Friday, June 08, 2007

Borneo Adventure Vacation - Conquering Mount Kinabalu Via The Mesilau Summit Trail

If you are visiting Borneo for an adventure vacation, then conquering the mystical Mount Kinabalu is not really an option - it is 'the' priority.

The mystical Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, is strategically located at the Kinabalu National Park, a designated World Heritage Site. Kinabalu National Park is just about two hours drive from the city of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

Mount Kinabalu, which stood at around 4,095 meters above sea level, is an icon for Sabah as well as for Malaysia tourism. Therefore, it is of no surprise that every year, thousands flocked to climb or rather, trek up the mountain. Although the traditional route up Mount Kinabalu is via the Kinabalu Summit Trail at Kinabalu National Park, there is an alternative route on the other side of Mount Kinabalu called the Mesilau Summit Trail, a newer and more challenging route. This trail is definitely one for those who are more adventurous to consider seriously.

The Mesilau Summit Trail at the Mesilau Nature Park on the Mesilau plateau is about 30 minutes by road away from Kinabalu National Park or about 108 km from Kota Kinabalu.

It is advisable to stay a night at Mesilau before starting your ascent up Mount Kinabalu as the journey from Kota Kinabalu will likely to leave you rather exhausted. Take a rest and acclimatize with the higher altitude at the eco-friendly Mesilau Nature Resort, which is nestled amongst the trees at the foot of the mountain at about 2,000 metres above sea level within the Park. The resort has a total of 22 lodges and 96 resthouse beds.

As for the climb up to Mount Kinabalu, the Mesilau Summit Trail is definitely more rugged, about 1.5km further than the trail from Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu National Park. But it offers more opportunities for viewing flora and fauna. The Mesilau route is still relatively new, but some shelters and toilets have been built along the trail for the convenience of trekkers. The route is also less crowded than the old summit trail. You won't bank into many mountain climbers on the way up.

The first ascent of the Mesilau Trail does involve a climb up, then a drop into the Mesilau valley, and then another ascent to regain the lost height. You will get to see both the Kinabalu and Mesilau routes at higher ground. The trail is also more "jungle" than the traditional Kinabalu Summit Trail. When trekking uphill, it is fortunate that the trail is well laid with steps cut into the earth and thus, making walking easy.

Layang-layang (Place of Swallows) is where the Mesilau Trail meets the Kinabalu Summit Trail at 2,740m. From there onwards, you will notice that the vegetation zone is like a forest of bent and twisted silvery-grey trunks with peeling bark.

A short hike after the sixth shelter, you will reach the mid-summit (i.e., Laban Rata). Conservatively, it should take a normal fit person an average 6-7 hours to reach Laban Rata, where you will be required to stay a night at Laban Rata Resthouse or at other nearby accommodations (i.e., Mountain Huts and VIP Lodge). From there, the second and more grueling ascent will follow the traditional route all the way to the summit (i.e., Low's Peak), which will start early morning the next day at around 2 am to 3 am

The ascent should normally take a few hours but it is much more challenging than the initial ascent as the trail gets more tiring with each step up the slope as the air gets thinner and thinner. On top of this, you have to battle the freezing cold temperature (sometimes below zero degrees Celsius). If its rains and windy, it will be doubly challenging.

But once you get to the summit and catch the truly magnificent glimpse of the sunrise, you would have forgotten the tough climb. You will feel on top of the world looking down at the tiny villages and small islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.

For those who had climbed Mount Kinabalu before via the Kinabalu Summit Trail or for those who are searching for a more challenging trek, the Mesilau Summit Trail definitely offers a fuller Mount Kinabalu climbing and adventure vacation experience. To quote an avid climber: "You have not truly conquered Mount Kinabalu if you have not conquer it from both sides of the mountain".
About the Author

Rich Adz is a writer for, Borneo's leading trip advisor and travel planner. Also visit Borneo Tropical Vacation for more info on Sabah.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Recommended Visits In Johor Malaysia

Ayer Itam

Ayer Itam is a small town famous for its ceramic, pottery and porcelain crafts. Ceramic vases, crockery and the delicate porcelain here make attractive and expensive gifts. The bazar-like atmosphere appeals to visitors.

Tanjung Piai-Johor National Park

Tel: +607-6969712

Dubbed the southernmost tip of mainland Asia, Tanjung Piai is a haven for a diverse species of flora and fauna and a hot spot for birdwatchers to visit during the migratory seasons, which falls around September and March.

Puteri Waterfall

Gunung Ledang's breathtaking Puteri Waterfall, is a popular picnic spot, especially on weekends and public holidays. The view from the summit of the mountain lures thrill seekers to scale it peak.

Mount Lambak Recreational Forest

Located at the foothill of Mount Lambak, this recreational forest is perfect for picnics, swimming and mountain climbing.

Pulau Aur

Pulau Aur (Aur Island) is located 65km east of Mersing on the east coast of Johor. This island is rated by divers as on eof the best scuba diving destinations within the Johor Marine Park area.

Desaru Beach

Twenty-five kilometres of white, sandy beach and lush tropical greenerymakes up Dasaru - the most popular beach in Johor. Dearu is also known as the ' Village Of Casuarina '.

Pulau Pemanggil

Pemanggil Island is a fisherman's best kept secret. It is well known for deep sea fishing and angling for marlins - black one if you are fortunate, and mackerels.


Kukup, is a well known fishing village with most of its houses built on stilts. With a farming and fishing population mainly of Bugis descent, it is famous for its fish farms and restaurants.

Dataran Bandaraya

Since its official opening, many state events and cultural performance have taken place here. The clock tower overlooks a beautiful fountain, and a wide open green lawn, making it a great vanue for outdoor performance and events.

Endau-Rompin Johor National Park

Tel: +607-702 1100

This National Park, encompasses the rivers Endau and Rompin, from which it derives its name. It contains rich flora and fauna.

Teluk Ramunia

Teluk Ramunia has several beach resorts that cater to the needs of budget travellers as well as those seek a bit more comfort at reasonable price. A sea sports centre here rents out various water sports equipment.

Danga Bay

Danga Bay stretches for about 3km, and is actually the waterfront of Johor Bahru. To view the causeway that links Johor to Singapore, try a dinner cruise that is available.

Pulau Tinggi

Pulau Tinggi or Tinggi Island is one of the many captivating tropical islands that nestless the eastcoast of Johor. Its white, sandy beach surrounded by alluring blue waters make it a perfect haven.

Air Papan Beach

Air Papan is synonymous with Pesta Air Papan (Air Papan Festival), which is held annually on May 1. Each year, the events draws a huge number of local tourists to join in the fun and games.

Orchid Valley

Visiting Hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm

Tel: +607-527 1122

Orchid Valley is reputedly the largest tropical orchid farm in the world. It has beautiful and exotic orchids from over 80 varieties. It is also internationally recognised, with some hybrids registered with the World Orchid Society in London.

Pulau Rawa

Renowned for its spotless stretch of white coral sand beach, and offshore coral reefs, Rawa Island is unmatched by other islands off Mersing.

Pulau Sibu

The island's calm and quiet ambience is the perfect choice for those who dream of a relaxing and laid back vacation. The coral reef encircling the island is home to many colourful and exotic fish and marine life, making it haven for scuba divers.

Penyabong Beach

The beach has many attractions and activities for visitors, which includes boating, canoeing, fishing, camping and jungle treking at a nearby forest. You can also visit Malay villages here, take an island excursion or visit a kelong (fish farm) on the way back.


The town of Tangkak is known as the "Textile Town" of Malaysia, offering prices that are lower than those in the cities. The range of fabrics and upholstery are endless, with some produced locally and others, imported from Asian countries and Europe.

Sultan Abu Bakar Royal Museum

Tel: +607-223 0222

Opening Hours: 9.00am - 4.00pm

The museum occupies the Istana Besar (Grand Palace) which was specially commissioned in 1864 by the father of modern Johor Sultan Abu Bakar

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque

Tel: +607-223 4935

The mosque on a hill top cpmbines neo-classical western and Islamic architecture.

Johor Baru Duty Free Zone

Opening Hours: 10.00am - 10.00pm

Johor Bahru Duty Free Zone is the largest duty-free complex in Malaysia strategically sited on a 17 acre of prime land at the end of Jalan Ibrahim Sultan in Stulang, Johor Bahru. The zone comprises of shopping area and a 503 room international class hotel above the shopping complex.

The Mawar House Handicraft Centre

The cebtre offers hand-drawn and dyed batik cloths, batik paintings, straw mats and other goods for sale, making it a one-stop handicraft centre destined to be one of Johor's leading tourist attractions. There are also demonstration of traditional songket weaving, batik silk painting and the art of fine pottery.

Tropical Village

This is a 32-acre theme park that features replicas of the world's famous structures within its grounds.

Gunung Ledang

Surrounded by mythical stories, Gunung Ledang is located near Tangkak and is surrounded by lush protected rainforests.

Hutan Bandar

Equipped with a children's adventure park, an orchid garden, seven lakes, campsite, chalets and food court, this park, located in the heart of the city, is an ideal haunt for urbanites.

Kota Tinggi Waterfall

One of Johor's noted natural attraction, the Kota Tinggi Waterfall is a favourite among the locals and visitors. Originating from Guning Panti, the waterfall cascades down a rock face some 34m into a small pool below.

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