- Elevation: 1,581 m (5,187 ft)
- Prominence: 701 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Sabah (Malaysia)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Gunung Mantapok is one of Sabah’s finest and most memorable mountain treks. It is located very close to a higher peak, Gunung Monkobo, which does not yet have a trail. The Mantapok trek usually takes 2 days and 1 night, though it is technically possible to do it in a single day if you can arrange to start just after midnight.
The meeting point (204m) in Kampung Miruru for Mantapok Nature, the local group who arrange guides and permits here, is well signposted on the left side of the road. From here you will take a 4WD approximately 9 kilometres along a bumpy track which unfortunately does not gain any elevation and drops you off at a large sign (175m) for Mantapok Nature near a large shelter, private dwelling, and, most excitingly of all, a 200 metre long bridge across the Sungai Labuk river.
To get started on the trek itself you need to cross that bridge over the river and it is quite a nerve-wracking experience! Just look forward and concentrate on making progress! Local people use this bridge on a daily basis but to others it may appear like something out of an Indiana Jones film.
Once on the other side, follow the path up to Mantapok village (206m) and Sulap (256m) which is a wooden building which was the original basecamp. It is no longer used by hikers but is a key point on the trail. There is actually an information board with distances to numerous points of interest on the trail ahead.
The trail crosses a stream (276m) before leading up to Bubuk (369m). The trail then continues to ascend up the hillside before a short and steep descent (593m) with a rope for assistance down to the very scenic Malas Kalas waterfall (558m). This is a perfect place to have a short break.
After the waterfall, the trail is very steep indeed and some care is required here. After a narrow rock section (710m) is negotiated, another rest spot is reached, known as Sisipon Lawui (724m). After this, Natad Tubou (863m) is the next point on the trail and just before the section where you are most likely to spot Rafflesia.
Next up is Tudan Mantapok (952m) which features a pleasant stream. Another couple of streams are then crossed (at 988m and 1,037m) before reaching Sulapon Laid (1,107m) which is known as ‘Basecamp 2′ is a large wooden structure suitable for groups of hikers to use. This makes it unnecessary to cary a tent up here with you. There is even a small cooking area, complete with cutlery and gas, a toilet located a short walk away, and a separate small shelter for local guides. The elevation means that the temperature here is incredibly pleasant, neither too hot nor chilly. You may also get a partial view between the trees from just beyond the guides’ shelter. It should have taken around 4-5 hours to reach here.
If you started your hike early in the morning you will most likely have the afternoon to relax and enjoy here before making a very early start towards the summit the following morning.
On Day 2, the trail does not start steeply, crossing a stream (1,121m) first. Once you do reach the steeper parts of the trail you will be at a rope section (1,374m) and then what feels like the ridge (1,469m). From here it is a short push to what is known as Mantapok Peak (around 1,500m). This is not the highest part of the mountain but in clear weather there are great views to Kinabalu on one side and down to the long bridge at the trailhead on the other side.
From Mantapok Peak, it is still a bit of a distance to the other two peaks, Sting and Trig. The mossy forest terrain makes fast progress nearly impossible and you need to drop down a little first before ascending again to the base of the cliffs of Sting Peak where there is a junction (1,480m) where hikers heading for Sting would turn left off the main trail. In 2023, Sting Peak is closed due to renovation work being required on the ropes and ladders which provide access up what looks like near-vertical terrain!
The trail continues on to Trig Peak by skirting round the base of large rocks (1,483m). There is a rope section (1,536m) where care is required and then eventually you will emerge on top of one of the precarious boulders which mark the highest point of Mantapok Trig Peak (1,581m). Because of the size of the boulders and the inability of tall vegetation to grow on the top of them the view is superb up here. This place is named Trig for a very good reason, as there are actually two trigs, with both a cylindrical cement pillar and the basic triangular metal frame of what Malaysians from Semenanjung Malaysia (West Malaysia) call a ‘beirut’. The panorama here includes Tambuyukon, Kinabalu, Sinsing and Trusmadi. In effect, all the highest peaks of Sabah. There are also countless lesser peaks on show, many of which are obscure.
The route back down is the same as the ascent, returning to Mantapok Peak to admire the view to Kinabalu and down to the Labuk river, then back to the wooden shelter for a drink and snack before descending and crossing the bridge a second time. Your 4WD should be waiting for you there.
Bagging report by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
If you are a reliable local guide and would like to be featured on this page to increase your bookings, or a tourist who would like to support the development of a local guide business, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information: Mountain name, guide name, guide location, guide contact details, and at least one English language review from a previous hiker who was pleased with the guiding services. An example is given below for reference. We have a maximum quota of 3 featured guides for each mountain page on the site. The fee for this is £20 (British pounds sterling, typically via the Wise app or PayPal) for a period of 1 year and helps to pay towards the ongoing development of the Gunung Bagging project.
- Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
- Contact details: +62812xxxxxxxx, email@example.com, https://www.instagram.com/budi_mountain_guide/
- Review from previous client: “Budi was a brilliant guide for our September 2023 trek up Gunung X and I would definitely recommend him to other tourists“, John, USA.
- Getting there: Sandakan is the closest city with a major airport. From there it is around 3 hours to the meeting point in Miruru which is not far from the main Ranau-Telupid road. Ideally you need private transport.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Mantapok information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Arranged by Mantapok Nature.
- Water sources: Plenty available as far as Sulapon Laid, also known as Basecamp 2 and where most hikers will spend the night.