The Road Up - Journey to Kinabalu Park HQ
The journey to Kinabalu Park HQ starts early on the next morning after you have a good night sleep, and maybe delicious seafood the night before. Pack your things up, have some breakfast and head for the Kota Kinabalu main bus station. It would be better if you could go out early, maybe around 7.00am as the city becomes more congested after that. The new town bus station situated in Inanam, about 10 km from the city.
You could take a bus there, provided you ask the bus driver first, whether they go to the Inanam bus station. It is easier for you to take a taxi, but it may cost you a little bit more. If you stay in hotel that have their own shuttle bus to the bus station, you can also use their services. If you have choose to pick Mount Kinabalu climbing package from any travel services, most likely that they will provide the transport for you.
For those who pick to travel by public transport, buses from the Inanam bus station will depart Kota Kinabalu city to Kundasang/Ranau (Kinabalu Park HQ is on their route) at 8.00am. At the time of writing, the bus fare to Kinabalu Park HQ is RM15 to RM20 per person. If you happened to travel with another 3 person, it is better for you to charter a taxi. It would cost RM80 to RM90 per taxi. The ride is better in a taxi than a bus.
The journey to Kinabalu Park HQ will take about 2 hours. The Kinabalu Park Headquarters lies at an elevation of 1,563 meters (5,128 feet) above sea level. The 90 kilometers (50 mile) drive along sealed road takes an easy journey but not until the road passes the little town of Tamparuli, after about 45 minutes, does it start to rise. Although clouds usually cover the summit by midday, in the early morning the mountain is often clear, the view constantly changing as the roads winds up and up. Some of the best views come near Kampung Kelawat at the kilometer 55 (to Ranau) mark, when the mountains rises dramatically ahead as you round the corner.
Shifting cultivation covers most of the hills around here, and at kilometer 33 the roadside stalls of Pekan Nabalu are well stocked with local produce. This is a regular tourist stop where a variety of good quality handicrafts can be purchased as well as the deliciously nutty flavored brown hill rice - a specialty of the area, together with extra sweet pineapples.
At kilometer 29, at the turn-off to Kampung Kiau, the air is already cooler and yellow daisies become increasingly common, scattered through the grass at the edge of the road. Soon you pass the Kiau Nabalu restaurant on the roadside, 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the Kinabalu Park HQ, where there are good views of the patterned fields of shift cultivation above the Kampung Kiau. If the day is clear there are also excellent views of the long trailing waterfall of the Kadamaian from here onwards to the Tenompok Pass. A rough road to the right at the pass leads down to another historic village, Bundu Tuhan, where the most famous of the mountain guides, Gunting bin Lagadan, lived, well-known as a teller of tales and legends and now the stuff of legend himself.
At the Tenompok Pass, just after the kilometer 22 mark, you cross over to the main massif and within five minutes reach the impressive arched entrance of the Kinabalu Park HQ, with introduced pine trees and blue morning glory flowers along the roadside.
You will arrive at Kinabalu Park HQ at about 10.00am. From here you can see the mountain more clearly and closely. It is still early for you to check in, but during that time, there are a lot of things that you could do. You can go to the information center and get all the information about Mount Kinabalu and Sabah Parks, know more about the flora of Mount Kinabalu in the mountain garden guided walk or maybe go to their mini-theater to watch video show about Mount Kinabalu. A fee of only a few ringgit is charged for each activity. You can buy a "package" ticket for all three.
There are two restaurants and a small sundry shop in Kinabalu Park HQ. You can have your meals in the restaurants and buy climbing equipments in the shop. The shop only provide very basic climbing equipments that is mostly used by the climbers. Liwagu Restaurant and Kinabalu Balsam Restaurant have a very nice food and ambiance, and they usually open up until 10.00pm at night. The two restaurants serving both western and oriental food. You do not have to worry about your dinner then. If you want to save money, you can also cook your dinner yourself in your hostel or chalet. They have a very basic kitchen utensils for you to use.
Fireplace are provided in some chalets and firewood can be purchased from the Reception office at Kinabalu Park HQ, but it is a good idea to bring old newspaper and candle or a lighter as well as matches from Kota Kinabalu. The park has its own generator and electricity is provided 24 hours a day.
Check in to your hostel or chalet must be done in the Reception office of Sutera Sanctuary Lodge. After checking-in, most of the climbers will have their afternoon break, ease themselves before the strenuous climb on the next day.
For the nature lovers, there are about 10 mountain trails in Kinabalu Park HQ that you cold spend your time on. There is always something of interest along these paths and a number of walking trails have been developed around the Kinabalu Park HQ ranging in length from 20 minutes to two to three hours. These trails are marked on the trail maps available at Kinabalu Park HQ. Remember that times given are approximate and vary greatly depending on how fit you are and how often you stop.
By assisting in these small ways, you will help to promote responsible tourism for the future. Remember, you are one of the fortunate few to visit this place. Don't spoil the experience for others.
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