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Tawau Hills Park (THP) is a quiet and relatively undiscovered wonder of nature in southeast Sabah. It is located in the district of Tawau and can be reached by car in an hour from the nearest airport. Gazetted in 1979 under the administration of Sabah Parks, the park contains primary rainforest that is protected from the palm oil plantations that immediately surround it. The approach by car involves a drive along roads surrounded by these plantations until you arrive at the park’s main entrance where the desert of plantations ends and the incredible view of tall dipterocarp trees begins.
Locals can enjoy the park’s facilities near the main entrance for recreational walks and BBQs and, at weekends, the area close to the park’s headquarters may be teeming with people enjoying themselves. Yet most people do not explore further into the park’s rainforest, staying near the main rivers, although if they did they would realise that THP is a naturalist’s dream. The park has three sub-stations, Balung, Merotai and Andrassy and has developed a good network of trails that enable extensive exploration of its forests, from the former ‘Tallest Tree Trail’, which is 900 m long, to the main trail leading both to the Gelas waterfall at 2.4 km and to the sulphur spring which is at 3.2 km. At its headquarters, the park offers rented accommodation of 10 basic rooms and a chalet, as well as a beautiful camping ground. For the bird watcher, there is also a bird-watching tower located not far from the Table waterfall which is just a few hundred metres away from the recreational ground.