Mount Kinabalu

Borneo is a place of legends and Mount Kinabalu is a peak long revered by the locals as the sacred dwelling place of ancestral spirits. Mount Kinabalu is the focal point of Kinabalu Park and probably the most magnificent sight in Borneo. This majestic mountain full of fascinating legends towers at 4,095 meters (13,436 feet) above sea level. 

Highlights

  • Mount Kinabalu is one the of tallest mountains of South East Asia
  • Mount Kinabalu is. exceptionally high in biodiversity and has the richest orchid flora in the world
  • The more adventurous traveller can tackle the World’s Highest Via Ferrata
  • Rafflesia, the World’s largest flower, can be found at the base of the mountain

Standing majestically above the surrounding countryside, the granite massif of Mount Kinabalu dwarfs all around it. At 4095.2m, Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia, rises starkly out of the tropical rainforest of the Kinabalu Park. Declared a national park in 1964, Kinabalu Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000.

Kinabalu Park is situated in Sabah and is home to the most remarkable assemblage of flora in the world. Many plant species here are found only in Borneo and many are endemic to the area.

Six major topographical features occur within the park – peaks; plateaus; gullies, rivers, streams and waterfalls, hot springs, caves and granite slabs. The main peaks are the Low’s Peak (Summit), South Peak, St. John’s Peak, Ugly Sisters Peak and Donkey’s Ears.

The majestic Mount Kinabalu, rising from the mist with its rugged terrain has always been a significant feature in the lives and legends of the local Dusun people. The most famous legend to emerge from this community is of the Kinabalu dragon that possessed a luminous jewel that he used as a toy. It is said that on moonlit nights people could see this bright gem being tossed again and again on the dragon’s forked tongue.

Poring Hot Springs

The name “Poring” comes from a “Dusun” word for a bamboo species found in the area. Poring is a popular recreation and tourist complex famous for its hot springs and canopy walkway. The hot springs are known for their therapeutic properties and the water with their sulphuric minerals are reputed to ease aching muscles.

The Canopy Walkway (a suspended bridge) is a must; visitors can take a stroll amidst the lush canopy of Menggaris trees and enjoy the vertiginous view at 40 meters above the forest floor.

Lucky visitors might see the rare and exotic Rafflesia – the world’s biggest flower. On the first and second day of the blooming the red is intense and the petals are fully extended, but after the third day it begins to shrink and smell.

Dusun people and mountain garden

The small villages on the slopes of the mountain are inhabited by the “Dusun” the largest ethnic group in Sabah. If you wish to know more about Dusun culture you should visit the mountain garden to see the medicinal plants that have been used for centuries by the local people. The Dusun people use more than 40 species of medicinal plants and in the botanical garden you can learn how to heal a cut with antiseptic giant fern, cure an eye infection with liana and high blood pressure with another plant.

Kinabalu Park is known for the abundance and diversity of its plant life, within one of the most ancient vegetations in the world. It has one of the richest and most diverse assemblages of plants in the world. In Kinabalu Park you can admire different species of wild orchids including the rare and endemic Rothschild ‘s Slipper Orchid, the Nepenthes carnivorous plants ,the world ‘s largest flower Rafflesia and many varieties of Rhododendron.

Climb Mount Kinabalu

Climb Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest mountain in South East Asia, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Having a good level of fitness and stamina is important for anyone wanting to climb Mount Kinabalu, but you don’t need to be an experienced mountaineers!
The ascent of Mount Kinabalu is a trek that usually takes only s 2 days. The trek pass through different vegetation zones and you will see how the environment will drastically changes from lowaland rain forest to montane shrubbery and stunted vegetation.

The starting point for the climbing is Timpohon Gate which is the place where climbers meet their mountain rangers. The highlands born and bred Mountain Rangers know basically all the good and bad things about the mountain but they still regard the mountain as a sacred and consider its brooding peaks the resting place of the spirits of their departed ancestors. Till today, rituals are still being performed by the Dusun community to appease the spirits of the ancestors. Once per year a white chicken is sacrificed in honor of the mountain and its blood is spread on the slopes.

As soon as the ascent to the mountain begins, you will see the transformation of the forest from tropical jungle to Mediterranean shrubbery to Alpine flora. In fact, due to the wide range of altitude, Kinabalu Park has essentially four vegetation zones. The trek commences in the Lowland Dipterocarp Forest with tall trees and lush green vegetation. At 1700 meters above the sea level, the landscape is dominated by oak-chestnuts trees which are common in the Lower Montane Forest. At 2500 meters, there is the Cloud Forest which resembles the Mediterranean vegetation and remains shrouded in mist throughout the day. Up to 3300 meters where the granite core of the summit begins, there is the stunted Sub Alpine Forest with gnarled and grotesque trees.

The journey through the beautiful biodiversity of Kinabalu Park, might be delighted by the presence of Nepenthes Plants (carnivorous species). One known as Nepenthes Rajah, is believed to be the largest growing pitcher that can hold two liters of water if filled to the brim and it’s large enough to trap rats!

Usually climbers reach Laban Rata Resthouse (3200 meters asl) after an exhausting 6 hours trek! Laban Rata with its picturesque mountain backdrop is one of the few accommodations in the area.

A few hours before sunrise climbers are on the trail again. The final stage is dramatic but the feeling when you reach the top and see the stunning view is indescribable. You are on the roof of Borneo!

The walk down the mountain is harder than the ascending in fact climbers must have steady foot and the slippery muddy trails are a good reason to have a mountain pole and reliable trekking shoes.

Via Ferrata Mount Kinabalu

For the more adventurous, there is another way of experiencing Mount Kinabalu- via Ferrata- a mountain path at an altitude of 3,800 metres – the world’s highest Via Ferrata! A via ferrata is basically a long climbing route with permanently fixed cables for protection. Steel rungs are used on steeper sections to keep the difficulty of the climbing moderate. This activity enables people of all ages to enjoy climbing Mount Kinabalu’s rock faces, giving them a chance to view the mountain from different angles allowing access to scenic sections of the summit normally accessible only to rock climbers and mountaineers.  There are two Via Ferrata routes on Mount Kinabalu: Low’s Peak Circuit and Walk The Torq.

Low’s Peak Circuit is 4-6 hour route includes the passage of a monkey bridge, which consists in a thin metal rope to stand on and a thin to hold on, the traverse of the world’s highest Nepalese-style bridge and some rest stops at scenic locations.

 

Things You Must Bring to Climb Mount Kinabalu

Raincoat or waterproof jacket
Warm clothing like fleece jacket, hiking pants
Change of clothes
Cap / beanie / head scarf
Gloves
A small / lightweight towel
Personal toiletries
Refillable water bottle
Torchlight (preferably a head torch)
Camera
Comfortable covered trail/ hiking shoes
Energy snacks e.g. chocolate, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars
Sun protection – Sunglass, sun screen lotion, SPF lip balm
A small backpack to hold your things
Poncho or raincoat

Porters Mount Kinabalu

Porters can be arranged upon arrival at Kinabalu Park Head Quarter. The fee can be paid directly to the porter himself.

Porter Fees:
Timpohon/Laban Rata/Timpohon: RM80 / trip (10kg)
Timpohon/Sayat-Sayat/Timpohon: RM94 / trip (10kg)
Timpohon/Summit/Timpohon: RM102 / trip (10kg)

Maximum weight is 10Kgs and additional weight will be charged base on daily rate Per Kg.

Where to store your luggage before the climb?

It’s possible to leave your luggage at storage room at the Kinabalu Park HQ. This service is chargeable RM 10 per piece/night.

If you go back the same hotel in Kota Kinabalu after the climb, then you can leave your luggage there. Most of the hotels in Kota Kinabalu have luggage storage facility.

 

Can anyone climb Mount Kinabalu?

Since Mount Kinabalu is a major mountain, and the highest peak in Malaysia at 4,095 m above the sea level, you are strongly advised to be in a physically fit condition.

Do NOT climb Mount Kinabalu if you have a history of suffering from the following ailments: Heart Disease, Hypertension, Chronic Asthma, Peptic Ulcer, Severe Anaemia, Diabetes, Epileptic Fits, Arthritis, Palpitation, Heptitis, Muscular cramps and Obesity.

The climb is not considered difficult in good conditions, but can rapidly become treacherous if the weather deteriorates. Mountain weather is notoriously volatile, as is tropical weather and the two together poses a real threat to the safety of climbers and should never be underestimated.

HOW TO GET THERE

Kota Kinabalu is the nearest airport to Mount Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu International Airport is Malaysia’s second busiest airport and the main gateway to Sabah.

With approximately 2 hours or 88km travelling in van or bus, you will reach Kinabalu National Park, where Mount Kinabalu is located.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

You can climb Mount Kinabalu all year round but the best time is during Sabah’s driest season, from March until August.
In this period you will have more chances to watch a beautiful sunrise from the top of the mountain.

ACCOMMODATION

A variety of accommodation is available within the Park and in its surrounding areas, ranging from basic hostels to luxury chalets.
On the mountain there are only simple resthouses.

Laban Rata Resthouse – Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

Located at 3,272 metres above sea level, Laban Rata Resthouse offers climbers warm lodgings and hot meals before and after climbing to the peak of Mount Kinabalu. Laban Rata has bunk dorm rooms equipped with heaters and hot-water showers in common bathrooms, as well as a few private rooms.

Pendant Hut

Exclusively for Via Ferrata’s climbers, this cosy and eco-friendly Alpine-inspired hut houses guests in a dormitory-style setting . Located 3,289m above sea level (a.s.l.), there is easy access to Mountain Torq’s activities from Pendant Hut. From here you can try to spot your Via Ferrata pals on the Panar Laban rock face!

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