You wake up just before the dawn breaks and gingerly make your way towards the stream. It’s cold, and the water is freezing. But you do it willingly because you know that’s the best time to see Mount Kinabalu from the valley.
Perhaps you could even get a nice picture or video of the mountain to remember that day.
This is probably what most folks who go to the Polumpung Melangkap View Camp Site in Kota Belud, Sabah, would do when they spend a night there. It’s the best place to chill out, enjoy nature and of course, take pictures, among others.
The camp site is fairly new – it was “formed” as a direct result of the devastating Sabah earthquake in 2015 (and subsequent floods a few months later), when geographical changes took place in the village. The villagers then took the opportunity to promote Kampung Melangkap as a rural tourist attraction, offering activities like camping and river rafting.
Polumpung is just one of a handful of camp sites you can visit at the village, but it is also the most accessible and affordable. It also offers the best view of the mountain.
The river that runs through the village is clean and its water is always cool, even on hot sunny days. This is because the water comes straight from the mountain.
If the river’s current gets a little too strong for you, just head to the man-made pool for a quick dip.
At night, enjoy the view of a million twinkling stars in the dark sky.
Yes, it will be really dark so do bring along a torchlight or two.
The site has a few camping options: You can bring your own tent (just ask any of the attendants if you need help setting it up) or rent from the front office; you can stay at their permanent A-camp structures or tents; or you can sleep in their multi-purpose hall. You would need to bring your own sleeping bags but if you don’t have any, you can rent from them too, though they are in limited supply.
You can also cook at the premises – there is a kitchen that you can use – or rent one of their barbecue pits for the day/night. Otherwise, just order some food from their cafeteria.
Toilets, showers and changing rooms are also available, but do bring your own toiletries and towels.
The place is great for groups or friends and families. Day-trippers are also welcome, but walk-in hours are limited. (Tip: If you’re not planning to stay but would like to catch a glimpse of the mountain before it gets too cloudy, make sure you arrive before 10am.)
During the recovery movement control order (MCO), some facilities may not be available for use so it is best to call ahead and ask about their SOP and other safety measures. Prices may have also changed – before MCO, entrance fees ranged from RM3 to RM12, while rentals were between RM5 and RM40.
Kampung Melangkap is in Kota Belud, a district in Sabah’s West Coast Division. The best way to get their is via the main Tuaran road, though there are several other routes, for those of you who are familiar with the roads in Sabah. If you’re not, then stick to Waze or Google Maps. For first-time tourists to Sabah, perhaps it would be a better idea to make arrangements with a local guide.