The Mesilau Route
To the Summit of Mt. Kinabalu
Some impressions of the Mesilau route, now that I’ve done it.
The Mesilau route is still very new, so has no toilets, shelters or water tanks until you join the main trail at Panar Laban. That was no problem at all.
Because we saw no other people until we joined the traditional route, wildlife was better. We had a great view of a yellow-throated marten digging furiously on the trail (until my niece got all excited and said a very loud “Ohh!”) Even our guide and his fellow guides down at Mesilau had never seen one before.
The resort is very good value, but under publicised. We were the ONLY guests in the whole resort. This meant we got a decent night’s sleep, which is usually not possible in the hostel at park HQ, although if you stay in the twin bed cabins or other accomm there, there is no problem. My own experience of the HQ hostel, and other people’s reports to me, suggest there are always rude people who are noisy all night. A real disadvantage if you want a good night’s sleep before climbing the Mountain, especially since you won’t get much sleep at Laban Rata. However I’ve now decided that the comfort of woollen blankets, all-night heating, privacy and hot showers make the slight extra expense of the cabins well worth it anyway.
The hostel at Mesilau has hot water and heating all night.
I rang Eric Wong, the boss of the Nat Park, since it proved impossible over about 5 million attempts, to phone Mesilau. I arranged a guided walk for Mesilau for the day before we climbed the mt. Because the ranger was there for the exclusive use of Hannah and me, we had an outstanding walk, uninterrupted by bus groups and the crowds that sometimes occur at park HQ. The ranger was superb, and we saw the pitcher plants with 2 litre capacity that I’d always been rather sceptical about.
The Mesilau climb does involve a climb up, then a drop into the Mesilau valley, and then another climb to regain the lost height. That was a great arrangement, as we got to see both routes. Our guide arranged transport (30 RM) to take us back to our car at Mesilau when we reached park HQ. The drive is about 30 mins.
Overall, if you’ve climbed the mt before, I’d recommend the Mesilau route. If not, then the traditional route is probably just as good. If you like to meet other westerners, then the traditional route is definitely better! Pretty jungle the Mesilau way.
Hard to compare distances, but I’d say it should be only about an extra hour the Mesilau way.
Kinabalu Gold Resorts will send you a route description and map if you ask them.
text written by Libby O’Connor and edited by Borneo Tour Specialists