I know many of you are looking for a cheaper way to climb Mt. Kinabalu, a natural park located in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is just a few miles away from the islands of Balabac in Palawan.
Kinabalu Park is one of the most sought-after destinations for our local mountaineers out there. Knowing that it is the highest mountain in South East Asia at approximately 4,095 meters above sea level, it’s definitely added on our bucket list.
But after the earthquake in 2015, the climbing fee to the natural park has also climbed that not everybody can afford. Especially, those who are travelling with very limited budget, it would be a saddening event.
The regular price of a climb if you’re going to buy from a tour company is playing around 1850 RM to 2500 RM per head, depending on the number of participants. If you are travelling alone, expect to pay 2500 RM. Hotel stay in the city is not included in the package which means you’ll need to add extra allowance beyond the inclusions indicated in the tour package. The FX average rate for 1RM is 11.50 PHP, that means you’ll spend around 21K to 30K pesos on the climb alone, exclusive of airfare and hotel stay in Kota Kinabalu.
Another way to book a trip or reserve a slot in Laban Rata is to directly contact Sutera, the company who owns and manage the entire Laban Rata Resthouse. However, reservation with Sutera requires a little bit of effort and has time constraint, as they require early down payment to book your slot on the resthouse. You’ll need at least 1 month to reserve a slot if you will book directly with Sutera. It’s cheaper than the prices mentioned above but it’s still more expensive than what I would suggest. And you can’t wait right?
Cheapest Climb to Mt. Kinabalu
So here we go. Not sure if you have heard about Jungle Jack Backpackers Lodge? But if you do, you are lucky, and I think you should stick with that until you get there. Alright. I forgot the source or the blog that I walked through to get the info about this mysterious Jungle Jack. But I am very thankful that I was able to learn about it because it helped me to save few thousand bucks and made my dream came true without spending beyond my means.
Jungle Jack Backpacker
Jungle Jack Backpacker is a lodge or hostel located a few meters away from the main gate of Kinabalu Park. The operator and owner of this lodge is a Chinese old man named Jack. We call him Uncle Jack, that’s what he wants to be called. He is a retired senior guide in Mt. Kinabalu, according to one of the guides that I spoke to during the climb. So he knows the in & out, rules, do’s and dont’s when climbing the Kinabalu Park. And that’s also may be one of the reasons why booking a climb with him is really cheap. Not that cheap but not as expensive as the other operators in Sabah.
So how much would it cost you if you choose to stay and climbed under Jungle Jack’s? Well it really depends on your haggling power or skills. Political and social skills sometimes may work too. Haha! But anyhow, Uncle Jack is willing to help you with your plan. In his FB post he said he can offer as low as 980 RM per head, that includes your stay at his own lodge/hostel with free food and the amazing stay at Laban Rata Resthouse all-in for free. Some people were offered 1180 RM, still cheap right? Compared to 1850 RM offer by other operators.
The initial price offered to me by Uncle Jack was 1180 RM, but my budget was really tight at that time so I called him when I was at the hotel in Kota Kinabalu that I changed my mind, I’d rather visit Brunei instead of pushing through the original plan. But he was really sincere in helping me out and insisted me to come over and offered me 980 RM instead of 1180, that has saved me 200 RM already. So that was really a big savings. So I gave it a go, rain or shine. Also, my stay at the lodge was very nice. His cook is a pinay from Cebu so I never had a problem with the meals they served.
If you’re planning to book a climb with Jungle Jack make sure to set aside at least 1180 RM for the climb.
So what are the inclusions of 1180 RM Package?
- Free 3 days/2 nights stay at Jungle Jack Backpacker Lodge
- Free food/meals throughout the stay at Jungle Jack
- Free Climbing Fee
- Free Guide to Kinabalu Park
- Free stay at Laban Rata Resthouse (this is amazing, you would feel your money is really worth it)
- Free meals at Laban Rata Restaurant (Dinner & Breakfast, Buffet! Wow!)
- Land transfer from Kota Kinabalu to Jungle Jack
- Mountain Gears
- Stay at the hotel in KK. But you can transfer directly to Jungle Jack after exiting the airport.
You can borrow jackets from Uncle Jack if you lack jacket during the night. He is so accomodating. The temperature at Kinabalu Park from the jump off point is really cold, so you would need enough clothing to keep you warm. Uncle Jack is there to help you with that. He will also take you to the nearest market to experience the region and other points of the park.
Another thing that you will like about Uncle Jack is that he accepts last minute booking. That means you can decide when you get or landed to Kota Kinabalu to finalize your itinerary. Unlike any other tour operators, in Jungle Jack you’re sure you will have a slot even when you are alone. Just give a heads-up though or make a call before heading to the lodge. Preparation and enough planning is still needed to avoid regrets.
How to contact Uncle Jack or Jungle Jack?
- Thru Facebook – just add Jungle Jack Backpackers and leave a message, he will reply as soon as he read your text.
- Malaysian Cell No.: +0109477509 – just call him, it’s the easiest and quickest way to get a response from him.
If you have any further questions and clarification, please drop an email or leave a comment down below.
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*It’s a developing post, will add details and additional photos momentarily. ☺️