- Elevation: 1,652 m (5,420 ft)
- Prominence: 621 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Sabah (Malaysia)
- Range: Banjaran Crocker
- Division: Bahagian Pantai Barat
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Gunung Nungkok is known to locals as the ‘child of Kinabalu’ and although it is very small compared to its huge parent it is an attractive peak, makes a brilliant day out of its own and is fairly prominent. It cannot be seen from Kundasang, but if you head west from there, or if you are on the main road from Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu, you will surely see it from the main road it if the weather is fine.
The trail starts in the friendly and relaxing riverside village of Tambatuon (273m) where there is an official registration point run by Tambatuon Eco Tourism Community. Exactly the sort of local initiative that should be congratulated and supported. In 2023, they even give you a meal when you return.
In dry conditions, a 4WD will be able to take you across the river and up a track to the official starting point but be prepared to start walking from Tambatuon itself if a lot of rain has fallen in the previous days. The usual starting time for the hike is 4am, so you have a good chance of views at the top before the cloud rolls in, but without the 4WD you might want to make that 3am. You can, of course, start later, but as with most parts of Southeast Asia the chance of good views is rapidly reduced later in the day, and the possibility of rain more likely.
The starting point (506m) is a small shelter at the end of the vehicle track which has some really stunning views of both Nungkok and Kinabalu. Enjoy the views here because the trail soon enters forest where there are some useful trail signs (595m) at what is known as Pangasaan, and the first of many motivational messages to convince you to keep on going on what is an increasingly steep hike.
The first point of note on the trail is a spot with some wonderful gnarled and twisted branches (593m). About a kilomtre further along is ‘Rafflesia Area’ (758m), a place which really does live up to its name. Please do not touch the rafflesia, which if you are lucky will be in bloom but otherwise will probably resemble red cabbages lying on the forest floor!
The next point on the trail is Daayan (798m) where the terrain becomes a little rockier. Further on you will find yourself on an airy ridge (994m) just before Ruminoo (1,051m) which is a good spot to take a rest before continuing. The trail then drops down to a col (1,034m) before ascending steeply to Wosoi (1,341m), another good rest spot. Beyond Wosoi is a great viewpoint area not far from a landslide which happened in early 2023. You should be able to see Kinabalu partly-hidden by Nungkok peak which lies straight ahead. From here the trail is at its steepest and those with a fear of heights might find it challenging as the ridge is narrow.
Further up is a point where you start to have views to Sabah’s coastline (1,410m) before the very steep final push through mossier vegetation on much shorter trees and shrubs for your journey’s destination where the summit signs are (1,643m). This is Nungkok’s north top and the views are great to the towering Kinabalu beyond, the vertical cliffs of which feel almost close enough to touch from here. However, it is also obvious that the southern peak, with no onward trail and seen over to the right, is slightly higher, presumably the official 1,652m figure given. You should have reached the top in around 4 hours.
After admiring the views return the same way in 3-4 hours and enjoy your lunch at Tambatuon.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
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- Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
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- Getting there: It’s less than 2 hours by car from Kota Kinabalu to Tambatuon but public transport for the last section may be challenging. It is much easier if you hire a car or driver. From Kundasang it is around 1 hour (42 kilometres).
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Nungkok information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Required. This will be taken care of by your guide in Tambatuon.
- Water sources: Very limited and not available on the higher slopes of the main trail so take enough bottled water with you.