Backpacking

Conquering Mount Kinabalu in Borneo

Being one of the region’s highest mountains, Mount Kinabalu is the one of the best outdoor destinations in Southeast Asia. Every year, thousands of people come to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, to conquer this beautiful peak. Locally called Gunung Kinabalu, it stands at a little more than 4000 meters above sea level.

Kinabalu is an imposing mountain. It can be viewed from several parts of the Sabah archipelago, including the city of Kota Kinabalu, which has become its main access point. The mountain is the center piece of Kinabalu National Park. If you decide not to climb to the summit, you will still find the park’s lush surroundings a worthwhile travel destination. At the base of the mountain is the rain-forest where you can enjoy the cooler weather and the various easy walking trails.

Mount Kinabalu’s has become a popular climbing destination because of its accessibility. You do not need special mountain climbing equipment or advanced mountaineering skills to ascend to the top. However, trekking Kinabalu is not a walk in the park. It requires good physical fitness and dedication, but of course, in the end, reaching the top is worth all the preparation, guaranteed!

It usually takes two days to ascend and descend Mt Kinabalu. It is possible to do this trek even if you have no previous experience in climbing mountains. The climb starts at the Timpohon Gate nearby the park headquarters. Then, climbers typically need to stay overnight at one of the guesthouses at Laban Rata, which is around 3000 meters above sea level and is less than the 3 kilometers from the peak.

After spending the night, the your climbing group will need to get up at dawn, to try make it to the summit at Low’s Peak before sunrise. This is the best time to view the spectacular scenery from the peak. After enjoying the sunrise view, your climbing party will then go back to Laban Rata for breakfast. After which, you will descend and hopefully reach the park by mid-afternoon.

Since Mt Kinabalu is such a popular climbing attraction, it is actually hard to organize the trip, accommodations and the climb all on your own. It is very common for prospective climbers to acquire the Kinabalu climbing packages offered by tour companies operating in the area. A package can cost approximately 360 USD or RM1,020; and covers accommodation, transportation, meals, climbing permit, mountain guide, insurance, equipment and other expenses. Taking an organized excursion will keep the hassles out of your climbing vacation.

The best time to climb the mountain is between the months of March and August, which is the dry season for Sabah. During this period, you will have a better chance of avoiding heavy downpour on the mountain, which will make the trek difficult and risky. However, the busiest time for climbing Kinabalu is usually begins from April through June. The wettest months are December and January. Take note a refund is typically not given if bad weather prevents you from climbing the mountain on your chosen date so plan accordingly. Don’t forget to bring a camera to capture your adventure.

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