Travellers will be arriving at different times during the day so feel free to arrive at the joining point at any time as there are no planned activities. The group meeting is normally set for 6pm on the day of arrival. Please check reception for a note from your CEO. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city that was born between the wild jungles and the South China Sea. Having survived World War II bombings, KK now has a charm that can only be found in a frontier town. In your free time you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, home to a notorious head hunter, or explore the islands off-shore of Kota Kinabalu, excellent for swimming or snorkeling. Allow approximately USD15 for an island visit, although costs can vary depending on your negotiating skills, the time you wish to spend on the island and the number of people with whom you share a boat with.
In the early morning we travel to the base of Mt Kinabalu by bus, a journey of approximately two-and-a-half hours. Mt Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Hopefully you'll catch a glimpse of the summit, which in the afternoon is often shrouded in cloud. The huge rock monolith looms over us as a daunting reminder of the climb we are about to embark on but don't be discouraged, it's a rewarding experience! We stay at the foot of the mountain, so there's the opportunity to stretch your legs by exploring the trails around the park, check out the visitor centre or if you wish, or do an optional trip to Ranau and Poring Hot Springs. There are some beautiful nature walks around the headquarters and at Poring Hot Springs, through lowland tropical forest on well marked trails. Alternatively you can relax for the afternoon and mentally prepare yourself whilst listening to the sounds of the jungle. In the evening we have a short briefing about tomorrows climb. If you do not wish to climb you can arrange to stay at the base of the mountain.
We set off early to begin the ascent up Mt Kinabalu. It is not an easy walk, but it is incredibly rewarding, willpower being the main requirement, as it's uphill all the way! The well-marked trail is predominantly made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can affect anyone, no matter how fit you are, and it can certainly slow you down a fair bit. There's no rush,the key to success with altitude is to drink plenty of water, take your time and enjoy the pristine environment. We leave our main packs in storage. Carrying just an overnight pack, you pass an extraordinary variety of plant life including fungi, mosses, lichen, varieties of orchids and several types of carnivorous pitcher plant. If you a very lucky you may even see rafflesia, the worlds largest flower. The climb is 8km and usually takes between 5 and 7 hours. There are shelters along the way to stop for brief rests. We spend night 3 at Laban Rata in basic mountain huts. Laban Rata is at an altitude of 3,272m. Food and refreshments are available at Laban Rata and you can normally rent towels and a sleeping bag for a nominal fee. It's an early night in order to prepare for the final climb very early tomorrow morning! Getting to the summit (4095.2m) from Laban Rata takes 2-3 hours. If for any reason, you are separated from your group higher on the mountain, there is a thick white rope all the way to the summit. If visibility is very low it may be necessary to hold onto the rope and follow it. The rope leads all the way from the vegetation belt above Panar Laban to the summit. The weather on the summit can deteriorate very quickly, with thick mist reducing visibility to 3m, rain storms and strong winds can also occur at times. When climbing on the summit and the higher part of the mountain, it's important to have sufficient warm clothes, a headtorch, spare batteries, waterproof rain coat, food and water. During the descent we stop at our mountain hut before continuing to the park head quarters and returning to our accommodation for the night. The descent is tough on the knees and takes approximately 5-7 hours. A certificate is available to prove that you completed the climb - this can be arranged for RM10. You can for an additional charge hire a porter to carry your bag. The porters charge per weight.
We journey overland next by bus for around 6 hours to an area known as Sukau where we visit the Kinabatangan River. This is Sabah's longest river and home to an incredible variety of wildlife. We stay in the jungle and get to observe an vast array of insects, birds and animals in their native environments. Walking along jungle trails and travelling by boat along the river you regularly see king fishers, hornbills, macaque, and proboscis monkeys. Very occasionally you may get lucky and see elephants, wild boar, otters, orangutans and other reclusive species. Our accommodation tonight is in the midst of the jungle is simple but a wonderful experience, offering twin-sharing rooms with with fan and mosquito netting and attached bathroom. Please note that the overnight stays of days 5 to 8 may swap on occasions, dependent on the availability of Selingan Island accommodation.
A 100km journey overland takes us to Sepilok where we visit Sepilok Orangutan Centre (approximately 5 hours). We pass through primary rain forest & Sabah's arable farming areas, which are predominately palm oil & rubber plantations. Sepilok is one of the highlights of the trip where you'll get to meet the adorable 'wild men of Borneo'. Orangutans and their human like features are a truly unforgettable experience. The centre is an excellent example of active conservation, re-introducing domesticated, injured and orphaned orangutans back into the wild. You'll visit one of the feeding platforms & there's a visitor centre where you can learn more about these amazing animals. There are walking trails where you can see not only orangutans, but several species of macaque & a host of other birds & wildlife roaming freely. (Please note there is an additional camera fee at the centre) It must be remembered the reserve is primarily set up to help re-introduce orangutans back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. As we walk into the reserve to see the semi-wild orangutans it is essential that we follow the parks instructions. We are not permitted to interfere or touch the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum.
Transfer to the jetty for a boat ride to Selingan Turtle Island Park. The journey to the island will take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Free time to snorkel, swim, explore the island, or simply relax on the beach. A chance to see the magnificent sight of turtles in their natural habitat. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner as the sun sets, then visit the Island Discovery Center to learn more about the life-cycles of these wondrous creatures as well as their history and threats to their existence. After this, wait for the rangers call to observe the Mother Turtle laying her eggs by the shore. Follow the rangers as they transfer the eggs to the hatchery, before heading back to the shore to witness the release of baby turtles to the open sea.
We may have time to take in some of the sights of the city, go shopping & experience the hustle & bustle of the waterfront markets, before transferring back to Kota Kinabalu by air (45min flight) & have more time to explore the city. On a clear day (depending on flight paths) you can sometimes see Mt Kinabalu from the air.
Today is departure day and you are free to continue your onward travel.