What is the cheapest way to climb Kinabalu? I will try to answer the question which I was tortured by for many days. When I decided to go to Malaysia and travel through Sabah it was one of my first choices – to climb Kinabalu mountain. I was very happy until I realized how does it work.
When I decided to go to Malaysia and travel through Sabah it was one of my first choices – to climb Kinabalu mountain
First of all I found information that one have to book really in advance to go to the summit, because there is a limitation. When I saw first prices I thought it is some kind of mistake, it is impossible that a mountain trip which takes one or two days costs 1500 RM. Then I sent requests to other places and got almost the same answer: 1200 – 1500 without via ferrata and circa 1700 RM with. I was really surprised.
I started checking if I can climb by myslef, with my own tent. Answer is NO
I started checking if I can climb by myslef, with my own tent. Answer is NO. You cannot go without guide – and they are checking it just below the summit, you cannot camp in the park (you can have a special permission if you want to make long trek and use other ways for the other summits, but I was told it is not easy to get one). The second thing is that 3 months before our “wish” climbing date we got information from 90% of agencies that climbing without ferrata was sold and they have only second option. The same with one day trekking. One day trekking is cheaper but than you will be on the summit in the afternoon when mountain is almost always in clouds and it is very high chance it will rain. When you reach the peak at the dusk you have nice view and no clouds or rain.
Consider it can be like this during one day climbing (start 2m50s):
No porters – you take your things by yourself. Park fees and guides were not so expensive. So what’s going on?
So I started checking what that price includes that it is so expensive. No porters – you take your things by yourself. Park fees and guides were not so expensive. So what’s going on? The answer is: accommodation on the way. There is only one hotel and few hostels (what we learned later, at the beginning we got info that there is only Laban Rata and nothing else). Night costs from 600 RM and above. Why? Only because you do not have choice and they can make you pay. Very sad.
Jungle Jack Backpacker
But there is other way. Write to Jungle Jack and go with him even twice cheaper. He has his own hostel near National Park with great atmosphere and interesting people staying there . Like in tiny hostel there is no luxury but it is really nice place with great view at Kinabalu mountain. Jungle Jack also has his own building (Lamain hostel) near Laban Rata which appeared to be really comfortable place with new beds, small kitchen, toilets, showers and even bedding, quilt, pillow. Jack is adorable person, very positive, nice, taking care of you all the time. You feel like he is your old friend. He will even give you snacks and drinks on your way. He will take care of guides, transportation and something to eat when you come back from the trip. I also liked a lot a driver who works for him, he was just awesome, making jokes with us all the time and he catches everything in a second and laugh with us.
Via ferrata is not necessary for climbing to the peak, it is additional attraction after reaching the summit.