By Katarina Daniels, MAGIK TOURS, Montreal
With the increasing popularity of adventure tourism, MAGIK TOURS gave me the opportunity to travel to the Malaysian state of Sabah, located on the northeast part of the island of Borneo. My mission was to climb Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in South East Asia, reaching 4,095 metres (13,435 feet) above sea level, and to discover the various adventure and cultural offerings of this exceptional part of the world.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kinabalu National Park is one of the most important biological sites in the world, with flora of Himalayan, Australasian, and Indomalayan origin, and local fauna including orangutans and deer, and over 300 species of birds. Strict national park regulations function to protect the unique ecosystem; these regulations also require that you hike up the mountain with an accredited guide.
The traditional hike is done over the course of two days along the Timpohon Gate path, and is suitable for hikers of any level. Indeed, our tour group passed children as young as 10 and adults nearing the age of 80!
On the first day, your guide will take you on a 6km trek your dormitory-style chalet, located at around 3250 metres above sea level. This scenic hike takes approximately 4 hours, after which you are rewarded with a warm buffet dinner and a few hours of rest.
Day two begins at 2am, when your guide comes to fetch you for your sunrise hike to the summit (Low’s Peak). This steep trek in the pitch dark will likely take you close to 3 hours, just enough time to reach the summit for sunrise. Be sure to bring layers along to protect yourself from the cold mountain air. Once at the peak, take the obligatory photo with the park sign marking a successful hike, take in the breathtaking views, and start the descent.
In fact, the most spectacular part of the hike awaits you on your way down, as you finally see the path you climbed up just hours earlier. The sharp descent makes for many picture-perfect moments, and your guide will be happy to take photos for you throughout your climb.
Once you reach the bottom of the mountain, we recommend a relaxing day at the spa before setting off to discover the rest of this vibrant region: visit the traditional Rungus in their longhouses, experience ecotourism in the Danum Valley, meet orangutans in Sepilok, and enjoy world-class diving off Sipadan Island.