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Mount Kinabalu Holidays
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.
The range of climatic zones on the mountain has led to the incredible diversity of plant and animal life. There are thought to be more than 1200 species of orchid alone and this does not include the innumerable mosses, ferns and fungi. These flowering plants of Kinabalu are said to represent more than half the families of flowering plants in the world. Among the most unusual of Kinabalu’s flora is the world’s largest flower, the rust-coloured rafflesia. Kinabalu is also famous for the carnivorous pitcher plants, which grow to varying sizes on the mountain. Nine different species have been recorded on Kinabalu. The largest is the giant Rajah Brooke’s pitcher plant.
There are more than 100 species of mammal living in the park, including flying lemurs, red-leaf monkeys, wild pigs, orang-utan, the slow loris and the mischievous-looking bug-eyed tarsier. More than half of Borneo’s 518 species of bird have also been recorded in Kinabalu Park. More than 61 species of frog and toad and 100 species of reptile live here.