Try to get your hands on a copy of the brochure from tourist information center. I got mine when I touched down at Kota Kinabalu Airport (Terminal 2). It has detail information about the Park, time of Guided Tour, explainations of the trail, shelters information, map of Summit trail, etc. I found it useful to read it and get myself prepared before starting the hike.
* please click on the image to view the complete cover of the brochure.
As told by my climbing guide, the best time to climb Mt Kinabalu is March and April. The rainy season falls from August until early October. (I went there at the end of October and it is still raining!) However, weather in the mountain is unpredictable. So, it really depends on your luck.
If you would like to see wild orchid, go there in December.
Yes, everyone who reaches the summit and check-in at Sayat-sayat Check Point is entitle to buy this certificate. Ths coloured certificate costs RM10 and it is a proof that you have made it to the top. The guard at Sayat-sayat checkpoint will ask you if you would like to purchase it on the way down from the summit. When you arrive at the park headquarters, it is ready for your pick-up.
Fondest memory: From the beginning to the top!!
Kinabalu Park doesn't officially have entrance fees. Instead they will ask you to pay a Conservation Fee, basically the same, but at least you know where the money is used for.
- Non-Malaysian tourists, older then 18 years, pay 15 RM conservation fee
- Malaysian tourists, older then 18 years, pay only 3 RM conservation fee
Like many other attractions in Malaysia there is a big difference between the local and the foreign rates. Kinabalu Park is not the only one with such a pricing.
These porters are super strong & efficient even at such terrain. You can hire them with very reasonable charges & it cost RM6.6/KG load for return trip.
Some of these porters move so fast that they pass me & gone disappear at next turn before I manage to pull me camera out of my pocket.
Note: My climb was made in 2004, the rate per kg to hire the porter may be increase by a little (judging by the inflation for past 2 years), but it should not be too far off.
These boards serve as milestone & it keep you motivated to go even faster & further.
Well, if you read this tip prior to your climb, you will probably dishearten if you struggler to climb the first 6km until you arrive at Laban Rata.
The good news is everyone with considerable fit will be able to make it to the top so long you keep yourself warm and not catching cold before the next morning climb.
This is probably one of the best backpacks that able to withstand up to 40kg of load daily for long usage too. Some of these porters just carry this sack & make a living out of it.
This gunny sack is use for storing & carrying load that are shapeless & without proper handlers. Normally each porter will consolidate all the shapeless packages from his customers after the weighing and if you pass them your backpacks, they will hang in front of them. Unless your bag is small, then they will likely to put it inside this make shift backpack.
There are 4 certificates that you can buy from the Kinabalu Park after you've climbed the Mt Kinabalu:
1) A colored certificate certifying that you've reached the peak. (RM10)
2) A colored certificate certifying that you've reached the peak via the Mesilau trail (RM2)
3) A colored certificate certifying that you've visited the Park. (RM5)
4) A non-colored certificate if you're not able to reach the Peak
Of course for (1) and (2), you will need to reach the peak in order to get it, else you can only get (4).
(3) is for anybody who has visited the Kinabalu Park.
Which trail to pick when hiking up to Laban Rata? If you're a first timer, ppl fr the Kinabalu Park will probably tell you that first timer should go to the Timpohon trail. However, I would recommend Mesilau trail. Though it is 1.7km longer, but it's worth the time coz the scenery is much more better than Timpohon. And Timpohon trails are mostly stairs all the way up. But Mesilau, you'll get to go down sometimes.
If you're not physically weak, and occasionally exercise, then I think being a first timer, it's no problem to go on the Mesilau trail. It's worth it.
For those going to climb Mt Kinabalu for the first time, this is a must read website. It has all the information you need for preparation before the climb and a lot of details about the Mt. Kinabalu, eg. has a very detail description of Summit trail (Timpohon) and Mesilau trail, detail weather information, transportation and loads of other useful information.
Everyone can climb and although the mountain is not so difficult to climb, some level of fitness is certainly required. It is not the walk in the park as the press release would have it. Having said that, I saw a ten year old and an elderly man on two crutches on the mountain. Here are some rough and dirty idea of what to expect:
1. No accomodation at Laban Rata means no permit to climb. If Park HQ tells you that it is full on the mountain, just hang around and ask again. There are usually cancellations. You might get to climb a little later.
2. Fees: Park entrance, permit, guide, transportation to the start of the trail at Timpohon (there's also Mesilau but its a longer trek), insurance.
3. Bring layers, gloves (which you can buy at the Timpohon gate), energy drink, chocs, nuts, rain protection for yourself and luggage, torch (preferably one you can wear on your head or around your neck), plastic bag for your clothes inside your luggage, toilet paper, dolly noodles if you want to do your own cooking on the mountain, lip gloss
4. It gets very windy on the second morning of the climb as the vegetation barrens out. IBe careful if you are wearing contacts. I've seen climbers with lens 'lost' inside their socket or blown off. It can also get very slippery in places - even if it hasn't rained.
5. Life uphill is never easy bit I'm not sure about the downhill either. it will be hell on your knees as you discover, and quite possibly grow, a new set of muscles. If you can still feel your legs, that is... 'Ow!' is also a word commonly heard at Park HQ after the descend.
One of the beautiful things about the track is that there are a lot of beautiful birds around. You can hear them everywhere, but it is hard to get a close up of these creatures. They are perched really high up on the tree tops. Their flitting motion also makes it really difficult to get a still shot, picture perfect and posed.
I'm an amateur photographer, but here is a tip, especially for digital photographers. If you spot a bird or a flock in the trees, set your camera on a very high resolution, and try to zoom into the area where the birds are. You may not be able to zoom in to the bird itself, but the camera will do the 'seeing' for you. Just snap within the bird zone. Snap at several angles, take several shots (digital costs you nothing but memory space).
Then, when you are editing, you can zoom into the bird zone and 'seek' out the birds. My original photo and the one I have included looks very different. This one is probably a tenth of the whole picture, but I managed to capture a bird in its natural surroundings.
To test out my theory, I did the camera shoot at another flock of birds, and this shot came through.
This technique can also be used ina 'noisy' setting when you do not know what to focus on and there are lots of things happening all over the place. Also, if you do not feel comfrtable zooming into a specific subject matter, you can take a general shot and then focus in when you are editing. Have fun with taking photos during your climb.
A guide is a must for the climb to the submit. Our guide is Mr. Dapit. He is a friendly good man.. going to retire soon.. 55 years old -- looks young right?!
A guide will usually take groups to Mt. Kinabalu 3 times in a week.. and he has worked here for twenty over years.. wow.. just imagine how many times he has "conquered" (use a big word) the highest peak in SE-Asia.. dun play play..
The fee for mountain guide:
1-3 climbers- RM70
4-6 climbers- RM74
7-8 climbers- RM80
You can actually find your own guide outside Kinabalu park as well. In KK, if you let "somebody" know you will be climbing Mt. Kinabalu, it is always so "coincident" that their family member or friends are working as a lisenced mountain guide and they can give you a good price. Sometimes they will even give you a package- a guide with the transportation for a good price-- but I am not sure how reliable it is.
When you are at Kinabalu park, you have 2 choices for toilet:
1. Before you walk in the park, where the public bus drops you, cross the road to the restaurant. This is your first choice.
2. If you are already inside the park, opposite the HQ is another restaurant. The toilet is inside the restaurant and this is the only toilet you can go if you are not checking in any room.