Mount Kinabalu Park
"Sabah's Spectacular Mountain Paradise"
A great destination for all visitors, Mount Kinabalu Park rises above the terrain to dominate the landscape. Rarely can you Ridgetop Trails with such ease of effort and abundance of plant and animal life.
In short, Mount Kinabalu Park oozes biodiversity in astonishing numbers:
The best part of Mount Kinabalu Park is its accessibilty to all comers. Even Mount Kinabalu, at 4095 meters high, entices many new trekkers to take on the challenge of conquering the highest peak between the mystic Himalayas and New Guinea.
For non-climbers, the forests surrounding the massive granite mountain are where the real exploration starts. The diversity of habitats, such as lowland rainforests, lower montane oak-chestnut forests, and upper montane forests support all the plant and wildlife action.
A series of short (20 minutes) to long (3 hours) trails spoke out from Park HQ to ridgetop and riverside paths that lead you through a magical maze of botanical treasures and scenic views into the valley.
Go to Mount Kinabalu Park and watch the mist uncover a natural world of unfathomable beauty.
Natural Things To Do
Mount Kinabalu Park: Nature Attractions
Wild animals usually take center stage, but at Mount Kinabalu Park wild plants are the real stars. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its "outstanding universal values as a center of plant diversity in Southeast Asia", it is one of the greatest gathering of plant species on earth.
Orchids explode in fanciful colors and floral designs, while carnivorous Nepenthes plants, also called monkey's cup, entice insects to fall into their liquid traps. The variety is stunning with over 1500 orchids, nine pitcher plant species, 52 palms, 30 ginger plants, 24 rhododendrons, 10 bamboos, 78 fruit-bearing Ficus, over 600 ferns and three species of the glorious Rafflesia.
The reason for so many botanical treasures relates to the range of habitats along different altitudes from forested lowland valleys to high mountaintop ridges. Tropical trees tower in mixed dipterocarp forest, with oaks, laurels, conifers and myrtles common in lower montane (below 2350 meters).
The moss laden and stunted, twisted forests of the montane zone (3000 meters) characterize the harsh, windy conditions of high mountain habitats.
Explore these habitats to discover the flora richness of the rainforest that paints the natural canvas of tropical jungles.
Standing guard over Sabah, Mount Kinabalu is Malaysia's iconic natural landmark. A massive, non-volcanic, granite block, the mountain dominates the landscape and lures travellers to its broad and reachable peak.
If you've never climbed a mountain, then Mount Kinabalu is a good place to start. Novice climbers, with good fitness and stamina, can reach Low's Peak via the popular Summit Trail. Taking two days from Park Headquarters, the trek to the top requires no technical skills, just toughness to deal with the bitter cold, wind and rain.
With weatherproof gear and the right attitude, the strenuous walk becomes a scenic wonderland full of odd-shaped pitcher plants, valley vistas, golden rhododendron blooms, tree ferns and bamboos, gnarly mossy forest and sky-filling mountain sightings.
Covered shelters along the trail path provide good rest stops to refresh with energy bars or hot soups. Off the main trail, guides point out species of interest and photographers and birdwatchers can linger to observe a menagerie of wild plants and animals.
It normally takes four to five hours from Park HQ to reach the overnight lodge at Panar Laban (3272 meters) on a steady walk, but add more time for observation.
The final climb to the top starts in the early morning hours to beat the sunrise. Armed with a flashlight, a series of wooden ladders and ropes aids the ascent before the terrain flattens out over endless rock slabs to Low's Peak.
With cloudless and clear skies, one can expect to view Sabah laid out in panoramic splendor before descending from the summit back to the Park HQ all in one day.
Diverse forest habitats provide food and shelter for a great variety of bird life. Over 325 species - half of Borneo's birds - inhabit Mount Kinabalu Park split between the two major groups of lowland birds (less than 1000 meters) and montane birds (over 1000 meters).
Large raptors like the Mountain and Crested
Walk the paths along the forest fringes during the sunny morning hours to hear and see barbets, broadbills, spiderhunters, Bornean stubtails, trogons and treepies, flycatchers and fantails, and magpies and laughingthrushes.
A premier destination for birders, the park mixes common avian fauna with Bornean specialists. Anyone not keen to climb the mountain can surely fill a few days with the birds ... and butterflies and beetles.
Spend time on the forest trails to get a real feel for the biological value of Mount Kinabalu Park. Numerous trails spiderweb out from Park headquarters, at 1500 meters, that follow streams, small hills and ridgelines lasting from a 20 minute stroll to three-hour treks.
Cool mountain air helps to keep jungle trekking pleasant as the trails always offer interesting sideshows of squirrels, orchids, beetles, butterflies, stick and leaf insects, frogs and lizards, leaf-monkeys and wild pigs.
Get your camera ready and pack a pair of binoculars and explore the lower half of Kinabalu Park, especially if the daunting Mt. Kinabalu seems too much to tackle.
Mount Kinabalu Park Trails
Ridgetop Trails (One-way Time)
Kiau View Trail (90 minutes) - Good views of Sabah's west coast from this ridgeline trail on undulating slopes that also provides shelters for breaks. Traversing through mountain forest, it gives you a good introduction into the Mount Kinabalu landscape.
Pandanus Trail (20 minutes) - Set up for the Mountain Running Trophy Race, easy access via the carpark starts this short trek switchbacks up the hill to connect with the Kiau View Trail, where it levels out along the ridgecrest.
Bukit Ular Hillside Trail (30 minutes) - Good mountain vistas and waterfall views reward a climb up steep Bukit Ular after following the trail starting from the Power Station Road and along the slopes of the hillside. The trail exits at the Power Station just before the Timpohon Gate, where the Summit Trail begins.
Bundu Tuhan View Trail (30 minutes) - An easy climb to a ridgetop shelter provides a panoramic view of the southern mountain range that includes the second highest peak in Sabah (Trus Madi, 2642 meters). The trail meets with the Liwagu Trail to return near the Conservation Centre entry point.
Bukit Tupai Trail (30 minutes) - If good weather prevails, head on this path that crosses the Silau-Silau stream to lead up the slope to a ridge to a shelter with good views of the headquarters area below and excellent vistas of Mt. Kinabalu above. Two other trails join up at the same spot for more trekking options and trekking in early mornings and evenings increases chances of bird sightings.
Bukit Burong Trail (40 minutes) - A gradual climb to a shelter at the ridgetop, where panoramic views of Mt. Kinabalu, headquarters and the Liwagu valley provide plenty of photo opportunities. This trail also connects with other trails with hill forests, streams and dry ridgetops. The early bird catches more bird species on the aptly name Bird Hill Trail.
Mempening Trail (30 minutes) - Cutting through dense oak-chestnut forests to Bukit Tupai, the trail starts half-way up the Power Station Road and follows the ridgetop that gives ample views of the Liwagu valley area and headquarters.
Stream Trails (One-way Time)
Silau-Silau Trail (50 minutes) - Follow the stream through the mossy covered trees and rocks for cool passage all the way to the Liwagu River junction near the overhanging rock cave. It bypasses the Mountain Garden and traverses near to Bukit Burong and Buki Tapai trails for alternative pathways.
Liwagu River Trail (3 hours) - A less travelled path that increases chances for wildlife sightings, you can choose to follow the upriver over narrow valleys, high bluffs and ridge forests or start at the upper end at the Power Station Road and walk down. Good for birdwatching on the lower end and finding tracks of wild pigs and barking deer.
Mount Kinabalu Park: Photographic Gallery
Mount Kinabalu Park: Getting There
A scenic two-hour drive from Sabah's capital, Kota Kinabalu, travels the 90 kilometers on tarmac roads to reach the entrance of the park on its southern boundary. Located at over 1500 meters in elevation, the park maintains a cool climate for a refreshing change from hot and humid lowland destinations.
Buses and taxis servicing the Kudasang to Ranau route leave from the Long Distance Bus Station near Merdeka Field. Catch a return bus from Mount Kinabalu Park from across the park entrance. The Reception Office can assist with booking taxis to return to Kota Kinabalu, but passengers must wait for vehicles to fill-up before leaving the park.
Rental car hire in Kota Kinabalu can be arranged with hotels and travel agencies.
Start at the Reception Office to make arrangements for accommodations, guide and porter services and transportation to and from Timpohon Gate, the start of the Summit Trail. It is advisable to plan ahead and arrange all requirements at the Head Office in Kota Kinabalu for climbing Mt. Kinabalu to avoid disappointment during busy school holidays and other peak periods. Follow the paved one-way loop road to living quarters and other park facilities. In the complex there are two restaurants, a sundry shop and public pay phones.
The Visitors Centre houses a permanent exhibition and provides multimedia presentations, with special programs for visiting school groups. Guided walks by park staff are also available.
Mount Kinabalu Park accommodation ranges from private chalets and semi-luxury suites for couples, small groups and families to dormitories for backpackers and budget travellers. All properties are managed by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.
Contact:Sutera Sanctuary Lodges
G.15, Ground Floor, Wisma Sabah
88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Telephone: 6088-243629, 6088-245742
(online booking available)
Mount Kinabalu Park Reception CounterTelephone: 6088-889098
Sabah ParksHead Office
Tel: 6088-211881 or 212719
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