Borneo is the perfect place to be active and outdoors, and this trip will have you biking village backroads, summiting the heights of Mt Kinabalu, trekking through rainforest and island-hopping by sea kayak. With two homestays, you’ll get an insight in to the ‘real’ Borneo at community level. Experience next-level vistas on Mt Kinabalu, descending by the via ferrata – a specially protected mountain pathway for climbers, the first of its kind in Asia. If you want to extend your adventure, you can easily book this trip in conjunction with the Wild Sarawak trip to maximise your time here
Borneo’s Sabah region is a natural paradise of steamy rainforests, towering mountains and beautiful beaches. This trip will get you active as you cycle through small villages, ascend to the summit of Mt Kinabalu, search the jungle for wildlife and swim through a colourful underwater world. Feast on delicious cuisine, hang out with local villagers and soak up the culture of this wild and ancient island. Borneo is the place for those with adventure in mind.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 3 Lunches Included: 4
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. If you arrive early, you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village, or perhaps explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, which are excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Travel out of Kota Kinabalu by private mini van (approximately 1 hour), then enjoy a day of cycling approximately 35KM . There will be a support van that you can hop in if you get tired or need a rest. Pack a small bag for the day (which can travel in the support van), as you will leave your large luggage in the mini bus. The first 20KM is along mainly asphalt roads through villages and rubber plantations. You will cycle into nearby Tuaran town where it’s possible to visit the Chinese pagoda before cycling onwards. Most of the ride will be on backroads but there are some short distances on main roads as well. Before your lunch stop in Tamparuli town there will be 3 hills to get your blood pumping. After a local lunch you will hit the trails and go off road – there are a few hanging bridges and rough tracks that will require careful riding. Towards the end of the off road section there is one large winding hill that will prevent a challenge even to the fittest cyclist (there is no shame in pushing your bike on this stretch) Afterwards you descend to a river that you cycle alongside before arriving at your homestay. Weather dependent you can cool off in the nearby river. It can be a hot day so we recommend using sweat resistant sunblock and covering up. Tonight is your first homestay of the trip. Bedding is provided and rooms are multi-share with a shared toilet and cold-water bucket showers.
Tanak Nabalu Homestay
In the morning travel by private mini van to Tanak Nabalu Homestay, (approx 1.5 hours) Nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of imposing Mt Kinabalu, the the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea, this rural homestay is a great place to relax and prepare for your next 2 days of adventure.. The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their way of life and spend a night in traditional accommodation. Lunch will be provided in the family home and then you have the afternoon to do some short walks around the rural homestay. Take a refreshing dip in the river and visit 'Mini Kinabalu', a natural rock formation that locals say looks like the peak of the real thing. Late in the afternoon you can repack your bags and prepare yourself for the climb tomorrow.
Accommodation here is multi-share with a shared toilet and cold water bucket showers. Bedding is provided. An optional activity tonight is a traditional cultural performance in the village.
Drive to the base of Mt Kinabalu and begin your climb which starts at Timpohon Gate (and takes approximately 5–7 hours). The trek passes by different vegetation zones, from oak and chestnut trees to moss covered rocks and eventually only alpine vegetation. It's an intense but scenic and rewarding trek to the Laban Rata rock slab where the lodges that accommodate climbers are situated. We will stay in the Pendant hut, which is around 100 metres away from the Laban Rata hut. We need to arrive by 3 pm for a compulsory safety briefing (otherwise you will not be able to participate in the via Ferrata). After a delicious buffet dinner at the nearby Laban Rata hut, settle in for an early night.
Notes: The Mt Kinabalu via ferrata (or 'iron road' in Italian) is devised to give climbers with little or no climbing experience access to rock faces normally reached by mountaineers and rock climbers. You will need to be at least 1.3 m tall, of good fitness level (able to hike up to 3,200 metres in 6 hours) and not have a fear of heights (or are willing to conquer your fear!). National Park regulations also state that you must not be older than 70 or weigh more than 100 kg to embark on this route. Gloves are necessary for the via ferrata. Climbers are accommodated in unheated, bunk bedded dorms with sleeping bags, sleep sheets and pillows; no towels are included. As it is only a short night's sleep here, most people will sleep in the clothes they will trek in the next day – it's all part of the adventure! Bathroom facilities are shared and have cold water only.
Mt Kinabalu – Via Ferrata - Poring Hot Springs
Today it's time to summit. Wake up at around 2:30 am, in time to leave for your trek to the top. Summit Low's Peak (4,095 m) and, if it's clear, catch the gorgeous sunrise. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 3–4 hours. The trail starts from directly behind the Pendant hut and is a series of man made steps and wooden steps. There is also a rope section zig-zagging around 250 metres up the steep slabs of granite. The final check point is Sayat Sayat hut, and from there it’s a steady climb towards Low's Peak.
Descend from the peak and meet your via ferrata guide at Sayat Sayat Hut (3,668 m) to prepare for your via ferrata experience. You'll need to arrive back at Sayat Sayat no later than 7.15am to do the via ferrata. Here you will put on our harnesses and helmets and split into small groups (6 people maximum). This may mean you have to wait for other climbers to come back from the summit trail. Once ready, you'll descend the rope section to the starting point of the via feratta below. The via feratta is an adventurous circuit, about 390 meters long. You will be roped together for safety and you will have carabiner clips that attach to a static wire. The first part is a descent with bolted-in metal steps and hoops to aid climbers. There is an adventurous descent over a hanging ladder and a wire bridge before you ascend back to where you started. Afterwards, descend the steps back to Pendant Hut where there's time for a well-earned second breakfast. Then you'll check out and trek back down the mountain. The aim is to arrive back at Timpohon gate around 5 or 6 pm.
Once everyone is down from the mountain, continue to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approximately 1 hour). Soak your weary limbs in the famous outdoor thermal pools, perhaps spotting a giant Raffelsia flower nearby if they're in bloom. Tonight you will stay at a hostel in Poring Hot Springs. Some rooms have bunk beds or multiple beds and the bathroom is shared. Rooms are fan cooled and hot water is usually available. The hostel is located right inside the springs complex itself and has a light and airy lounge room to relax in.
Notes: Even if you are very fit you may find the summit climb difficult due to the altitude. It can make you feel quite nauseous and short of breath. The trail is marked by a white rope that's also useful to help you up some of the steep sections. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm) and you will need a head torch as you ascend in the dark.
While the via ferrata route is straightforward and suitable for beginners, it's by no means an easy feat. Our guides will be there to give you a full safety briefing and train you on the proper use of the safety devices. They will also climb with you, providing tips on negotiating difficult obstacles and pointing out spectacular sights along the way.
Poring Hot Springs - Lupa Masa
Enjoy a free morning. There are optional activities available at Poring Hot Springs. Walking paths lead through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, and there are waterfalls and bat caves to visit, with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trails. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views. The butterfly farm is another great option. After lunch you will leave your large bags behind and make the short trek (30–40 minutes) to the Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp where you will stay tonight. Watch out for the odd leach on this walk (knee-high socks you can tuck into your pants are recommended). There's the chance for a swim in the pristine river to explore some of the nearby trails. Tonight you'll sleep on raised camp decks in the stunning primary rainforest. It's basic accommodation but in an amazing location. Tents, sleeping mats and blankets are provided, but bringing your own sleep sheet or locally-bought sarong is recommended. Dinner is included at camp, and a night-lit jungle walk in search of wildlife will follow.
After breakfast this morning there's a little more time to spend enjoying your surroundings before you walk back to Poring. From here you will drive back to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 3 hours). The evening in Kota Kinabalu is yours to spend as you please. You will stay tonight in your start-point hotel.
Tunku Abdul Marine Park/Kota Kinabalu
Drive the short distance to Jesselton Point (approximately 10 minutes), then take a boat out to Manukan Island in Tunku Abdul Marine Park (approximately 20 minutes). Manukan Island is where you will begin your kayaking adventure, island-hopping across the calm and crystal-clear waters of the Tunku Abdul Marine Park in double-seater kayaks. There's a full day to spend out on the water and you will have a mask on hand so you can stop for some snorkelling. A support boat will be with you the whole day, should you need a break from paddling. Later, head back to land and back to Kota Kinabalu for your final night with the group.
Notes: This activity is dependent on weather conditions. If kayaking is not possible due to storms or high winds, your leader will discuss with the group what alternatives are on offer.
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. There are no activities included today and you are free to depart at any time.
If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu longer, then there are some additional activities that your leader can assist with booking. It’s best to pre book these activities with your leader on Day 1. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or an optional fun, interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live.
Please also remember Most Scuba Diving companies would recommend you don't fly for at least 24 hours after your last scuba dive.