Climbing Mount Kinabalu – An Experience of a Lifetime
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the most popular requests by visitors to Sabah, Borneo. It’s easy to understand when you realise what Mount Kinabalu has to offer. Standing at 4,095m above sea level Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Sabah and between the Himalayas and New Guinea. This makes climbing Mount Kinabalu a big personal achievement and is often a tick off a ‘bucket list’ for many climbers. As Mount Kinabalu is home to an amazing variety of flora, you will also be treated to some amazing landscapes and scenery as part of climbing Mount Kinabalu.
This 2-Day Climb via Timpohon Gate follows the standard ‘Timpohan Trail’ to Low’s Peak Summit. You’ll start your trek on day 1 at Timpohan Gate (1,866m a.s.l) at Kinabalu National Park and finish your trek here after trekking down Mount Kinabalu on day 2. The big highlight of climbing Mount Kinabalu is reaching Low’s Peak Summit, ready to watch the sunrise across the Crocker Range on Day 2 of your tour.
Are you ready for a challenge? Climbing Mount Kinabalu is for you!
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is a physical and mental challenge. The climb is recommended for those with a good level of fitness and in good health. Physical preparation is really important to help you more comfortably trek up and down Mount Kinabalu and get the most from this experience. We have included some recommendations from the Alpine Guides Association below for preparing yourself physically for climbing Mount Kinabalu. Good physical preparation provides good mental preparation. Find more tips for surviving climbing Mount Kinabalu with a smile in our Blog.
With this two day trek, you change altitude significantly within a short space of time. To help minimise the risk of altitude sickness, it is advisable to stay in the Kinabalu National Park or a highland resort at Kundasang prior to the climb for high altitude acclimatisation. Alternatively, you could choose a 3-Day Climbing Mount Kinabalu Package which offers the first night staying at Kinabalu Park Headquarters.
Still up for the challenge of climbing Mount Kinabalu? Great! After all, you have not really experienced Sabah Borneo and all its wonders without climbing Mount Kinabalu!
Mount Kinabalu awaits you.
Trip Itinerary – Climbing Mount Kinabalu | via Timpohan Gate (2 Days)
The outline itinerary below is based upon booking the optional return transfers from Kota Kinabalu with this Climbing Mount Kinabalu via Timpohan Gate (2 Days) package.
06:00 – 06:30hrs: Pick up from your hotel in central Kota Kinabalu and start your journey to Kinabalu Park Headquarters. The journey will take approximately 2 hours, passing by villages and paddy fields as you drive along the Crocker Mountain Range. There will be a brief stop at Nabalu Market for an opportunity to buy local fruits.
08:00 – 08:30hrs: Upon arrival, you will register at Kinabalu Park’s office to climb Mount Kinabalu and meet with your licensed mountain guide. The real adventure begins as you proceed to the Power Station / Timpohon Gate by coach for the start of your 2-day climb of Mount Kinabalu. The average Climber will take 5 to 6 hrs) to trek from Timpohon Gate to your Mountain Hut (Panalaban). It will be continual trekking all the way up with short (5 minutes) rests at each of the checkpoints you pass by on the route up to your Hut. Trek at your normal pace – not too fast, not too slow – to help climb Mount Kinabalu feel as comfortable as possible and manage your energy levels. The trek will pass by different vegetation zones, from Oak and Chestnut trees at the start to mossy and eventually to alpine-type of vegetation.
Between 13:00 – 16:00hrs (depending on your trekking pace): You will arrive at 3272m at Panalaban, where the Huts are located. Check into your accommodation. It’s then time to relax and enjoy the spectacular mountain landscape in the evening. Your dinner (buffet style) will be at Laban Rata Restaurant. Overnight at Laban Rata Resthouse (unheated dorms).
02:00hrs: Wake up early for supper before continuing climbing Mount Kinabalu towards Low’s Peak summit @ 4,095m. The climb takes about three hours, but you will be well rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sunrise along the horizon (weather permitting). For this last part of climbing Mount Kinabalu, you’ll only need to pack your essentials, such as warm clothing, sunblock, water, headlights, gloves, etc. You can leave the rest of your stuff at the base camp. Your headlight/torch will be essential for this part of the trek, as it will be dark during your ascent.
07:00hrs (after sunrise): Descend back to Laban Rata Restaurant for a well-earned breakfast before checking out of your Hut. After check out, you will trek back down to the Timpohon Gate (estimated arrival is between 13:00hrs to 15:00hrs for the average Climber). Upon arrival at Timpohan Gate, you will be transferred by minibus to the Park Headquarters to collect your certificate of achievement – congratulations. You just succeeded in climbing Mount Kinabalu!! Enjoy a nice buffet lunch at Balsam restaurant located at Kinabalu Park Headquarters.
By latest 17:00hrs: Depart for Kota Kinabalu city/hotel, a ~2-hour transfer (depending on traffic).
Explore the landscape at 4095 metres.
Trip Pre-requisites – Climbing Mount Kinabalu
There are no set age limits for this trek for Mount Kinabalu climbers. You need to be in good health, or you have approval from your doctor if you are on any medication for climbing Mount Kinabalu. It is recommended for children to be at least ten years old due to the numerous steps and steep slopes. Similarly, elderly climbers need to be in good health and fitness level to attempt the climb.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu requires good physical strength and endurance. The Alpine Guides Association recommends, “The best preparation for mountain sports always involves a good amount of cardiovascular exercise outdoors (running, cycling, mountain biking etc.) and getting out for long days in the hills whenever possible. If you do the amounts of regular weekly cardiovascular exercise during the 2-3 months leading up to your trip, you should be reasonably well prepared.”
It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommended that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Severe Anaemia, Peptic Ulcers, Epileptic Fits, Obesity (Overweight), Chronic Asthma, Muscular Cramps, Hepatitis (Jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climber.
- 1-night basic accommodation at Laban Rata’s mountain huts or a similar dormitory (sleep in a shared, unheated dormitory). A blanket, Bed, Bed Sheet and Pillow are provided.
- At Laban Rata, coffee & tea will only be provided complimentary during Breakfast & Supper.
- Dedicated Licensed Mountain Guide per booking, e.g. if two people book a trip together with Borneo Dream, you have a Mountain Guide looking after just the two of you during your trek up and down Mount Kinabalu.
- There will be a maximum of five Climbers per Mountain Guide.
- Sabah Parks ‘I made it!’ Certificate
- 1 Packed lunch for 1st day of your climb from Timpohon Gate
- 1 Buffet dinner at Laban Rata
- 1 Night at Pendant Hut
- 1 Early morning continental breakfast/supper at Pendant Hut
- 1 Late morning American Breakfast at Pendant Hut
- Sabah Parks Entrance Fee
- Sabah Parks Climbing Insurance
- Sabah Parks Climbing Permit
- Sabah Parks Private/Dedicated Climbing Guide Fees
- Return transfer from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park
- Licensed guide on the minibus to assist you during the first and last part of your tour
- Return transfers from Kinabalu Park HQ to Timpohon Gate
- Breakfast on the 1st day of your tour.
- Any children < 16 years old climbing Mount Kinabalu will require an extra Mountain Guide – Contact us for details and cost.
- Porter service for carrying your rucksack – Advance booking is recommended. Contact us for details and costs.
- Tourism Tax at RM10.00 per room per night, or per dorm bed per night, is payable on check-in at the Kinabalu Park Reception.
- Drinks and meals not specified. Laban Rata Resthouse does NOT provide boiled water for drinking/refill to climbers. Mineral water and other drinks are available for purchase at the Grocery Counter.
- Personal Travel Insurance and personal spend.
Recommended Packing List For Climbing Mount Kinabalu
Pack as light as you can for climbing Mount Kinabalu (it will help make your trek easier for you). Your extra luggage can be stored at Kinabalu Park HQ at a nominal fee of RM10 per piece prior to the climb – let your Guide know when you are registering for the climb.
ESSENTIALS for climbing Mount Kinabalu:
- Waterproof backpack to store your items
- Good, comfortable trekking or running shoes with good grip (e.g. hiking boots, walking shoes or trekking shoes)
- Warm clothing (like a fleece jacket)/Long sleeves shirt/Hiking pants – layering your clothes works well as the temperature changes significantly during the ascent/descent.
- Waterproof Jacket/Windbreaker
- Extra clothing and socks (you’ll want to sleep in dry clothes)
- Small towel
- Hand gloves (waterproof)
- Winter hat (helps prevent heat loss, especially at night and in the early morning)
- Disposable raincoats
- Head torch (compulsory)
- Personal toiletries
- Refillable water bottle (0.5 – 1 Litre)
- High energy food such as chocolates, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars
- An adventurous spirit!
RECOMMENDED for climbing Mount Kinabalu:-
- Walking/trekking poles – it will make trekking down Mount Kinabalu more comfortable
- Medication such as headache tablets or altitude sickness tablets, plasters
- Tissue paper / Toilet roll
- Sun protection – Sunglass, sunscreen lotion, SPF lip balm (beware of the strong UV rays)
- Insect / Mosquito repellent
- Camera with waterproof bag
- Sandals / Slippers for use in your overnight accommodation
- Plastic bags
Notes for Climbing Mount Kinabalu
The trip prices are valid for trips up to 31st March 2024. For trips after this date contact us for a quote. This 2-day Climb Via Timpohan Gate tour can only be booked a maximum of 30 days before the trip date. All other Mount Kinabalu tours can be booked further in advance. There is a maximum of 102 climb permits issued per day by Sabah Parks for climbing Mount Kinabalu for International visitors. This means there is very limited capacity for climbing Mount Kinabalu and trips quickly get fully booked. Being in good health and good fitness for climbing Mount Kinabalu is very important for this 2-day trek. There will be no health checks conducted by any authorities during your climb registration, so you climb at your own risk. All tours are subject to weather conditions and may be amended without notice for safety reasons.
Rob S, UK (TripAdvisor) –
Best in Borneo! Memories to last a lifetime! – We did the Mount Kinabalu climb Discover Dive through Borneo Dream, as part of our honeymoon. Across our two week trip through Borneo, I can safely say these were two of the top three highlights of our trip and I can’t recommend their service highly enough.
The team are there to look after you from start to finish and were very accommodating for first-timers like us (including my wife who took a few attempts to jump off the boat!)
A big thanks to Amir, Luke & the rest of the team for looking after us during our stay – we’re off to get our open water diving licenses!!