Trek to the top of the Kelabit Highlands

  • Cost: US$880 per person for 5D/4N (all inclusive from start point to end point)
    (equivalent to approximately UK£650 or €780 at time of publication)
  • Start Point: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
  • End Point: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
  • Group Size:  4–8. We can accommodate a smaller number, but at additional cost. Please email us for details and a quote.

At 2423 metres in height, Mount Murud is the highest mountain in Sarawak and certainly one of the most interesting to climb. Most ascents begin from the highland village of Ba'Kelalan, on the border with Kalimantan, in a region famed for its excellent hill rice. From there, participants trek to Church Camp, a site of holy pilgrimage that sits on a ridge of the mountain a few hours from the summit proper. More like a miniature ghost town than a camp, the huts and walkways that make up Church Camp lie empty for much of the year, coming alive for religious festivals every two years.

The hike to the summit and back takes a day, traversing a sandstone plateau that is rich in plants, particularly lithophytic orchids including numerous Dendrochilum, Bulbophyllum and even a Cymbidium, but also pitcher plants like Nepenthes murudensis, N. muluensis, N. lowii and the endemic N. hurrelliana. Whatever the weather, the walk is a beautiful one, and quite unlike those offered by other mountains. The unusual cultural aspect to an ascent of Murud makes it one of the most worthwhile peaks in Sarawak.

Adventure Itinerary

Day 1: An early departure from Kota Kinabalu takes us to the southern border of Sabah and into neighbouring Sarawak. Arriving at the frontier town of Lawas, we transfer to 4WD vehicles and begin a four hour journey along unpaved roads into the mountains that border Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. We arrive by early evening at our lodge in Ba'Kelalan where we prepare for our ascent of Mount Murud before sitting down to a meal of home cooked local food.

Day 2: After breakfast, we transfer to the jump-off point and begin our hike to Church Camp. The trail is well maintained and only steep for the first two hours. Thereafter, we arrive at a plateau-like ridge top that leads us all the way to our camp in a matter of hours. Plant life is rich here, with numerous orchids, ferns and pitcher plants dotted along the way. We usually arrive at Church Camp by early to mid-afternoon depending on group pace. We set up our bedding in one of the buildings and are free to wash, relax or explore the scenic environs before nightfall.

Day 3: We have breakfast around sunrise and then begin our hike towards the summit, which is 3 to 4 hours distant. Many people do not walk all the way to the summit as the plants en route are so interesting, however guides are present at front and back to accommodate different paces of hiker in the group. We eat our picnic lunches in a suitable spot before returning to Church Camp for dinner.

Day 4: Once we have packed up our gear, we descend the mountain to our jump off point and then transfer to our lodge for a well-earned shower, cooked meal and rest.

Day 5: In the early morning, we descend to Lawas where we change vehicles and begin our return journey to Kota Kinabalu, arriving by early afternoon.


Getting there

This expedition begins in Kota Kinabalu, which is served by various airlines including Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Dragon Air, Korean Airlines, Silk Air and others. Flights can be easily booked through all major airline websites.

Adventure Rating: Moderate

Some strenuous trekking on a sometimes steep trail is required during this adventure. Treks are integral to the itinerary and are required to experience the key highlights of this adventure.

Participants must be capable of walking or clambering on often steep or rocky terrain, carrying a day pack with water, camera, weather protection and some food. Local porterage can be arranged at cost.

Possible extensions

After your climb, visit the Poring Hot Springs to soak and soothe your aching muscles! The next day, you will be taken to see a giant Rafflesia flower should one be open before returning to the city! (1D1N)

To get a quote for any extensions, simply mention which extension(s) you are interested in when you apply to Join this Adventure!

What's Included

All transport during the itinerary
Professional guide
Accommodation (on a twin basis)
All main meals during the itinerary

Note: single room upgrade is available at extra cost

What's Not

International flights
Personal porters (if requested)