Towering over the island off Borneo stands the Kinabalu massif, one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia. It peaks 4,096 meters above sea level and is surrounded by Malaysia’s first National Park, taking up 754 square kilometers of Malaysian Borneo. The World Heritage Site of Kinabalu National Park is one of the most important biological sites in the world, as it’s home to over 4,500 species of flora and fauna. Boring facts? Well, the mountain is also magnificent, and the peak is accessible to most likely individuals.
What’s so special about Kinabalu National Park?
The main trek to the top is challenging but manageable for hikers and doesn’t require any rock climbing skills. There are different options to book a guided summit, the cheapest one being the one-day hike to the top. You need to complete the trek by 1 pm to be able to make it back in time. The more expensive option is to book a three-day trek, with one day to trek to the base camp, one early morning climb to see the magical sunrise atop and one day to get back. The tours include two overnight stays at one of the resorts on the platform.
Besides the trail to the summit, there are nine other trails in Kinabalu National Park.
- Liwagu Trail: Goes from the Reception Office and Conversation Center all the way to the Power Station and is the best path to reach the Summit Trail and Timpohon Gate Checkpoint. It surpasses the other trails and runs along Liwagu River. This is the longest trails and takes 2-3 hours to complete.
- Silau Silau Trail: Joins the Kiau View Trail at the Power Station Road and follows Silau Silau River through the park and past the Botanic Gardens.
- Kiau View Trail: A longer trail near Nepenthes Villa and Raja Lodge. It will take about one to two hours and has some lovely views and a wide variety of tree species to see.
- Bundu Tuhan View Trail: Goes from near the Conservation Center towards Ranau, then along the ridge back to intersect with the Liwagu Trail. Here you can get good views of the southern mountains and Bundu Tuhan village, and it is only a very short hike.
- Pandanus Trail: A short and steep trail from the lodges and Botanical Gardens to Kiau View Trail.
- Bukit Ular Trail: Goes 1km along the Power Station Road and ends at the Power Station. The trail is best for birdwatching.
- Bukit Burung Trail: This and the Bukit Tupai trail are very short and connect Mempening and Silau Silau Trail. You can climb a little hill for birdwatching.
- Mempening Trail: An accessible but long trail, which connects Bukit Tupai and Liwagu Trail with the Power Station Road approximately 1,5 km from the Summit trail.
What else can you do in Kinabalu National Park?
There’s also a snippet that’s called the Mountain View Trail and leads up to the ridge shelter along the Power Station Road. Another interesting site within the park is the Botanical Gardens. The entrance is a little hidden away by Bukit Tupai Trail. They offer three guided tours a day to help tourists identify the diverse flora. The guide will point out herbs, trees and pitcher plants, and of course flowers.
Indeed the flora is one of the most interesting aspects of the Kinabalu National Park. You can find wild banana, orchids, Begonia, Rhododendron, pitcher plants and many others. Many of these are endangered and very rare. Here you can find the largest pitcher plant in the world, which can even trap frogs, rats or lizards.
Besides that you can also visit three waterfalls, one is the Carson Falls by the entrance to the summit trail. The others are the Kipungit Waterfall, in which you can also bathe and Langanan Fall. You could also visit the Poring hot springs, which are also part of the Poring resort.
Kinabalu Park has quite a lot to offer besides Mount Kinabalu. It’s best to get a bed at one of the lodges at the entrance to the park to take a few days and explore the stunning nature and plant life. I’d recommend doing the tour through the Botanic Gardens first because it can be a lot of fun trying to make out different species of plants on your hike. However, the hike to the summit is the highlight of the park. Even though it’s quite exhausting and tough, the reward of seeing the sunrise atop is great. After finishing the hot springs are great to relax in.
Have you summited Mount Kinabalu and been to the Kinabalu Park? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments!