White Water Rafting

/White Water Rafting

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

First AdventureDK Group on Expedition Borneo program Completes A Month of Adventure!

We hosted a farewell dinner as we said goodbye to our first Expedition Borneo group of 2016.

The group completed the one-month adventure program tailored by Downbelow where they experienced the best of Borneo.

They completed diving courses and became certified PADI Open Water Divers while camping in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, battled the white water of Padas River, enjoyed wildlife safari, met with Orang Utans, scaled the majestic Mount Kinabalu and trekked the tropical jungle of Borneo for 4 days 3 nights via the Salt Trail.

We are sad to see our adventurers’ travel to their next exciting destination, we are elated they have enjoyed their adventure in Sabah, Borneo!

Do you want your own Borneo adventures? Contact us and see what we can do for you and your group.

First AdventureDK Group on Expedition Borneo program Completes A Month of Adventure!2016-04-29T01:27:25+08:00

Time for wild rapids on Padas River!

Another amazing activity for our adventure groups from Denmark – is white water rafting at Padas River!

Historically used for exporting goods, such as tobacco, tapioca and silk, to Kota Kinabalu port (then Jesselton!)

On the international scale of river difficulty, Padas River is one of the most extreme at a grade IV to V, which requires advanced to expert skills for quick maneuvering! The Danes are well taken care of though, always under the experienced supervision of the river guides. Travelling there is by train and not just any train – the North Borneo Railway! Historically used for exporting goods, such as tobacco, tapioca and silk, to Kota Kinabalu port (then Jesselton!)

The tracks are still open to preserve the rich history of Sabah, and it’s lovely for visitors to see the tropical countryside pass by too! It’s a fantastic 1-day land trip that our clients enjoy thoroughly, and a memory our adventure group won’t forget soon!

Contact a member of our Head Office staff for more details on the various land trips our travel experts can combine with your Sabah travels for an unforgettable holiday!

Time for wild rapids on Padas River!2018-02-03T00:58:19+08:00

Sabah Travel Centre arranges for clients to ride Padas!

Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures’ Sabah Travel Centre arranges for Dawn and Paul to ride Padas River!

This 1-day adventure is something way out of our international guests’ comfort zone, which is why they loved every exhilarating, heart-pumping, terrifying second of it!

It takes a while to get to the starting point of the rafting course, but participants definitely find the thrill of riding the rapids worth it!

One of the wildest, yet safest, rivers in South East Asia to conduct white water rafting is on the mighty Padas River near Beaufort. It takes a while to get to the starting point of the rafting course, but participants definitely find the thrill of riding the rapids worth it! Guests need to start their day quite early (about 5am!) to be transferred via road transfer (roughly a 2-hour journey) to the train station in Beaufort for a 30-minute train ride, and experience the rafting under the expert supervision of the experienced river guides; and to finally arrive in Kota Kinabalu city centre in time for their dinner plans in the evening.

We always receive feedback from travelling groups on our Expedition Borneo program that their white water rafting experience is one of their favourite activities…save for climbing to Mount Kinabalu’s Lows’ Peak!

Contact our HQ in KK to discuss with one of our travel experts on creating a personalised itinerary for a truly epic adventure in Sabah, Borneo!

Sabah Travel Centre arranges for clients to ride Padas!2018-02-03T00:58:36+08:00

Marine, wildlife and adventure packages: Explore Sabah, Borneo!

Explore Sabah, Borneo for a personalised holiday on our many marine, wildlife and adventure packages, like Richard’s old friend Jason is doing!

Jason visits our 5 Star Dive Centre to qualify as PADI Enriched Air Diver, and his Instructor is his old friend Richard Swann. As a Platinum PADI Course Director, elite Instructor Trainer, Richard has a lot of dive experience to share with Jason!

For the next Sabah adventure (but probably not the last), Jason is white water rafting at the mighty rapids of Padas River! Hoping it’s terrible weather on that day…because it makes the rapids wilder!

As he completes his course, Jason also explores the TAR marine park with some leisure dives, making for an exciting start to his Sabah adventure.

Wildlife spotting cannot be missed when visiting Borneo, and there’s so many endemic and rare animals in Sabah itself. Jason will fly to Sandakan town, on Sabah’s east coast, and be transferred to the Kinabatangan River for some peace and relaxation while getting closer to nature in Bilit Village. A good camera is highly suggested to capture the numerous hornbills guests spot during the morning and early evening river cruises.

For the next Sabah adventure (but probably not the last), Jason is white water rafting at the mighty rapids of Padas River! Hoping it’s terrible weather on that day…because it makes the rapids wilder!

For more information on how our Kota Kinabalu HQ Sabah Travel Centre experts can arrange a suitable adventure package for you, get in touch.

Combine various day trips, overnight stays, luxury accommodation or budget backpackers, we have the expertise to personalise your Borneo holiday!

Marine, wildlife and adventure packages: Explore Sabah, Borneo!2018-02-03T00:58:54+08:00

Head Office team goes rafting in Kiulu!

To ‘Live Like Dive Downbelow’ is a lifestyle that we want to share with everybody! Everyone from every walk of life will enjoy the many attractions Sabah has to offer, such as white water rafting!

For a day, a big group of our Head Office team experienced the thrilling white water rafting attraction at Kiulu River! Kiulu River is graded at I and II, which on the International Scale of River Difficulty requires basic paddling skills to navigate. However, friendly river guides accompanied our fun-loving team, and before starting the activity, a briefing is delivered to discuss these basic skills.

This is the attraction of Kiulu, on certain days the river is manageable enough to swim between rapids and jump from the rivers edge into the rapid below – great fun for all!

The day was made all the more enjoyable by jumping from the boat and “body rafting” through the rapids. This is the attraction of Kiulu, on certain days the river is manageable enough to swim between rapids and jump from the rivers edge into the rapid below – great fun for all!

Afterwards, a delicious BBQ lunch is served to restore energy used during the incredibly exciting white water rafting, with a view of the serene Kiulu River to enjoy! Keep following the adventures our team get up to because there will be more! Contact our Head Office team if you would like to explore exotic Borneo where the dream never ends and ‘live like dive downbelow’!

Head Office team goes rafting in Kiulu!2016-02-01T08:52:30+08:00