Kinabalu National Park was one of the first national parks created in Malaysia. It has enormous significance biologically as it is home to over 4,500 fauna and flora species, over 300 birds, 100 mammals and if you would believe 110 species of snails.
I had master slow-legs with me (my very slow walking son) so there wasn’t a chance of climbing higher than the ordinary paths. To get to the park is an easy drive from Kota Kinabalu. (Two hours) Driving on Malaysia is a tad scary and I would greatly recommend a tour group. Mountain driving where road rules are not obeyed is not really the way I wish to leave this planet.
We stopped at Nabalu for a quick pit stop and the opportunity to buy some souvenirs. All the shop attendees have babies on the hips. I’m told it’s a marketing ploy but surely it’s more because daycare can’t be common and they need their mothers? Whatever the reason I’m always happy to part ways with some of my money for some useless souvenirs. We bought key rings for every kid in my sons class! I’m sure they loved them.
We arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage park to embark on a half hour climb to the canopy walk. It’s about 40 metres above the ground. This is about 39 too high for me, so needless to say- I wasn’t thrilled. Incredibly given my state of mind I marvelled at the wildlife and what we could see. I chose to visit Sabah in the dry season but this is also commonly referred to as ‘the haze’ and this thick cloud does not make for enjoying views. Ummmm, could totally derail your view of a trip huh? You’ve travelling thousands of miles to climb a mountain with captain slow-legs (that’s my son) and marvel at Mother Earth and you can’t see past 50 metres. Well, turns out slow-legs found some speed up on the canopy ditching his pack with poor old Mum. Not only did I have a back pack on my back and my front but I was so nerve racked I think I just got to a point where the haze was really the least of my concerns. The many waterfalls at least create a peaceful sound to sooth you.
There were so many butterflies that they almost seem like a pest. Butterflies are hard (not impossible) to come by in the city so I treasured this experience. Orchids are everywhere and it’s a treat to see them in the wild.
The highest peak is 4000 metres. We didn’t even attempt getting near to that.
Poring Hot Springs is nearby and the sulphuric minerals will sooth your muscles from your earlier walking. For me, the cold pool was the highlight. Who wants to be in hot springs in a hot country after a long walk? The children however delighted in running between hot and cold for hours.
We saw a Rafflesia. It was sold to us that 80% of Malaysians have not seen one. Amazingly then that a lot of tourists get to experience these amazing flowers. At the very least the incentive of growing these to make money from tourists will at least encourage the preservation of the species. The flower can grow up to a metre wide. The bud can weigh 10 kilograms. They take two years to flower from the bud so you can see why they are rare. I was told they don’t grow in the same place. The smell like rotting flesh. Yet, despite all those facts they are a marvel and I can’t help thinking perhaps in prehistoric times all flowers were this size.
A lot of tourists fly into Kota Kinabalu and then on to Sepilok missing the Kinabalu National Park. I’m glad we made the journey. It certainly comforted me in the knowledge that 754 square kilometres of rainforest was being preserved so well.