Sabah’s beauty is quite simply astonishing. Blessed with lush rainforests, aquatic splendours, incredible biodiversity, and magnificent mountains, Sabah is indeed one of the most physically stunning places on Earth. Here are some of the best places in Sabah for nature lovers!
It should not surprise anyone that Mount Kinabalu is on this list. Trek Mount Kinabalu’s Low’s Peak for its gorgeous sunrise view seems to be on every nature lover’s bucket list. Rising a whopping 4095 metres above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It is also one of the most accessible, with well-maintained paths, and the world’s highest via ferrata at 3776m above sea level. The dramatic climb through an array of incredibly diverse ecosystems is typically completed over two days, with hikers overnighting at Laban Rata, a spacious hut at 3,272m, before setting off before dawn to reach the granite dome of the summit. On the way down, you can opt to take the world’s highest via ferrata route, which was fully repaired following the 2015 earthquake.
Mount Kinabalu is surrounded by Kinabalu Park — Malaysia’s first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ecologically, the mountain and surrounding park are teeming with plant and wildlife – there are around 5000 species of flora and fauna, including three species of Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world. With its rich and diverse population of wildlife, Kinabalu Park draws thousands of nature lovers and observers to its location, making it one of the most iconic destinations in Sabah.
Tucked in the shadow of Malaysia’s highest mountain, Kundasang is a small town in the district of Ranau with an elevation of around 2000 metres above sea level, making it one of the coolest areas in Sabah, with temperatures dropping to 13ºC once the sun goes down. Famed for its uncanny resemblance to New Zealand, Kundasang is a popular getaway for the locals on weekends. One of the most picturesque spots in town is Desa Cattle Farm, a farm-cum-homestay with a majestic backdrop of Mount Kinabalu. You can enjoy the mesmerising scenery of green pastures surrounded with white picket fences and dotted with Highland Holstein Friesian cows here roaming the wide green field. You can buy freshly made dairy products and take pictures with the cute cattle roaming the wide green field.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park is a state marine park and comprises the five islands of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug. Located a mere three kilometres from the bustling city of Kota Kinabalu, the marine park is a sanctuary with secluded beaches and ancient rainforest and a stunning backdrop of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon. There is no shortage of snorkelling opportunities from diving near the Manukan Island for the chance to swim with tropical fishes to visiting the coral reefs near these islands’ fringes. You may also visit the Gaya Island, home to the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) which restores and rehabilitates different forms of marine wildlife. It has had great success in propagating giant clams. These islands in the marine park offer something for every underwater explorer.
The orangutan is an endearing symbol of Malaysian wildlife. This highly intelligent mammal is sadly on the WWF’s critically endangered list due to loss of habitat, poaching and fires that decimate the jungle. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is one of the largest sanctuaries for orangutans in the region to rehabilitate orphaned and injured orangutans. The facility provides medical care and food and trains the orangutans to survive in the wild in the hope that they can eventually return to their natural habitat. Nature lovers can observe orangutans living free at the reserve, swinging through the trees, and enjoying fresh fruit on the central feeding platforms. Also, you will be able to find out more about the plight of these endangered primates.
Just an hour from Kota Kinabalu, Tempasuk River thrives along an area of mangrove habitat forming an enticing playground for the Proboscis Monkeys, who swing on the high branches of the trees. This natural oasis, little touched by men and commercial tourism, has not lost its primitive wilderness and is best suited for nature and wildlife lovers. Cruising along the Tempasuk River in search of wildlife is an amazing experience to encounter wildlife primates such as the elusive long-nosed Proboscis Monkey, rare Silver Leaf Monkey, the mischievous macaques, and myriad species of birds that inhabit this unique riverine environment. As dusk falls, look out for nocturnal wildlife lurking by the riverbanks. On a moonless night, nature lovers will be mesmerized by a dramatic sight of the riverbanks glowing in the dark, lit up by flickering lights of fireflies amongst the mangrove trees that lace the Tempasuk River.
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