Did you know, officially, the top 3 highest mountain in Malaysia are all found in Sabah? Unofficially, with the recent…
Lying just 12 kilometers northeast of Mount Kinabalu is the aloof and low-profiled Mount Tambuyukon. From afar, it is difficult to get a proper view of the mountain as it is essentially blocked (except for from certain angles) by the higher and much more charismatic Mount Kinabalu. Standing at 2,580 meters (8,462 feet), Mount Tambuyukon is the third highest mountain in Malaysia after Mount Kinabalu and Mount Trus Madi. Nonetheless, being somewhat ‘unphotogenic’, little is known of this mountain and until recently, very few excursions have been made to climb Mount Tambuyukon–except only for botanical research purposes.
As I set foot at the Monggis Sub-station (267 meters; 875 feet), the starting point of our trekking adventure to conquer Mount Tambuyukon, trepidation begins to sink in. I have spent the day before researching this mountain I’m about to scale. Almost all of the blogs I read tell of a horror story filled with leeches, dangerous slopes and challenging terrains. For a moment, I wonder why have I said yes to this expedition, but I’m here and there’s no turning back.
The journey to Monggis sub-station takes two hours from Kota Kinabalu on a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Along the way, I welcome the distraction in the form of livestock-watching and nervous joke-exchanging with my teammates. Nap is out of the question as the whole stretch of road is gravelly. To call it a long and bumpy ride is a modest understatement.
HACAM ADV/2019/0115Gunung Tambuyukon atau Tamboyukon adalah gunung yang terletak di Bahagian Pantai Barat Sabah,…
After one-too-many group photos at the foot of the hill, we finally set off to conquer Tambuyukon. It is already past 1 pm and the sun is blazing. Within footsteps, I am already filled with regret. The hot, humid weather makes it quite difficult to breathe. Worse, I have stuffed myself with fried rice earlier at lunch. It immediately feels like the worst climb of my life. Within fifteen minutes, I have drained half a bottle of water. Noticing this, the potter behind me kindly reminds that the next water station is four kilometers away.
Note to climbers: guzzle water at your own risk.
With much persistence, we manage to reach Wuluh Camp at circa 5 pm–after four hours of trekking. Situated six kilometers from the Monggis sub-station, Wuluh Camp is quite a strategic site, being only five minutes away from the nearest river and surrounded by trees that make it easier to answer the call of nature.
Our guides, Maik Miki and Jimmy Ginsos, set up our camps and start preparing dinner as the rest of us scurry to the river for a refreshing bath before it gets cold and dark. After dinner, it is time for bed and four of us ladies do the impossible in fitting together in a tiny camp.
The next day, we start trekking early at 7.30 am for the next camp: Musang Camp. Musang Camp is situated 6 kilometers away from Wuluh Camp but the terrain is much more challenging this time around, with steep ascents and descents.
Being one of the least mainstream trekking destinations in Sabah, Mount Tambuyukon is well-preserved and raw. The vegetations growing on the forest floor are wedged rather densely together, with little or no obvious pathways, that it is very easy to get lost in the jungle. Therefore, it is advisable to travel closely together no matter how poky your companions are.
The best view comes after the hardest climb.Standing at 2579 meters, Mt. Tambuyukon is the third tallest mountain in…
The first detailed botanical expedition in Mount Tambuyukon was made by Willem Meijer in 1961. It has since been discovered that Mount Tambuyukon has a diverse population of plants and animals including seven species of pitcher plants (nepenthes): Nepenthes tentaculata, N. burbidgeae, N. edwardsiana, N. lowii, N. rajah, N. fusca, N. stenophylla, N. villosa, as well as two hybrid species which are N. x harryana (hybrid of N. edwardsiana and N. villosa) and N. x kinabaluensis (hybrid of N. rajah and N. villosa). The nepenthes plants are found in great abundance in the mossy forest between 1500 and 1800 meter above sea level. Most of the pitcher plants are quite small, measuring less than 12 centimeters in length.
Mount Tambuyukon’s forest floor is also markedly ornamented by attractive varieties of mushrooms, toadstools and fungi species such as the club fungi, bracelet fungi, slime molds, boletes, puffballs and stinkhorns. Other than that, plants such as endangered slipper orchids–Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, P. Hookerae, P. Javanica and Coelogyne radioferens–, rhododendrons and wild gingers are also found.
We arrive at Musang Camp at almost 6 pm. At 1400 meters above sea level, Musang Camp is decidedly colder than Wuluh Camp. The surrounding vegetations are also smaller and thinner. On a positive note, this camp is equipped with a makeshift toilet made of bamboo and canvas for covering. Due to Mount Tambuyukon’s reputation as a ‘leech haven’, none of us can walk around in our flip flops without being a little bit paranoid. Luckily, the dry weather really helps mitigate leech attack.
Gunung Tambuyukon.Suatu ketika dahulu ianya nama yg asing bg aku, lgsg nda kenal ni. Lepas kenal pl, mmg nada…
The next morning, we wake up at 3 am for the ultimate climb. Before embarking on the journey to the peak. we huddle together for an instant noodle and oatmeal breakfast. I swear instant noodles never tasted so good before. At 4 am, armed with snacks, water and headlights, we start climbing.
They say Tambuyukon is the hardest mountain to conquer in the whole of Malaysia. Having been there, I know this is true. The journey to the peak is punctuated by sharp rocks, slippery tree roots, fragile branches and thorny stems poking at you as you fight your way to the top. Also, Tambuyukon isn’t a place for the weak of heart or shabby of fitness. Therefore, it’s best to be mentally prepared and physically fit for the trekking trip.
At 10 am, six hours after starting our hike from Musang Camp, we finally arrive at the top. The mist-shrouded view of Mount Kinabalu from Mount Tambuyukon’s peak is a photographer’s dream. As a trekking enthusiast, I’m just glad to have succeeded in conquering my fear of conquering the nation’s most challenging terrain.
Now to the final challenge: the descent.
Tips for trekkers:
Invest a good pair of trekking shoes. Low on budget? A functional pair of rubber ‘kampung Adidas’ is good enough
Don’t forget to bring wet tissue wipes and deodorant for no-shower days
Train hard for the trip!
Bring fresh batteries and an extra torchlight just in case
A water-resistant windbreaker can be very useful
Pack light and healthy snacks such as bananas and peanut butter for energy
Anti-dehydration salt can be a saving grace! Get a few sachets ready
Invest in several changes of quick-drying t-shirts
Get a pair of leech socks ready
Pack light. You don’t want to wear yourself out with a heavy bag
For information and tour arrangements, contact Sabah Parks at
Lot 45 & 46, Block H, Level 1-5, KK Times Square, 88100 Kota Kinabalu. Bhd. Tel : (6088) 523 500 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website at www.sabahparks.org.my.