Is Body Rafting Possible on Kiulu River, Sabah

So I was told that white water rafting on the Kiulu river in Sabah graded as Class I to II, was gentle and safe enough for young children aged 5 onwards, to the elderly, aged 65.  Eventhough I am not a good swimmer, I want to give it a try and challenge myself. Afterall, isn’t this what you call an adventure? Thus, I figured it would be a piece of cake for a beginner like me and my family.

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

The next morning, we were picked up at our hotel at 9am for the journey to the town of Tamparuli, which took about an hour and half.  The Kiulu River was situated on the Northwestern part of Sabah and we were told that our excursion on its waters would cover 14 kilometres, making it the longest white water rafting trip in Borneo, taking nearly 2 hours before reaching the end point.  Sounds most exciting!

We stopped at the end point to change our clothes and store our belongings before heading to the start point a few miles ahead.  Arriving at our starting point of, the crew began to inflate our rubber raft, which could seat between 6 to 8 persons.  Soon, we could see the brightly colored raft floating on the Kiulu River, just waiting for us to board and for the white water rafting adventure to commence.

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

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First, some safety procedures and briefing from our two experienced and certified rafting instructors.  We were given our own individual life jackets, helmets and paddles, and then told of the necessary safety precautions to take in the event of any emergencies.  We were also taught rafting techniques, for example, how to paddle, where to sit and place our feet as well as what to do if the raft capsized and we fell into the deep waters.  The last part sounded quite daunting.

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Off we went.  The river current was quite swift as the water was high due to the raining season, which fell from November to March in Sabah.  Within a few minutes, we met our first rapid.  Bumping up and down on the whirling water currents was like a roller coaster ride, except that there was the real danger of being flung overboard!  Luckily, we managed to maneuver our raft along safely, assisted with rapid commands of “move left”, “move right” and “move faster” from our rafting instructors ringing in our ears.  There were several rapids on the Kiulu River to navigate, a few with interesting names such as Sweet Corner, Durian Rapid and Holy Smoke.

In between the rapids, the clear river water was relatively easy to handle and we took the opportunity to rest our arms and observe the natural surroundings and enjoy the cool breeze.  We saw a number of wooden suspension bridges connecting the villages, children playing on the riverbanks, and picturesque landscapes of rocky shorelines, rolling hills and lush green forests.  There were other groups of white water rafters on the Kiulu River that day.  We also had fun water fighting with the other groups using our paddles to “fire” large amounts of river water at each other.  Needless to say, we got very wet.

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Since we were already so wet, our rafting instructors encouraged us to try body rafting on the Kiulu River.  To do that, we had to stop at certain points on the river bank, where the water current was milder and river path smoother, and get ready to body raft.  This was done by floating on my back in the cold water, with both feet up, while holding on to the sides of the raft and heading downstream with the flow of the river.  Well, once I got the hang of it and overcame my apprehension of losing the raft or banging into some rocks, body rafting was an exhilarating experience.  We tried body rafting at two different spots on the river.

We finally reached the end point of our white water rafting excursion on the Kiulu River.  After returning our life jackets, helmets and paddles, we had a shower and changed into dry clothing.  Our 2 hours of white water and body rafting had been filled with merriment and it was now time for sustenance.  Sitting by the riverbank, with dapples of sunlight filtering through the leafy trees, we dug into our delicious BBQ lunch, replenishing the energy and calories we had expended.  We also received our certificates, a wonderful memento of a memorable adventure in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

Rafting on Kiulu River,Sabah

After my own experience, I would say that white water rafting on the Kiulu River in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, is a fantastic outing, especially for first-timers, and great for groups or families with young children or older adults.

If you are looking for exciting Borneo Adventure tours, please check out our
WoW Magic Mt. Kinabalu 3D 2N package.

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