Kinabalu National Park
At the foot of majestic Mount Kinabalu lies Kinabalu National Park, home to a vast assortment of unique flora and fauna, including the famous Rafflesia, the world's largest flower.
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Covering an area of 754 square kilometres, Kinabalu National Park was established in 1964 as a haven to preserve a myriad species of flora and fauna, including the world's largest flower and the largest pitcher plant. Thus, it was no surprise when it earned the privilege of becoming the first national park in Malaysia to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in December 2000. Due to its proximity to Kota Kinabalu, it is a popular destination for those seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The park, unlike its counterpart Mulu National Park which is famous for the Mulu Caves, is acclaimed for its diverse range of plants and animals and high levels of endemism. Kinabalu National Park has recorded over 600 species of ferns, out of which 50 are indigenous to the park. This amount is 20 percent more than recorded on the entire continent of Africa. The park also contains an abundance of the Nepenthes insectivorous pitcher plants, of which five out of 13 species can only be found here. The park's role as an important biological site in the world was highlighted by a survey conducted on the botanical life in the park. The survey revealed an astounding 5,000 to 6,000 plant species thriving in Kinabalu National Park, an amount higher than that of all the plant species of Europe and North America, excluding Mexico's tropical regions, combined.
The main attraction in Kinabalu National Park is Mount Kinabalu. The foundations for Mount Kinabalu was created 15 million years ago when huge amounts of molten rock were forced up to the surface, eventually hardening into a granite mound. Though it was formed only 10 million years ago, it is still considered the youngest non-volcanic mountain in the world and is still growing at a rate of 5 millimetres a year. The climb up to the summit of Mount Kinabalu is one of the main reasons why many visit the park every year. The adrenalin rush as one attempts to conquer the mountain, the sense of achievement after a successful hike and the breathtaking views during the climb makes all the effort worthwhile.
A visit to the quaint Poring Springs is highly suggested to those who wish to just stroll through the park and enjoy its natural beauty. Famous for the therapeutic hot springs, Poring Springs has quite a few attractions to offer its patrons, including a butterfly farm, filled with a mesmerizing variety of butterflies, and an orchid conservation centre that is bound to amaze.
Ever wonder how does the rainforest look like from a bird's eye view? The Poring Canopy Walkway might be able to give its visitors such an experience, with its excellent views of the forests, streams and waterfalls from as high as 41 metres above the ground. For those who fancy a refreshing dip in cool waters there is the Kipungit Waterfall. Just a 30 minute hike along well-marked paths from Poring Hot Springs, an afternoon at the waterfalls is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends.
The many delights of nature experienced by visitors at Kinabalu National Park makes this tourist destination a truly unforgettable one.
There are daily flights going to and from Kota Kinabalu from the major cities in Malaysia.
From the Terminal Bas Bandaraya (Utara), take buses heading towards Kundasang or Ranau. The fare charged is RM15 per person. Buses are available from 7.30am to 5.00pm. The journey to the park is about 2 hours.
As Kinabalu National Park is located 88 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, traveling by taxi is another option which can be considered. The fares imposed will depend on where the taxi is chartered. Taxis hired at Ranau taxi stand, located next to Merdeka Field, costs approximately RM160 whereas cost for taxis chartered from hotel lobby could be double the amount mentioned earlier.
By Car Rental
Rental of cars can also be arranged from the hotel lobby or with the local car rental operators.
Accommodation is available within Kinabalu National Park at several locations – nearby the park headquarters, Poring Hot Springs and Mesilau. There are premier lodges available, some with kitchen facilities included. Dormitory style bunk beds are also available for those who are on a budget. Camping within the park is limited to Poring Hot Springs only.
For those who are climbing Mount Kinabalu, accommodation is also available at Laban Rata, on the slopes of the mountain. Laban Rata offers standard rooms as well as dormitory style accommodation.