Saturday, February 22, 2014

First Rafting Experience at Kiulu River, Sabah

Rafting was never in our to-do-list, ever, until our sister Jenny recommended it to us. She said that it was fun and full with excitement. Since we never step our foot on a raft before and we just needed to pay RM50 per person, with lunch included, so why not take a try? 

Kiulu River is around 45 km from Kota Kinabalu. It can be accessed through the nearest village, Tamparuli, on the way from Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu National Park. From KK, we drove 1 hour and 15 minutes to the rafting company, and then, the company staff brought us to the starting point, which was another 15 minutes upstream. 

From our experience, the place was not easy to reach even with GPS, unless you know the place really well. Following a tour or rafting company from KK or Tamparuli should be the better choice for tourists. However, if you don't mind to drive, please make sure you bring a most up-to-date map or GPS, and of course, with the reservation done earlier.

For us, we did our reservation few months earlier with Poturidong Tengah Bundu Camping Site. The general manager Alson Kangit (013-8145668; was working in medical field before he gave up his job in the hospital and embraced one of his hobbies- rafting. The price offered by him was unbeatable- RM 40 per person for rafting, and RM 10 per person for lunch at the camping site, and RM 50 for one CD containing professional photos taken by Alson himself. By the way, Jenny had joined a few rafting activities with the company before. The whole rafting took us 1 hour 45 minutes. We were served with simple but delicious buffet lunch after that.

Rafting means we have to deal with water, rapid, stones, and a lot of sunlight. Water resistant sun block is a must or else, will be roasted by merciless sun. Safety gadgets such as life jacket and helmet are required as well, and provided by the rafting company without extra charge. We were briefed by our guide on how to paddle, stabilize ourselves, some simple commands, and general safety precaution before we dipped our feet into the freezing cold water.

Well, the journey started in relax and calm.

Then, with challenges ahead.

Paddles were uplifted when we rafting down the rapid to avoid hitting the stones, while enjoying the fast and furious.

Getting wet was inevitable, especially when we cruised down the rocky rapid.

Took a break when the river turned less rocky.

When we reached the slow flowing stretch of river, we need to start paddling to keep moving.

We were not alone. We were greeted by several other groups when we headed downstream. Splashing the cold water with our paddles to other raft was another way to say "hello".

Poturidong Tengah Bundu Camping Site provided a good service to us, with relatively low price. The guide was very informative and helpful. With his encouragement, we experienced swimming in Kiulu river, body rafting, slamming the rock with the raft, and capsizing the raft. He shared his experience and his life as a villager living along the river as well. The lunch contained three main dishes- curry chicken, fried fish, and stir fried vegetable, with rice and beverage. It was simple but enough to refill our energy.

This is the camping site where visitors could stay with RM10 per night, with only accommodation provided.

The road lead to Kiulu was small (upper left), the dining hall with strong village-feel (upper right). The entrance of the camping site was marked by the white house (lower left). One thing that we wished to comment- the toilets and the bathrooms were a bit too simple.

Rafting was a great experience, especially when it came with low prices. For those who wish to raft around but unwilling to spend big money on it (like us), then Kiulu River might be a place for you. By the way, Kiulu River only good enough to provide grade 1 and 2 of challenge. Grade 3 and 4 are available at Beaufort.

In case you are curious like us about the usage of  "whitewater" in rafting, whitewater in fact refers to the rapid flowing water which is disturbed to form white colour.  There are 6 grades in rafting, which grade 5 is very risky and 6 is illegal in some places.

For more about our sharing Sabah, please read our previous posts:


  1. Very attractive. Thank you for the information.


  2. amazing place, great activity

    1. Nice to have so many attractive places in Malaysia :)

  3. yea rafting is fun :)..u need to try padas rafting to miss betty.

    1. Wow, Padas river is for level 3 and 4! Thanks for suggesting, we will put that into our future consideration.