TBT # Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia

Through my travels, I have come across incredibles places (really struggling to decide which one is my favorite so far! but maybe one of those days I will come up with my top 5) and I am grateful for it. To be able to follow my wanderlust and to keep on traveling is priceless. Last year, when we were planing our Malaysian trip, one of our friends really wanted to go to Borneo Island. Since we were up for anything really, as long as adventures and fun were promised, we started to do some research. We asked around to find out what we could (or should) do on Borneo. We were told that we could not leave Malaysia before climbing Mount Kinabalu with its challenging hike. Challenge? Hike? Where do I sign up? I got pretty excited and I am very happy to take you this week to Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia.

About Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia

  • Mt. Kinabalu is located on Borneo Island in the Kinabalu National Park
  • It culminates at 4’095 meters and is one of the highest mountains in the world (Top 20)
  • It was established in 1964 as Malaysia’s first national park and in 2000 it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
  • Kinabalu’s name’s origin is unknown and there are several hypothesis. My favorite one derives from the Kadazan words, Aki Nabalu, meaning ‘the revered place of the dead’. The local Kadazan people believe that spirits dwell on the mountain top

Mt. Kinabalu’s random and funny facts:

  • In 2015, tourists were blamed by the Malaysian government for the terrible earthquake after posing naked on top of Mt. Kinabalu. They allegedly made the “Mountain Protectors” very angry
  • The world’s highest Via Ferrata can be found on the mountain
  • 100’000 years ago, Mt. Kinabalu was covered with glaciers

If you have 48 hours in Mt. Kinabalu, have fun:

  • Having a fantastic ‘made in Borneo’ experience! It was pretty unique!
  • Hiking 6 km in less than 5 hours with an elevation gain of 1’406.7 meters, started at Timpohon gate (1’866 meters) on day 1
  • Staying overnight at Panar Laban hut (3’272.7 meters). It was a cute little hut with 6 beds, 2 British girls joined our sleeping arrangement.
  • Waking up at 1:30 am to hike after a (more than very early) breakfast. Day two was definitely more strenuous!
  • Climbing the trail in the pitch black night -A long procession of hikers, eager to reach the top by sunrise, was following a path lightened by hundreds of head torches. A part of the trail led us on the rock and a rope had to be held at all times. An interesting and exciting way of hiking / climbing!
  • Reaching the top: The sense of achievement was amazing! We proudly made it to the top, known as Low’s Peak. What a view!
  • Witnessing the sunrise: Because time was against us (some climbers we met along the trail were slow, old or out of shape), we took all the energy we could gather and we passed one hiker at a time. There was no way we were missing that sunrise! Determination is the key of many success stories and ours did a great job! We ended up getting to the summit right on time and we got a well deserved break while the sun was coming up
  • Taking a bloody picture at the top… with the sign! Quite a torture, almost more painful than the hike itself as 100 of people want to get group pictures as well!

We took our time to get back down as we were in no rush, enjoying the nature and the sun. In two days, we covered over 16 km with a total elevations gain and loss of 2’229.7 meters. What a wonderful experience! I would highly recommend it to any mountain lover…

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!


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