Guide for Mt. Kinabalu Climb

Due to several inquiries I received, here is a post that I hope would help hikers who are aiming for Mt. Kinabalu. I haven’t had the time to blog about the experience but I will, soon!

For those who aren’t familiar with Mt. Kinabalu, it is the highest mountain in Malaysia. It stands at 4,095.2m or 13,438ft above sea level but don’t worry because the hike would start at Timpohon Gate (there is another jump off but this one is the most used) which is approximately at 1500+masl so one only needs to hike the remaining 2500masl.

Budget

 Airfare (Manila -Kota Kinabalu) – php 6,000-7,000 approx w/ RT incl travel tax; I got mine for 3.4k RT w/o baggage allowance via Airasia on sale + travel tax

 Food (w/in Kota Kinabalu City) – approx php2,500 for 9 meals or 3 days

 Accommodation (w/in Kota Kinabalu City)

  • Backpacker lodges at myr 20-25  per day (bed-space) or php 280
  • Hotel rates starts at php 1,200

 Budget for the mountain hut, guide and meals would cost you around php 20,000 to 25,000 (the fees took a hike too after the earthquake due to additional safety measures installed)

 Approx. budget at php 35,000 (700usd approx.) all in with Ferrata or Walk The Torq (shorter version)

3 ways to do it

 via Local Organizer in the Philippines

You can with Miguel Mapalad of Yabag Mountaineering (txt or call/viber 0905-268-8275). The climb fee at php 22,500 which includes the following:

 climb permit
 mountain guide
 accommodation at mountain hut
 food (dinner, breakfast, unli tea/coffee/hot water)
 transpo to and fro Kota Kinabalu city to jump off
 1 night accommodation

*Please refer to quotation inclusive/exclusive offer of the organizer. They have a scheduled climb for June (fully-booked) but you can join their December 2017 schedule

 Do-it-yourself or DIY

The first thing to do is book an accommodation at Laban Rata at least 6 months before your scheduled climb. The Sutera Sanctuary Lodge solely manage the accommodation bookings at Laban Rata and the other mountain huts which comes at a cheaper cost. You can email them at info@suterasanctuarylodges.com.my or visit their website at www.suterasanctuarylodges.com.my

However, below are the rates as a basis for your budget:

Climb permit – MYR 200
Mountain guide – MYR 230 usually 2 for 10-15pax
Porter service – MYR 65
Mountain hut – MYR 1,360 includes meals, unli tea/cofeee/hotwater and bed. This rate is an approximate since it depends on the time of the year, availability and other factors. Exact rate will be provided by Sutera and sometimes they offer discounts too.

Climb fee approximately at php 20,400 for 6 pax in a group exclusive of airfare, food and accommodation at Kota Kinabalu City.

 via Travel Agent in Kota Konabalu

Book with licensed tour agents like Amazing Borneo that offers 1N2D package. They will take care of the transportation, meals, permit, guide, accommodation, registration until the duration of the climb.

Climb fee approximately same as DIY.

What to bring

1 down jacket, socks 3-5pairs, 1 rain jacket or poncho, a pair of thermals (upper and lower), 1 fleece jacket, 2 trek pants, 2 sets of dri-fit shirts, 1 cotton shirt, pair of gloves, trek pole, headlamp (kindly note that these items are suggestions and you can flex it depending on your needs)

Best months to go

The park is open all year round but it would be best to go around March to early June for a higher percentage of witnessing the sunrise, good weather, clear skies and if you are lucky a beautiful sea of clouds.

Sample itinerary

Day 1: arrive in Kota Kinabalu City, check in at hotel or backpacker lodge

Day 2: drive to Sabah Parks at Kinabalu Park HQ. Register, pay fees and collect name tag. Be there before 10:30am or they won’t allow you to climb. Transfer to Timpohon gate, a short briefing, start climb. Usually it takes 6-8hrs to reach the mountain huts at 3272 masl depending on your pacing and fitness.

If you are doing Ferrata, you need to be at the mountain huts for the briefing, usually they wait until 5pm, more than that you are not allowed to do the Ferrata.

Dinner at 6-7pm. Food at Laban Rata is buffet style so we were stoked but if you can’t digest well or you need to adjust to food, hinay hinay sa pagkain at baka abutan ng pagtatae sa trail (ewww!) and as long as you aren’t suffering from headache, you’ll appreciate the food.

Day 3: 1:30am head to summit; 5-6am reached Low’s peak; 7am descend but if you are doing Ferrata, you need to be at KM7.0 or Sayat-sayat at 8am

10-11am check-out at mountain lodge and descend to Kinabalu Park HQ; 5am drive back to KK

7pm check in at Kota Kinabalu City; free time and rest

Day 4: snorkel, island hop, buy souvenirs or other side trips or you can already depart for home

Important things to note:

1. Shelters or rest areas dots the trail  and squirrels are in abundance so take care of your trail food

2.Water belongs to heavy stuff, 1-2 liters is enough for day 2 and a gatorade, take advantage of the unlimited tea/hot water at the mountain lodge. Although their coffee is to die for, do refrain from gulping one as it helps dehydrate the body.

3. Trail is well marked and established, some parts with wooden staircases installed

4. For side trips, you can ask your lodge or hotel owners for suggestions but the most popular things to do in KK are island hopping, snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also book a stay at Palau Island where one of the Survivor series was shot

5. Slow but continuous pace on day 2, lots of water and a good night sleep will help you not be afflicted with altitude sickness

6. Advil and water are your best friends for headache or altitude sickness

7. If you don’t reach Lowe’s peak or its base, your guide can recommend you for a black and white climb certificate instead of the beautiful colored one

8. Temperature is tolerable. Comparable to Mt. Pulag on same months but the trail from the mountain huts to summit is an exposed slab of granite so a gush of wind can give you goosebumps even under your layered clothing

9. Trek pole is needed until the mountain huts, you can either leave it at the huts or bring with you but it will just become a nuisance at the roped segments

10. At KK, public transport is limited to buses and taxis; taxi is expensive but if its just w/in KK city, everywhere is walking distance

11. At KK city, try the seaside area where you can feast on several variety of seafood

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Walk the Torq or Ferrata cost around php 3,000-5000 (100usd) on top of the climb fee but the knee buckling experience was worth it.

Should you have questions, leave it on the comment box or drop me a message on Facebook . You can also follow my travels and climbs on Instagram.

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