red intermediate pitcher.

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A small N. edwardsiana plant with intermediate pitcher.

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Alastair, Darren and Jeremiah are all resting up at our now muddy, leech infested camp site after coming back down from seeing N. burbidgeae, N. tentaculata and N. edwardsiana.

Edited by Fredders
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Day 3 of our ascent: On the 3rd day of our ascent we got up at 3.30am, quickly had some breakfast and headed off to the summit in the dark with our headlamps on to try and catch the sun rise over Mt Kinabalu which can be seen in the distance.

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I knew that getting to the summit was going to be a difficult task for me after experiencing the trail the day before

But I at least had the comfort of knowing that I could reach the N. edwardsiana again and spend some more time with such stunning plant.

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The trail past where I reached the day before became even more of an obstacle course on the way up to the summit as it became laden with fallen trees that we either had to duck under or climb over and slippery moss covered tree roots that were waist high that we had to climb up onto and navigate over.

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Jeneral Camp, if you want to stay somewhere surrounded by N. edwardsiana, this is the place to be!

After 3 hours of trekking up to the summit and missing the sunrise, I was starting to struggle with the trails incline.

I'd passed through the Jeneral Camp 200-300m ago and was surrounded by some stunning plants of N. edwardsiana. So I asked my guide how much further to the N. rajah and N. villosa and he replied 1-2hours at my current pace.

I looked at the trail ahead and it just kept going up and up. So as I only managed to take photos of a couple of N. edwardsiana plants the day before due to the rain I decided to head back down slowly and take as many photos as I could of all of the plants that I passed in the dark.

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My guide patiently waiting while I took photographs of N. edwardsiana.

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N. edwardsiana upper pitchers hanging next to the trail.

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Me holding a huge upper pitcher.

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Me with a few massive upper pitchers, the largest one that I measured is in my left hand and measured 42cm.

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The diameter of a N. edwardsiana opening.

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A side/back view of an upper pitcher.

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A plant with a rare lower pitcher. I only saw 2 lower pitchers throughout the areas where I looked.

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A close up of the lower pitcher.

N. edwardsiana pitchers also come in a variety of colours too. Generally the new pitchers start out pale and darken as they age.

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A nice rich red intermediate pitcher.

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A red upper pitcher.

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A speckled form.

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A orange intermediate pitcher.

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A yellow upper pitcher.

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A yellow intermediate pitcher.

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A small N. edwardsiana plant.

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N. edwardsiana pitchers hanging from up in the trees.

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Some pitchers hanging up at least 7m in the trees.

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The trees that sometimes house N. edwardsiana vines.

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N. edwardsiana habitat

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The habitat near Jeneral Camp where N. fusca can bee seen growing.

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A N. fusca lower pitcher

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A N. fusca plant.

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A N. fusca plant growing on a fallen log.

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Also growing around the Jeneral camp and where N. edwardsiana grows N. tentaculata can also be seen.

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A pure green upper pitcher of N. tentaculata.

Heading back down the trail I came across a few more nice N. burbidgeae plants that I'd missed earlier due to it being dark.

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A stunning mature 15cm lower pitcher

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The plant from which the pitcher belonged to.

As I had a fair bit of time, I noticed that most of the N. burbidgeae plants on Mt Tambuyukon had only one healthy pitcher or two on rare occations, but most of the plants that we saw had not at all.

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Small reddish lower pitchers.

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A small plant with reddish leaves.

Coming up next:

Part 4 – Poring

N. mirabilis, N. gracilis and Rafflesiana keithii.

Cheers

Steve

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This 'Giant Nepenthes Tour' series of threads by yourself and the other tour members is turning into an epic! :D

Once again, amazing to see, thanks for sharing!

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Guest Andreas Eils

My dear Mister singing association! (like we use to say in German! ;-) Means something like "Ye gods (and little fishes)!" )

I am very glad you decided to spend more time with the Edwardsianas then to try to reach the peak of Gunung Tamboyukon, Steve! ;-) "Spectacular", "amazing", "breath taking" - these are no expressions compared to the view of the Edwardsianas you found and photographed!!! :woot: :woot: :woot:

Now we finally know "heaven" is located on Sabah/Borneo!

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your most joyful hours in the wild with us (I assume these must have been your most joyful hours in the wild... :wink: )!

The other "stuff" aside from N. edwardsiana is also impressive, but N. edwardsiana is certainly my favourite! :)

Best wishes

Andreas

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Hi Andreas,

but by not reaching the top of the mountain, he (or they) missed to see the hairy form of N. rajah, but also a small N. x Kinabulensis and one of the two known locations of D. ultramafica in Borneo (and another Utricularia)...

Did you also see the small population of N. lowii on Mt. Tambuyukon?

But of course N. edwardsiana was THE highlight of the trip!!! ;-)

So it is heaven for every Nepenthes enthusiast and as a first fieldtrip for me, how can it get any better than that?!?

Thanks again for all these fantastic photos, which reminded me of an awesome time there with my friends!!!

Kind regards

Marc

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Hi Guys

Thanks for the kind comments.

Vince, Yes we did have Jeffrey as our guide along with Mike, not sure if his son was with us though.

There is definitely a great variety of species to see on Mt Tambuyukon. It's just a pity that you have to endure 11km of difficult and exhausting trekking to reach the Nepenthes.

It was also a pity that our group was too large so that we couldn't stay at the Jeneral camp as getting up to the summit from there would have been a lot easier as I almost reached that point the day before and a few of the other guys did actually reach it.

"It was 2km of pain that I could have done without having to do again the next day."

On our third morning when we ascended to the summit I was pretty determined to get to the top to see the plants up there. But unfortunately I just didn't know how much time I had left to do it.

That day we had to do 4km up to the top, 4km down, pack up our camp and then descend another 4km to the next camp. So unfortunately I just didn't quite know if I could do it as my muscles were burning from the relentless climbing. If you want to climb this mountain, I advise being extremely fit and climb at lot of steep hills or steps to prepare you legs.

Five guys from our group Jeremiah, Alastair, Pedro, John and Darren all successfully made it to the summit, and they did see N. lowii, N. villosa and N. rajah.

I don't know if they saw the hairy form of N. rajah, N. x kinabaluensis though, D. ultramafica or any Utricularia though.

Personally and surprisingly though, I'd recommend Mt Trusmadi as nicest mountain and best choice out of the 2 to climb.

It doesn't have N. edwardsiana, but the last 5km on the old trail though the mossy forest was an amazing experience to see all of the soft moss covering trees, branches and growing everywhere. It was almost mystical.

The N. lowii upper pitchers are everywhere on the summit and the huge 40cm N. macrophylla pitchers are simply awesome. I didn't see the summit of Mt Tambuyukon so I can't really compare them, but the summit of Mt Trusmadi was just a really pretty habitat.

See attached!

Cheers

Steve

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Fantastic photos! I don't now if anyone have ever posted pics of so many different specimens of N. edwardsiana before. That huge N. burbidgeae pitcher is a stunner. Also nice seeing the habitat pics. The photos of the speckled N. edwardsiana pitcher against the moss covered stems is my favourite.

Regards,

Christer

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank for the compliments.

Regarding some many different photos of specimens of N. edwardsiana. I felt that since so many people envy this plants and want to grow it, I thought that it would be good to show some natural variation of the species, as the bright red pitchers are generally always used in books.

And to show everyone the plants themselves, as well as the habitats that they grow in.

The huge N. burbidgeae pitcher was amazing. I was in disbelief that it reached that size, as 15cm is around the biggest size most of the other pitchers had achieved that I saw at both locations.

Cheers

Steve

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Hey Steve,

Have just been able to look at all of your pictures - a wonderful selection; you've done a great job capturing the trip - thank you for sharing. I wish you could have been there for the second round - the weather was postcard perfect! We found the so-called N. burbidgeae at Ranau - certainly a hybrid with N. fusca, but very beautiful. Those giant tyres are around the corner from Nirvana, the last site we made it to up there.

Happy holidays,

Alastair.

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Hi Alastair

It's good to hear that you made it back to Ranau, I wish I could have joined you guys again.

Were you able to drive in further this time?

I'll also ask my friend if he has any photos of the N. burbidgeae from there. He's been growing Neps for a long time and unless the plant was very small he'd know the difference if he saw a hybrid.

Cheers

Steve

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Hey Steve,

No - actually, we were barred from entry entirely this time, but a couple of phone calls (offering to leave all photographic equipment behind) convinced them that we were solely there for the plants and not wishing to expose any of the damage to the local environment. So, it was a walkup, as before, but with more time to explore. The road loops back to the beginning, so you saw almost everything. It is likely that N. burbidgeae is about, given the presence of the hybrids, but the plants near to the road may have died out or been displaced through processes of succession in the intervening years. Still one of my favourite ever Nepenthes sites.

Happy holidays,

Alastair.

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