Mount Kinabalu, located in the Crocker Mountain Range in Sabah, is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia (between the Himalayas and New Guinea) and the 20th most prominent mountain in the world by topographic prominence. The summit of Mount Kinabalu, Low’s Peak, is located at 4095.2 m a.s.l. (6.075° N, 116.558° E). Climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the most popular requests by visitors to Sabah, Borneo and one of the top ‘bucket list’ destinations in the world. Read on to find out what makes Mount Kinabalu so special and what is involved in climbing this famous mountain.
Mount Kinabalu, located in Kinabalu Park, has UNESCO World Heritage status and is home to the amazing biodiversity of plants including rare orchids, the famous Rafflesia and pitcher plants. This means as you trek up and down Mount Kinabalu you will pass by beautiful plant life and if you’re lucky you will see some rare plant species. Mount Kinabalu and the surrounding pristine forests in Kinabalu Park are home to between 5,000 – 6,000 species of plants, 326 species of birds, and more than 100 mammalian species identified. Wow! The flora changes by altitude with rainforest found at the lower levels of Mount Kinabalu, between 2,600 to 3,200 m is a layer of trees, mosses and ferns and finally, on the higher rocker parts of Mount Kinabalu, many of the world’s richest variety of orchids are found.
Mount Kinabalu, or ‘Aki Nabalu’ as it’s often referred to by locals, holds special significance for Sabahans. Mount Kinabalu has a special place in the local folklore as the local people here in Sabah, Borneo believe that the souls of their ancestors have gone up the mountain and it holds a special reverence. Sabahans treat Mount Kinabalu with massive respect and expect visitors to show the same level of respect to Mount Kinabalu too.
Climb Mount Kinabalu and reach the summit of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia
Currently, there are only 137 climb permits per day issued by Sabah Parks (of which 102 are allocated to International visitors / non-Malaysians). With the massive demand for climbing Mount Kinabalu and limited capacity in terms of permits issued, this does mean trips for climbing Mount Kinabalu get fully booked very quickly. If you are lucky enough to secure a permit to climb Mount Kinabalu it means you will be one of a very small number in the world who has reached the summit of the highest mountain in Malaysia and in Southeast Asia.
The route for trekking up Mount Kinabalu is well marked and is known for being challenging. Ranau Trail is the most popular route and the trips for climbing Mount Kinabalu follow this trail. Timpohon Gate located at 1,866m a.s.l in Kinabalu National Park is the start and ending point for all climbers following the Ranau Trail. The trek from Timpohan Gate to Low Peak’s summit is 8.72km in total. It is a ~ 6km trek from Timpohan Gate to the Lodges on Mount Kinabalu (Laban Rata Resthouse or Pendant Hut at 3,270 metres a.s.l.) and this typically takes between 4 – 6 hours to complete by Climbers. The first 4km from Timpohan Gate is along a moderately steep trail with stairs and some rocky paths. The last 2km towards the Lodges is entirely rocky. From Laban Rata, the climb to Low Peak’s summit is 2.7 km and takes between 2 – 4 hours to complete with most of the trek over smooth rock faces (with steep stairs and roped sections).
Book your Mount Kinabalu Climb with Borneo Dream – we provide a Dedicated Mountain Guide Per Booking
For those who are thinking of climbing Mount Kinabalu, there are two broad choices you need to make to help you choose the best trip for you (based on permit availability of course):-
Whether you go for a 2 day or a 3-day trip. The 2 days 1 night (2D1N) trip is the minimum time required to complete a Mount Kinabalu climb. For 3 days 2 nights (3D2N) standard trip option, you spend the first night at Kinabalu Park (foot of Mount Kinabalu) which usually helps climbers to acclimatize to the altitude. For the 3D2N Via Ferrata Mount Kinabalu trip, you spend two nights at Pendent Hut breaking up the trek to the summit. Choose your type of climbing package – Non-Ferrata (standard trip) or Via Ferrata. Via Ferrata offers an added adventure to your Mount Kinabalu climb and there are two Via Ferrata options to choose from – Walk the Torq or Low’s Peak Circuit.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is an option for those in good physical condition, up for a challenge and with strong willpower. You do not need mountaineering experience however, remember you are trekking up and down a mountain and not going for a stroll in a park. It is highly recommended you complete a physical training program for 1 – 2 months before climbing Mount Kinabalu. This will help you get the most from your trek at this amazing location and enjoy the changing scenery and awesome views along the trail.
The temperature ranges from a comfortable 20-25°C at the main park to something approaching freezing near the top (depending on the weather) so layering is important and having warm clothing and windproof gear helps you stay warm as you near the Summit. Whilst the trek up Mount Kinabalu will feel challenging, the trek down back to Timpohan Gate will feel harder due to your legs being tired and the pressure on your knees and joints. The use of walking sticks can provide invaluable support especially when trekking down Mount Kinabalu and will make it feel more comfortable.
Once you’ve climbed Mount Kinabalu you will have had a fairly challenging workout so expect your legs to be sore for a few days afterwards. Maybe plan in some chill-out time after your climb, a nice massage and maybe gentle excises like yoga or snorkelling. You’ll also deserve a hearty meal or two and a celebratory drink ;-).
You’ll find information below on the range of Mount Kinabalu tours we offer and can help arrange for you. Remember, no visit to Borneo is complete without trekking to the summit of Mount Kinabalu and it will provide you with memories to last a lifetime! Buy your Mount Kinabalu Climbing Tour Today!