We found it! The biggest flower in the world, native to only Borneo and south Thailand. We hiked two hours up a mountaintop find two magnificent examples of this unique and rare flower. As much as the kids initially questioned the point of walking four hours just to see a flower – once they saw it, they totally got it and said in unison that it was well worth the trek. Even the one child who’s afraid of snakes and doesn’t really like jungle treks very much was so amazed by the 1 meter in diameter flower that he forgot all about his snake fears on the way down.
The rafflesia is one of the rarest plants in the world and sadly on the verge of extinction. No one has ever managed to cultivate it. Everything seems stacked against the parasitic Rafflesia; its seeds are difficult to germinate, it can live on just one sort of vine and deforestation is reducing its habitat. It may take up to nine months to spring from seed to pod to flower, and it stays in bloom for just a few days. We were lucky to find two beautiful flowers and one bud inside the Khao Sak national park in south west Thailand would not have been able to without our guide. We still felt like explorers who had struck gold!