At 4,095 metres above sea-level, the austere massif of Mount Kinabalu dominates the landscape of Northern Sabah.
It is the highest point in Borneo and offers a stiff but passable challenge for potential summiters with no recourse to climbing equipment.
For a couple with a baby, it would be a crazy idea.
The experience of Kinabalu for us is to be restricted to another forest trek taking us about halfway to the summit to a point from where the real challenge kicks in.
We cover a 5.6 km route in pretty quick time all considered and are glad for the drop in temperature that makes the climate here more like a Northern European Summers day. Warm, but bearable.
The route itself is undulating and at times slippery underfoot, but poses no great challenge even for someone with a 10kg human hitching a ride. We pass through part of the most biodiverse area on the planet, who’s estimated 5,000-6,000 plant species is greater than all plant species in Europe and the USA combined.
We encounter numerous insectivorous pitcher plants,
but unfortunately do not come upon a Rafflesia plant. The Rafflesia has the largest flower of any known plant and it’s blooms can span up to nearly 1 metre (3ft) in diameter pretty difficult to miss if you do pass one!
No snakes, no spiders, no monkeys today and disappointingly, still no hornbill birds spotted.
We did however encounter a fresh landslide which from
the lack of footprints and footholds cut into its yellow mud suggested that only a few other hikers had passed this way since the fall had taken place.
Warilly, I tested the terrain and charted a route across the mudflow using uprooted trees as support and placing large stones at a few key points in order to provide the 0.5 and boy onboard with an easier passage.
Both relieved to make it safely across, we swiflty covered the last 2km of the hike, ascending steeply to the end point where we were glad to avail of a bench to finally rest our legs.
Sapped of energy due to having no lunch apart from a couple of biscuits each, we flagged down a passing bus and fortunately secured the last seats back to Kota Kinabalu where we then needed to squeeze into a mini-van crowded with local workers in order to get back to the central district.
They say that backpacking in South-East Asia usually results in significant weight loss. At this rate I’ll be marketing our itinerary as an heir apparent to the latest celebrity low-carb or GI diet.