White water rafting on the River Kiulu

by Jan

Have you ever considered taking your kids white water rafting?  We thought it sounded like a lot of fun so decided to go white water rafting on the River Kiulu, whilst on our recent family adventure in Borneo.

Read this blog to discover how we spent a day white water rafting on the River Kiulu.  It includes a travel guide on how to book, what to wear and what to expect during your white water rafting trip in Borneo.

For the full programme of our visit to Borneo, read this post:-

A family adventure in Borneo (full itinerary)

Booking the white water rafting trip

I booked the white water rafting with Riverbug.  We organised the trip from the UK and really rated the company.  Communication was clear and fast and everything went according to plan.

This was the first white water rafting experience for us as a family, so everyone was very excited.  However, on the morning of the trip, I was honestly hoping that it would be cancelled!  It was pouring with rain and the thought of spending the day white water rafting on the river was far from appealing.

However, a quick text confirmed it was all still on, so off we went.

Riverbug rafting, River Kiulu, Borneo

The journey

We were picked up from the reception of our accommodation, The Nexus Beach Resort (near Kota Kinabalu) by minibus at 8.30am.  We were then driven for about an hour to the Traverse Adventure Centre.  This borders the River Kiulu in the Tamparuli District.

It was, of course, an uphill drive and the windy roads did not really agree with Jacob, who gets very travel sick.  However, the driver was lovely and was happy to stop for air.

What should you wear for white water rafting?

White water rafting Fun, River Kiulu, Borneo

We travelled in our swim gear and old t-shirts, packed light, took our dry bag with a change of clothes and our travel towels. However at the centre, they have facilities for changing if you’d prefer.

We left our dry bags with our driver who took them down to the final destination meeting point.

It is a good idea to wear water shoes for getting out of the raft and standing on the river bed.  You should expect anything you wear to get very, very wet.

Top tips:

  1. It is worth taking a “dry bag” to separate your wet possessions from the dry.
  2. We took a waterproof camera to get some good rafting action shots in the water.

Safety briefing

After checking in, we met our raft guide, who showed us to our boat and gave us our life jackets and helmets.  He then gave a safety briefing session, which covered the different techniques for paddling and handling the raft whilst rafting.

Once we’d had a practice on land, we were ready for white water rafting.

White water rafting Fun, River Kiulu, Borneo

The white water rafting

This white water rafting experience is a stage 1-2, which means it is a ideal trip for families or beginners, as it never gets too rough.  However, it is still a lot of fun.  There are a few zones, where it does get faster and your heart starts racing.

Additionally, there was a lot of racing against the other boats and plenty of friendly splashing.  There were stops en-route to get out and have a swim.  The children jumped in first, but we soon followed and found it wasn’t too cold at all.

White water rafting on the River Kiulu, Borneo
White water rafting Fun, River Kiulu, Borneo

Nature and wildlife

As this was Borneo, we enjoyed beautiful scenery and had the chance to spot more wildlife from the boat.  Our raft guide was local and had good knowledge of the local animals and birds.

For those without a waterproof camera, a professional photographer takes pictures half way down the river.  This is a good opportunity to get action photos as you traverse the rapids.  These pictures are available to purchase at the end of the trip.

More Monkeys, Kinabatangan River, Borneo


When we got to the end  our driver was waiting.  We collected our dry bags and used the showers and changing facilities before going for lunch.  This was a buffet style hot meal, with fruit for dessert.

Once we were ready we collected our certificates and took a look at some of the professional pictures.

Our driver was waiting for us and drove us back to our hotel at Nexus Beach Resort.


White water rafting, River Kiulu, Borneo

White water rafting on the River Kiulu was a really fun day out and I would happily do it again.

We had a short burst of heavy rain near the end of the trip, but it really didn’t matter, as we were very wet anyway.  I think we are all ready for the stage 3 white water rafting trip now!

Are you planning a trip to Sabah?  For more information on all the fun things to do in Borneo, read our

Borneo Travel Guides

Thank you for reading.

Would you give white-water rafting a try?   Or do you prefer to keep your feet on dry land on holiday?  If you have any questions, please comment below.

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