Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah (Sungai Padas in Malay) is one of the top rafting sites located at Pangi which is near Tenom. Traveling to the Padas White Water Rafting adventure will be best done by booking from your hotel or tour agent in Kota Kinabalu.
They have full day trips here with prices starting from RM200.00 (USD$60.00) onwards per person. The water rafting will take place for a distance of 9 kilometers with 7 exciting and challenging rapids from Class 3 to Class 4. On rainy seasons, it could even go up to Class 5 and this requires skill rafters and also weather pending too.
Your Padas River White Water Rafting journey there will be one to remember as you will board an old diesel train from Beaufort to Pangi where the train stops in the middle of nowhere and you get off. However, on my last trip there, there was no train service due to a mishap, we took platform trolleys which you can read about in my Journey To Padas White Water Rafting in Sabah article. I have videos posted about my journey there using a unique technique.
Getting to Padas River, you will pass the Pangi Hydroelectric Dam which is just before the water rafting area. However, when you see the rapids after the dam, you will be thinking, is the river going to be like this? Fear not, it will not. The rapids at the start near the dam are class 6 rapids and no sane person will water raft there.
I was told by Alex who runs one of the water rafting businesses there, apparently many years ago, some hard core Americans actually did raft there. Crazy, Alex exclaimed. Even a pro rafter like Alex would not dare try that part of the Padas River.
I took a good look at the Class 5 and 6 rapids and thought it would be suicide to even try it. The rapids were amazingly crazy and ferocious, all ready to eat you and your raft alive. No kidding!
Arriving at the Pangi train station, we were gathered at a spot where the full detailed briefing was conducted by Alex himself. He kept stressing about safety being the number one priority for us. Again, we had cameras on us and our water rafting trip was specially arranged by Mark, our Sabah buddy and personal guide.
There are a few water rafting companies who operate here so one needs to know which group you are following. There are different coloured life vests to indicate the companies. Even the water rafts are in different colours.
At our water rafting start point, there was another company who had finished their brief and were ready to rock and roll. Usually a six man raft is used followed by a safety canoe behind.
As they left the banks of the Padas River, we could only wait for the boys to pump up our rafts as we were going next. I must stress the term White Water Rafting, it is actually when a clear river with strong rapids produce the white foam which then is called White Water.
Sadly for our Padas River, it was Brown Water Rafting. Just look at the color of the water, it looks like tea with milk or Teh Peng as locals would call it. Then we saw another rafting group from the RiverBug Rafting Company pass the river. There was a huge group of them in about 6 rafts in various sizes.
And they are still pumping air into our raft. So we wait patiently while we get more tips from the pro rafters and Alex. Telling us about some old stories and also how he plans to expand the business. By the way, I also went Water Rafting at Kiulu River with Alex and my gang. He operates the water rafting there as well. At least you get real White Water Rafting at Kuilu River which is easier to get from Kota Kinabalu and with rapids of class 2 and 3 only.
We then help to carry the raft into the water and everyone jumps on board the six-man raft. Our water rafting at the Padas River starts! Everyone looks excited not knowing what kind of rapids to expect. For the record, we did not have a safety canoe follow us as we had 2 of the best rafters follow us.
Arriving at the Pangi Station, we took a break at a local stall serving drinks just next to the station building. Alex met us there and we discussed our rafting experience while downing a cold drink. The stall is actually run by one of the village people at Pangi. They also offer lodging for those who want to stay over.
Pangi has some really beautiful views of the hills and sky with white clouds and clear blue skies. There are no roads there. Only that one train track that runs through.
Our exploration took us to various parts of the Padas River. Some were out of bounds for white water rafting as they were too dangerous even for Class 4 rapids.
And our final journey back to Tenom town via platform train. This time, another set of boys took us back via rail. It was a tiring journey for the entire group and we will never forget this platform train service which was used to ferry us to Padas for the White Water Rafting Adventure of our life. Thank you Alex, Mark and gang!
For those who enjoy a bit of adventure or live off it, if you ever head to the Land Below The Wind, you should make a date with this place. If you have been rafting before, this is one of the circuits that you have to try. Pick a rainy season for the best time to enjoy the Padas River White Water Rafting in Sabah.