Kiulu River White Water Rafting in Sabah, Borneo

White Water Rafting Kiulu River

Kiulu River White Water Rafting is located at Kampung Pukak Kiulu in the Tamparuli district and is about one and a half hour drive from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah or old Borneo. Famous for white water rafting, the Kiulu river offers thrill seekers a class 1 to class 2 (grade 1 to grade 2) water rapids.

This too depends on the rainy season as when we were went on that day, there was one or two class 3 rapids because it had rained heavily in the last few days. The good thing at Kiulu River Water Rafting is that ages from 5 years old are accepted right up to 60 years so this is wonderful for adventurous families.

Kiulu River White Water Rafting

Kiulu River water rafting - Class 1 to Class 2 rapids found here

Kiulu River Water Rafting was my first round of actual white water rafting in Sabah. Me and the gang were there for the entire day with Alex, the owner of one of the water rafting company which run trips for both Kiulu River Water Rafting and Padas River Water Rafting in Sabah, Borneo.

The Kiulu River is actually the longest water rafting river in Borneo with a total length of over 15 km. Be sure to see my posting on Padas Water Rafting with Class 3 and 4 rapids.

Kiulu River - jrhogan having a moment with the sun

Kiulu river water rafting - Gearing up for the raft

After the scenic journey there, we stopped at a private location as we specially booked this trip. The rafting vans brought the water rafts to our start point and they started to fill them with air. Manually mind you.

While waiting to gear up, we took a look around the Kiulu river, checked the rapids and also the water. I must say, the water was freezing cold at 10 in the morning.

Kiulu River - The water rafting team with me, 4th from the right

All geared up and ready to take on the rapids at Kiulu River. A quick detailed briefing was done by Alex and we were told to listen very carefully as it will save our lives in the event anything goes wrong. So full attention was paid.

We are thought how to sit in the raft with one leg secured under part of the raft. How to hold the raft oar and most important, what to do in the event the raft overturns. How exciting, I thought. Then one of the boys brought out some sun tan lotion and we had some fun with it.

Kiulu river water rafting - Intense rafting for exciting rapids

Off we went, carrying the raft about 100 meters into the cold freezing water of the Kiulu River. We had to carry it until it was deep enough to sit in it and start paddling. But wait, there is more.

Kiulu river water rafting - Captain at the back steering the raft with his oar

Before we start that journey, each raft has a captain who steers the raft and these are employees of the company.

The captains are the ones who will guide you through your rafting journey and by using his raft oar, he will steer the raft pass the huge boulders and dangerous part of the Kiulu River. These are experienced water rafters who have worked there for years and they know the rivers inside out.

Kiulu river water rafting - 7 man white water rafting

The white water rafting captain will also shout commands to the rafters. Basic commands will be 'Forward Peddle', 'Backward Paddle' or 'Stop Paddling'.

This is to build momentum to each of the rapids we head for and on reaching 20-30 meters of the rapid, he will shout for everyone to stop paddle.

Kiulu river water rafting - Maneuvering the rapids

We then glide with the rapid flow and go through the rapids in a bumpy ride depending on the class of the rapid there. With this, you will be using a lot of arm strength and everyone counts for the full effect.

Kiulu river water rafting - 5 man water rafting

So, after a round of white water rafting, we headed back to check point to gear up for the second round. Yes, we went a total of 3 rounds there. Some of us wanted to experience rafting in a large group and a small group.

Kiulu river water rafting - Water rafting at it's best

The next river rafting session was a 5 man raft which was more challenging compared to the 7 man rafting. The raft needed more control and the rapids felt much better on impact.

At times the raft almost over turned but thanks to the experienced captain, he knew how to counter the overturn. Adrenaline was rushing through all our bodies on this trip.

Kiulu river water rafting - Three man white water rafting

And eventually, we tried the 3 man raft. Which I must say is the most challenging attempt. Alex mentioned that very few people get to try this. On this round, Alex himself was the captain. Being the most experienced in the line, he himself said that it has been a long while since he rafted.

And boy, was he good! For this 3 man raft, I took a break as my arms were feeling like jelly from the first 2 rounds of rafting down the Kiulu River. So, photography time instead.

Kiulu river water rafting - 3 man rafting

I stood on a bridge over the Kiulu River an waited for Alex and team to come by in their water raft. You should have seen their faces, tired from the intense paddling and excitement of the rapids.

Kiulu river - Alex has a laugh about David flat out exhausted

At the end of the last rafting trip, one of my team members David, was totally exhausted and flat out! Alex was laughing away saying how city people are so weak. I tend to agree with him on this.

Kiulu river - A local crossing the man made bridge

By the time we called it a day, all of us were exhausted and just took some time to admire the beautiful Sabah sunset over the Kiulu river in Borneo.

Kiulu river - The gang chilling out with some beers admiring the Borneo sunset

Mark brought the beers from the ice box and threw them one by one to the 6 of us who were lying in the shallow waters of the Kiulu river. Feeling the waters run through you and having a cold Tiger beer was the best thing to call it a day.

Again, this was my first proper rafting trip and it was an amazing experience for me. After this, the next few days, we went to do some Padas River White Water Rafting.

Kiulu White Water Rafting Tips:

1. Please bring along spare clothes (including undies) and a towel
2. If you have a waterproof camera, strap it around your neck or wrist
3. There are no shops in the area so bring some snacks if you must
4. Sun Tan lotion!
5. Diving booties are perfect for this
6. Those wearing glasses, bring your safety rubber for the glasses

For the price for White Water Rafting at Kiulu River, it is estimate about RM200.00 per head for a full day tour. Best to inquire with the local tour operators in Kota Kinabalu city, Sabah. There are lots of agents selling this package. 

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