Gunung Sinsing is part of the large Trusmadi range and lies around 8 kilometres north-east of the slightly higher parent peak Trusmadi. Depending on how you classify mountains as being separate from one another, Sinsing is the third-highest peak in Sabah and Borneo and indeed Malaysia as a whole. The trailhead is completely different to the Trusmadi trailheads and Sinsing is usually hiked in conjunction with another high peak, Gunung Kaingaran (2,468m – lower than the 2,482m on the summit sign), which lies around 3 kilometres to the north-east of Sinsing and has a prominence of less than 300 metres. Unlike Gunung Sinsing, Gunung Kaingaran does not have a view at the top due to vegetation, but Malaysian hikers are keen to visit it as some count it as the fifth highest peak in Malaysia.
The trek to both peaks usually takes 3 days in total, or 2 days if you only want to bag Gunung Sinsing, with one night either at Kampung Nupakan or in the nearby town of Tambunan before Day 1.
Day 1 (4 hours):
From Kampung Nupakan (885m), you will almost certainly have 4WD transport arranged to take you around 7 kilometres along an old logging road to the official trailhead (1,359m). This journey usually takes around 30 minutes via jambu plantations. The trailhead has a shelter with wooden seats and also a toilet on the other side of the track.
The trail initially leads through forest before joining the old logging road (1,409m) and following it over a couple of minor streams (1,511m and 1,525m) before reaching a pool of water on the right (1,525m) which is where the real forest entrance is. The trail leads via a couple of streams (1,587m and 1,737m) and gets progressively steeper before reaching a ridge (1,920m). After continuing along the ridge for around a kilometre you will see a roped section in front of you which looks quite challenging (2,013m). This is actually not part of the main trail and is simply an optional extra as in good weather at the top of the rope is a good viewpoint. The main trail leads down to the right.
Eventually, after around 4 hours in total from the trailhead, you will be at Erick Basecamp (2,289m) which is rather spacious and impressive and is constructed of tarpaulin and wood. There are lots of sleeping areas for large groups of hikers and a couple of separate areas for cooking and toilet facilities. No tents needed. Gas and cooking utensils are provided here which is incredibly useful. The team from Kampung Nupakan who constructed this should be congratulated on their efforts. There is a stream just beyond Erick Basecamp (2,297m).
If you started early you will have plenty of time to relax and get to sleep early for a very early start on Day 2. Note that by Malaysian standards this spot can get quite cold at night so pack extra layers.
Day 2 (10 hours for Sinsing and Kaingaran; 7-8 hours for Sinsing only and back to the trailhead):
If the weather is fine or if you are intent on reaching both Sinsing and Kaingaran peaks then a pre-dawn start with headlamps is desirable and probably essential if you want to make it back here before dark. Those hiking Sinsing only can start a little later if required although as Sinsing is the best place for views it is recommended that you try to reach the top for sunrise.
It’s only around 90 minutes from the Basecamp to the top of Sinsing. View begin to open out once you have reached the summit ridge (2,425m) where there are many large pitcher plants. The slightly higher Trusmadi is visible on the right side of the trail and Kinabalu in the distance to the left. The view towards Kinabalu is especially good beyond a fixed ladder (2,524m) and the view of both the shapely little summit of Sinsing itself and Kinabalu beyond is perhaps best at around 2,568m, just a few minutes before the peak itself.
Take real care on the summit as it is a very small area with steep drops on either side. Although the summit sign states that the elevation is 2,603m it has been properly surveyed as being 2,586m which ties in with GPS readings and still means it is Malaysia’s third-highest, just beating Sabah’s Gunung Tambuyukon at around 2,579m.
For those wishing to hike to Gunung Kaingaran, the descent starts here and it takes most groups a further 3 hours to get there. Then another 3 hours back before descending to Erick Basecamp for a second night. Not including breaks. It’s quite a long day.
Those only doing Sinsing will be back down at Erick Basecamp before lunch and back at the trailhead by late afternoon or earlier where hopefully your 4WD will be waiting for you to take you back to Kampung Nupakan.
Day 3 (4 hours):
Those hikers who did Kaingaran and spent a second night at Erick Basecamp will have a fairly easy third day descending back to the trailhead and Kampung Nupakan.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
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- Name and location: Pak Budi, Surabaya, East Java.
- Contact details: +62812xxxxxxxx, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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: The nearest airport is at Kota Kinabalu. It’s around 2 hours and 75 kilometres from there to the town of Tambunan, and then a further 30 minutes and 20 kilometres to Kampung Nupakan.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Sinsing information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Required from Tambunan, and your guide will almost certainly sort this out on your behalf.
- Water sources: The Last Water Point is at Erick Basecamp.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):