Hike up one of Southeast Asia's highest peaks
3 day expedition to the summit of Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo
Located in World Heritage Mount Kinabalu National Park, the majestic granite peaks of the mountain, one of the highest in Southeast Asia, rise over 4,000 metres through varying climatic and ecological zones from tropical jungle to montane cloud forest. The views on a clear day from the summit are breathtaking, encompassing Kota Kinabalu Town and the South China Sea to the west, and the foothills leading down to the Kinabatangan Plains to the east.
Although a challenging climb, it does not require any particular technical expertise. A good level of fitness is nonetheless essential. However, it can be a trip that is difficult to organise independently, as climbing permits and accommodation are limited, and climbing with a guide is compulsory. Our 3-day package makes it easy for you, as we arrange all transfers, permits, accommodation and guides. All you need is a sense of adventure, a good level of physical fitness and a head for heights.
This Mount Kinabalu extension starts and finishes in Sabah’s state capital Kota Kinabalu so is, therefore, a suitable add-on to either our 2-week Borneo Adventure to Sarawak and Sabah or our shorter Sabah, Land Below the Wind tour.
Timing of the trip is a tricky question as rains can occur at any time of the year in these equatorial climes and local micro-climates on and around the mountain may contradict broader weather patterns. Generally speaking the driest months are March and April with November and December being statistically the wettest and July to September the hottest. Be prepared for a certain element of risk, weather-wise, at any time of the year then and note that access to the mountain is curtailed during periods of bad weather. Bad weather doesn’t usually last long so, ideally, we’d suggest allowing for a bit of flexibility with your departure date and if that means hanging around in Kota Kinabalu for a couple of days you have the Marine Park and its archipelago just off-shore.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu - transfer to the park HQ and explore the lower trails
You will be collected from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu and driven the 2-2.5 hours up Kinabalu National Park. Here you will be checked into your accommodation at the base of the mountain. Kinabalu was designated as one of the first national parks in Malaysia back in 1964 and is recognised as one of the most important ecological sites in the world due to its rich variety of flora and fauna with over 4,500 plant and animal species. The afternoon is free to explore the self-guided lower trails of Kinabalu Park or visit the Botanical Gardens. You can leave large luggage at Kinabalu Park HQ.
Porters are available at an extra charge, and are arranged locally on day 1.
Overnight: Kinabalu National Park Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Mount Kinabalu - begin our ascent
After breakfast, you will be met by your climbing guide and begin the ascent. We will take a short minibus ride to the start of the trail at Timpohon Gate from where we commence hiking. The first 4km are quite moderate and there are rest huts along the way every kilometre or so.: There’s no rush at all, so take your time and enjoy the magnificent temperate rainforest. Our destination is the Laban Rata Lodge at 3,273m where we will be overnighting and from where, on a clear day, you can enjoy spectacular sunsets. Accommodation is in dorm rooms with shared bathrooms.
Occasionally in bad weather the park rangers will close the gate to the summit due to concerns over safety. If this happens we will have to cancel our summit climb.
Day pack 30-35 litres
Change of clothes
Personal first aid kit
Several layers to take on and off during the climb since temperatures vary considerably
Warm clothes, it's often very cold on the summit.
Overnight: Park lodge Transport: Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 3 - Mount Kinabalu - the summit and descent
We rise around 2 a.m. in order to catch the sunrise on the summit. Not an easy walk but you will feel a huge sense of achievement and, depending on your fitness levels, allow between 2 and 4 hours. (Even if you are very fit, you will start to feel the altitude and become short of breath). The trail is marked by a white rope that you will need to hold onto with both hands on steep sections of the trail, whilst the last part of the trek is a scramble over large boulders to reach the summit at 4,095m. We follow the same trail down over granite towards Laban Rata from where, after a well-earned breakfast, we hit the trail and start our descent. We should arrive back at Kinabalu Park mid-afternoon where you can get a simple lunch from the Balsam Café before your transfer back to Kota Kinabalu.
Extra accommodation in Kota Kinabalu before or after your tour is available on request
Overnight: Departure Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Superb views, spectacular flora and of course a sense of achievement on this 3 day expedition to the summit of Sabah's Mount Kinabalu
- Climb one of Southeast Asia's highest and most spectacular peaks
- Flora and fauna of Mount Kinabalu National Park
- Experienced local mountain guides and additional porters if required
- This extension can be enjoyed before or after either of our Borneo tours
- Picturesque sunset and sunrise views
- Fully inclusive of all permits, fees, transfers, accommodation and meals
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