Kinabalu Park: A World On Its Own

Words by Hannah Reshma
Photos by Hamza Delbar

Kinabalu Park aka Taman Kinabalu was named a national park of Malaysia in 1964 was later designated the nation’s first World Heritage Site in 2000, thanks to the role the park plays as a primary and vital biological site of the world, holding thousands (almost 4500!) of species of flora and fauna.

Boasting high biodiversity, Kinabalu Park fully lives up to the claim, being home to many endemic species – species that occur nowhere else. The uniqueness of the species belonging to Kinabalu Park is possibly attributed to multiple factors, adaptation – lowland ancestors evolving due to cold weather, travel – species arriving from other cold regions, such as the Himalayas, and climate change – the migration of lowland species into the mountain regions as a refuge for species that prefer colder climates.

The park, 1, 585 metres above sea level , is located within Ranau district and situated on the Crocker Range (aka Banjaran Crocker). It serves as the entrance to the magnificent Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Malaysia, and one of the highest in the Southeast Asian region.  Formed within the last 10 to 35 million years (!), Mount Kinabalu is considered one of the ‘youngest’ non-volcanic mountains in the world, which continues to grow at a growth rate of 5mm a year.

An annual  event, The Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon is held sometime in September/October, and was started in 1984 as an internal competition designed to enhance rescue efforts on the mountain. However due to the intensity of the race, it soon evolved into an international challenge. Our guides, Sintiah (a three time champion) & Nasiri, plan on competing in the upcoming race, beginning training in a week, running from their houses to the main road, and each week, extending their route, until they are able to run to the first station of Mount Kinabalu with ease.

DSC_0474One of our guides, Nasiri, mapping the hiking trail to ‘Low’s Peak’; the highest point of Mount Kinabalu. The last segment of the hike is especially grueling, as it is the steepest.

Within Kinabalu Park, the ISO Sabah team did a mini-trek to the first entrance to Mount Kinabalu, and were unfortunately not permitted to go any further. However, the view from there alone, was more than spectacular for our city eyes. The view stretched miles and miles, the sea visible on the horizon. Below us, our guides highlighted a little village – Kampung Kiau – where we would be spending the night. From the platform we stood on, the base of Mount Kinabalu, it was apparent why Kinabalu Park is world renowned. True to life, the greenery was lush and rich with various species of plants and home to many animals, squirrels namely that were particularly friendly with the travellers.

DSC_0477The ‘cool’ view from the base station of Kinabalu Park

Standing amidst the mist, the cool air gently enveloping you, and picturesque scenery with every turn of your head, the experience of Kinabalu Park could not be described as anything but serene.

Fighting off everyday evil with her “spiciness”, Hannah relishes in the notion that she is cool and swag, but you probably could not find someone with less chill than her.


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