Nature

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Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

Travelling as a family can be greatly rewarding. You will gain unforgettable memories that you can treasure for life. Many worldwide travel destinations offer wonderful life experiences that can strengthen bonds and enrich a family. Such destination is here in the land of adventures, Sabah Malaysia Borneo. With a variety of unique and wholesome activities to do, Sabah is a place that is ideal for both adults and children to explore. Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures is your trusted Borneo specialist to customise your family itinerary. Our lodge and day trips are perfect for family holidays and we are dedicated to ensuring the best child friendly holidays Sabah.

Accommodation For The Whole Family

When travelling, it is essential to choose the best place to stay for you and your family. With all options available you can be overwhelmed with information, making it hard to decide. Fortunately, we have just the accommodation you need conveniently located here in the centre of Kota Kinabalu City, Sabah, yet away from the noise.

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

The Family Room at Downbelow Eco Lodge

Our Downbelow Eco Lodge offer rooms with facilities and amenities to suit all ages including the little ones. With affordable rates and no hidden charges, our online booking feature also provide ease for you to choose and confirm your room instantly within minutes.

The types of room you can opt for at our lodge are the Family Room (Gaya Room) and the Family En-Suite Room (Sipadan Room). Both air-conditioned rooms are specially designed with a great layout that will comfortably fit you and your children and provide a peaceful sleep before and after your adventures in Sabah. All our mattresses are 100% latex and natural, which is best for health of the whole family and means that bed bugs which can often be found in tropical accommodation can’t exist here at the Downbelow Eco Lodge.

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

A Comfortable And Spacious Communal Area Where Kids Can Play And Rest

We have a spacious and cosy communal room where kids can spend their time playing, reading, drawing, resting, watching cartoons and other activities. We have also provided in the Downbelow Eco Lodge a travel cot that in-house guests can freely use.

More features of our lodge includes free access to high-speed wifi internet and usage of the coffee/tea amenities. As for safety, our security surveillance operates 24 hours a day on all communal areas, ensuring the protection of you and your family at all times. Our staff live at the lodge and the the complex has 24 hour patrolled security for everyone’s safe keeping – not that Kota Kinabalu is an un-safe place but its always re-assuring that safety is a priority.

Day Trips Tailored To Children

We offer many enjoyable, comprehensive and value for money day trip programs that are great for kids here in Kota Kinabalu. Only a few minutes away from Downbelow Eco Lodge, you can experience ocean fun with your family at our Downbelow PADI 5 Star CDC Dive Centres in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

Snorkelling Is The Easiest And Most Popular Way To Explore The Ocean For Kids

See tropical marine life and colourful soft corals in our Snorkel Safari program. It is most suitable for children because this activity is easy, safe and fun at the same time. A professional PADI Instructor will first conduct an orientation at the pool or at the bay to practice important skills before heading out on our boat. We will teach you the basics of mask clearing, kicking techniques and snorkel use through shallow water instruction. After that, you are ready to swim and snorkel in TARP in search of “Nemo” and other fishes!

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

Children Can Learn About and Experience Scuba Diving at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures

If the little ones show interest in scuba diving and wish to try it themselves, our PADI Bubblemaker for Kids activity is perfect for them. This program introduces kids to scuba diving in a highly supervised, fun and relaxed manner. As part of this program, and under the guidance of a PADI professional, children divers learn basic safety concepts, put on equipment and swim around underwater in a closely supervised environment at our own private pool area. Once kids are comfortable with the scuba equipment and master the basic skills, the instructor will then bring them to experience their first Open Water dive (max 2m/6ft depth) at the shallow house reef area at the front bay. You and your family will enjoy beautiful island surrounding or just hangout by the pool to relax during the quick breaks in between sessions.

Another option to enjoy scuba diving is the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program. It is a perfect holiday activity for non-divers who wish to go scuba diving and children can participate in it too. In this program, you can go through a knowledge briefing, learn basic scuba skills and go on an open water scuba dive to our ‘house reef’ together with the kids. It will be a very special moment when you experience the underwater world as a family.

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

See Stunning Mountain Views In The Kinabalu Park Day Trip

For a private and relaxing day exploring Sabah’s amazing nature with children, we have the Kinabalu Park Day Trip program. The drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinabalu Park from Downbelow Eco Lodge is approximately 2 hours and the journey itself will be enjoyable for the whole family. Enjoy the scenic route and catch glimpses of Malaysia’s tallest mountain, the majestic Mt Kinabalu along the way. Once there, spot rare and endemic species of flora and fauna when you stroll by rivers and mountain trails and learn about plants in the park at the Botanical Garden. After that you will visit the Poring Hot Springs where the kids can visit butterfly gardens, have fun at the canopy walkway and get a chance to see the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia.

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah

Join In On The Traditional Sabah Dance During The Cultural Extravaganza

Kota Kinabalu city itself has many interesting attractions. Our private and tailored Best of Kota Kinabalu Tour program takes you and your family to the best places to visit in the city and learn about the local people of Sabah at a cultural villages. Among the attractions you will visit are Signal Hill Lookout, Sabah Museum and Handicraft Market. At the cultural village, you and the family will explore five different ethnic homes of Sabah. The children will participate in fun activities such as blowpipe-making, henna-making, bamboo cooking, and try out the traditional bamboo trampoline. There will also be an exciting cultural show featuring traditional dances of multiple ethnic groups of Sabah that will entertain the kids.

We have a variety of day trip programs in Sabah and the above are only some of them. To see all of our day trip programs, visit our webpage here!

Contact Us

If you are planning to travel to Sabah Malaysia Borneo with your family soon, we would be delighted to tailor and customise a program just for you. Our knowledgable and friendly Travel Centre team can assist you with your enquiries about our child-friendly trips, contact them at +60128661935 or email at info@DownbelowAdventures.com today!

Best Child Friendly Holidays Sabah2019-03-23T10:46:01+08:00

Effortless Travel In Borneo

In many ways technological advancement has changed the way we travel, making for hassle free and effortless booking options. In other words technology has totally revolutionised the tourism industry. Nowadays there are many online travel agents that allow you to book and plan your holiday at the click of a button. However with an overflow of feeds from different social media platforms, beautiful images and so many “must do’s” we are flooded with too much information and too many choices which can lead to a difficult decision process.

Research has shown that more than 70% of travellers now plan their trip on the internet, while only 13% still use high street travel agencies to prepare their itinerary.

While online travel agents offer the convenience of planning and booking your holiday via the world wide web, more effort and time will usually be necessary to research for a specialized attraction and very often in the online world you will meet sites giving you information with no proof of reliable sources. In Sabah for example there are plenty of niche attractions that do not get the recognition they deserve and may never be found just by hours of searching on the internet.

At Downbelow Adventures (aka Adventures in Borneo) we have recognised the need to filter the overwhelming amount of options presented to our clients.

With 20 years of credential, at Downbelow Adventures we pride ourselves as your Borneo Adventure Specialist. Our packages are tailor made by people who are passionate & highly experienced in the art of travelling. Our objective is for you to enjoy the best of Borneo and take away an experience of a lifetime – effortlessly. Whether you are looking for a budget friendly holiday package or a high end luxurious escape, our team of experts will create a personalised itinerary to best suit your interest and wish list maximising your time in country and saving you money. In other words, effortless travel in Borneo!

We also offer our clients the simplicity of online bookings with instant confirmation and payment with no booking & credit card fees. Online bookings still enjoy our full customer service with a dedicated travel consultant for tailored itinerary making a seamless and even more effortless travel in Borneo experience.

So get in touch with us today, tell us your travel dates, number of people traveling, your budget and your interests and we will present to you a tailored suggested itinerary. Alternatively visit our website where a selected number of tailored packages are available online.

Effortless Travel In Borneo2019-04-19T15:07:59+08:00

Danum Valley

The deep forest of Danum Valley in Sabah offers some of the most breathtaking rainforest sceneries in the world. The prominent mountain ranges that zig zag its way across Borneo makes for amazing and beautiful valleys. As the dawn is breaking a sea of cloud delicately covers the rainforest, the tallest trees appear to be supporting the cloud with its branches. The cool breeze brushes your skin. The valley echos the swish swoosh of the Rhinoceros Hornbill in flight. A scene that could come from the next addition of The Jungle Books, but in truth this is just some of the daily scene in Danum Valley.

Danum Valley - Rainforest View

Danum Valley – Rainforest View

Danum Valley has a tropical rainforest climate, which means that it is warm and humid year round. The relative humidity is rarely below 80%, mist are often so pregnant with water that they burst down as big droplets from high canopies. The tree canopies are so dense that sunlight rarely reaches the forest floor but what is stunning is the different type of biodiversity and even ecosystem in each layers of the same rainforest. The thick foliage also means that the forest is often darker and would make spotting wildlife difficult, or rare.

More often than not, one would need the guidance of a seasoned naturalist to look for the variety of animals found in Danum Valley. They have an elevated sensitivity to movements, sounds and even smells in the humid tropical rainforest, in fact hiring a private guide is always highly recommended when travelling to this part Borneo.

Private Guide at Danum Valley

Private Guide at Danum Valley

The great thing about the rainforest of Danum Valley is that it’s got different sight to offer during different times throughout the year. With an area that spans only 438 square kilometres, Danum Valley has an impressive attribute. Half a square kilometre of forest can sustain well over a thousand tree species, and as a pristine unlogged forest the wildlife is abound by ancient trees up to or more than 80 meters in height.

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Being a rainforest, Danum Valley does receive constant rainfall year round. Typically it is the wettest between the months of October to February which means the fauna will be less active during these time of the year. Not so for the six and eight legged creatures that crawl along the forest floor. Insects and arachnid flourishes in the dark and cool rainforest.

As the climate gets warmer, the rainforest suddenly changes into a garden when trees starts flowering. One might be surprised to see flowers growing from tall sky reaching trees. The flowers are dainty and not flashing in colors, but simply white and sometimes dotted with colored spots making a stark contrast from the green of the forest. The breeze carries a faint floral smell, and sometimes also bring the flower to the ground – creating a regal white carpet fit for jungle royalties. Moth and butterflies will also be making an appearance, making the fairytale scene even more magical.

After a while, the flowers will finish falling and fruits start to grow. Fruiting season is definitely the merriest. Orang Utan and other apes can be sighted on fruiting trees at this time. Fruiting trees are nicely scattered in the rainforest, which means food is in abundance to all the different species of wildlife in Danum Valley. Fruiting season may come mid year and last until July or August. This period is notoriously assumed as best time for wildlife sightings including mammals and birds.

Later in the year around September through December is peak migration time for the migratory birds, and you might also find the endemic species starting to nest around this time of year. As the forest welcomes the new year, chicks would have hatched and Danum Valley blesses us with new life again.

Pygmy elephant migrating pattern in Danum Valley is not consistent, but the river flowing through the valley does guarantee the elephant population. This is different to Kinabatangan and Sukau where sightings are more often. It would be unfair to not mention the wild cats of Borneo when talking about Danum Valley, several including the very elusive clouded leopard can be encountered here. In recent years, sightings of mother and cub have been recorded at different times throughout the year marking a promising continuation of this species.

Danum Valley is like an opal, magnificent and rare. Housing a myriad of life, many still undiscovered. The attributes of the valley knows no threshold and will never cease to surprise us. Lodgings in Danum Valley have adopted a sustainable approach in operations and maintaining the chalets and rooms, and have been a key player in the ecotourism industry. Guest staying there will be able to see first hand and experience the green practices that have been implemented in order to preserve all the wonders of nature at Danum Valley. This among others are all efforts and actions to make sure that the forest remains pristine, as how nature should be – timeless.

Danum Valley - Canopy Walkway

Danum Valley – Canopy Walkway

There really isn’t one perfect time to visit Danum Valley, because any time is perfect. Though you may need to book your stay in advance as there is a limit to daily arrivals at the lodges. Options are available and at Downbelow Adventures we take booking up to a year in advance, whether you prefer a more basic expedition style trip or a more luxurious and tailored itinerary.

If you are interested and wish to know more about our Danum Valley programs, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgable Travel Centre team at +6012 866 1935 or via email at info@DownbelowAdventures.com. To book our Danum Valley programs and other wildlife adventures online, click here.

Danum Valley2019-02-07T11:58:11+08:00

Borneo Big Five

Lying astride the equator, Borneo – the third largest island in the world is mostly covered by tropical rainforest. Mountain ranges and long navigable rivers flows across the island with hot and humid climate year round, makes Borneo a haven for a multitude of unique and endemic flora and fauna. The Borneo Big Five consist of Borneo’s most novel and exceptional wildlife. 

Sabah, Malaysian Borneo is home to some of the most iconic wildlife in the island. The Borneo Big Five are Orang Utan, Proboscis Monkey, Pygmy Elephant, Rhinoceros Hornbill and Estuarine Crocodile. A visit to Sabah would definitely be incomplete without a visit to some of the hotspots for the Borneo Big Five encounters!

Orang Utan

Borneo Big Five

Bornean Orang Utan (Pongo Pygmaeus Morio)

Number one on the list is the Orang Utan. Orang Utan needs no introduction, they are extremely intelligent and distinctively different from other great apes. Orang Utan has a bright orange-reddish fur and likes to be solitary. A female can care for its offspring for up to 6 years. Deforestation caused the Orang Utans to be critically endangered, hopefully all the efforts from the authorities and NGOs in the country can put a stop to the species’ decline. Wild Orang Utan can still be safely encountered in several eco-lodges in Sabah including Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley.

Proboscis Monkey

Borneo Big Five

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis Larvatus)

Proboscis Monkey is one of the most unique animal in the world, the male have a huge pendulous nose and large pot belly. Highly arboreal, their long tails help them to maneuver long jump from tree to tree. The Proboscis Monkey is so unique to Sabah, that they have become a mascot to represent Sabah. Its pot belly is thanks to its chambered stomach, which is useful to digest young leaves and unripe fruits that are inedible to other mammals. The Proboscis Monkeys are also excellent swimmers, so don’t be surprised if you see these natural acrobats crossing the rivers next time you go on a cruise to the Kinabatangan Rivers.

Pygmy Elephant

Borneo Big Five

Elephas Maximus Borneensis

Pygmy elephant is the largest mammal in Borneo and also the smallest in elephant species. Their ears are proportioned larger compared to its head, making them the most adorable looking elephant in the world yet least understood among its bigger cousin. The pygmy elephant of Borneo is a high conservation priority, in fact most studies about this species are quite recent making them a very enigmatic creature of the forest. Nevertheless they are facing the same threat as many wildlife across the globe – illegal poaching due to more human encounters caused by their shrinking habitat. Now, a sustainable forest management could be the only answer to keeping the long time survival of the species.

Rhinoceros Hornbill

Borneo Big Five

Buceros rhinoceros

Next on the Borneo Big Five is the magnificent rhinoceros hornbill. The Dayak people or native people of Borneo revere this great bird as the supreme worldly bird. With wingspan reaching 1- 1.2 metre, and it’s very prominent large orange bill and casque one could hardly dispute its reign as the national bird for Malaysia and state bird for Sarawak. Motive of this bird is also common in traditional arts and handicrafts. The rhinoceros hornbill or Kenyalang is monogamous and mate for life, and usually comes back to the same tree for nesting. Though many have known that the female will stay sealed in a dark hole in a tree until the chicks hatch, many Dayaks also believe that if something happens to a female during nesting the male can die of heartbreak. Till now, the rhinoceros hornbill is still regarded as a symbol of good fortune and good omen to Bornean. Malaysia’s largest natural aviary located in Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the best place to encounter this great bird.

Estuarine Crocodile

Borneo Big Five

Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus Porosus)

Once as endangered species, the estuarine crocodiles have made a full come back in Sabah. They are the largest crocodile to inhabit river estuaries including mangrove remote beaches. These living fossils are considered deadly, and are widely known to showcase their predator skills right after hatching. A common saying in Malay that translate as “ Don’t take a calm river for granted, as you don’t know the crocodile that lives in it”. They are a powerful predator and can kill their prey very swiftly with a strong force.

Seeing the Borneo Big Five should be high on your list when visiting Borneo, grab the opportunity to encounter all five amazing wildlife in our Wildlife Adventure Program. Easy online booking available, but if you are looking for a bespoke travel experience our professional tour consultant will help you to tailor a personalized package that suits your preference and interest.

To get in touch with our our Travel Centre team, contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at info@DownbelowAdventures.com. Book our wildlife programs here.

Borneo Big Five2019-01-17T12:39:08+08:00

Rafting down the Padas river

What can you do near Kota Kinabalu when you just have one day? I went rafting down the Padas river recently, despite lasting only the full day I think I brought back a whole novel of memory!

Let me start by saying this, it was so much more than just going rafting.

Having lived in Sabah-North Borneo all my life, I would say I am very familiar with this place I call home. I know our mountains and the ranges that stretches from the east coast to the west. The rainforest that defines us, the magnificent area that still hold mysteries, with amazing flora and fauna that is yet to be found.

The town, the villages and the people. Our beautiful sunrise and sunsets, oh the sunsets! My heritage.

Until that fine day I decided to go on a white water rafting with some friends. With my backpack ready, we departed from Kota Kinabalu at 5:30am.

Our guide explained that we need to catch the train at Beaufort station, and through the course we will change train 3 times before arriving our destination. And this is where the real adventure starts.

The sky was slowly changing colours as we pass through Papar, that morning was a weekday so I could see children heading to school. The girls in their pinafore or baju kurung school uniforms. Papar is among the last few districts where old coffee shops can still be seen. Such unique sights!

The sun is almost warm when we reach Beaufort at 7:30am, we managed a quick toilet stop and bought some snacks from the small shops at the station before boarding the train.

Rafting down the Padas river

The train. It is basically a time machine that transport you back a good few decade, or even a century maybe. Because that is what it felt like. With single-class seating structure, and wooden floors. It is a very old train, there is nothing high tech about it. There were some foreign tourist on the train with us, I can’t help but wonder what could be going through their minds. Also on the train were the locals, just going about their daily lives. I saw people with leather skin; I saw people carrying livestocks, big rattan basket filled with plantain, cassava, bamboo shoots etcetera. There were multiple stops throughout the ride, except for our group and the tourist the locals gone off and others boarded. I saw a young boy, probably 9 or 10 years old with an old carry bag board. In these areas, houses are scarce and between villages – some with no electricity. This young child was off to school where he will be staying in the a hostel. He has a bright and shiny eyes, in my heart I wish him all the success in the world.

The journey was scenic, the nature was lush and dark green in colour. We have really left the bustling city behind. The sights I saw, I could have never imagined. In some part, the railway was built at the edge of a rocky hill. The scene was almost Jurassic.

Alas we arrived. Padas river is a gentle monster, seeing the rapids and water crashing quickly took my mind off the faces and landscape during the train ride. I could not be more excited!

As we geared up for the rafting activity, our river guide gave us the instructions and safety briefing. And then with a splash, we were baptised at the river bank and so our initiation was complete. We are ready to go rafting down the Padas river.

If you have ever been on a roller coaster, this experience is almost like that – physically. The rapid carries the raft and then dunk down when the rapid breaks. Water rafting makes you engage your whole body, as you feel all your muscle tense up when you see the next rapid. There really wasn’t anything else on my mind when we were in the river, because it was just not possible to not focus. The small but frequent rush of adrenaline. It was so tribal! And the river guide was our excellent chief.

When chief announced the last rapid, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. I wished there were 10 more rapids in front or if we could raft all the way to Beaufort!

My face had a great work out that day, and some of it was even captured in photos. We had photographer in kayaks, capturing our rapid moments. I must’ve made a thousand and one facial expressions throughout our 2 hour rafting session.

Rafting down the Padas river

Lunch was prepared by the villagers. In the menu was a winter melon and chicken soup. The winter melon was crisp and fragrant, the ginger was warm, the chicken was sweet, it was a light but hearty soup. If I had to describe the state of my body and mind at that time, it would be like all the ingredients of the soup. I was happy and free!

We had time before the train arrived so we just soaked in the nature, there were no cars or other activity going on. There was not even a phone reception there, it was a moment so simple and carefree. Everyone could benefit from this surrounding once in a while.

Our activity ended with a return train ride to Beaufort where we were picked up by a van to go back to Kota Kinabalu. In the quiet train ride back, I held on to this experience as we ease back into the city.

Going on this trip could easily feel like being in a documentary. You get far more than the thrills from rafting in a class 4 rapid, it is not just a tour but a trip for your mind body and soul. Still looking for your next adventure? Let us at Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures take you to the longest rafting river in Borneo. Have your place secured in a few minutes by booking online, all you have to do is click here!

Rafting down the Padas river2018-12-10T11:33:39+08:00