Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kota Kinabalu Trekking and Solo Tours

summer solo climb for the ultimate summit of Southeast Asia
May 25 -  27, 2013
saturday to tuesday 

"Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb." - Greg Child

Mt. Kinabalu (4,095m) is 38.63% (1,141m) higher than Mt. Apo (2,954m), tallest mountain in the Philippines and 116.07% (4,753m) lower than Mt. Everest (8,848m), tallest mountain in the world. Indeed an incredibly rewarding!
My 2nd time to visit Malaysia, 23rd solo backpacking trip, 1st time to perform major hike outside my homeland  and of course, usual budget do-it-yourself itinerary from arrival to departure.

I have been planning to visit Mt. Kinabalu since 2010. So far on my fun-hiking career, I conquered the 3rd highest peak of my homeland Philippines Mt. Pulag (2,922m) for twice in a row (2010 & 2011). Until now, I don't have plans yet on the highest peak which is Mt. Apo (2,954m). But since I cannot trekked Mt. Apo without a group and I visited Davao already for twice, it is better to maybe set aside for the mean time.

Mt Kinabalu (4,095 meters above sea level) is the tallest mountain in South-East Asia and is situated in the Kinabalu National Park in the province of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Fortunately, Mt Kinabalu is one of the easiest peaks in the world to conquer.

St. John's peak at 8.0km of Mt. Kinabalu

St. John's peak at 8.0km of Mt. Kinabalu

Nepenthes Vilosa, a native pitcher plant in Mt. Kinabalu

This another race against time, very short backpacking researched in somehow detailed manner has a compressed itinerary designed as follows: 

May 25 Satuday:
0130H ETA Kota Kinabalu Airport
Mt. Kinabalu hike Ascend

May 26 Sunday:
Mt. Kinabalu trail to summit and descend

May 27 Monday:
Kota Kinabalu city tour
2300H ETD Kota Kinabalu City

TOTAL BUDGET : PHP21,530 = USD538.24 (19% went to plane ticket)

timezone - +0800H UTC
capital - Kuala Lumpur city
currency - ringgit (MYR) 1MYR = 13.5PHP, 1USD = 3MYR
basic phrases - Terima Kasih (thank you), Selamat Datang (welcome)

visa (for Filipino) - tourist visa-free at 30-day

It takes just two days and climbers don't need any previous experience at mountain climbing. At sunrise, the views from the Mt Kinabalu's summit at Low's Peak are spectacular, making all the effort worthwhile. Most climbers take two days to ascend and descend Mt Kinabalu. The eight-kilometre climb generally starts from the the Timpohon Gate near park headquarters (1,800m), with an overnight stay at one of the guest houses at Laban Rata (3,273m), before pushing on to the summit early next morning. Mt Kinabalu's summit is usually reached in time to view the sunrise, before returning to Laban Rata for breakfast. Climbers then descend the mountain, generally reaching the park headquarters by mid-afternoon. Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and the willpower to push through fatigue and discomfort can climb to the summit of Mt Kinabalu. It is achievable and incredibly rewarding.

Laban Rata Dorm, only camp site at 3,273m (319m above Mt. Apo)

Laban Rata Dorm, only camp site at 3,273m (319m above Mt. Apo)

Laban Rata Dorm camp site area

Climbing weather is best around the month of April while November and December brings rain. The temperature ranges from a comfortable 20-25°C at the main park to something approaching freezing near the top (depending on the weather). Bring appropriate warm clothing and windproof gear. If possible, climb during the full moon as it helps illuminate the white rope that marks out the climbing path.

Mt. Kinabalu Climb Preparation Essential Tips:

1. Ensure a confirmed accommodation with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for the first night of your climb. It is not allowed by the local authority to climb if you do not have a place to stay. Camping on the mountain is strictly forbidden. Email them at

2. It is required to bring some money to pay Sabah Park authorities for the Park’s entrance fee, mountain guide, climbing permit, insurance, certificate, porter fee (optional) and transfer to Timpohon Gate. This is separate from accommodation.

3. Make sure your legs are fit and ready for the journey up and down the mountain. Be a responsible traveler. Bring the necessary medication required if you are prone to altitude sickness. As it is only a two day, one night climb you are still advised to exercise regularly several months prior to the climb.

4. Remember to pack light to ease the weight on your shoulders. Ideally, the weight of your bag pack should be less than 10kg.

5. Necessary items for the mountain climb include : (a) Energy food i.e. chocolate bars, biscuits, glucose tablets, (b) A head torch, (c) A raincoat or poncho, (d) A windbreaker, (e) Warm clothing, (f) A small bottle of water, (g) A pair of gloves, (h) An extra pair of socks, (i) A cap or beanie, (j) Slippers, (k) Toiletries

Mt. Kinabalu trail map

Clock tower at Kota Kinabalu City

Kota Kinabalu International Airport arrival at night; 

Nothing especial, just like in other ordinary airports. Even though there was a recent territorial dispute between Malaysia and Philippines referring to Sabah islands, still, this did not affect my vacation escapade. Arriving very early in the morning around 0300H, I went to sleep first on the 2nd floor of the airport reception area.

Anyways, I divided this wonderful journey into different set of posts to be more specific on its content;


  1. yep.. beautiful Mt. Kinabalu

  2. Wow! So nice. Hopefully I'll be able to climb Mt. Kinabalu too.
    We only went to the beach in KK last year.

    Laagholic Buyog


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