Situated in Sabah, Borneo, soaring Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia at 4,095m. Despite its size, trekking to its jagged summit can be achieved by any person of regular fitness and requires no mountaineering equipment.
The climb starts in dense rainforest where you’ll find creepers, strangler fig trees and orchids, gushing waterfalls, and the whoops and trills of tropical birds such as barbets, hornbills and the Bornean blue flycatchers.
The path meanders through this exotic forest with handrails and steps to help along the way. Higher up the vegetation changes to conifers, oaks, and tree ferns, with rhododendrons blooming in wonderful shades of yellow and red. But once above the tree line, nothing grows and steps quickly give way to ropes to haul yourself up.
A typical mountain climb takes two days – a first day trek to some huts about three-quarters of the way up, then a very early start the next day (around 3am) to begin the final steep ascent to the peak, in time for sunrise. Then, descend to the base camp in time for evening.
You can’t begin an ascent without first confirming a reservation at Laban Rata, the mountain refuge at 3,273m. There’s also the permit to obtain plus a mountain guide – on average some 140 climbers a day are allowed up the mountain and back.
Best time to go: February – August, though there is a chance of rain throughout the year
Walk on the wild side