Kota Kinabalu is blessed with its beautiful nature that offers many beautiful hiking spots. Out of all the hiking spots, personally for me the most beautiful and adventurous one is hiking at Bukit Botak in Sepangar. Bukit Botak or literally translated as the Bald Hill as there is no tree up on the peak but just wild grass and bushes.
Bukit Botak is approximately 200 meter high and nearly 2 km tracking lengt, also known as Bukit Gundul among the local. Did I mentioned that Bukit Botak is actually the most famous hiking spot within Kota Kinabalu as well? Well yes it is, which mean do expect 60 to 80 peoples hiking at the same time.
What makes Bukit Botak is beautiful and special?
1. The stunning view at the peak
The view that Bukit Botak has at the peak is absolutely stunning and breathtaking. You will be able to see the bay of Sepangar and Kota Kinabalu that consist the Sepangar Island, Udor Island, Gaya Island, Sepangar International Seaport, Kota Kinabalu Navy Base, UiTM campus and few small villages, rivers and beaches.
While on the opposite side, you will be able to see Karambunai Beach, Tuaran and Tamparuli valley, and the Crocker Mount Range. The majestic Mount Kinabalu is visible as well during good weather. These beautiful aerial view would really worth the energy and sweat for anyone who is hiking at Bukit Botak.
2. The hiking trail sceneries and adventures
There are actually 3 or 4 points of hiking tracks and I would personally choose the one that marked as X or Trail Point 1 in the map below. It’s located just by the side Indonesian International School & ILP (Institut Latihan Perindustrian).
The reasons are, Trail Point 1 is more adventurous and has the longest trail track where it goes up, down, flat, crawling in the bushes and branches. The view along this track is also special with a lake at the starting point of the track, graveyard, big trees and greener bushes. It has a few nice spots for you stop, resting, taking picture and flying your drone. As a comparison with the other tracking points, the others are just a one straight up to the to the peak.
Tips and Advice
1. Getting there
Click on the map for direct google map view
You may drive, take Grab or taxi if you’re from the city centre and there is no parking space provided. However at the tracking point (Trail Point 1), it’s a quiet housing area and almost no traffic at all. You may just park your car on the road side, lock and leave no valuable visible inside your car.
If you are taking the public bus from Kota Kinabalu city centre that head to Sepangar, let the driver or the ticket guy know that you’re stopping at ILP. From there you may walk to the track starting point which is around 300 meters. If you are from the Kota Kinabalu city centre, leave the city as early as 3.00 pm if you don’t want to get caught in the traffic jam.
2. Time & Sunset view
If you are not local Sabahan, do remember that sunset is approximately at 6.30 pm or it’s one hour earlier than Kuala Lumpur or Peninsular Malaysia. The hiking would take 1 hour to the peak for average speed or longer if you’re not fit and taking few rest stops. While for early morning hike, the sun rise at 6, therefore arrange your time wiselly.
If you’re planning to wait for a complete sunset, do remember that it gets dark very fast. Prepare a torch light or head light and remember your track and all the turning points. As what happened on my 1st hiking at Bukit Botak, we started at Trail Point 1 and hiking down, we ended up to the Trail Point 2. We already knew that we’ve missed the junction to Trail Point 1 and decided to keep continue as it was actually faster and easier than returning back to the winding Trail Point 1.
Therefore, if you are not driving and didn’t park your car at Trail Point 1, Trail Point 2 would be much faster trail to return back to the motor road. However, walking the track in the dark with the lights from your phone or torchlight is actually quite a thrill and fun, so never say no to Trail Point 1.
Early morning tracking would be quiet a thing too among the local but just remember that sunrise is at 6.00 am.
3. Stay safe
i) Stay safe and remember your trail, do not stay up until it gets very dark as there are always few cases of hikers missing and that the Fireman needs to be sent for rescue.
ii) Be careful with dangerous insects and at the peak, mosquitoes would start coming once it is dark.
iii) Do not hike during a long dry season especially if there is a tree or burning visible from the foot of Bukit Botak. As it is so dangerous that you might be trapped up at the peak if the fire goes wild.
iv) Make sure that your phone is fully charged shall you will need to make an emergency call and using it as a torch light just incase.
4) Food, water and littering
I don’t think that you will needs food unless you’re planning to have a picnic up on the peak which is actually you can. Otherwise light snacks and water is enough. However, do not leave your packaging and empty bottles behind because the City Hall is not coming up there to pick up your rubbish.
Camping is at your own risk but do please report yourself at the nearest police station. Just becareful with bad weather as if it’s get windy, it would be too dangerous when you’re at the peak. Take all the safety precaution if you’re planning to camp overnight.
Below is the nearest google map view for nearest Police Station
Indah Permai Police Station
Tel: 013-830 6134
Emergency Number: 999