There are many folklores and fables that tell stories of how Kinabalu got its name. The local KadazanDusun people believe that the word is derived from “Aki Nabalu”, which translates into “revered place of the dead”. The mysterious KadazanDusun tribe believes that spirits dwell on the mountain top. According to another popular folklore, the name Kinabalu actually meant “Cina Balu”. “Cina Balu” translates into “chinese widow”. Legend tells a story of a Chinese prince who ascends from the mountain in search of a huge pearl guarded by a ferocious dragon. He married a Kadazan woman upon his successful conquest, whom he soon abandoned for return to China. His heartbroken wife wandered into the mountains to mourn whereby eventually she turned into stone.
On the rainforest-clad island of Borneo lies Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO. Kinabalu Park was established in 1964 to protect Mount Kinabalu and its plant and animal life. The biggest attraction in Kinabalu Park would be Mount Kinabalu, one of the world’s most prominent mountains, and the Mount Kinabalu Botanical Garden. Kinabalu Park is a scenic 2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. The Park covers an area of 754 square kilometers (291 square mile), has four climatic zones and also one of the richest collections of flora and fauna in the world.
The gateway to the mountain is the Kinabalu Park Headquarters, situated 1,563 metres on its southern boundary. A variety of accommodation, restaurants and an exhibition centre are available here. This is also where visitors pay the entrance fee to the park and register if they are a climber. Visitors can explore the Mountain Garden on their own or join the park’s naturalist on a guided walk along the many trails available.