Mount Nungkok in Kampung Tambatuon of Kota Belud

Mount Nungkok, the Child of Mount Kinabalu

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Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain of Malaysia and Borneo. One of its legend says a woman was turned into Mount Kinabalu by her grief because after many years of waiting, her Chinese husband never returned, thus another nickname for Mount Kinabalu is China widow mountain. The story doesn’t end there. After she becomes rock, another mountain born in her village. That’s Mount Nungkok (Gunung Nungkok in local language), which is also known as Anak Kinabalu, means the Child of Kinabalu.

Mount Nungkok under Mount Kinabalu
The distance between Mount Nungkok and Mount Kinabalu is less than 9 Kilometres.

Standing at less than half the height of Mount Kinabalu which is less than 9 Kilometres away, Mount Nungkok does look like a baby sitting at the feet of majestic Mount Kinabalu. Looking from the angle of Kota Belud, the ancient gateway to climb Mount Kinabalu, these two mountains are positioned side by side like twin mountains. No wonder people think they are parent and kid. When Mount Kinabalu is hidden in the cloud, Nungkok is sometimes mistaken as Kinabalu by non-locals.

Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok in Kinabalu Park
Mount Nungkok is also part of Kinabalu Park, the first UNESCO Natural Heritage of Malaysia.

However, Mount Nungkok is not as famous as its parent and still a mysterious mountain. Same as Mount Kinabalu, Mount Nungkok is also part of Kinabalu National Park and have its flora and fauna fully protected by conservation laws. Climbers would spot blooming rafflesia flower, exotic orchid and endemic pitcher plant on this mountain, as well as wildlife such as deer and binturong bearcat. In the past someone mined gold in this mountain. I was told by village folk that there is a bat cave in Mount Nungkok too.

The location of Mount Nungkok and Mount Kinabalu
Mount Nungkok is located on the western side Mount Kinabalu near Kota Belud, so it is not visible in Kundasang and Ranau town at the east side.

Viewpoints for Mount Nungkok

The most interesting feature of Mount Nungkok is – it differs in shape if viewed from different locations, as shown in the time-lapse video below (I used over 1,200 photos to create this 4K video so please watch):

You don’t need to travel more than two hours to have a spectacular view of Anak Kinabalu. You have better chance of seeing it before 8am during fair weather, both mountains covered in dense mist after 9am in most days.

Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok lit up by the afternoon sunlight
Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok lit up by the afternoon sunlight. The mountains would turn reddish during sunset.

1. Kota Belud

The view of Mount Nungkok is the most prominent in Kota Belud district, especially at Kampung Tambatuon village, where you can see both mountains up-close. There are dozens of homestay and camping ground around Kota Belud, in case you love mountain and countryside view so much.

Mount Nungkok (Gunung Nungkok) is also known as Anak Kinabalu (Child of Kinabalu)
Mount Nungkok (Gunung Nungkok) is also known as Anak Kinabalu (Child of Kinabalu). Note the couple taking selfie on the hanging bridge of Tambatuon Village.

In Tambatuon, Mount Nungkok looks like a pyramid mountain with pointy peak. I always imagine that I stand on that tip, it must be a great feeling up there.

View of Mount Nungkok at Tegudon Tourism Village (Kota Belud)
View of Mount Nungkok at Tegudon Tourism Village (Kota Belud)

You also can have a clear view of Mount Nungkok at Tegudon Tourism Village and Kampung Kiau.

2. Kota Kinabalu-Tamparuli-Ranau Highway

This is the most convenient option and can be a fun stop for your road trip to Kinabalu Park, Nabalu or Kundasang. For only an hour of driving on a paved road that connects Kota Kinabalu (KK) to Ranau town, you can see Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok from inside your car.

Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok next to the KK-Ranau highway
In clear day, you can see Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok from the KK-Ranau highway.

The best viewpoint is along the road about 38 to 42 Kilometres before Ranau town. However, most of the time the view is obstructed by trees and knolls, you can park at one of three toilet stops listed below and use their platforms for an open view. They open from 6:30am to 5pm. The fee to use their toilet is RM0.50. Snacks and drink are available for sale.

Milestone next to road in Sabah
The milestone used in Sabah road. For example, this milestone shows the remaining distance to Ranau town is 50 Kilometres. I’m using this to mark the locations and section of the KK-Ranau main road.

1. Quintin Enterprise

Location: 42 KM before Ranau (GPS: 6.088557883280411, 116.43687023602439, see Location Map)

View Point at Quintin Enterprise shop about 42 Kilometres before Ranau town
View Point at Quintin Enterprise shop about 42 Kilometres before Ranau town

Besides toilet and a grocery store, this stop has a decorated and Instagramable platform (entry fee is RM1 per person) for a wide and nice open view of Mount Kinabalu and Nungkok. This platform is great for launching and landing my drone safely too.

View point platform of Quintin Enterprise
View point platform of Quintin Enterprise. You can get yourself a cup of hot coffee and sit there to appreciate the view.
Tourists enjoy the twin mountains view on the platform
Tourists enjoy the twin mountains view on the platform

2. Peranggi View Point

Location: 40 KM before Ranau (GPS: 6.076247258484695, 116.44161145366436, see Location Map)

Toilet stop and sundry shop at Peranggi View Point (in Kampung Kaung Lapai) about 40 Kilometres before Ranau town
Toilet stop and grocery shop at Peranggi View Point (in Kampung Kaung Lapai) about 40 Kilometres before Ranau town

Peranggi View Point is a bigger area with many parking lots. They have small grocery store and canteen that sell snacks, buns and drink.

Platform of Peranggi View Point
The viewpoint platform of Peranggi View Point

3. Gerai Anna

Location: 38 KM before Ranau (GPS: 6.054505309728095, 116.4479594934989, see Location Map)

Toilet stop with Gerai Anna and Kitchen De Aman about 38 Kilometres before Ranau town
Toilet stop of Gerai Anna and Kitchen De Aman about 38 Kilometres before Ranau town. You can enjoy the nice view of Mount Nungkok while dining at Kitchen De Aman.

This site has a restaurant where you can order simple dishes such as chicken rice and fried noodle. The picturesque mountain view at dining area is a bonus.

My favourite spot is near the Kota Belud to Ranau junction (GPS: 6.104156379447983, 116.42378880340594, see Location Map), where both mountains are aligned in center and seem really near to each other.

View of Mount Nungkok from the KK-Ranau road
The KK-Ranau road section about 38 to 42 Kilometres before Ranau offers a good view of Mount Nungkok.

As the KK-Ranau main road is on the highland, you will have a bird’s-eye view of both mountains. From this side, Mount Nungkok is a forested mountain with blunt top. You can see the exposed granite near its top, a result of the landslides caused by earthquake in 2015.

Climbing Mount Nungkok

Mount Nungkok was used to be off-limit to the public as it’s a fully-protected park managed by Sabah Parks. Started in 2017, climbing is allowed for visitors with a permit and licensed guides from the Park. Only up to 15 climbers are allowed per day.

View of Mount Nungkok at Kampung Kiau Nuluh village
View of Mount Nungkok at Kampung Kiau Nuluh village

Even though Mount Nungkok is about 1,652 Metres (5,420 feet) tall and far lower than Mount Kinabalu (4,095 Metres / 13,435 feet), the climb is more challenging due to its steepness, even to experienced hikers.

Mount Nungkok and Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu and Mount Nungkok, like parent and child. View from Kota Belud junction on KK-Ranau road.

Based on what I found on the Internet, there are three peaks on Mount Nungkok. The highest peak is not open to climbers. There are two climbing routes that started from two different locations in Kota Belud and lead to the other two peaks. You can book the climb with the homestay operators in the villages.

Route No.1: Tambatuon

This is the more popular choice and it can be a day trip. The starting point is in Kampung Tambatuon village about 6.2 KM away from Mount Nungkok. Climbers who are not in a rush would spend a night in the local homestay operated by Tambatuon Eco Tourism Community and start the climb in next morning.

View of Mount Kinabalu (left) and Mount Nungkok (right) at Kampung Tambatuon village of Kota Belud
View of Mount Kinabalu (left) and Mount Nungkok (right) at Kampung Tambatuon village of Kota Belud

First the climbers will be transferred by 4-wheel drive to the starting point about 3 KM away around 5am. The summit trail is about 3.43 KM one way, and you can reach the peak at 1,652 Metres (5,420 feet) after 4 to 8 hours, depends on your fitness. For more details, you may check out the blog here and there, and the video of the climb.

Route No.2: Lobong-Lobong

This route takes 2 days 1 night and the total climbing distance is 8.8 KM one way. In day 1, climbers start their climb from Kampung Lobong-Lobong village (or Tanak Nabalu) to reach base camp about 4.4 KM away. After camping there for a night, they continue to climb another 4.4 KM to reach the peak at 1,574 Metres (5,164 feet).

Location of Kampung Lobong-Lobong, one of the starting points to climb Mount Nungkok.
Location of Kampung Lobong-Lobong, one of the starting points to climb Mount Nungkok.

The Lobong-Lobong route takes longer time but it offers more nature experience. For more info, you can watch the walk-through videos (4-minute and 14-minute versions).

Hope I will climb Mount Nungkok one day and blog more about its natural treasures. For now, I just admire its beauty from a distance.

Photos taken in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

6 thoughts on “Mount Nungkok, the Child of Mount Kinabalu

  1. Ah! I’ve totally forgotten about that, sorry! 😛 Umm… its midnight now so maybe tomorrow noon when the sunlight is strongest lol! Stay tuned~~

  2. OK! Part two of the hautings:

    One midnight while trying to sleep me and my roommate heard a girl screaming. Her scream was so bloodcurling as if she was dying from pain. But we thought it was just the girls playing, its very normal of these wild girls to play and yell at each other. The screaming goes on and on and we were angry.

    The next day in class we talked about the incident. Everyone heard it except people from block C (There are 4 blocks, A, B, C & D) We find it illogical since C is situated in the middle. If peope as far as A & D can hear it, there’s no way C don’t hear anything.

    A high school friend of mine staying in C told me she didn’t know as she was already sleeping. However, her roommate was up and studying but she didn’t hear anything. In fact, because of the screams the security guard stationed at B (my block) walked all the way to C to investigate cos apparently the scream originated from there.

    She saw my friend’s roommate awake and asked her whether she heard anything. The roommate said nothing at all o_O

    3rd case, my classmate living on the second floor has a balkony. But it was quite high up from the ground and there isn’t any tree nearby. She told me sometimes at night she and her roommate always hear ‘someone’ knocking on the balkony door as if wanting to get in.

    4th case, after buying food from the canteen I was on my way back to my room. On the glass door I saw a reflection of 3 young children in white playing. I turned around to look at the canteen but I don’t see any children there nor hear any children voices.

    5th case, my high school friend’s roommate often saw a black humanoid figure in the mirror when she’s brushing her teeth at night. When she turned to look there wasn’t anything behind her.

    6th case, someone from block A said when she went into the toilet at night… She was shocked to see ‘herself’ coming out of the toilet and smiling back at her, then the other ‘her’ vanished somewhere at the stairs O_O

    There, happy Smoke Head? 😀

    Did you know Hotel Airport View is haunted too? I’ll tell my story next time 😉

  3. me read your story at 12am last nite. so scary man… pls tell me they are not real..

    not everyone can see ghost. i m not even sure if i seen one. but starting last year, before i get sick, i would see white shadow first. that had happened 3 times.

    the 1st time i saw it was in perkasa hotel. do u know the transparent alien in Predator? just like it, i saw a human-like transparent figure walking to the bathroom.

    that’s was one time i watched tv upstair at home and the edge of my eyes sensed someone pass by the door and walk into the toilet. i thought it was my sister but when i checked the toilet, nobody inside.. probably i was just too tired… i dun know..

    come, come, part 3… 🙂

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