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
Borneo is known for beautiful beaches, towering mountains, and steamy rainforests. The Sabah region is a natural paradise and the country’s tropical playground.
- Hike up Mt. Kinabalu
- Cycle through paddy field, rubber plantations, fruit orchards and up challenging hill climbs
- Explore the intriguing and modern capital of Kota Kinabalu
- Swim in pristine rivers and kayak the crystal clear waters of Tunku Abdul Marine Park
- Enjoy local hospitality in homestay accommodation
- Soak your tired muscles at the ‘Poring Hot Springs’
- Camp overnight at Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp
The journey starts in Koto Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital, where the cycling begins straight away. If you’re a competent cyclist you’ll find the route moderate on most days with a few challenging sections throughout. You’ll cycle up to 20km per day as you ride through stunning landscapes and charming villages. Sights to see along the way include the terraced paddy fields next to the Kiulu River, picturesque hanging bridges, rubber plantations, fruit orchards, and the natural rock formation of ‘Mini Kinabalu.’
Once you arrive at the base of Mt Kinabalu, you’ll have several days of hiking. On summit day, you’ll start out at 2:30am in order to greet the stunning sunrise from Summit Low’s Peak (4095m). On the way down you’ll take the via ferrata route which was specifically designed to allow access to scenic parts of the mountains that could previously only be seen by experienced rock climbers.
Kayaking is the best way to see Manukan Island. You’ll island hop over the calm and crystal clear water of Tunku Abdul Marine Park and have the opportunity to snorkel so you can enjoy the breathtaking views both above and below water.
You don’t need to be an outdoor expert to enjoy the adventure and your guides will keep you safe and having fun, but the activities do require that you’re relatively fit. With two home stays you’ll also have opportunity to hang out with the locals, feast on spectacular local cuisine, and spend ample time soaking up ancient island culture.
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Why We Love This Adventure
- With two homestays, you'll get an insight in to the 'real' Borneo at community level
- Experience next-level vistas when you climb Mt Kinabalu
- A great mixed activity trip with the right blend of active and culture
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.
Please make an enquiry and we'll send you the full itinerary for each day including meals, activities, travel and accommodation.
Day 1 Kota Kinabalu
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, excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
Day 2 Kiulu Homestay
Travel out of Kota Kinablu by road (approximately 1 hour), then enjoy a day of cycling (approximately 18 km, finishing in Kiulu around 4 pm). There will be a support van, but the route is not difficult for a competent cyclist. Pack an overnight bag (which can travel in the van), as you will leave your large luggage in Kota Kinabalu and it will be brought back to you on Day 3.
The route today is a mix of asphalt and gravel, through villages and over picturesque hanging bridges. The first section of the trip is a leisurely ride towards Tuaran Town to get used to the bikes. There will be a photo opportunity at the pretty pagoda if you’d like to stop. Then you will continue riding through the countryside, stopping for a picnic lunch where there is a good spot.
Kiulu is a cool and hilly area of terraced paddy fields with the Kiulu River running through the valley below. 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. Dinner is included.
Day 3 Tanak Nabalu
Today you will continue cycling (approximately 20 km), leaving nice and early after breakfast at your homestay. Passing through rubber plantations and fruit orchards, wind your way through the backroads. The trails are more challenging today as there are more hill climb sections, and the toughest section is the final 12 km from our ending point – a steady, gradual uphill stretch. Again, the support vehicle is there if it’s needed.
The aim is to arrive at the end point, Kg Togop, by 2 pm. Here you might have worked up enough of an appetite to try a local specialty: smoked wild boar. From here, drive about 1 hour to our homestay which is close to the base of Mt Kinabalu at Tanak Nabalu. 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. Accommodation here is multi-share with a shared toilet and cold water bucket showers. Bedding is provided. An optional activity tonight is a cultural performance in the village.
Day 4 Mt Kinabalu
Drive to the base of Mt Kinabalu and begin your climb, which starts at Timpohon Gate and takes 5–7 hours. The trek passes by different vegetation zones from oak & chestnut trees to moss covered rocks and eventually only alpine vegetation. It’s an intense yet scenic and rewarding trek to the Laban Rata rock slab where the lodges that accommodate climbers are situated.
On the way back down you will take the via ferrata route, one of the most exciting ways to experience the mountain. Arrive at Pendant Hut (3,289 m) at around 3 pm and rest up. Here there is a briefing with your Mountain Torq guides this afternoon. Enjoy an included buffet dinner at the restaurant at Laban Rata, then bunk down for an early night.
Accommodation is dormitory-style and unheated. As it is only a short night’s sleep here, most people will sleep in the clothes they will trek in the next day. Bathroom facilities are shared and have cold water only.
Day 5 Mt Kinabalu / Poring Hot Springs
Today it’s time to summit. Wake up in time to leave for your trek to the top at around 2:30 am. Summit Low’s Peak (4,095 m) and catch the sunrise. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 2–4 hours. Descend from the Peak and meet your via ferrata guide at Sayat Sayat Hut (3668m) ready for your via ferrata experience. Feel the natural surroundings, the exhilaration, and sense of personal achievement when you complete the circuit. You’ll be back at Pendant Hut at around 9:30 am for a well-earned breakfast and to check out. After breakfast it’s time to make your way back down the mountain to Timpohon Gate again where we can have lunch.
Once everyone is down from the mountain, we continue to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approximately 1 hour). Soak your weary limbs in these famous outdoor thermal pools, perhaps spotting a giant Raffelsia flower nearby if they’re in season. 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 for us to relax in.
Even if you are very fit you may find 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 also need a head torch as you ascend in the dark.
Day 6 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.
Day 7 Kota Kinabalu
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.
Day 8 Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
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.
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.
Day 9 Kota Kinabalu
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast. There are no activities included today and you are free to depart at any time.
PriceFrom GBP £1409.00
- Full day cycling tour
- Tanak Nabalu – Orchard and Hill trek
Mt Kinabalu climb
- Mt Kinabalu – Via Ferrata climb
- Poring Hot Springs – Trek to Lupa Masa Rainforest Camp
- Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park -Kayaking day trip including snorkeling
For the full list of included activities please make an enquiry and we’ll send full details over to you.
What's Not included
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Trip Duration9 days
Start LocationKota Kinabalu, Malaysia
End LocationKota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Average Group SizeBetween 1 and 12
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night), Homestay (2 nights), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (3 nights)
Kayak, bicycle, mini van
This Trip is Suitable For
This trip has a physical rating by the operator of 4 out of 5. Get in touch to find out more about what this means and what to expect.
Theme: ExplorerWalking & Trekking
For the full trip notes please make an enquiry and we’ll send them right away to help you decide if this is the perfect trip for you.
Parts of your trip go above 2,800 metres and it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects at this altitude, regardless of age, gender or fitness.
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and can be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss any pre-existing medical conditions with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While the trip leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Frequently Asked QuestionsHow fit do I need to be to take part?
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 alternatives to the cycling, Mt Kinabalu climb or kayaking activities. So if these aren’t for you, you may need to consider a different Borneo trip. That said, you don’t need to be a super-athlete to take part. The fitter you are the more enjoyable the activities will be.A Single Supplement is available on this trip?
Yes an optional single supplement is available if you’d like your own room and you’re travelling solo. 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. There will not be hot showers and private bathrooms every night on the trip. For many this is all part of the fun.Is there an age limit?
National Park regulations state that for the via ferrata climb you must not be older than 70 or weigh more than 100 kilograms. You also need to be above 1.3 meters in height.
Dates & Availability
- 15 Apr 2019 – 23 Apr 2019
- 03 Jun 2019 – 11 Jun 2019
- 01 Jul 2019 – 09 Jul 2019
- 05 Aug 2019 – 13 Aug 2019
- 09 Sep 2019 – 17 Sep 2019
- 14 Oct 2019 – 22 Oct 2019
- 18 Nov 2019 – 26 Nov 2019
- 30 Dec 2019 – 07 Jan 2020
- 06 Jan 2020 – 14 Jan 2020
- 23 Mar 2020 – 31 Mar 2020
- 13 Apr 2020 – 21 Apr 2020
This trip can be tailor made for your perfect travel dates. Please make a booking enquiry for more information.
We love this operator for the freedom and flexibility they give travellers to get off the tourist trails and really experience local cultures. Their style of small group travel is perfect for solo travellers, couples or small groups of friends and their grassroots style of travel seeks to have a positive impact on the communities they visit.
They use local leaders, local accommodation & transport and support local community projects, ensuring sustainability is at the centre of everything they do.
In addition, they expect their staff and travellers to demonstrate the principles of responsible travel – respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.
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