Whitewater Rafting in Borneo

October 6, 2009 · 4 comments

A 3 hour bus ride from Kota Kinabalu with a stop to change clothes and admire the view and you will be with bus load of people finding your way to Padas River.

Once there you will be told to sit down on planks of wood with wheels/ball bearings on for riding down a train track, think along the lines of ‘railway skateboarding’.

Malaysian forest

Malaysian forest

You might find yourself seated with 2 large German men, one of them; Sabastian, looks a spitting image of Micheal Schumacher. A Malaysian man will be behind with a bamboo stick pushing you along the train track to begin your adventure.

You may have to stop the Flintstones style skateboarding for oncoming trains(!), because there will be bits of track missing (where the train sets off from) and thirdy because the man pushing you couldn’t do an uphill section due to friction on the train skateboard with Germans weighing it down.

After an hour in the heat being pushed on the train skateboard alongside the Pudas River, you will regret not having sunlotion and prepare yourself whilst listening to the safety briefing. Then it’s time to go white water rafting.

Due to the nature of white water rafting (very very wet!) taking a camera is unrecommended unless you know you can hang on to it and have a way of waterproofing it.

Twirling down the river through the bends meandering as the current took us. You will head over rapids with names such as ‘Washing Machine, Cobra, Merry-Go-Round, Scooby Doo and the harsh Head Hunter rapid’. I think we got to 2M in the air in one of the head hunter rapids.

The guide will slow down in a few calm water areas so you can go for a swim. You may find leaving it a bit late getting back into the raft will result in having to swim through rapids to catch up though!

You will also probably fall out going over the rapids, or at least fly across the raft to the other side maybe even knocking someone else out of the raft.

Photo source: Matthew Oldfield

Photo source: Matthew Oldfield

Any period of time in the river water will also stain those lightly coloured clothing you wore, so you will try to remember to wear darker colours in the future.

Lunch will be after 9km (1.5hrs) down the river (the Pudas river is the longest raft-able river in Borneo) which will be a mediocre BBQ.

After lunch another 6km will follow completing the 15km rapids. Afterwards you will transfer over to a ‘speed’ boat to go down the rest of the river (not rapids) which was another 30km to arrive back on the bus. Unfortunately the 30minute journey may take 2 hours due to one of the engines on our speedboat failing.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Candice October 6, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Definitely doing this at some point in my life, I love how everyone looks super happy in that photo.


AdventureRob October 7, 2009 at 7:02 PM

You can’t help but have a big smile when whitewater rafting :D


Dave and Deb October 12, 2009 at 3:44 PM

This sounds great. We have rafted in a few places around the world but we didn’t do it while we were in Borneo. It looks like you had a blast and getting there on the skateboard railway is half of the fun.


Deb and Dave


AdventureRob October 13, 2009 at 5:37 AM

The skateboard railway is very unique in arriving at your desination! This was my first time white water rafting, I’m a fan now :)


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