Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Secret Nature Hideaway?

Are you familiar with the old network of salt trails crisscrossing the Crocker Range? Some of these trails are more than a hundred years old and were the only means of communication between Tambunan, in the interior, and the coastal towns of North Borneo. For countless generations, Dusun barter traders of Tambunan carried produce to the tamu at Inobong where the trails end, and returned home with salt, dried fish and other items from the coast…hence, the term ‘Salt Trails’
The Inobong-Tikolod trail; follow the stars

One such trail runs from Inobong (in Penampang) and ends at Tikolod in Tambunan. This particular trail is now being promoted by the Sabah Parks which—in 2002—established the Inobong Sub-Station.

I was among a big group of senior citizens given the chance to visit the place last week. A steep road led us to the Inobong Station. It’s on the Crocker Range but the road isn’t as steep as the one leading to the Kokol Hills where we went twice.
A small tree marks the starting point of the trail

The start of the Inobong-Tikolod Salt Trail is marked with a tree. It is 35.8km up and down the Crocker Range to Tikolod. (By road, the distance to Tambunan is twice that of the trail.) For a fee, trekkers are guided by Park Rangers all the way to Tikolod and back with night stopovers at three villages. It takes four days and three nights to make the round trip.
Two blocks of hostels and a single chalet

Two blocks of hostels and one chalet are available for paying guests. There’s even a barbeque pit at the side of a gazebo. From here one can admire a panoramic view of KK and the South China Sea—the same view that must have signaled to those long-ago barter traders that they had almost reached the end of their trek and could soon rest their tired legs as well as unload the weights off their backs.
Rain clouds over KK

Now the bad news…

The Inobong-Tikolod trail happens to be in the valley where the government plans to build the Kaiduan mega-dam. If the dam is built, all this area—along with the villages in it, all traces of civilization such as stone markers, oath stones, graves, historical and cultural sites going back several generations—would be wiped out. And what a tragedy that would be!

The people in the many villages here are subsistence farmers planting mainly rice and tapioca as staples. They are happy to be where they have been for several generations. The older residents could still recall what life was like before the war and during WW2 when many Chinese from the coastal towns made their way to the river valley to escape the atrocities of the Japanese occupation.

If the dam project is scratched, not only villages and buried ancestors be prevented from drowning but countless species of plants and animals would be preserved too.

Okay, back to the Inobong Sub-Station…

I mentioned about the visit on Facebook. Apparently, not many people know about this nature haven although it’s just several minutes outside KK! Could this have been a well-guarded secret? If it was, the cat is out of the bag now! I’m definitely going there soon. Who wants to come along? Susan? Rosemary? Frank? A friendly tiger would be good company. Don’t forget to bring your camera!


  1. when you go again? count me in!!!!

  2. Greetings Blog Admin,A very interesting facts and historical article.Thanking you for sharing. All the very best and good luck.

  3. Greetings Blog Admin,A very interesting facts and historical article.Thanking you for sharing. All the very best and good luck.

  4. Good luck.
    Will be interest to go, when what to pack and how much it will cost?