- Elevation: 2,579 m (8,461 ft)
- Prominence: 844 m
- Ribu category: Spesial
- Province: Sabah (Malaysia)
- Range: Banjaran Crocker
- Division: Bahagian Pantai Barat
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none.
Tambuyukon is regarded by many hikers as the fourth-highest mountain in Borneo (and in Malaysia, and in Sabah!), but it is dwarfed by the huge Kinabalu which is in the same area just 12 kilometres to the south. However, a hike to the top of Tambuyukon is much more time consuming and more difficult than a hike to the top of Kinabalu and far fewer people attempt it. Gunung Tambuyukon lies with the Kinabalu Park area.
The trail starts at Monggis substation (354m) about 60km from Kinabalu Park HQ where you need to arrange permits. In the past, a 4WD was required to reach Monggis substation but now it can be achieved in ordinary cars though care is required on the final 2 kilometres of stony track. Monggis is a pleasant though isolated spot, with a simple, roofed cement enclosure with electricity for groups to potentially sleep in (in their sleeping bags and even tents) the night prior to starting. There is also a fairly nice building for Kinabalu Park staff members working here plus a toilet block.
Most hikers still take four days to complete this trek, though it can be achieved in three days quite easily if you are ok with a long day on your second day from Kopuakan. It can even be done in two days by those who are not that bothered about sleeping at night but the terrain is such that being tired here could be dangerous in some areas. Whatever you are planning, unless you are starting in the afternoon on the first day, ideally you want to get at least as far as Kopuakan, which is good due to the water source and a simple roof and shelter, or even Musang, which is no good for water or a shelter but is a nice spot to pitch a tent and means you are already a good way towards reaching your goal. Anything beyond Musang is not massively recommended unless you like cold nights or prefer to carry all your stuff almost to the top instead of using a headtorch and starting pre-dawn.
The hiking trail starts at a landscaped area called Nickel Garden near the staff building. A trail map suggests that the trail is 14km in length (one way) but it certainly feels considerably longer! The trail leads via Pondok Kulat (551m) which is just beyond a large pool of stagnant water and features no shelter in 2023, Pondok Kera (721m), then several minor stream crossings before reaching what feels like a ridge (844m). Sadly, the trail leads down from this point to Wuluh Camp (775m), shortly after which is a fairly serious crossing of the Wuluh river (732m). Kopuakan Camp (820m) is next and is the most common place to camp as there is a small wooden shelter and a good water source from the Kopuakan river. The number of ups and downs on the trail as far as Kopuakan can be not just physically exhausting but mentally exhausting. It is probably best to think of Kopuakan as the real ‘basecamp’ for the ascent as the trail prior to this point is just getting you to a location suitable and close enough to the peak for you to hike it.
Once across the Kopuakan river, usually very early on Day 2, sometimes as early as 1am, the trail starts the proper ascent, passing via the old junction for the Serinsim substation (1,435m) which is a side trail no longer used and then Musang Camp (1,413m) which is a very pleasant forest ridge. Further up you will begin to see pitcher plants (‘periuk kera’ in Malaysian), apparently the Nepenthes Villosa, Burbidgeae and Edwardsiana species can be found up here, and some look simply outlandish.
Eventually you will find yourself at Jeneral Camp (2,021m). By this stage you will have noticed how the vegetation changes and the terrain becomes more and more challenging, with logs to clamber over or squeeze beneath and thick mud that is almost impossible to avoid. It is virtually impossible to travel quickly through this terrain.
And this trend continues as you reach Rock Garden, a large and extensive area of sharp rocks from around 2,260m. A slip here could be very painful, and some sections require extreme care. Go slowly, and remember you are making progress, however slow that progress is! If you are lucky with the weather then the dwarfed vegetation will allow you some beautiful views. Eventually you will reach Rajah Camp (2,433m), but it is not especially large and anyone thinking of camping here will have to bring their tents across the rocks at Rock Garden which is making a tough job considerably tougher still.
Finally you will be at the summit sign, which in 2023 was about 20 seconds short of the true highest point of the mountain. Alas, the summit vegetation does not quite allow views but if you are lucky and have good weather you will be able to have wonderful views of Kinabalu from just a few minutes beyond the summit on the other side.
And then the long and careful trek back to Musang or ideally Kopuakan begins.
Strong hikers should be able to get back to Monggis on Day 3 with no problems.
If you are hungry for more in the area, note that an easier, lower peak in the northern foothills is Gunung Nombuyukong (1,604m) which can be hiked in two days from Serinsim by fit hikers.
Bagging information by Dan Quinn (August 2023)
For a high quality PDF version of this and other trail maps, please download from our Trail Maps page.
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 email@example.com 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, 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 around 3 to 3.5 hours away, 150-175km away depending on the route you take.
- Guides and GPS Tracks: Want a PDF version for your phone? Looking for a guide? Need GPS tracks and waypoints? Gunung Tambuyukon information pack can be downloaded here.
- Permits: Required from Kinabalu Park HQ. Email email@example.com for details. As of 2023, permits are RM300 per day for foreigners and RM150 per day for Malaysians, and guides (for up to 3 hikers) are RM175 per day. Entrance fees are RM50 for foreigners and RM10 for Malaysians. Campsite fee is RM20 for foreigners and RM10 for Malaysians (per night).
- Water sources: Plenty of water sources along the trail as far as Kopuakan Camp.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):