Malaysia’ First World Heritage Site near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Kinabalu National Park is arguably one of Sabah’s most popular nature attractions, enticing most visitors to Sabah to either climb the mountain, relish the park’s cool, fresh air, soak in the hot water springs or discover unusual plant and animal life.
The park is so diverse, not just in fauna and flora, but also in ways to explore it, that anything is possible; from a short, hour long visit, to spending 3 days or more and not see it all. You’ll find more information about Kinabalu National Park below.
Enjoy Kinabalu Park With Our Ready-made Programs
More About Malaysia’s 1st UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mt. Kinabalu’s ecosystems are very special with climatic zones ranging from tropical lowland forests to polar type summit zones.
This great mountain is an icon of natural history and successful conservation whilst maintaining its position as one of the most accessible of high mountains to climb. Many people visit the mountain on bird watching trips as the variety of bird life is extraordinary.
Rising to 4,095m it is one of the highest peaks in South East Asia, and the highest in Malaysia and Borneo. As part of the protected Kinabalu National Park of some 753.7 sq.km, its biological diversity has captivated scientists the world over.
The park was established in 1964 before the droves of tourists began to visit. Restrictions were put in place, which kept general visitation to only some parts and routes, which to this day has kept human activities in the area to a minimum, while still offering the visitor plenty to see.
Kinabalu National Park or Taman Negara Kinabalu in Malay, was designated Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000 for its “outstanding universal values” and the role as one of the most important biological sites in the world.
The Birth Of A Mountain
Geologists reveal the story of the mountain began 40 million years ago, when the north-western area of Sabah was still part of the sea basin. At this time marine sediments were accumulating and forming layers over the earth’s crust.
Zones of weakness allowed molten granite material to be pushed upwards, at the same time forming what is now known at the Crocker Range and Trus Madi Highlands of Sabah.
Mount Kinabalu was born only 1.5 million years ago when this mass of granite rock began to rise and break through the overlying crusts of softer rocks.
It is thought that 100,000 years ago the mountain was probably several hundred metres higher than today when ice-caps crowned the summit. Erosion by heavy rains, ice and glaciers shaped the new mountain.
Kinabalu itself is still rising, one estimate is 5mm per year and the landslides on its slopes and rock debris beneath its peaks are evidence of the still-continuing erosion.
Together with the summit pinnacles, the other major feature of Kinabalu’s massif is the awe-inspiring chasm of Low’s Gully, falling almost 912m from the summit plateau.
Most of Kinabalu’s stunning flora and fauna is unique to the area and found nowhere else in the world. Such as the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world and certain Nepenthes (pitcher plant) and more than 1,000 species of orchids.
So You Want To Climb Mount Kinabalu?
We have climbed Mt Kinabalu several times over the last years and have seen prices soaring.
Having said that, when you compare the price to other mountain peak climbs throughout the world, the prices are quite reasonable. Most people climb in 2 days staying overnight at Laban Rata Resthouse, which works well as the summit climb is completed just before sunrise.
Nowadays, due to its accessibility and attraction, it’s very difficult to secure accommodation at Laban Rata. It is possible to book the trip direct, but people often find it easier to go through an agent who will also organize transport from Kota Kinabalu, guides, entrance fees and permits.
Laban Rata Resthouse (pictured to the right) is pretty full year round, so with us you can now book up to 12 months in advance.
Laban Rata Resthouse is the only heated accommodation at 3272.7m where climbers stay overnight. Other options are not heated and dormitory rooms with bunk beds are the only options at all three huts.
Raja Lodge (pictured above left) and Nepenthes Lodge (pictured below left) are two accommodation types at the Kinabalu Park Head Quarters, which is at the bottom, near the start of the climb.
Many people stay in this area the night before the climb, which helps with acclimatisation. At 1,525m it’s a beautiful slice of nature in which to relax and, if you’re not climbing to the summit, there are some excellent trails within the park, ranging from tough to flat and easy. Maps can be found at the park HQ office.
A visit to the botanical garden is a must. The park is conceptualized on a conservation method in which plants are extracted from the wild for conservation, research and education purposes. The park itself is a great day out, even if climbing the mountain is not on the agenda.
For those intrepid explorers wishing to climb, have a look at our Climbing Mt. Kinabalu Package.
Kinabalu Park is located 88km from Kota Kinabalu (KK) the Head Quarters within the park sits to the immediate right of the entrance.
All buses and minivans running between KK and Ranau or Sandakan pass by the main entrance to the park, from where it’s a 100m walk to park HQ. Air-con coaches leave from the long distance (LD) bus station in KK from 7 – 9am everyday.
We recommend buying a ticket and checking timetables the day before you wish to travel. Tickets can be purchased from the LD bus station.
When returning to KK, just wait by the road opposite the park entrance and a minivan will pass by soon enough, sometimes people share taxi’s that have previously dropped people off.
Getting a taxi from KK to the park is quite expensive but possible, long distance taxi’s (yellow cars) are available form the LD bus station.