The park surrounds Mount Kinabalu, which at 4,095 metres, is the highest peak between Myanmar and New Guinea. Kinabalu’s slopes are protected from sea level right up to the summit.
The abrupt variation in altitude and climate produces many different habitats, ranging from lowland forest to the montane oak, rhododendron, and conifer forests of the middle altitudes, and the alpine meadows and stunted, windswept bushes, and eventually bare rock of the summit. Plant species are of Himalayan, Australasian and Indo-malayan origin.
The total number of plant species found in Kinabalu is more than Europe and North America (excluding Mexico’s tropical regions) combined. One of the world’s largest flowers, the rafflesia, whose giant red blossom can grow to over 170 centimetres in diameter, grows here. Other flora includes more than 800 orchids, in excess of 500 ferns (more than in Africa), and the world’s richest collection of pitcher plants (nepenthes). Bird species recorded in the park, include: rhinoceros hornbill, mountain serpent-eagle, Dulit frogmouth, eyebrowed jungle flycatcher and pale-faced bulbul. Of the total, 24 are found mainly on the mountain, and the Bornean spiderhunter is a pure endemic. Most of the mammal species, found on the mountain live high in the trees, and so are rarely seen. These include the orangutan, three kinds of deer, Malayan weasel, Oriental small-clawed otter, and leopard. Endemic species include the black shrew and Bornean ferret-badger.
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