3D2N Mount KK-Poring Hot Spring--Guides Mr. Rogers, Mr. Sam, Mr. Jamilie and porter, Mr. Ayi are really dedicated in their services, accommodation are very comfortable, just that for the last day in Poring Hot Spring, we don't have enough time to enjoy the facilities, we hoped that the time there can be lengthen.
Awesome experience . . Staff where very nice to accommodate late minute hurdles ... And shout out to my mountain guide Evry!!!!
Over all an amazing experience with River Junkie!!!
Booked for a 2D1N Mount Kinabalu package with River Junkies only in January 2019, and boy, was i lucky to get a slot. Was elated when I got a prompt response to my enquiry from Erin. And River Junkies does indeed offer prices at the most competitive rates in the market as per the time of enquiry. I say this cos while I was expecting a slightly higher quote post online scan, Erin came back with a slightly lower figure. Days later, I was all set and booked to attempt the climb. Was super nervous and excited at the same time! Visited the River Junkies office when I landed in KK and Azwin was very patient and helpful with a few tips, e.g. Diamox can be obtained from the pharmacy housed in the next building (i.e. Wisma Merdeka).
Our 2D1N trek (Group BI05) kicked off from Timpohon Gate to Panalaban on Feb 5, 2019. This majestic giant is definitely no easy feat. I've read quite extensively about it before embarking on this trip and for me, the reality of the difficulty level only set in upon summit day. Indeed, it's even tougher than some of my earlier Nepal treks as this is condensed into a much, much shorter timeframe. I will not cover the rest of the same-old gist which you can readily find and read online. And yes, some of the steps can indeed be quite steep, and particularly punishing during descend (especially for shorties like myself). Personally, the descend was dreadful for both my thighs, and it takes quite a bit of stubborn determination to help push you on ahead to the next step. Never give up; we know we will get there eventually. Don't have to rush and aggravate the aches; pace yourself and take breathers along the descend.
Back to basics, if you do not have trekking pole(s), rent 1 or a pair before you move off from KNP (Kinabalu National Park) towards Timpohon Gate. I couldn't bring mine along as I only had carry-on baggage and trekking poles are forbidden onboard flight. At least 1 trekking pole would prove immensely helpful during descend, if not on ascend as well. I managed to rent 1 for RM10; not from the Park office, but from a peer of our driver.
Adam and David were the respective drivers assigned to take us to and from KK City and KNP. Adam, who chirpily came to pick me and others up from KK City for Mount Kinabalu, was the first River Junkies staff member that I met. I will not forget how friendly and warm, kind and accommodating he was to each of us. He put a smile on most, if not all, all our faces on an early pre-dawn morning.
Now onto porter assistance. Try to travel lighter while not foregoing any essential you may need for the chilly overnight stay at Panalaban and the extremely cold summit hike. For any baggage that you would like to have with you up at Panalaban, I would suggest you hire a porter. They can help lug your bag all the way from Timpohon Gate all the way up, and back down the following day. And they faithfully walk alongside you throughout your hike in case you need any item from your bag. Based on my experience, my sweet 19-year-old porter did more than that. Staying close behind me, he too watched out for my safety as and when my usual clumsiness sets in. Porter fees during my visit was RM13 per kg, and this covers return hike down. Any journey beyond this, such as from Panalaban to the summit and back, would entail a separate fee.
As for the invaluable guides, overtime fees of RM15 per hour for each hour exceeding 1600 hours check-in at Timpohon Gate on descend day applies. In the event you exceed the 1600-hour cut-off time at Timpohon Gate, kindly consider offering and insisting on paying this sum to your guide no matter how much he / she may decline. This amount is for his / her overtime spent by our sides guiding and watching over us to help ensure our utmost safety and getting us back to lower lands - safely, alive, and in one piece. Also, I believe this amount is solely for him / her (no agency cut) to bring home to his / her family. Having been around and observed the horde of guides, albeit during these short 2 days, I firmly believe our safety is all the guides care about. Regardless of the travel agency you're booked with, they just want everyone to be safe and to stay out of harm's way at all times. In a heartbeat, they'll place themselves in a vulnerable position just so they can shield and protect you. I don't know exactly how much they're paid for each assignment they've handed. My wild guess - just a drop in the bucket. And if they do indeed get a small fraction of the amount each of us paid for the package, yet they still unfailingly wear beautiful smiles on their faces while staying vigilant at being our guardian angels, this both warms and breaks my heart. I pray for them and their safety - the true unsung heroes of Mount Kinabalu.
PS: Btw, it was my great fortune to have had an excellent super guide, Effrey, assigned to our group. Effrey was and remains my hero, and I'll highly recommend him to anyone. Constantly hawking over us like a mother would over her young ones, Effrey was also amazingly patient and caring. While he may have been a guide for only 3 years, there is no doubt that he is exceedingly knowledgeable about the mountains and the surrounding region. We passed by countless other guides throughout our 2D journey, and it's apparent to me that he's very highly regarded and well-respected by his peers. I was the weakest link in my group, so it was definitely reassuring to have him by my clumsy side. Truth be told, had it not been for Effrey, (1) I wouldn't have made the summit, (2) I could've taken a tumble off the steep surface of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, and / or (3) I could've fallen off the side of the cliff when I slipped off a log during descend. Wish I could've learn more about him and the KK culture / way of life. I pray for the safety of Effrey and all Mount Kinabalu guides and porters. What a beautiful people.
Such a wonderful few days up beautiful Kinabalu! River Junkie were great with quick email replies and easy booking. Picked up by the van bang on time by friendly driver Julian who stopped by a bun shop for quick breakfast treats at our request. The guides were really lovely and accommodating, and made sure people could walk as fast or slow as they liked. Cheap luggage storage when you get up to the mountain for big bags. Because we did the Via Ferrara we got to stay in Pendant Hut- a little up the hill from the big noisy accommodation all other climbers were in. Only 6 of us there that night! Super relaxed and beautiful view out over the valley with bottomless tea and coffee, drinking water and board games. Hot water showers, good breakfast when we returned back after the summit. Via Ferrata staff stay up at Pendant Hut for 10 days, so are really friendly and happy to greet new faces, and there’s a constant karaoke party going on out the back. The LPC Via Ferrata was unreal, really allowed you to soak in the views from the mountain and wander through some nice jungle. Challenging enough even for seasoned climbers after summiting at 2am.. take it slow and enjoy!
I found it hard to find info on the via ferrata so hope this is helpful!
Excellent communication in the lead up. River Junkie use there own guides on Mount Kinabalu which is useful as some of the other climbers had horror stories. Our guide Tino was extremely patient as one of our party was slow. Pick up and drop off at Kota Kinabalu was fine.