Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why Climbing Mount Kinabalu Is Expensive

News from The Star Online on expensive stay at Mount Kinabalu...

Highly unreachable
Since 2008, the cost of climbing Mt Kinabalu has skyrocketed, and if you’re lucky, you may get a confirmed booking . . . five months down the line. What’s the deal with Malaysia’s iconic mountain?

Here’s the irony — climbing Sabah’s Mt Kinabalu, whose majestic peak tops out at 4,085m, is relatively easy; trying to wrangle a spot to climb, however, requires a fair bit of doggedness, an open schedule and, yes, money.

In the past year, regular climbers and tourists, both foreign and local, have been flooding the blogosphere, travel forums and media with complaints. Their main gripes are that the climbing cost is astronomical, the waiting list long and the service and infrastructure, substandard.
In 1998, Sabah privatised the management of the properties, and in 2002, private company Sutera Harbour Resort was appointed to co-manage under the name Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), with Sabah Parks handling the park administration and collection of fees for conservation, guide, porter and climbing.

To prevent the mountain from being overrun, Sabah Parks limits the number of climbers to 192 people a day. Plus, park rangers enforce the rules on the mountain.

The problem is the cost of climbing has now increased dramatically. In 2007, a dorm bed in Laban Rata cost only RM30, but in January 2008, the cost with meals included (a packed box, buffet lunch, dinner and breakfast) jumped to RM188, an increase of some 500%.
David Tan of Puchong, Selangor, used to pay about RM250 for a three-day/two-night trip to Kinabalu, covering return air ticket, transportation to Kinabalu Park, climbing fees, guide, certificate and insurance.

“AirAsia has made it so affordable for us to fly to KK. But now the cost of climbing the mountain has risen so much that it makes better sense to travel to other countries for a holiday,” writes Tan, who has climbed Kinabalu four times.

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Take it or leave it looks like the changes are here to stay and climbing Kinabalu is a take-it-or-leave-it option. Either you save up and plan your climb way in advance or drop all your plans and go elsewhere.

SSL (Sutera Sanctuary Lodges) says

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