Explore Sabah, Borneo's tropical playground

Borneo’s Sabah region is a natural paradise of steamy rainforests, towering mountains and beautiful beaches. This 9-day tour will get you active as you cycle through small villages, ascend to the summit of Mt Kinabalu, search the jungle for wildlife and kayak past rural farms. Feast on delicious cuisine, hang out with local villagers in their homes and soak up the culture of this wild and ancient island.


Start
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Finish
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Destination
Malaysia
Style
Original
Theme
Active Adventures, Walking & Trekking
Code
TMXB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Borneo is the perfect place to get active in the great outdoors. This trip will have you biking village backroads, summiting Mt Kinabalu, trekking through rainforest and kayaking in the countryside.

  • With two homestays, you'll get a true insight into the 'real' Borneo at an authentic, community level. Plus, the homecooked food is amazing.

  • Experience next-level vistas on Mt Kinabalu as you summit for sunrise, before descending by the Via Ferrata – a special mountain pathway for climbers, the first of its kind in Asia.

  • Soak your weary limbs in the healing waters of the Poring Hot Springs following your hike to the top of Malaysia’s highest mountain.

  • Spend a day kayaking along mangrove-lined waterways of rural Tuaran, paddling past fish farms and stilt houses while Mt Kinabalu looms in the background.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Check out our guide to trekking Mt Kinabalu here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/guide-to-climbing-mt-kinabalu-...

  • This is an active trip, and it is expected that all travellers have an excellent level of health and fitness and will be able to take part in all activities. There are no alternative activities to the cycling, Mt Kinabalu climb or kayaking activities, so if these don't sound like they are for you we suggest checking out our other Borneo trips to find a better match. While you don't need to be an ultra-athlete, the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the included activities and destinations.

  • The most challenging part of the trip is the Mt Kinabalu climb. It is physically taxing, involves taking part in strenuous physical activity above 2800 metres and has a very early morning start in order to be at the summit for sunrise. 

  • National Park regulations state that for the via ferrata climb you must not be older than 70 or weigh more than 100 kilograms and must be above 1.3 meters in height.

  • The Single Supplement on this trip is only available for nights in Kota Kinabalu. Most other nights are in very basic multi-share accommodation and homestays with shared facilties and without nightly hot showers.

  • Pack light and be prepared to spend some nights without your main luggage (Mt Kinabalu,) and just carry what you need for the day and night in a day pack.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR155
  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR180
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

The heights reached on this trip can cause some people to suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or health. Please see the ‘Medical and health information’ section of Essential Trip Information 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.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Full day cycling tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dusun Village - Guided village walk
Optional Activities
  • Homestay - Cultural preformance - MYR350
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu climb
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Check out our guide to trekking Mt Kinabalu here: Read our guide to trekking Mt Kinabalu here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/guide-to-climbing-mt-kinabalu-borneo/
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). 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.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu - Via Ferrata climb
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a rest day, where you can rest your weary legs after your hike to the op of Mt Kinabalu. You have the option to visit Poring Hot Springs, a great place to relax those weary limbs or to continue the adventure exploring beautiful tropical jungle.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR5
  • Poring Hot Springs - Butterfly Farm - MYR5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast, enjoy a morning hike to Laganan Waterfall located in Poring Hot Springs Park which takes approx. 1.5 to 2 hours each way. Be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail and perhaps enjoy a picnic style lunch by the river by taking a packed lunch with you on the hike. Watch out for butterflies along the way, if you take the time you just might see some. The trek can be slippery when wet so please wear shoes with a good grip.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Make an early start and depart the accommodation at 8 am, then make the 45-minute drive to rural Tuaran. Listen to a safety briefing, then embark on a 4—5-hour kayak adventure through winding waterways that pass by local farms and stilt houses. Learn about life for local fish farmers and the important ecology of the waterways, paddling under the watchful eye of Mt Kinabalu. Kayak to the mouth of the river and stop at a beach to take a dip and eat a picnic lunch. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sulaman Bay - Kayaking day trip
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Kayaking 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 after check out. If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu your leader can assist with booking the optional activities listed below. It’s best to book these activities with your leader on day 1 of your tour if you are interested. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or a interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live.

Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR155
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul Marine Park Scuba diving 3 dives - MYR390
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR180
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please also remember most scuba diving companies would recommend you don't fly for at least 24 hours after your last scuba dive.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Kayak, Bicycle, Private mini van

Accommodation

Homestay (2 nights), Hostel (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Full day cycling tour
  • Dusun Village - Guided village walk
  • Mt Kinabalu climb
  • Mt Kinabalu - Via Ferrata climb
  • Sulaman Bay - Kayaking day trip

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking, as these are essential for booking services on this trip, including your Mt Kinabalu permit.
2. A Single Supplement to have our own room is only available on this trip for Days 1, 7 & 8 (Kota Kinabalu). All other nights will be in multi share or twin share rooms.
3. This is a very active trip and includes time at high elevation. You will need to have an excellent level of fitness to take part in all activities.
4. National Park regulations on the Via Ferrata climb state that participants must not be older than 70 or weigh more than 100 kg to embark on this route, and must be at least 1.3 meters tall. Closed shoes must be worn for the climb.
5. Please ensure you have travel insurance that covers you for the Via Ferrata activity on this trip.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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