Borneo, Sabah

This was unfortunately not the hard core explorer style expedition we had hoped for, largely due to our naievity and our inability to organize our way out of a paper bag! That said Borneo is a fantastic place to visit and rather than the Packraft being the sole purpose or our trip it became an aide to get us away from the crowds and see some of Borneo (admittedly the fairly touristy sites) from a different perspective and on our own agenda (ish).

Flying in to Sandakan in Sabah province we made our way to the Kinabantagan which is a fantastic river. It is not white water but it is a wonderful float through some of the oldest secondary rainforest in the province. We were required to sign a disclaimer by the lodge we stayed at saying ‘if you die, it’s not our fault’. You are rewarded with vistas of wild pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, the odd crocodile (which makes slightly daunting paddling in a packraft) and a plethora of wild birds, flora and fauna. We tried to organize a guide to support us for some overnight camping but it proved impossible on this trip. As a result we were limited to short 3-4 hour trips. This was independent of any guides or motorized boats however which felt as isolated and expeditionary as you might expect in the jungle.

From the Kinabantagan we travelled to the islands off the East coast of Sabah. Renowned for its world class diving, the islands of Mabul and Sipidan offer not only some excellent diving but some idyllic coastal paddling. With the sun setting off your bow, a beer in hand and an uninterrupted view to the horizon you are regularly graced by turtles who breach the surface for air and to check you out in your weird inflatable contraption.

Like I said not an epic packrafting trip in the traditional sense, but the packraft facilitated a whole new take on the traditional backpacker route.