We stayed here for our climb to the summit. It's not cheap, you have to plan and book well in advance but we found it was worth it. The park entrance is RM15 per person for non-Malaysians (not included in the package). We started off with a dorm room in the Grace Lodge Hostel. We were in room 2 which had two sets of bunk beds. We were initially told we weren't sharing but the weather meant that somebody came down from the mountain early and therefore needed accommodation, so they put them in our dorm. Not really a problem.
Grace Lodge has three other dorm rooms to make four in total - I think two are for four people each and the other two are for eight each. There are shared toilets and showers, one set for males and one set for females, with hot water. There's also a spacious sitting room with log fireplace and a small annex with a hot water boiler for tea and coffee. The climbing package includes all meals so the first meal was dinner in the Balsam Restaurant. This was a buffet dinner with soup, oriental and western foods and cake and fruit for sweet. The retail price was RM60.60 but beer was very expensive (I think a small can was RM25).
After going to bed at 8pm, we were up at 6:30am for a 7am breakfast in the Balsam - again a buffet with oriental and western offerings (retail RM45.50). We also picked up our packed lunch for the mountain (included). Then we had to arrange our guide at the park office (1-3pax - RM128, 4-6pax RM150 etc - also not included in the package) - we were allocated Primus - a good man! We left our main backpacks with HQ (RM10 per bag) carrying only what we needed for an overnight stay (and plenty of water). And we had to pay for a minivan trip to the starting point 4km away (RM33 return - also not included in the package).
We started climbing at around 8am - it starts easily and gets harder. It's pretty much climbing all the way and, after 2500 metres or so, altitude takes its toll too. Heavy rain means you're walking against a stream of water all the time. With many rest stops, we eventually walked into Laban Rata by 2pm.
We checked in here to room 2 - a dorm room with three sets of bunk beds. It was going to be full. We had plenty of time to take photographs, have a (cold) shower and prepare a day pack for the assault on the summit. It's not warm at 3300m and poor weather means that nothing dries out either. We had dinner at 5:30pm (buffet but not as grand as the Balsam - included but retail RM60) in the main canteen with some good views and we were in bed by 7pm with the alarm set for 1:30am.
At 1:30am, it's up and dressed in warm layers ready for the climb. There's a small buffet supper included (retail RM30) and then we set off for the summit in driving rain at 2:40am. Unfortunately the park ranger had closed the summit gate because of the weather so we waited in a guides' hut for a hour or so. At 4am, there was a window of opportunity, the park gate opened momentarily and off we went again. It was slow and tiring progress - the rock is slippery in the driving, cold rain and at some points you have to haul yiourself over the rock using rope. This takes its toll and there were many people who dropped out - mainly because of the weather.
The last 200 metres is a sharp incline, scrambling over rocks and boulders to the 4095.2 metre summit. Unfortunately the clouds were in and the views were extremely limited but the sense of achievement was immense. The 6:20am sunrise happened somewhere behind the clouds and, after a few photos, we started our descent with the rain increasing.
We arrived back at Laban Rata by 7:45am for breakfast (included - retail RM45) and we checked out of the dorm and continued our descent in pouring rain. The descent is easier than the ascent except that the rain was considerable and the pathway down was a river! We eventually arrived back at the gate at 1pm and back at HQ by 1:15pm. There's a buffet lunch included at the Balsam (retail RM50.50) - we asked for a packed lunch so that we could catch the 2pm coach to Sepilok (soaking wet). Next day, we could barely walk!!!
Just outside the park there's a cafe with good food at more respectable prices. But unless you think you can do the whole climb in one day, you'll have to use some of the park lodgings. We were pleasantly surprised.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The 750 square Kilometers Kinabalu Park was converted into a National Park in 1964 for it's geographical importance and the abundance of flora and fauna. In December 2006, UNESCO awarded Kinabalu Park as Malaysia's first World Heritage Site for its "outstanding universal values" and its role as one of the most important biological sites in the world. Located 1,585 metres above sea level, Kinabalu Park showcases a complete and interesting ecological system unrivalled anywhere else in the world. It also carries lowland, mountain and alpine vegetation that are not seen anywhere else between the Himalayas and the New Guinea. Kinabalu Park also plays host to the annual Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon event, proclaimed as the "World's Toughest Mountain Race" and attracts top mountain racers from around the world. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kinabalu Park Ranau, Sabah