Rivers have long been the life-arteries of the indigenous peoples of Borneo. They have served as a means of transport, a source of food, and now, a resource for ecotourism. The native groups of Sabah have used bamboo rafts for centuries but white water rafting as a recreational activity has only surfaced in the 1980s. The two main rivers for rafting in Sabah are the Padas River and Kiulu River, which are certified as Grade 3 and Grade 2 respectively in the international white water rafting grading system. Under normal weather conditions, the two rivers are relatively constant in depth and speed. However, heavy rains can cause them to swell into Grade 4 Rivers. During heavy downpour rafting activities may be called off temporarily.
A typical rafting tour starts from Kota Kinabalu, where the rafting operators arrange for transport from the City to the Padas Gorge through which the Padas River flows. The starting point for excursions on the Padas is at Pangi Railway Station, where Borneo’s only railway and its quaint wagons will take you on a scenic journey through the Padas Gorge. After the train ride comes to the thrill of riding rapids with names like the Headhunter, Adrenaline Flow, and Merry-Go-Round. The Padas excursion is a day trip. However, those wishing to stay longer can put up at the Padas River Lodge located at Rayoh. Successful rafters will be presented with a certificate of accomplishment upon completion of their adventure.
The mud-like color is normal for Padas River due to the pH levels in the water here. Most rafting adventures will include a small introduction to the small ethnic group living here where they rely solely on the train services. You could get a small taste of the train services if you take the rafting tours. Experiencing the train journey will depend mainly on the situation or tour operator, even established operators like RIVERBUG cannot promise you the local train experiences.
Children below 12 are not encouraged (allowed) to join the Padas River Rafting as this is one of the toughest river rafting programs. Most operators will not allow the rafting to be conduct if the river is unsafe. No guarantees and refunds will be provided if such cases happen as this sort of thing are unforeseeable.