Mount Kinabalu is the pride of Sabah, the focal point of the national park and probably the most magnificent sight in Borneo. In recognition of this, the park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000 - a first for Malaysia. Although Mount Kinabalu has foothills, its dramatic rock faces, with cloud swirling around them, loom starkly out of the jungle. The view from the top is unsurpassed and on a clear day you can see the shadow of the mountain in the South China Sea, over 50 km away. Even if you're not planning on climbing Mount Kinabalu itself, it's well worth spending a few days exploring the park, one of the most biodiverse areas in Borneo.
The first person to reach the summit was John Whitehead, a zoologist, in 1888. More scientists followed and then a trickle of tourists, but it was not until 1964, when Kinabalu Park (encompassing 75,000 ha) was gazetted, that the 8.5 kilometre trail to the summit was opened. Today the mountain attracts 200000 visitors a year. Although the majority are day visitors who do not climb the peak, the number of climbers is steadily increasing, with at least 30000 making the attempt each year.