After seeing the primates of Borneo in Sepilok and Labuk Bay our journey took us to Kinabalu Park where we had previously hoped to climb the infamous Mount Kinabalu.
At 4,095m (13,435ft) above the sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak of Borneo drawing in many tourists every year.
Up until very recently it was possible to climb the mountain in one day, impressive feat by any measure, making it a good budget option. Unfortunately, one day climbing permits have been scrapped effectively forcing everyone to fork out upwards of eye watering 200USD per person for an overnight permit and accommodation (good weather not included). This was simply too much for our modest travel budget.
Whilst accepting our fate, we decided to pay the park a short one-day visit before we’d continue onwards to Kota Kinabalu.
Where to stay Kinabalu Park?
There is a range of available accommodation around the park, though you will pay premium for staying inside the park. After some deliberation we booked our accommodation at Mile 36 Lodge, 100RM (around $23) for a big double room with hot water and some breakfast, located around 15 minutes from the park entrance.
What to do when not climbing Mt Kinabalu?
Even if you don’t want to or cannot climb Mount Kinabalu, there are nine trails of varying length and difficulty around the park, many of which can be combined into very interesting day trips without having to pay for a guide. All you need is pay the park entrance fee of just 15RM (less than $3.5), grab a park map and you’re good to go.
Unfortunately, while April is supposed to mark the beginning of the dry season, when we arrived it was rainy, very foggy and chilly.
Our sneakers were simply no match for any of the trails. Instead of walking the trails we decided to at least visit a small botanic garden located inside the park. Entrance fee just 5RM (one US dollar). There we found many local plants and flowers including the world’s smallest orchid, measuring just about 2mm.
Walking around the garden takes about 20 minutes, much more if, like us, you stop everywhere to take photos. The walk is easy, you won’t really break a sweat. Though nothing fancy and not comparable to big gardens, it was an amazing day and a welcome change of scenery.
You can also join a guide tour at 11am to hear more about these wonderful flowers and plants.
After all that rain and fog we were ready for sunshine and beach at Kota Kinabalu Marine Park.