Mount Kinabalu and Jungle Adventure - Borneo
This holiday in Borneo is a fantastic opportunity to explore the highlights of Borneo and indulge in a full range of adventure activities. During the two weeks we visit lush rainforest, rocky mountain slopes and beautiful tropical beaches. Highlights include the summit of Mount Kinabalu, snorkelling over the coral reefs, and experiencing the wonder of a primary rainforest.
Generally teams comprise of around six to ten people and we have our own western and local Malay guides in-country. This is because we have our own company based in Kuching called Adventure Alternative Borneo, and we work with them to create great trips which are well staffed and fun. Right from the point of booking you will be able to contact our staff in UK and in Borneo to discuss everything and ask all the questions!
This trip consists of three exciting elements, allowing you to experience the tropical beaches, trek in the amazing rainforest and climb the stunning mountain Mt Kinabalu, which is a highlight of the holiday. We will also go white water rafting and snorkelling as well as visiting the world famous Poring Hot Springs and of course the vibrant Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu.
We have been running trips to Borneo for many years and our trips are designed with unique adventure in mind. Anyone can apply, this holiday will appeal to all age groups who are looking for a two week adventure in an exotic location where you might spot a red leaf monkey through the trees, stand on top of the highest mountain on the island, spend a night in a jungle village, photograph a giant rafflesia or snorkel over some coral reefs. This trip really does have it all, it's sociable and active and fun, and Sabah is a very safe place to visit.
Flights are into Kota Kinabalu and we provide all the logistics for the expedition under the expert guidance of our UK guide and the local people who will help on the mountain and in the jungle. Perhaps one of the most unique occasions will be a chance to spend a night in a jungle village and experiencing the remarkable food and hospitality of these gentle people.
We are passionate about responsible tourism and every aspect of your trip, from transport and accommodation to staff policies, and how we behave on the trek will reflect this. Adventure Alternative was winner of the Responsible Tourism Award in 2009 in the Best Personal Contribution category. In addition, we are member of the Tourism Concern Ethical Tour Operators Group.
We have our own guides in Borneo and who can be trusted to not only give you a fascinating and fun insight into the various locations where we visit but also ensure that you are safe and well looked after. We also use various local guides who speak excellent English and who provide specific care in certain areas like on the mountain and in the jungle.
Borneo - a wonderful and unforgettable experience with so many fantastic memories. Did so much in 3 weeks. This trip will be with me for a long time to come. Would not hesitate using AA again (this was my 2nd time) as feel safe and secure with such a responable company and for all what they stand for.
Activities and Highlights
The state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo is densely populated with wildlife and is a trekker's paradise. Primates such as orangutans, gibbons, tarsiers, long-tailed and pigtailed macaques, along with porcupines, bears, civet cats, marbled cats, and wild pigs roam freely. Hornbills, pheasants and partridges can also be seen, as well as the renowned Rafflesia, the world's largest flower. Mt Kinabalu National Park consists mostly of dipterocarps forest with a small percentage of montane forest.
At 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Borneo, and the highest point between the Himalayas and the snow-capped mountains of New Guinea. Lacking foothills, it appears to shoot straight up into the sky, it's jagged granite peaks floating above the clouds. The mountain is "u" shaped, with bare rock plateaux at about 3,900 metres, on top of the two arms called the Eastern and Western plateaux. In between is Low’s Gully which is over one kilometre deep in places. No mountain exceeds Kinabalu in its sheer strength and stark simplicity. The secret of this strength, this wonder, which stays with you from the very first sight through a lifetime is the way the mountain is set, near the equator, rising darkly straight out of the tropical rain forest, one continuous, clean, black, bare rock mass, to the summit. Because of its breathtaking isolation Kinabalu has its own climate, a constant flux of cloud and wind, rain and cold, and the warmth from the forests below.
Dates and Itinerary
|22nd June - 4th July|
|30th August - 11th September|
The trip is split into three sections – rainforest, mountain, coast – with a variety of accommodation options and activities:
- 2 days in the coastal city of Kota Kinabalu; sightseeing, recovering from jet lag, briefings and buying any last minute equipment
- 3 days staying in the heart of the rainforest at the Lupa Masa jungle eco-camp. There is the unique opportunity to spend an optional night out in the forest in hammocks with local guides.
- 5 days climbing on Mt Kinabalu, with overnight on the summit plateau and exploring some of the peaks and trekking off the mountain. We will also spend time in a local village
- 1 day white water rafting and optional cross-river zip-line or abseil/climbing tower
- 1 day at the Langkah Syabas beach resort with optional activities such as sea kayaking, fishing, snorkelling/SCUBA diving, beach walks, cycling, sunset cruises etc or simply lying in the hammocks or by the pool.
- Note: we can also provide options to extend the itinerary at the end with additional time at Lupa Masa, at the coast or elsewhere in Borneo, such as spending time with the Penan tribe in Sarawak or visiting the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sancutary.
|Optional additional Days||We can easily provide additional options to extend your itinerary at the end if you would like to spend more time at the coast, or perhaps visit other parts of Borneo such as our projects with the native Penan tribe in Sarawak, or for more wildlife watching for example by visiting the world famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre or Semenggoh Nature Reserve to see the wonderful Orangutans.|
|1||Arrive (usually on an overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur) in Kota Kinabalu, in Borneo. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah (one of the two Malaysian States in Borneo). Upon arrival transfer to your guesthouse.|
|2||We will spend today in Kota Kinabalu to adjust to the time change, start to adapt to the heat and humidity, spend some time getting to know the city, preparing for the trip and buying any supplies, such as leech socks and jungle shoes (Adidas Kampung).|
|3-5||On the morning of day 3 we will transfer to the famous Poring Hot Springs, on the slopes of Mt Kinabalu. From Poring village it is a 30 minute walk through the forest to reach our jungle lodge, Lupa Masa, where we will stay for three nights. Lupa Masa is an eco-lodge built from natural materials in the heart rainforest. It is the perfect place for an introduction to the diversity of the Borneo rainforest, as well as a retreat for those who simply want to get away from the modern world and relax in a beautiful environment surrounded by nature. The area is well known for its springs and waterfalls which you can bathe in, but also for the abundance of plant and animal life and the superb location right at the base of Mt Kinabalu. Nearby here you can see the Giant Rafflesia, the largest plant in the world, if it is in flower. We will spend time walking and learning jungle skills from local guides in the forest. At night we will head down to the river and watch the fire-flies dance in their search for a partner. We will also take a night hike surrounded by the chorus of the rainforest at night. The will be the opportunity to spend the night out in the forest, a really unique and fantastic chance to feel truly connected with the jungle.|
|6-10||The next few days are spent on our Mt Kinabalu climb, including a night spent on the summit plateau in the Sayat Sayat Hut. Most people climb up and down in two days, missing out on almost everything this mountain has to offer, except for the summit. Staying in the mountain huts or camping nearby is one of the great mountain experiences. The sunsets are beautiful and you realise that the whole mountain, an amazing batholith of magma, has simply arisen out of the earth through a crack in the earth’s crust, and is surrounded by an ocean of green forest. The quietness and beauty are beyond parallel. Sometimes you are in the middle of a great squall and the remoteness of your location is very apparent; other times when the sun is shining, there seems no better place to be on earth. We then descend and trek out to reach the local village, where we will spend another night with the local people in their homes.|
|11||We will spend the day white water rafting on the Kiulu River; the standard is not very difficult, but it will certainly get the adrenaline going and is enormous fun. All rafts and safety equipment provided. Near to the end of the rafting section is an activity centre with a huge zip-wire across the river and a climbing/abseiling tower. We then transfer to the coast and spend the night at the beautiful Langkah Syabas beach resort.|
|12||We will spend today at the seaside lodge for some rest and relaxation. There are a huge range of optional beach and sea related activities here such as sea kayaking, fishing, snorkelling/SCUBA diving, beach walks, cycling, sunset cruises or simply lying in the hammocks or by the pool.|
|13||It is a short 30 minute transfer from the beach resort back to Kota Kinabalu airport for international flights home.|
Mount Kinabalu and Jungle Adventure cost: £1,195.00
- Bed and breakfast accommodation in Kiansom seaside lodge near Kota Kinabalu
- All transport during the expedition
- White water rafting on the Padas River
- All food and accommodation on the jungle trek
- Visits and full board accommodation at Mesilau Resort
- Mt Kinabalu climbing permit, all accommodation and meals on the mountain
- Western guide, jungle trek guide and local mountain guide, and porters
- Tents, stoves, fuel
- International return flight to Kota Kinabalu
- Personal equipment and expenses
- Meals at the Langkah Syabas beach resort restaurant (day 13)
- Optional zip wire ride and beach/ocean activities at Lankah Syabas
- Airport taxi transfer
Travel Insurance - you will need travel insurance for this trip. Normal holiday travel insurance is adequate as long as it covers trekking and rafting grades 1-3. We advise you to get this insurance early on, so that if you have to make a late cancellation for some reason then you will get all your money back.
Company Insurance - we have full tour operators liability insurance which covers public liability and employers liability.
Financial Insolvency - we have full financial bonding in place which is both a requirement of membership of the Association of Independent Tour Operators and also of the European Travel Directive.
You can find out more information about taking out an insurance policy here
Adventure Alternative shares it's profit margin with our local company in Borneo, Adventure Alternative Borneo, which provides training and development opportunities for local people and communities. The profit share scheme ensures that our local company can run a good company and provide proper wages and training, which is an unusual thing to find in a tourist company in a developing country.
Every place you visit also has a share in the profit, and we always make sure that we bring clients to the same places over many years so that they can develop and compete against the bigger corporate places.
Places which are supported by Moving Mountains where you stay, for example Penan villages in Sarawak, also share in the profits. This is a highly successful way of using tourism to fund some of our developmental work.
This trip has been entirely thought out in terms of the local people and the impact upon them, and the benefit they can gain from having visitors. It’s not just a tourist trail, it really is an unusual adventure and one that we hope will help to transform the lives of these remarkable people. In that respect the trip falls within all the categories of the FairTrade Volunteering trademark, even if you are not actually volunteering to do some work in the jungle; the visit is still about making a positive impact on the people who live there. You can find more information about the benefits of your trip here and local benefits in Borneo here.
Our local provider is Adventure Alternative Borneo. Adventure Alternative Borneo complies with UK tourism standards.
Where we do use providers such as hostel and guesthouse owners and homestays these are people our Adventure Alternative Borneo staff have known for years, and spent time with to build up the trust between both parties. More information about Local Providers can be found on this page.
You do not need to be super-fit for this trip, however Mt Kinabalu section is moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of heat and humidity will also further tax your body. You will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly and eaten nutritiously over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip.
Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.
Type of Terrain
Mount Kinabalu is an oval-shaped granite dome which arose from volcanic and tectonic movements about 1.5 million years ago, which was followed by glacial erosion during the Ice Age, and this accounts for the smooth rock surface. The lower slopes are steep, but the path is well trodden with regular water stops and many wooden steps that meander ever upwards. There is no doubt that it seems never-ending, especially in the midday heat! As you trek through the vegetation zones, there are many view points to enjoy and lots of stops. A lot of people climb the mountain, so you are rarely alone, although you do feel very jealous of those coming down.
Above the hut at Laban Rata you pass onto the high plateau, from vegetation to rock, and the terrain is altogether different. It is utterly bare of plant life, just miles of granite and many peaks and spires. It is easy to walk across, except when it is raining. When the surface is wet you have to be very careful of slipping. When the cloud comes down it is very easy to get lost up on this remote plateau, so be very aware of the weather.
Coming down the mountain can be difficult too, with hundreds of steps to negotiate until your knees are complaining and your feet are sore. Again, it seems never-ending, but at least you are now passing people on their way up who are feeling jealous of you!
The rainforest is actually a very clean and pure place to visit. The canopy offers excellent shade from the intense sun and traps moisture however it can be very humid and you will need to continually drink water. We travel using trails which have been the jungle arteries for the local native residents for thousands of years. It is unlikely that we will be off the beaten track with a machete. Sometimes the paths can be muddy and slippery, there are logs to clamber over, and the terrain is up and down, but movement is never fast.
We will carry little, and there will be lots of stops for drinking and cooling off in the streams. Travel in the jungle is up and down, a lot of hills and often not much to see except the canopy above you and the impenetrable forest around you. Stand still for a moment and the animals will easily be seen and heard. The trails are wide enough for one person and it is important to stick together.
In Kota Kinabalu we stay in a small, family run guest house. This is very comfortable with dormitory style or twin rooms.
In the jungle, lodge accommodation at Lupa Masa is basic but comfortable; nights are spent in stretcher-type hammocks in traditional “sulaps”, or for an even more unique adventure you can take an expedition hammock and guide and spend the night sleeping in the jungle under the forest canopy. In the bathrooms there are bucket showers, or an option which many guests prefer is to shower in one of the beautiful waterfalls or streams surrounding the lodge. Toilets are squat toilets, which you pour water into to flush.
Accommodation on Mt Kinabalu is in the Laban Rata Hut and Sayat Sayat Hut. Laban Rata is a comfortable hut with dormitory style bedrooms, toilets and showers. Laban Rata is heated and provides a buffet dinner and breakfast. Sayat Sayat hut is a traditional mountain hut with basic facilities and a dormitory style bedroom.
Accommodation in the village will be in homestays. Accommodation is basic but very comfortable and we will receive a very warm and friendly welcome from our hosts.
On the beach accommodation is in private chalets, each with a private verandah, air conditioning and ensuite facilites. There is a restaurant and bar on site.
It is important to point out that the challenge is a non-technical trek to climb Mt Kinabalu alongside the various other elements of the trip. You will need to be reasonably fit and any regular hill walker will find this expedition within his or her capabilities. A training programme should include regular hill walking with a small pack of around 5-10kgs, and regular visits to the gym or the swimming pool for the final two months before departure.
Clearly this trip is quite challenging if you are expecting modern amenities, since there are none in the jungle, so the trip will require patience, teamwork and a willingness to work with Mother Nature! Sometimes the heat and humidity can be debilitating, and sap even the most positive of minds. Mental preparation and an open mind are essential!
Adventure Alternative Support
Adventure Alternative supplies excellent guides and, where appropriate, local porters plus of course all the villagers who will be supporting you. Our leaders have a lot experience of travelling in Borneo and will manage the situations and help teach you any skills which you may not already have, but in the village there will be no better support or teacher than the local people.
On Mt Kinabalu we will have porters to help with the bags, and also any tents, food, stoves and fuel. You will have to carry some personal clothing plus water, camera and sundry items amounting to no more than about 8 kgs.
- Rucksack 70 litres, with waterproof liner, various size stuff sacks
- Daysack of about 40 litres for trekking and the hikes on the mountain
- Sleeping bag 3 season, synthetic is best, plus a sleeping bag liner and sleeping mat
- Trekking – shorts, T shirts, lightweight shirts and trousers, trainers
- Mountain - Fleece top, warm clothes. Fleece hat and gloves, waterproofs
- Hiking boots (lightweight, good tread), sandals/ flip flops
- Two water bottles of 1 litre capacity
- Personal washing kit, swimming costume, towel, sun cream, personal 1st aid kit
- Sunglasses, sunhat, head torch and batteries, camera
- Mug, bowl and spoon
Additional Kit Info
It can get very hot and humid in the low levels, so light clothing is obvious. At the beach, beach gear. On the trail in the jungle, light shoes and light clothing with a set of dry clothes to change into on arrival at the village. Socks are not necessary. On the mountain you need to cover both bases – light gear for the lowlands and warm clothes plus waterproofs for the high camp. Sleeping bag should be a 3 season synthetic bag, easier to dry, and do bring a liner to sleep in when it is too hot. Trainers are fine for the trekking but on the mountain you will need lightweight hiking shoes/boots with good tread. Also sandals or flip flops. Sun injuries are common, so bring good cover, UV lip salves, good sunglasses and after sun. Obviously stuff can get very wet and damp, so dri-bags are important and stuff sacks. Ruptable maunfacturers include Sea to Summit, Ortlieb and Overboard. All types of food and snacks can be bought locally.
- We offer small scale, authentic adventures, which can also be tailormade.
- We employ fully salaried local staff within a local subsidary company to ensure that revenue is retained in the host nation.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development in Borneo in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- All our guides and staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience.
- We have built up partnerships with local guides and drivers which are mutually beneficial and exist on a fair and open basis so that the host country and its people may fully benefit from tourism without being exploited.
- We are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- Financial security guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.
- We are members of Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- Adventure Alternative financially supports the tree-planting project funded by Moving Mountains Trust, who are currently providing over £10,000 per year to the forest enrichment programme in the area where the Penan live