Thursday, May 26, 2011

An unforgettable climb - Tips and guidelines for conquering Mount Kinabalu

If experiencing the natural beauty of a tropical rainforest and mighty mountains sounds like your dream vacation, then Mount Kinabalu might just be your ideal destination, and a truly once in a lifetime experience.

For centuries, stunning images of Mount Kinabalu have captured the interest and imagination of explorers and travellers from around the world. Even today, the towering granite peak and natural wonders of Mount Kinabalu remain strong attractions for mountaineers who climb to the summit just to get a glimpse of the breathtaking sunrise at 4,095m above sea level.

Situated in the East Malaysia state of Sabah on the island of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu is famed for its biological diversity. And with a height ranging from 500 to 4,000m, the mountain is home to many varieties of flora and fauna. In fact, Kinabalu Park has documented more than 608 species of ferns, which exceeds the number of species found entirely in mainland Africa. Kinabalu Park is roughly 80km east of Kota Kinabalu (formerly Jesselton), the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia.

From the foot of the mountain to the summit plateau, visitors get a chance to gradually see all the different flower and plant species, from small ferns and moss with tiny flowers in the tropical rainforest to an array of subalpine plants close to the summit throughout their ascent.

Though the trail to the summit is less than nine kilometres long, most mountaineers need two days to scale up the steep slope, while contending with thin air, before reaching the rocky granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu. However, to experience the natural wonders up close and be able to look down the mountain after a long ascent is well worth the climb.

All who wish to climb Mount Kinabalu must buy a climbing permit and book accommodation in advance before heading to Sabah, as the hotels there can accommodate only 150 people per night; most climbers stay overnight at Laban Rata Resthouse since it offers heated units _ the only other lodging that has heated units is Gunting Lagadan Hut _ and it has the only restaurant. It is recommended that visitors book five months in advance.

All climbers must also notify the park one day before climbing.


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