The world’s third-largest island of Borneo has always been seen as a destination for wild adventures. Towering peaks, long meandering rivers and thick tropical rainforest provide an image of lost world escapism. For the early explorers, penetrating the Bornean interior was an adventure in itself and even today, there are still places to get the adrenalin pumping with some awesome adventures in both Sarawak and Sabah. Here are five fab adventures to seek out when next in East Malaysia.
1. Mountain Biking, Sabah
Mountain biking is a popular activity that almost anyone can take on these days. Bike Borneo offers several options in Sabah with an all-day mountain bike ride for beginners. Make it more adventurous with a gentle whitewater raft in the morning on the Kiulu River (not as wild as the Padas) and then some easy mountain biking after a BBQ lunch. More experienced cyclists may want to head off on a four-day adventure starting at Mount Kinabalu National Park and then downhill into the Kiau Valley. Pass Dusan villages, farms and jungle before spending the night in a local homestay. On day two, it’s a 43kmcycle and day three, just 30kmbefore returning to Kota Kinabalu on the morning of day four. A support vehicle provides invaluable backup and allmeals and beverages plus accommodation are taken care of by biking professionals. Contact: www.bikeborneo.com
2. Mountain Climbing, Sabah
Both Sarawak and Sabah have some excellent mountains to climb with the jewel in the climbing crown being Malaysia’s highest mountain of Mount Kinabalu (4,095m).While the challenge of a two-day climb to the summit attracts adventurous travellers, the cool air and plant diversity also appeals to armchair travellers content on lazing around Park Headquarters. For those who like to get out of that armchair, a via ferrata or iron walk using steps, ladders and ropes while being strapped on at all times, is a must do activity on the mountain.This is the world’s highest via ferrata at 3,280m above sea level on the southern face of Mount Kinabalu. No experience is necessary; just an adventurous spirit. Contact: www.mountaintorq.com
3. Rock Climbing, Sarawak
While there are dedicated climbing walls in Sarawak’s Mulu National Park, most visitors come to explore the subterranean caves.These caves have been etched out by millions of years of erosional activity which has also shaped the mountainous peaks of the park.The highest peak is Mount Mulu at 2,376m with the famous ‘Pinnacles’ being situated on the neighbouring but lower, Mount Api. Diehard climbers should consider the four-day/three-night climb to the peak of Mount Mulu with the aid of an experienced park guide. The trek passes through thick jungle and via steep limestone cliffs with razor-sharp edges. The final climb is very steep without fixed ropes. Contact: www.mulupark.com
4. Water-skiing, Sabah
Photo Credit: Shangri La Tanjung Aru Resort
While water-skiing may not be a real adventure for those used to bungee jumping into the Zambezi River off the Victoria Falls Bridge, it’s a real test of skill for those used to playing with rubber ducks in their bathtub.The waters of the South China Sea off the Sabah capital of Kota Kinabalu are a playground for water sports enthusiasts with para sailing, kayaking, sailing, diving and snorkelling being just some of the activities available. STAR Marina at Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort will arrange a variety of activities in the waters surrounding the five islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park located just offshore. Contact: www.shangri-la.com
5. Whitewater Rafting, Sabah
It doesn’t come much more thrilling than whitewater rafting down Sabah’s Padas River. Boulders, shallows, monsoonal downpours, and plenty of twists and turns ensure that the river offers all the exhilaration that whitewater rafting can provide. Depending upon the river level, rafting down the river is better than riding a fun fair rollercoaster. Even reaching the rafting site is an adventure as rafters have to ride the jungle railway from Beaufort to Tenom and alight essentially in the middle of nowhere along the way. After the ride of your life, it’s time to get back on the train on its return journey. Contact: www.riverbug.asia
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