Kinabalu Park was gazetted as the first State Park in Sabah in 1964 and declared Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000 for its outstanding biological attributes. A sprawling 75, 400 hectares, this melting pot of natural wonders is larger than Singapore.
Also the Centre of Plant Diversity for South East Asia, the Park boasts more than 5,000 vascular plant species, an estimated 1,000 orchid species, 621 fern species, nine Nepenthes species, 29 Rhododendron species and two Rafflesia species. The Park has no shortage of fauna as well, being home to some 90 lowland mammal species, 22 montane mammal species, 21 bat species, 326 bird species, 62 toad and frog species and a large population of the 850 butterfly species that occur in Sabah. Out of the 29 bird species that are endemic to Borneo, at least 17 are confined to the mountains, notably Mount Kinabalu. These include subspecies of the Red breasted Tree-partridge, Crimson-headed Wood-partridge and Mountain Blackbird. Such diversity is truly the makings of a naturalists’ paradise!
The main attraction at the Park is none other than the majestic Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest mountains in South East Asia standing at 4095.2 metres. Apart from traditional mountain climbing, visitors can also experience the Mountain Torq, the world’s highest and Asia’s first Via Ferrata or ‘iron road’ at 3,200m to 3,800m above sea level. The various routes on the northern rock faces of Mount Kinabalu consist of a ‘trail’ that is made up of iron rungs, palettes, cables and rails. Depending on the preferred difficulty level, visitors can enroll in various activities such as the intro to single pitch or multi pitch sports climbing, intro to rappelling (abseiling) and introduction to rope ascending. Mount Kinabalu attracts thousands of climbers from around world every year and is also the venue of the annual Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon.
Surrounding the Kinabalu Park is a multitude of natural attractions and enjoyable activities. The Kinabalu Natural History Gallery is a great place to familiarize with what the Park has to offer to through a fascinating exhibition on the flora, fauna and geological make-up of the Park. Video presentations are screened daily at the Liwagu’s Visitors Centre and guided tours are also available. Approximately half an hour from the Kinabalu Park headquarters is the Poring Hot Springs, located 400m above sea level. It features hot sulphur spring baths claimed to have therapeutic values, a 41-metre canopy walk where visitors can hike among the towering canopies, the refreshing Kipungit and Langanan waterfalls, various gardens, a butterfly farm and an orchid conservation centre. In Mesilau, hike along the acclaimed Mesilau trail where you can spot various pitcher plants particularly the Nepenthes lowii, Nepenthes tentaculata and Nepenthes rajah.
A variety of accommodation is available within the Park and in its surrounding areas, ranging from basic hostels to luxury chalets.