Mt Kinabalu and Mt Tambuyukon - Borneo
This adventure will allow you to experience jungle trekking at its finest alongside ascents of two of Borneo’s fantastic rocky peaks before some relaxation at the beach. Our first peak is the rarely climbed Mount Tambuyukon which will give you a taster of what to expect from its bigger brother Mount Kinabalu a week later, after some down time at a jungle eco-lodge. We round it all off with some time enjoying rafting and beach activities at the beach.
- RAINFOREST (4 days)
- MOUNT TAMBUYUKON (4 days)
- LUPA MASA ECO CAMP (2 days)
- MOUNT KINABALU (3 days)
- BEACH & TRAVEL (3 days)
This is an exciting and varied 18 day adventure programme for small groups under expert leadership to experience the rainforest and climb the two peaks of Mount Kinabalu and the rarely climbed Mt Tambuyukon, and spending some unique time exploring the roof of Borneo.
The adventure begins on the eastern side of Sabah with a visit to the famous Sepilok orangutan rescue centre, and from there we trek and take river transport to a remote village at the heart of one of the regions most important wildlife sanctuaries.
We then travel inland to climb two of Borneo's three highest peaks. The rarely climbed Mount Tambuyukon at 2579m is a tough ascent, arguably more testing than Kinabalu, with much of it in the rainforest. We will be camping enroute and from the summit the views across the Crocker Range are truly breathtaking.
We then have a break at a new rainforest camp called Lupa Masa at the base of Mount Kinabalu which is part owned by Adventure Alternative. Here you can live in a very natural environment, sleeping in hammocks and exploring the surrounding forests; there is a chance to go on a night walk for a really memorable experience.
Then we begin our climb of Mount Kinabalu, at 4095m the highest peak in Borneo. We ascend the Mesilau route and camp at the famous Gurkha Hut near the summit, exploring some of the many peaks on this amazing granite plateau high above the rainforest. Few people do this, and it is surely a highlight of the trip.
After the mountain, a we spend time at a beautiful beach resort near Kota Kinabalu where there are a variety of optional activities such as kayaking round the small islands and snorkelling in the azure blue waters of the sea.
For a long time I thought the AA Mongolia Eclipse trip was the best I'd been on but Borneo blew it out of the water. The itinerary was spot on, Tom was a howl, but it was really down to the Malay people themselves. Everyone we met had a smile on their face and went out of their way to help us and there was no sense of people trying to get what they could from you. Some of the most decent, genuine people I've ever met.
Borneo - a wonderful and unforgettable experience with so many fantastic memories. Did so much in 3 weeks. This trip will be with me for a long time to come. Would not hesitate using AA again (this was my 2nd time) as feel safe and secure with such a responable company and for all what they stand for.
The most exciting and memorable trip I've ever been on.I cant believe how much we did, from the river trip and seeing the orangutans, probiscus monkeys and incredible exotic birds to spending a night above the clouds on Kinabalu then sleeping in the jungle at the Eco Camp, just stunning. Put simply the most wonderful adventure.
Dates and Itinerary
|1||International Flight to Kota Kinabalu|
|2||Morning flight to Sandakan in Sabah with Jungle clothes. Transfer to lodge and afternoon visit to see the feeding of the orangutans at the Sepilok Reserve and giant flying squirrels at the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre.|
|3||3 hour forest trek to the mangrove reserve and transfer to boat for river journey to the village of Abai for a home stay overnight. Explore the surrounding waterways in search of wildlife, hopefully wild orangutan, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and many species of birdlife.|
|4||River journey to a small river lodge upriver and experience more local hospitality and jungle delicacies.|
|5||Travel overland to the village of Kampong Monggis, including 4x4, with a stopover for buying supplies enroute.|
|6||Start ascent using an old trail which has been in use since the sixties when Kinabalu Park was established. The first camp is a small plateau on the ridge at 3500ft surrounded by huge 200ft tall trees. A small stream in a valley below the camp is the water source and at night you can hear the drone of cicadas and the calls of wild deer.|
|7||Follow the narrow top of the ridge in primary jungle with little or no undergrowth, making the passage reasonably easy. The second camp is located at 5000ft on a hillside overlooking steep valleys on both sides.|
|8||An early start for the summit with forest giving way to shorter trees covered with thick layers of moss and an abundance of ultra basic rocks, pitcher plants (Nephentes), orchids, rhododendrons and a variety of other flora such as Vaccinia, mistletoes and lichens. The summit offers a breathtaking view of the north side of Mount Kinabalu showing the north and east ridges, Mekado valley and the infamous Low's Gully. Set up camp as far down as possible.|
|9||A long descent to the Park sub-station using the new trail, descending into valleys and crossing several streams. If we are ahead of schedule when we reach the Park sub-station then we can make the 90 minute transfer to Lupa Masa in the early evening though more it is more likely that we camp another night at the base of Tambuyukon.|
|10-11||A 90 minute drive through a winding river valley brings us to Poring Hot Springs and two nights in a new bamboo eco-camp called Lupa Masa, surrounded by primary forest, rivers and waterfalls – spectacular and very relaxing. Monkeys, hornbills rare birds and with luck the world’s biggest flower, the rafflesia, may be in bloom nearby. There is a one hour trek to a private 30m waterfall, you can try out the nearby hot-springs and canopy walkway or simply relax on the veranda by the river. Here you will find your Mountain Clothes ready for the next section.|
|12||A short drive to Mesilau Nature Resort in Mt Kinabalu national park and start the climb of Mt Kinabalu to the mountain lodges at Laban Rata (3300m).|
|13||Hike up to the Gurkha Hut, which will take about 5 hours and set up camp. This is one of the most spectacular mountain huts in the world, about 40 minutes below the summit of the mountain and surrounded by granite peaks. There will be time in the afternoon to explore some of the nearby peaks and in the evening experience the wonder of a sunset over the rainforest far below. This is truly a highlight of the trip, on the roof of Borneo.|
|14||Summit of Low’s Peak, the highest point in Borneo and a day spent exploring the western plateau, or a day visiting the Eastern Plateau. The choice will depend entirely on the weather, since the route to the eastern side is not easy and any rainfall will make it too difficult. Either way, the peaks and views are wonderful on this truly unique mountain, a granite batholith rising out of the grandmother of all rainforests. Overnight at the Gurkha Hut.|
|15||An early start to descend to park HQ (8 hours) via the main trail and a transfer by 4x4 to the beach resort for some very well earned rest. Pick up Travel and Beach Clothes.|
|16-17||River rafting on the Kiulu river (grade 1-2), and rest at the beach and optional snorkeling at one of the islands.|
|18||Shopping in the city and flight from Kota Kinabalu. Possible to arrive home same day or the following depending on flights.|
Mt Kinabalu and Mt Tambuyukon cost: £1,995.00
- All accommodation throughout trip
- All local transport during the trip, including internal flight to Sandakan
- All food throughout the trip apart from meals in Kota Kinabalu at beginning/end of trip
- Mountain climbing permits
- Western guide, jungle trek guide, local mountain guide and porters (for group gear)
- Tents, stoves, fuel and all group equipment
- White water rafting on the Kiulu River
- International return flight (to Kota Kinabalu)
- Personal Insurance
- Personal equipment and expenses
- Lunches and dinners in Kota Kinabalu
- Visit to the island for snorkeling (optional)
This trip is quite difficult and involves hiking in the rainforest in high levels of humidity and temperature, whereas the summit of Kinabalu can be very cold and windswept. Hiking ten kilometers in the rainforest is considered a big day, and the conditions are unrelenting since there is no air conditioning! Sleeping out in the rainforest is a wondrous experience but there are lots of insects and nights especially can be memorable. Having said that, the jungle is an extremely clean environment and the wildlife is captivating.
Mount Kinabalu can be very cold and windswept on the summit, or it can be hot and balmy; it is a significant adventure to camp near the summit and explore the many peaks, but it is also remote and strenuous up there.
This trek will appeal to enthusiastic trekkers looking to experience the rainforest environment, and who are quite able to live in basic conditions. The food will be wholesome and tasty, organic and mostly vegetarian. You will be sleeping in tents, in hammocks and occasionally in lodges and mountain huts. This is a varied programme over a long enough period of time to really feel that this is an expedition, and not just an adventure holiday.
Type of Terrain
The rainforest is a very clean environment to visit and live in. The canopy offers excellent shade from the intense sun and traps moisture, however it is very humid and a lot of water will need to be continually drunk. There are plenty of streams to cross, drink from and bathe in for a bit of coolness.
The terrain for the most part is easy to follow and we travel using trails which have been the jungle arteries for the local native residents for hundreds of years, going up and down over the ridges and ripples of the land. You will not be off the beaten track with a machete beating your own trail!
The paths can be very muddy and slippery, but movement is never fast. We will carry little, and there will be lots of stops for drinking and cooling off in the streams. Travel in the jungle is up and down, a lot of hills and often not much to see except the canopy above you and the impenetrable forest around you. Stand still for a moment and the animals will easily be seen and heard. The trails are wide enough for one person and it is important to stick together.
Lying 12 km to the north of Mount Kinabalu, cloaked in cloud and mist, Mount Tambuyukon at 2579 m (8462ft) is the third highest mountain in Sabah and Malaysia. Sabah is home to Malaysia's three highest mountains. Mount Kinabalu (4095 m or 13,436 ft) is well-known as the highest point in South East Asia between the Himalayas and the mountains of New Guinea; it is famous for the sheer majesty and grandeur of its granite peaks and its immense biodiversity. Mount Tambuyukon in Ranau district is much less frequented because of the remote location.
Tambuyukon, a twin peaked mountain which from a distance looks like the double hump of a buffalo immersed in murky waters, lies between the boundaries of Kinabalu Park and as a result we need to obtain permission from Sabah Parks to ascend this mountain. The ascent begins at Kg. Monggis on the eastern flank, a 2-hour drive by gravel road from Ranau. There are two trails to the summit, one from Kg. Monggis, and the other, from the Parks substation less than a km away from the village. Most use the older trail from the village on the way up, its gentler gradient making the ascent that much easier. The trail from the substation, cut recently by Sabah Parks, is more challenging because of its many ascents and descents and river crossings.
Both trails converge at 5000ft the location of the second camp.
Mount Kinabalu is an oval-shaped granite dome which arose from volcanic and tectonic movements about 1.5 million years ago, which was followed by glacial erosion during the Ice Age, and this accounts for the smooth rock surface. The lower slopes are steep, but the path is well trodden with regular water stops and many wooden steps that meander ever upwards. There is no doubt that it seems never-ending, especially in the midday heat! As you trek through the vegetation zones, there are many view points to enjoy and lots of stops. A lot of people climb the mountain, so you are rarely alone, although you do feel very jealous of those coming down.
Above the hut at Laban Rata you pass onto the high plateau, from vegetation to rock, and the terrain is altogether different. It is utterly bare of plant life, just miles of granite and many peaks and spires. It is easy to walk across, except when it is raining. When the surface is wet you have to be very careful of slipping. When the cloud comes down it is very easy to get lost up on this remote plateau, so be very aware of the weather.
Coming down the mountain can be difficult too, with hundreds of steps to negotiate until your knees are complaining and your feet are sore. Again, it seems never-ending, but at least you are now passing people on their way up who are feeling jealous of you!
- Some items here are duplicated in order to show you what you should pack for each stage of the trip.
- Mountain Bag
- Rucksack with waterproof liner, various size waterproof stuff sacks
- Sleeping bag, synthetic, 3 season
- Sleeping bag liner
- Sleeping mat, closed cell
- Base layer (top), trousers, shorts, trekking t-shirts and midlayers, fleece jacket
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Hiking boots or strong shoes with good tread and high supportive ankle, sandals
- Socks, underwear
- Warm gloves, sunhat or cap, warm hat, lightweight buff
- Water bottles, headtorch
- Food that is light and easy to eat - like raisins, chocolate, nuts, energy bars
- Jungle Bag
- T-shirts and shorts (cycling shorts are good), leech socks (can be bought locally in KK)
- Underwear and lightweight socks (only for evening time)
- Lightweight long trousers or tracksuit bottoms, light long sleeved top/shirt
- Trainers (you can buy good jungle shoes in KK on arrival which are worn without socks), flip flops
- Daysack with dry bags for gear
- Lightweight sleeping bag and liner, lightweight towel and face towel
- Water bottle, sunhat, Insect repellant
- Beach/Travel Bag
- Travel Clothes, beachwear
- Personal washing kit, sun cream, sunglasses, personal 1st aid kit, hiking stick (optional)
- Mug, bowl and cutlery, toilet tissue paper, glucose and rehydration salts, dry bags and personal items
Additional Kit Info
It can get very hot and humid in the jungle, so light clothing is obvious, although the best clothing to wear in is tight cycling shorts and lightweight breathable tops. Light longsleeved and long trousered clothing in the evening will help against flying insects.. On the trail in the jungle, light shoes and light clothing with a set of dry clothes to change into on arrival at the village. Socks are not necessary. Operate a wet and dry set of clothing, keeping your dry gear in drybags all the time. Sleeping will be in huts or pondoks or in hammocks.
On the mountain you need light gear for the lowlands and warm clothes plus waterproofs for the high camps. Sleeping bag should be a 3 season synthetic bag, easier to dry, and do bring a liner to sleep in when it is too hot. Trainers are fine for the trekking but on the high mountain you will need lightweight hiking shoes/boots with good tread. Also sandals or flip flops. Sun injuries are common, so bring good cover, UV lip salves, good sunglasses and after sun. Obviously stuff can get very wet and damp, so dri-bags are important and stuff sacks. All types of food and snacks can be bought locally.
At the beach, beach gear with lots of protection against the sun, the sun is very intense and it is extremely easy to get badly burnt in the water.
- We offer small scale, authentic expeditions, which can also be tailormade.
- We employ fully salaried local staff within a local subsidary company to ensure that revenue is retained in the host nation.
- All our guides and staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience.
- We have built up partnerships with local guides and drivers which are mutually beneficial and exist on a fair and open basis so that the host country and its people may fully benefit from tourism without being exploited.
- We are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development worldwide in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security is guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.
- We are members on Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- Adventure Alternative financially supports the tree-planting project funded by Moving Mountains Trust, who are currently providing over £10,000 per year to the forest enrichment programme in the area where the Penan live