Hiking is a popular activity in Malaysia, with many beautiful and challenging trails to explore. Sabah, located in the northern part of Borneo Island, is a paradise for adventure travelers, particularly hikers. With its towering mountains, dense rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking landscapes. Sabah offers a variety of hiking trails suitable for all levels of hikers, from beginners to experienced hikers looking for a challenge. From the popular Mount Kinabalu to lesser-known trails like Mount Trusmadi and Maliau Basin, there’s something for everyone. Each hiking trail offers a unique experience, with stunning landscapes, wildlife sightings, and the opportunity to learn about the local culture. Its rich biodiversity, with a wide range of flora and fauna that hikers can experience firsthand on their hiking adventures. Sabah’s lush rainforests are home to a variety of animals such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, Bornean gibbons, and many more. Birdwatchers will also be thrilled with the chance to spot some of the 622 species of birds found in Sabah.
In this blog, we will take you on a journey through three of the most famous hiking destinations in Sabah: Mount Kinabalu, Mount Trus Madi, and the Maliau Basin.
As a seasoned hiker and nature lover, I have been fortunate enough to experience the breathtaking beauty of three of Sabah’s ultimate hiking destinations – Mount Kinabalu, Mount Trusmadi, and Maliau Basin.
The journey begins with the iconic Mount Kinabalu, which stands tall at 4,095 meters. Mount Kinabalu was an experience like no other. As we made our way to the starting point at Timpohon Gate, we were filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation for what lay ahead. The guide we met there was friendly and welcoming, making sure that we had all the necessary gear for the climb. As we set off on the trail, we were immediately immersed in the beauty of the lush greenery and the calming sound of the streams.
The trek was a mix of steep inclines and flat terrains, passing through dense rainforests and picturesque waterfalls. We were surrounded by an abundance of flora and fauna, including pitcher plants, orchids, and butterflies. The trail itself was well-maintained, making the climb easier for us. After a few hours of trekking, we arrived at the Laban Rata Resthouse, where we would be spending the night before continuing our climb to the summit.
The resthouse was a welcome relief after a long day of hiking. We were greeted by warm hospitality and a comfortable place to rest. The views of the surrounding peaks and valleys were breathtaking, and we were able to enjoy a hearty meal before settling in for the night.
The second day of the climb was more challenging, with steep inclines and a higher altitude. However, the stunning views of the sunrise from the top made it all worth the effort. The sense of accomplishment we felt when we reached the summit was indescribable. We were able to take in the magnificent view of the surrounding landscape, feeling a sense of awe and appreciation for the natural beauty of the world.
We descended from Mount Kinabalu back down to the National Park, ready to be transported to our next on our list of Sabah’s ultimate hiking destinations is Mount Trusmadi, and this hike is truly a hidden gem. Tucked away in the Crocker Range of Sabah, this mountain offers a unique experience for hikers seeking an adventure off the beaten path.
After a good night rest in Kota Kinabalu City, the next day we journey to Mount Trusmadi, at 3.5 hours we arrived in the quaint village of Sinua, where we were greeted by the local villagers with warmth and hospitality. The starting point was already at an elevation of 1,500 meters, the village is a nice relaxation away from the busy hustle and bustle of the city and we were excited to begin our ascent to the summit, standing tall at 2,642 meters.
The first day of the hike was a gradual ascent through dense forests with a river crossing or two, where we could hear the sound of rushing water as we made our way up. The local guide pointed out various plants and animals along the trail, including pitcher plants and colorful birds that are unique to this region. As we climbed higher, the trail became steeper, and we had to be more careful with our footing.
The second day of the hike was more challenging, with a steep incline that required some scrambling. The guide helped us navigate through the rocky terrain, and we were rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and hills. The summit was a vast open space with strong winds blowing, making it feel like we were standing on top of the world. Bonus! We had Mount Kinabalu view from on top of Mount Trusmadi, was breathtaking!
What made this hike unique was the fact that it was less crowded than Mount Kinabalu, and we felt like we had the mountain all to ourselves. The stunning views from the summit made the effort well worth it, and we felt a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment as we made our way back down to the village. Overall, the Mount Trusmadi hike is a must-do for hikers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. The hospitality of the local villagers, the unique flora and fauna, and the stunning panoramic views from the summit make it a truly unforgettable experience.
After a short refreshment we made our way towards Maliau Basin. The journey began with a bumpy ride through the lush Borneo rainforest to the Maliau Basin Study Centre. It was a long journey, but the scenery of Crocker Range made it all worth it. The four-hour ride was filled with stunning views that kept me in awe throughout the journey. Upon arriving at the Maliau Basin Study Centre, we had a chance to stretch and enjoy a refreshing ‘Welcome Drink.
After checking in, we went on an introductory walk surrounding the centre. We learned about the biodiversity of this amazing place known as ‘Sabah’s Lost World.’ The night drive to spot for nocturnal wildlife was one of the highlights of the day. We spotted a few animals and heard the sounds of the forest, which was truly unforgettable.
The second day was challenging but exciting. We woke up early for breakfast and got ready to be transferred to Agathis camp, which was another one and a half hour by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Our 7.5km trek started from Agathis Camp all the way to Nepenthes Camp. We stopped for lunch (packed lunch) along the way. Upon arrival at the camp, we checked in and rested for a while. We then proceeded on a roughly two-hour trek to Giluk Falls. We returned to the camp for dinner and overnight.
On the third day, we woke up for breakfast and packed our stuff, not forgetting to collect our packed lunch. We then covered the 7km trek to Ginseng camp, settling down upon arrival and proceeding to Ginseng fall, which was about a 500m downhill trek. We then returned to Ginseng camp for dinner and rest.
The fourth day was probably the most exciting day of the hike. After breakfast, we got ready for the trek to Maliau Falls. The Maliau Waterfall is the most undisputed jewel of Maliau Basin, famous for its seven-tiered waterfalls. The trek to the falls was challenging, but the stunning views of the waterfall made it all worth it. We spent some time at the falls and then returned to Ginseng Camp for dinner and overnight.
The fifth and final day was a long day ahead. We woke up early for breakfast and hiked back to Agathis Camp, which was about a 6-hour hike (9km journey), stopping for a lunch break along the way. Upon arrival at Agathis Camp, we got transferred back to the centre (one and a half hour), and then journeyed back to Kota Kinabalu, with an expected time of arrival in Kota Kinabalu at about 8 pm.
Overall, the five-day hike to Maliau Basin was a unique and immersive experience. The breathtaking views, the sound of the forest, and the wildlife we saw made it all worth it. The Maliau Falls were definitely the highlight of the hike, and it is a place I would recommend any nature lover to visit. The journey was challenging, but the memories we made were truly unforgettable.’
In conclusion, hiking in Sabah offers a unique and challenging experience for adventurers and nature lovers. From the iconic Mount Kinabalu to the rugged terrain of Mount Trusmadi and the pristine rainforest of the Maliau Basin, Sabah’s hiking trails are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a sense of accomplishment.0