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An Incredible Rain Forrest Experience At the Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park

Comments by tourists about the Kinabalu Park

“Awesome experience!”

Originally I plan to climb Mount Kinabalu, but I hadn’t made my booking so we decided to do some hikes in Kinabalu Park. We stayed in Sutera Lodge that is quite comfortable place to stay directly in a park.

There is enough trails to spend two days hiking in a jungle. When it is raining, you really find out what does it mean a rain forest 🙂 including leeches. We haven’t expected them so it was not nice surprise. I recommend to stay over night to listen a voice of jungle in night.

Visited April 2014

forest at kinabalu Park

A small stream within the Kinabalu Park.

“Educational & Interesting Tour through the Park & along the way”

3 of us joined Amazing Borneo Tour on this day tour covering Tamparuli village, National Park and Canopy walk and Poring hot spring. I must say that the guide, Luq, is very knowledgeable and professional in conducting the tour.

The trip started with a visit to Tamparuli village, which also gave us a chance to walk across the suspension bridge and enjoyed a local delights, the tasty noodles. The walk in the park, which included the canopy walk, gave us a chance to breath in fresh air and view various vegetation. Luq showed her knowledge and “sharp-eye” here where she named many of the plants, flowers, ferns etc and spotted several small plants/flowers that we normally neglected, such as the rabbit orchid, sexy orchid, weird looking crawlies etc.

We arrived at the Poring Hotspring slightly late and the reception had closed. Luq helped to persuade the care keeper to make provision for us to enjoyed at least 30min use of hotspring in private huts. Kudos to Luq.

We were also fortunate that Luq spotted the Rafflesian was blooming nearby where we were. It is rare to have such a sighting of this large flower.

Overall, we were very happy to have taken the tour from Amazing Borneo Tours. It was professionally conducted and well planned with flexibility to accommodate any minor changes, such as visit to see the Rafflesian and having a short dip in the Poring hotspring.Thank you Luq and Amazing Borneo Tour’s staff.

Visited March 2014

trees at kinabalu park

Some rare trees without skin are seen within the forest at the Kinabalu Park.

“Cool, refreshing and naturally wet”

We are 3 in a family. We rented a car (a Perodua MyVi 1.5) for Rm160 a day while petrol costed us a mere Rm50 to do a round trip from our hotel in KK town to the park and back. It was very economical with even enough fuel left for a city tour after sunset! Our trip also included a visit to Poring Hot Springs and if time had permitted, we would also have stopped by at the Sabah Tea plantation.

You should start your journey early, preferably by 8am so that you can cover all 3 attractions in a day before sunset. It is much more economical, flexible and fun to do it this way than to book a trip with a tour agent for about Rm180 per pax and follow a rigid schedule. We had the flexibility to stop by along stalls to shop for souvenirs, t-shirts and snacks, time to relieve whenever necessary, rest stop or take snap shots/movies of the local scenery and flexible with as much time as needed at each scenic spot.

It was very rainy and overcast when we got up there. Obviously we did not have good view of the mountain peaks. There is a small admission fee at the entrance to the complex and this fee also covers entrance to Poring Hot springs. The surrounding air was cool and refreshing, the forests all around were lush and green and the misty environment invoking a mysterious yet serene feeling to the place.

Thankfully we had no plans for mountain tracking as the outdoor trail would have been muddy, slippery and dangerous. However we enjoyed the journey there as much as our time spent at the Natural History Museum, the souvenir shop and walking leisurely around KK Park Complex. The visit was well worth it, walking in the rain and experiencing nature just the way it is.

Visited January 2014

wild berries at kinabalu park

Some wild berries spotted within the forest at the Kinabalu Park.

“Worth a visit”

We joined the tour via the hotel after shopping around which included an English speaking guide, lunch and the Poring hot springs with a canopy walk for 70 MR / person in an air con mini bus. The taxi quoted us 450 MR without a guide and no lunch. Other travel companies quoted the same as the hotel.

Having a guide makes all the difference with their educational commentaries. I liked the country side scenery, botanical garden walk, lunch and the opportunity to see the Raflessia flower in bloom (extra cost of 30 MR / person). The Poring hot springs was a disappointment as it was too over crowded and not particularly aesthetically inviting.

The uphill muddy slippery climb to the Poring hot spring canopy walk was off putting but it was a good experience for people walking it for the first time. The 3 hour drive return to Kota Kinabalu was very tiring.

Visited November 2013

wild banana at kinabalu park

Some wild banana spotted within the forest at the Kinabalu Park.

“Great to be in lush green surroundings”

The rather imposing and sweeping entrance to the Kinabalu Park is quite intimidating. You need to go in by car and preferable drive between the attractions: attractions are rather far flung otherwise. The park entrance is actually located at a slightly higher level from the road, so the trianglular roof of the stair covering and the signage are attractions in themselves! At the top of the steps (or end of the road, if you are in a taxi or car) is a booth where you buy your tickets.

The park is a sweeping expanse of rainforest with the Mt. Kinabalu towering in the background. However, cloud cover most of the time means you can hardly see the majestic mountain. It was fortunate I photographed Mt. KK itself before having breakfast. Over breakfast, we could see the mountain towering above us all the time. I decided to wait till we finished breakfast to photograph it more in detail: Big Mistake: the top had already been obscured by cloud cover by then. The next arriving group could not see the mountain at all!

Back to the Kinabalu Park, the most attractive thing here is th Botanical Garden. It’s a good 10min walk from the gift shop at the beginning of the trail (which is quite a distance from the main entrance, mind you) to the gate of the botanical garden. There is a further entrance fee to go in. That is probably one of the highlights of my visit to the Kinabalu Park. It was a delight to spend some 45min wandering through dense tropical rainforest. There are signs indicating the type of bush or plant you are looking it.

Apart from this, there are also walking trails in this area. There is a rather small museum close to the entrance to the Kinabalu Park. You can see it in about 15-20min. Again, accessibility is a problem here, as the Kinabalu Park is located quite some distance from downtown KK.

Visited November 2013

Source: Tripadvisor

wild berries at kinabalu park

Another type of wild berries were spotted at the Kinabalu Park.

About the Kinabalu Park

On the rainforest-clad island of Borneo, you will find Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site and home to Southeast Asia’s tallest peak, Mountain Kinabalu. Revel in the wealth of rare flora and fauna as well as spectacular waterfalls that seem to cascade from heaven itself. From the giant Rafflesia flower and many nocturnal creatures, to the spectacular trek through primordial jungle up misty peaks, and finally above the clouds to catch an awe-inspiring sunrise – this is one adventure you will never forget.

Kinabalu Park, a scenic two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is a popular retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park covers a staggering area of 754 sq km, has four climatic zones and also one of the richest collections of flora in the world. The majestic 4,095-meter Mt. Kinabalu is its main attraction.

Mt Kinabalu

The magnificent Mountain Kinabalu is clearly visible from the Kinabalu park.

The KadazanDusun, Sabah’s largest ethnic group, believe that the mountain is the sacred resting ground of the spirits of their ancestors. The KadazanDusun practice shifting cultivation on the hill slopes and serve as reliable guides an porters to visitors trekking up Mt. Kinabalu.

Attractions of the Kinabalu Park

The gateway to the mountain is the Kinabalu Park Headquarters, situated 1,563 meters on its southern boundary. A variety of accommodations, restaurants and an exhibition center are available here. This is also where you pay the entrance fee to the park and register if you are an overnight visitor or a climber. Popular attractions here are the Mt. Kinabalu Botanical Garden and the Mountain Garden. After viewing the slide shows on the park’s rich history and biodiversity, you can explore the gardens on your own, or join the park’s naturalist on a guided walk.

Kinabalu Park

A view of part of the Kinabalu Park

You do not need any real experience in mountain climbing to conquer the highest peak in Southeast Asia, but it pays to be fit. While the summit of Mt. Kinabalu can be reached in two days, a three-day climb is less strenuous and allows you more time to indulge in the natural beauty of the surroundings. However, champion mountain runners at the annual Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon, proclaimed the ‘toughest mountain race in the world’, have been known to run up and down the mountain in under three hours!

Reaching the Peak of Mt. Kinabalu

To reach Low’s Peak, the summit, climbers can either follow the more popular Summit Trail or the newer Mesilau Trail which begins at the Mesilau Nature Resort. The former, which begins at the Timpohon Gate, roughly 4.5km from the park’s headquarters, is equipped with clear paths and ropes to help you in ascending the step and rocky terrain. On the four to five-hour climb, you will pass Carson’s Falls, three trail shelters and telecommunication towers before reaching Layang Layang (the Place of Swallows) at 2,703 meters above sea level. Here, the Summit Trail meets the more scenic Mesilau Trail.

Lows Peak

The highest point of Mt. Kinabalu – Lows Peak

From Layang Layang, the journey upwards passes the Vilosa Shelter and a helipad where you can catch sweeping vistas of the Summit Plateau. Further on, you will come upon the Paka Cave Shelter where the first explorers slept. You will break journey and spend the night at Laban Rata which offers climbers hostel accommodation and a restaurant before they resume their climb to the peak.

After a short night’s rest, you need to be ready by 3.00am in order to catch the sunrise at the peak. It takes about three hours to reach the peak and there are ladders and ropes to help you over the steeper terrain. En route, marvel at the rugged landscape cliffs, gorges, gulley, plateaus and precipices.

At 4,095.2 meters above sea level and in the freezing darkness, you reach the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. In an almost sacred moment, the dawn of a new day unfolds gloriously before you.

The Hot Spring of Kinabalu

Following the vigorous descent, unwind at Poring’s hot springs, the perfect antidote for tired and aching muscles. Located at Ranau, a short drive from Kinabalu Park, the open air baths contain hot sulphuric minerals said to have curative properties. The nearby Poring Canopy Walkway provides a close-up view of the giant Menggaris treetops.

Those who prefer more down-to-earth attractions can trek through the lowland forests, head for the waterfalls, or explore the Tropical Garden where deer rest in their natural habitat. You may even chance upon the world’s largest flower, the exotic Rafflesia. From the Poring Butterfly Farm and the Poring Orchid Conservation Farm, to the lofty Mount Kinabalu Golf Club at Kundasang, there is much to see and do at Kinabalu Park.

Getting to Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is located about two hours or 90 km from the international gateway of Kota Kinabalu. It is accessible by car, van, coach, four-wheel drive, taxi and even chartered helicopter. There are also regular buses and minibuses plying the 83-km route between Kota Kinabalu and the park. About five km from the park’s main entrance, you will find the town of Kundasang, home to the local Dusun farmers. Here you will find many stalls selling everything from vegetables galore to souvenirs and handicrafts.

Practical Tips

All climbers up Mt. Kinabalu must engage the services of a registered guide on their climb. You can hire a guide and porter by registering at the Park Headquarters with Sabah Parks or Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. Walk-in bookings at the Park are subject to availability, so pre-booking is advisable.

Promotional Rates for Hotels in Kota Kinabalu

Other Attractions Around Kinabalu Park

  • Banggi Island – Banggi island is one of Sabah famous islands for tourism. Its lush greenery, crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and diversified wildlife are some of the attractions. Find out tips on how to get there, location and what to expect. High res pictures are available.
  • Sipadan Island – Sabah has a number of excellent dive spots, with the jewel being the world-famous Sipadan. Its location at the heart of the Indo Pacific Basin makes it one of the richest marine habitats in the world. Here, fascinating sights of turtles, reef sharks and a thrilling 600m drop-off await experience divers. The island was made famous by renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau in his documentary, ‘Ghosts of the Sea Turtle’.
  • White-Water Rafting – Enjoy the heart-stopping experience of contending the rapids! The Padas and Kiulu Rivers are popular for river rafting activities.
  • Diving in Sabah – A ring of 13 coral atolls, Layang-Layang is another world-class dive site of unique character. It offers the best chance to spot hammerhead sharks along with many kinds of pelagic. A cornucopia of fish life and wreck diving are major attractions in Mantanani. Other dive sites include Pulau Tiga, famed as the ‘Survivor Island’ as well as Lankayan and Mataking.
  • The Tip of Borneo – Experience the thrill of standing at land’s end! Simpang Mengayau Bay is the northwestern tip of Borneo. It offers glorious views of the sea and surrounding islands.
  • Can you afford to climb Mountain Kota Kinabalu? – Is the escalating cost of climbing the famous Mt. Kota Kinabalu worth your hard earned money? Read more to find out the justification of the cost increment by the authority.

Please visit the following flickr photostream for more photos of Mountain Kinabalu.


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