Mount Kinabalu. Mountain in Sarawak, Malaysia

Mount Kinabalu

Mountain in Sarawak, Malaysia

Sunrise mount Kinabalu Photo © Michele Di Fede

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Mount Kinabalu

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Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail - Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu Summit Trail - Mount Kinabalu. Photo by sonofusion82
The blue sky as the backdrop of the summit ridge makes Mount Kinabalu a breathtaking sight, worthy of Borneo’s tallest mountain. Its peak is set at 13,435 feet high above sea level. The people of the Dusun tribe believed in the sacredness of the mountain and called it the “revered abode of the dead” because they imagined that the spirits of their ancestors reside in the mountain. Every year, seven chickens are sacrificed by the tribespeople as offerings at the mountain peak.

The word ‘Kina’ means China while ‘Balu’ means widow. The folklore behind the name is about a Chinese prince who was exiled to Borneo and eventually fell in love with a Malaysian woman. The prince returned to China with the promise that he will return to Borneo. The woman waited for his return at the mountain peak for a long time until the spirit of the mountain turned her to stone.

Mount Kinabalu is impressive because of its many qualities. One of this is biological diversity, with flora like the Pitcher plant and Orchid as well as the rare fauna such as the Orangutan. Geologically, it is continuously evolving as it is known to be a young mountain.

The Climb

Despite its height, it is considered to be one of the easiest mountains to climb. Tourists as young as three years of age and as old as 80 years old have already climbed this Mount Kinabalu. The slope is not too steep, except near the end of the trek where it is necessary to hold on to the guide ropes.

Expert climbers can hike to the peak in four hours, while in general the hike usually takes two days. The first day ends at Laban Rata Resthouse where the guests can stay overnight. The second day starts as early as 2:30 AM to hurdle the remaining 1.2 miles trek, so that the guests can witness the sunrise when they reach the summit. After 45 minutes, one will reach the Sayat-Sayat hut. From there, the slope can be as steep as 70° in angle. After 5.0 miles, one can already see St. John’s Peak and South Peak on the left side. Low’s Peak or the summit, can be located ahead. Upon reaching the summit, one can observe a fascinating view of the mountains and valleys below.

How to Get There

If one is traveling from Kota Kinabalu City Center to Kinabalu Park, one can take a minivan from the Long Distance Bus Station, which is located near the night market. The trip costs RM 20 ($6.40). Tourists can also take the bus or coach from the North Bus Station in Inanam (Wikipedia Article). The trips are scheduled to leave every morning and it takes around one to two hours to get to the park. The trip costs around RM 10 ($3.20) per person.

For a more convenient travel method, guests can opt to hire a taxi for around RM 150 ($48) to RM 200 ($64), which includes going to and from Kinabalu Park. Guests who are familiar with left-hand driving can rent a car at the Kota Kinabalu Airport.

Practical Information

Like any mountain hike or trek, the speed and difficulty are dependent on the fitness level of the hiker. Hence, all required precautions should be taken. Bring a muscle-relieving cream or patch to reduce any pain after 8 to 12 hours of hiking. The hike can also be perilous when it is raining or when it is foggy, as the trail can be slippery and visibility is decreased. Tourists are instructed to blow a whistle or shout if the guide rope is unavailable or not visible during the trek.

Because of the high altitude, those who have trouble adapting to the change in atmospheric pressure can experience dizziness or sickness. Be cautious and take your time when climbing and proceed at a slower pace if needed.

The month of April is the recommended time to climb Mount Kinabalu. Later in the year, from November to December, the rainy season starts. Climbing during the full moon is also advantageous as it illuminates the path during the night trek. The temperature can be very cold when nearing the summit, so do not forget to bring a jacket or windbreaker, a hat, and a pair of gloves. Also bring a flashlight or headlamp.

The entrance fee to Kinabalu Park is RM 15 ($4.80) for non-Malaysians. There is a separate fee for climbing permits which are priced at RM 100 ($32) and climbing insurance can cost an additional RM 7 ($2.24) per person. The local authorities also require tourists to be accompanied by guides who will assist them throughout the trek to the summit. It will cost an additional RM 150 ($48), depending on the number of people.

Nearby Landmarks

There are other mountains in Borneo and Malaysia. The seven highest mountains are collectively called G7. G is short for ‘Gunung’, which is Malaysian for mountain. The closest to Kinabalu is Gunung Trusmadi. Hiking enthusiasts will surely set the goal of climbing all seven peaks.

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Author: LisaN505. Last updated: Sep 09, 2014

Pictures of Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu, the roof of Borneo - Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu, the roof of Borneo - Photo by Jenny NLF

views from mount kinabalu - Mount Kinabalu
views from mount kinabalu - Photo by amod86

views from mount kinabalu - Mount Kinabalu
views from mount kinabalu - Photo by amod86

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