Monthly Archives: April 2018


The Mystics of Aki Nabalu

Tangkayau’d pinipin
Tundu undu winorun
Ilo Nabalu
Ilo gayo ngaran
(Dusunic mantra, unknown source)

Liver of the earth
Heart of the universe
That Mountain
That great name

Sabah, Borneo – the land below the wind where the people are warm and welcoming. Visit any place in Sabah and you will find that Sabahans are among the friendliest people and always generous with their smiles, food, cultures and tales of Mt. Kinabalu. Any chance they get, a true Sabahan will boast to you about the mystics of Aki Nabalu.

The majestic Mount Kinabalu has always been the pride of all Sabahan. Standing tall at 4,095 metres above sea level it is the highest peak in Malaysia. The massive mountain towers  over the other peaks along the Crocker Range.

Myths and mystics have always been associated with Mount Kinabalu and often time the Mountain has been a source of identity for Sabahan, especially one who grow up under the shadows of Aki Nabalu.

Many says that the name Kinabalu originated from two words : Aki and Nabalu, which in loose translation means Grandfather or ancestor and mountain. Native elders still refers to Kinabalu as di’Aki, meaning belonging to grandfather or sometimes even just Aki as in the old man.

It is no mystery why the elders refer to the mountain as Aki, they believe that all spirit belong to the mountain and will return there after their time in this realm has finished. Thus Aki is the guardian who keeps the mountain, and lead the souls back to the mountain when its their time. Native of Sabah has always revered Aki Nabalu for this reason.

When you climb Mt. Kinabalu, you will find several mountain plateau before reaching the summit. It is said that these plateau are places of rest for the spirits before Aki comes to greet them, as once the spirit guardian arrives the spirit will forever remain in Nabalu. This belief leads to people climbing to the mountain plateau and call the spirits of their dead relatives to return to its human body and be resurrected. One of these plateau has been named Panalaban, derived from the Dusunic language talab which means to stop. Literally meaning to stop the spirit from going towards Aki.

Although Sabahan have long stopped climbing to Panalaban for this purpose, to this day ethnic leaders still performs blood sacrifice rituals in Panalaban to appease Aki. The ritual calls for white fowls to be slaughtered at the mountain as well as other offerings. It is when this rituals have been skipped that Aki would awaken from his rest and will shake the mountain. Though this is not the only thing that can waken Aki’s wrath, that just add more to the mystics of Aki Nabalu.  

Mountain guides are not just path leaders that shows you the way up the summit, all mountain guides lives along the foothills of Kinabalu. Most have a short and stout built, with thick and wide feet. This is because they make their living by planting crops along the mountain ridges and collecting herbs and other medicinal plants. In a way Aki is their predecessor, leading people to the summit. How mystical, right?

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How To Plan Your Mt. Kinabalu Trip

If you are planning a short trip over the weekend or just needed a getaway from the daily hustle and bustle of life, head over to Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and climb Mount Kinabalu –  the highest peak in Malaysia. This is your guide on how to plan your Mt. Kinabalu trip in four simple steps. 

Step 1 – Book Online On Our Website.

Get guaranteed climbing permit plus no credit card fee and bank fee when you book online with us. Get more discount if you are planning to climb Mount Kinabalu as a group. Book now to get special promotion on selected dates!

While you’re at it, book your stay in Kota Kinabalu at our very own Downbelow Adventure Lodge. Dormitories and private or en-suite rooms are available from MYR35.00 per person. Our expedition style lodging is located at KK Times Square rightly adjacent to the Imago Shopping Mall with over 300 stores and food and beverage outlets.

Step 2 – Book A Flight To Kota Kinabalu.

If you are staying in the Asia Pacific, chances are  you can easily book a direct flight to Kota Kinabalu. The Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) has opened its new terminal building in 2008 and it has now become Malaysia’s second busiest airport. Not coincidentally is Airasia – world’s best low cost airline making KKIA one of its most important hubs. KKIA’s strategic location makes it a popular transit for flights to the Asia Pacific regions.

How To Plan Your Mt. Kinabalu Trip

How To Plan Your Mt. Kinabalu Trip

Step 3 – Getting Ready.

You are now almost ready to climb the mountain.

Packing the right gear is essential, sturdy shoes with a proper grip is recommended especially for the ascent to the summit. For the first part of the climb, light clothing is sufficient. Bring a refillable water bottle so you can refill drinking water at the restaurant in Laban Rata Resthouse. Also pack basic toiletries and a small towel and warm clothing for sleeping at the base. Packing light is advised, you can layer the sleeping clothes with a jacket and windbreaker for the ascend to summit. Apart from that, bring a pair of extra socks, waterproof glove and a beanie or balaclava to keep your ears and face warm for the early morning climb.

Hiking poles and headlights are available for rent when you climb with us. Check out some cool gears and outdoor essentials you can purchase at our Dive Shop

Mount Kinabalu is accessible even to novice climbers but a good level of fitness does make the hike more enjoyable! A good leg muscle strength is required before you embark on climbing any mountain, so some trainings and exercises to condition those muscle before your climb is a smart move.

Step 4 – Climbing The Mountain!

Your mountain guide will be meeting you at the park headquarters before you start the hike. He will brief you about the do’s and don’ts at Mount Kinabalu. The best tip follow is to always listen and stay close to your mountain guide. At Downbelow Adventures we have our own seasoned mountain guides to accompany your hike and they are not just any guides, these mountain people are moulded and emerged from straight from the foots of Mt. Kinabalu.

Last but not least, read our blog post on The Mystical Aki Nabalu to know more about this majestic mountain.

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April 2018 PADI Instructor Development Course

The journey to becoming PADI professionals has began yet again at Downbelow PADI 5 Star Career Development Centre! The April 2018 PADI Instructor Development Course kicks off with our two resident PADI Course Directors Richard Swann and Mohd Fauzi @ Pablo along with our dedicated and professional Go Pro Team. We welcome Craig Smith, Szabolcs Matko, John Nolan, Michael Steven Lewis and Matt Dix as our Go Pro Candidates.

April 2018 PADI Instructor Development Course

Classroom Sessions With Our Go Pro Interns

Throughout the IDC, the candidates will stay at our purpose-build accommodation Downbelow Adventure Lodge, which is located just next to our head office. Classroom sessions are held at the Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures head office in KK Times Square, Kota Kinabalu and island training will be conducted at our full facility Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centres in TARP.

April 2018 PADI Instructor Development Course

Open Water Training Session At Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centre

Stay tuned for the development of our candidates’ journey in the April 2018 PADI Instructor Development Course here on our blog.

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March 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Hi everyone! In this post, get to know Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures and read about our activities in the March 2018 Monthly Newsletter. We have gathered a selection of special happenings for your reading pleasure as well as to showcase the beauty of Sabah and give you an insight on us as a company. This month, it had been very eventful and lively as our Adventure Group from Denmark arrives in Sabah Malaysia, Borneo for their month-long Expedition Borneo Program, students from Politeknik Sandakan visits Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centre for an educational and fun day of Discover Scuba, snorkelling and beach cleaning, Downbelow guests reached the peak of the majestic Mt Kinabalu in our climbing program and more exciting news!

To download the newsletter, click here. For further info, you can contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at

March 2018 Monthly Newsletter

March 2018 Monthly Newsletter

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