The King's School School SCUBA, Trek & Service Borneo Adventure 2016

The King's School School SCUBA, Trek & Service Borneo Adventure 2016

Trip Highlights

  • Become a PADI certified SCUBA diver
  • Learn about the the unique underwater eco system and local indigenous communities
  • Summit Mt Kinabalu and witness the sunrise
  • Discover orangutans and wildlife in their natural habitat
  • Travel to remote jungle lodges for a wildlife safari
  • Conduct Service at the Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre
  • Learn about Australia's involvement in the Death Marches

Trip Summary

Sabah, located in the north of Malaysian Borneo offers the ideal base for exploration of indigenous cultures, jungles, forests and an array of wildlife, both above and below the waterline. Participation on this adventure will provide those with the opportunity to learn to dive with Downbelow, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development SCUBA diving Centre located on beautiful Gaya Island on the west coast of Sabah. Based within the marine park there is a choice of 49 dive sites inside the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park as well as offshore Sabah diving. Open Water or Advanced diving courses are available depending on any previous certification. A non SCUBA diving option is also available. Our adventure continues when we swap fins for trekking boots and ascend high above the jungle canopy on a fully supported and guided trek to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. We then drive across the island to Bilit Adventure Lodge situated on the river bank of the Lower Kinabatangan River where we depart on morning and late afternoon river cruises along the river and around the oxbow lake, in search of wildlife such as elephants, primates and different bird species. We then turn our attention to conducting environmental Service by spending a day at the Sepilok Forest Reserve and the Borneo Sunbear Conversation Centre where we work alongside the carers and vets to lend a hand to support the important conservation work these organisations provide. We finish with a visit to Sandakan city and to the Sandakan Memorial Park which commemorates the a tragedy of World War II when approximately 2,400 Australian and British prisoners of war were held by the Japanese in the Sandakan POW camp and forced to take part in the Death March to Ranau.

Sabah is covered in impenetrable tropical rainforest where the rafflesia – the world’s largest flowering plant, thrives together with an eclectic mix of other unusual plants. However, it is the wildlife for which Sabah is best known and we will numerous opportunities to learn and discover the rich diversity of flora and fauna. It is unlikely that you could find a trip with more diversity and adventure. Come and join us on this incredible adventure of learning and discovery.


This King's School Borneo Adventure is rated as Moderate.

SCUBA Diving:-

Some swimming ability is required. You need to have basic swim skills and be able to comfortably maintain yourself in the water. Your PADI Instructor will assess this by having you:

Swim 200 metres/yards (or 300 metres/yards in mask, fins and snorkel). There is no time limit for this, and you may use any swimming strokes you want.

Float and tread water for 10 minutes, again using any methods you want.

Any individual who can meet the performance requirements of the course qualifies for certification. There are many adaptive techniques that allow individuals with physical challenges to meet these requirements. People with paraplegia, amputations and other challenges commonly earn the PADI Open Water Diver certification. Even individuals with more significant physical challenges participate in diving.


There are some challenging trekking days involved, including the summit of Mt Kinabalu. Remember the fitter you are the more enjoyable your experience will be. You will need a good level of fitness and be in good health. This itinerary involves the carrying of a day pack only including your required possessions for the Mt Kinabalu climb. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions.

Suggested preparation; 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week and extended periods of exercise during the weekend will accustom you to regular exercise. Hill walking with a pack in variable weather conditions will be of benefit.


After so many months thinking, preparing, and planning for your Borneo Adventure the departure day has finally arrived! On arrival in Kota Kinabalu you will be met at the airport by your guide and transferred to our centrally located hotel. Accommodation: Downbelow Adventure Lodge MH 122 23 SEP SYD KUL 1350 2040 MH2626 23 SEP KUL BKI 2220 0055+1 (Arrive 12:55am 24 Sep)

Meals:  Nil

This morning we travel by boat to the jungle covered island of Gaya Island which you will be camping and calling home for the next 4 nights. After lunch an orientation tour and briefing will be conducted and arrangements will be made to determine which students will be undertaking which course. At 15km², Pulau Gaya, or Gaya Island in English, is the largest of the 5 islands and home to a local stilt village on the eastern shore nearest to the city. A great variety of dives sites can be found just minutes from the island dive center. That way even student divers get to dive some of the most beautiful dive sites. The dive operator limits the number of divers on the boat and try to keep people with similar levels of experience on the same boat. Snorkelers join snorkel boats, unless special requests are made and the site permits. But all groups meet up again after every dive to compare stories. The staff to client ratio is very low, so they can accommodate all levels of divers with their own dive guides. Whilst not snorkeling or diving you can enjoy the excellent walking trails which criss-cross the rest of the island, meandering through virgin, tropical rain forests. Gaya Island is surrounded by tropical waters, abundant with diverse and fascinating marine life and sheltered reefs with year round dive access. You will have the opportunity to participate on one of the following courses:- * Non diver - Snorkel Safari. (eligible for a $190 discount from the trip cost) * PADI Open Water SCUBA Diver Course. * PADI Advanced Open Water Diving Course. NB: Other dive courses are available if you already hold Advanced certification. Please speak to Mr Collins for more details. ***Snorkel Safaris & Non Divers*** Not all the fun at Downbelow is had below the surface… You don’t have to be a diver to enjoy Gaya Island and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. There are plenty of activities available that show you beautiful coral reefs, tropical fish, sheltered ocean lagoons and primary rainforest. With a resort like feel it is a fun place to spend the day, enjoying the tropical surroundings and chatting about all the wonderful creatures you will have spotted. Guided snorkelling safaris, trekking and sea-kayaking can be combined in a single day. At Downbelow safety & equipment is of utmost importance and they adhere to PADI standards and procedures and follow British HSE guidelines. There qualified staff team are of international standard with courses available in various languages including English, Malay and Chinese. All of our dive and snorkel guides are professional scuba divers and trained in Emergency First Response (CPR & First Aid) in the very unlikely event of an emergency you are in good care. ***PADI Open Water SCUBA Diver Course*** Get Qualified and Learn to Dive:- All our academics take place on the island, where our guests and students can enjoy our tropical surroundings chatting about all the wonderful creatures you will have spotted. We are the only operator at this location so our surroundings are non crowded. The dive operator pride themselves on small group instruction ensuring there clients get the very best of attention from the instructor. Safety is paramount, they adhere to PADI standards and procedures and follow British HSE guidelines. Throughout the course, you’ll learn fundamentals of scuba diving, including dive equipment and techniques. You’ll complete five confined sessions, knowledge development sessions and four open water dives. You don’t have to be super fit to learn, virtually anyone who is in good health, reasonably fit to dive, and comfortable in the water can earn a PADI Open Water Diver certification. At some point in the course, we’ll ask you to demonstrate the ability to swim 200 metres without swim aids or 300 metres with mask, fins and snorkel and tread water for about 10 minutes. Course Objectives:- To overcome the general misconception of the underwater environment and the understanding of safety rules of diving using scuba. To apply the basic knowledge of physics, physiology and medical aspects as they are related to student diver performance in the water. To provide student divers with the basic knowledge of the purpose, features, types of equipment used during the course. To educate student divers in basic aquatic knowledge of the diving environment. Program Outline:- This course covers all the essential skills of adapting to the underwater world, including dive equipment, buddy system, communication underwater and dive planning. Additionally, it also covers boat diving procedures, problem management, health in diving, breathing air at depth, special dive table and computer procedures, basic compass navigation, use of the dive tables, physics and physiology, skills development in confined and practical application of skills in open water training dives. Method of Assessment:- Knowledge mastery is assessed using Knowledge Reviews, Quizzes and Final Exam with a minimum score of 75%. Skills mastery is assessed by student demonstration of skill proficiency and competency in water. Course Duration This 4 day course, based on participants individual performance and ability to meet the course objectives with components of PADI eLearning completed online in Australia. ***PADI Advanced Open Water Diving Course*** Increase your diving knowledge and depth limit:- PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver program fine tunes your dive skills and allows you to explore some of diving’s top adventures. We find that this course attracts divers with varied amounts of experience from those who have just gained their Open Water Certification to those who have been diving for some years. The attraction is that it offers new experiences, new skills and lots of diving all under the direct supervision of your instructor, you don’t have to “feel” at an advanced level to embark on this new level of diving. The course is simply advancing from the initial open water course. We pride ourselves on small group instruction ensuring our clients get the very best of attention from the instructor. Safety is paramount, we adhere to PADI standards and procedures and follow British HSE guidelines. Course Objectives:- To provide student diver with navigation skills using compass and natural aid for orientation and positioning themselves while underwater To provide the student diver with a better understanding and appreciation of both the physical and biological aspect of the environment To prepare the student diver to dive safely in limited visibility or at night To improve general diving skills emphasizing buoyancy to protect the environment. Program Outline:- This course covers underwater phenomena, diving procedures, the diving environment and deep diving procedures. It consists of 2 Core and 3 Electives dives. The 2 core dives are Navigation and Deep dive and the Elective dives are Fish Identification, Search & Recovery, Night, Peak Performance Buoyancy or any selected by the Instructor and participant. Learning Approach:- Practical sessions with discussions, and small group activities, audiovisual materials. Method of Assessment:- Knowledge mastery is assessed using discussion through Knowledge Reviews. Skills mastery is assessed by student demonstration of skill proficiency and competency in water. Course Duration_ Three full days and can be tailored to individual needs and interests. Learning Materials:- PADI Adventure Manual, Recreational Dive Planner, ML eRDP & Training Log Book. Entry Requirements:- PADI Open Water Diver or equivalent. Accommodation will be camping style sleeping on cot beds and under individual mosquito nets. All meals will be prepared by chefs and enjoyed in the dining area which boasts nice views of the beach. A comfortable and clean ablutions block exists with hot and cold showers. Accomodation: Camping Gaya Island

Meals:  B,L,D

Enjoy the adventure of camping on a jungel island and learning new skills whilst completing the practicial challenegs and theory of learning or improving your diving or snorkeling skills. Additionally whilst on the island you will be assiiting the environment through a variety of initiatives and tasks. We believe the environment gives to us, so it’s our duty to give back. Environmental education is in all the group activities and the dive school educates participants on the consequences of their actions. Project AWARE Clean-up Events enable us to mobilise masses of volunteers to help keep the island environment clean. Accommodation: Camping Gaya Island

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast we will farewell the Downbelow dive team and board their boat for the short trip across to Kota Kinabalu (or KK as it is known). Near the waterfront, we will have an opportunity to visit the bustling markets which sell everything from live eels to household goods. We then depart for our drive (approx 130kms / 3 hours) to Poring Hot Spring. En route, make a stop at Nabalu village to savour local fruits and for handicrafts. We will explore some of the many jungle trails and enjoy this unique opportunity to get closer to the rainforest ‘web of life’ on the canopy walkway 30m (100 feet) above the forest floor. Take a dip in one of the soothing, steaming hot mineral springs set in beautifully landscaped gardens. We then proceed to another World Heritage site - Kinabalu National Park (approx 40kms). Visit the botanical garden, home to many species of orchids, pitcher plants, birds, insects and butterflies with our guide. The unique flora of the area, including numerous species of rhododendrons and orchids and there is said to be more than 2,000 flowering plants in the forests of Kinabalu.The rest of the afternoon will be at free. NB: For the Kinabalu climb porters can be booked on arrival at Kinabalu Park. Cost is MYR60-100 per porter per person (until Laban Rata Guesthouse) with maximum 10 kg per porter with every additional kg at MYR8 per kg. This is to be paid directly to the porter. Costs are subject to change without notice. Accommodation: Tahubang Lodge (Mt Kinabalu / Kundasang Region

Meals:  B,L,D

Following breakfast, we travel by coach to the Power Station (approx 25 minutes). We then commence our climb to Laban Rata with a packed lunch. The climb will take approximately 4 hours. We commence the climb at Timpohon Gate (1800m). The trail ascends steeply in deep forest, with gnarled tree-roots and orchid covered trees to the side of the staircase. As we ascend the vegetation begins to change and on reaching Layang at 2740m it is possible to see the pitcher-plant. The edge of the tree line is reached at 3350m and it is possible you will notice the reduced oxygen in the air. We should reach the Laban Rata guesthouse by early afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is spent exploring the surrounding area and resting in preparation for our early morning climb. Accommodation: Cabin / guesthouse (accommodation is very limited and will be in multishare rooms with dormitory bunk beds.)

Meals:  B,L,D

An early start (2.00am) is in order to reach the summit by sunrise It should take no more than 4 hours to reach the summit. We commence climbing by torchlight (a head torch and warm winter clothing such as gloves, beanie, fleece and windproof outerlayer are essential items. A full gear list will be provided in your pre departure information kit). As we ascend the terrain becomes less vegetated, and on the steep sections we are assisted with ropes, ladders and handrails. The final stages of the ascent crosses bare granite slabs before a steep section up to Lows Peak and the highest point of Mt Kinabalu at 4,093m. As the sun rises over Sabah the most extraordinary view unfolds (weather permitting). Contrasting with the pink tinged granite is the deep green of the forest below, stretching to the fertile croplands and beyond to the island dotted South China Sea. We return to the Laban Rata guesthouse (approx 2 hours to descend) for breakfast before continuing the long descent to Park Headquarters (approx 4 hours) in time for a late lunch. NB: It can be very cold with strong winds at the summit. On many days clouds could obstruct visibility. Accommodation: Lodge in Kundasang

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we depart overland driving 230km (approx 3.50hrs) to Sepilok Jungle Lodge. Surrounded by tropical virgin Borneo Rainforest and with basic yet comfortable facilities it is a perfect base camp to allow us to explore with a guide the nearby jungle and learn about the flora and fauna. Accommodation: Sepilok Jungle Lodge. Dormitory style. Swimming pool.

Meals:  B,L,D

In the morning we travel deeper into the rainforest and travel to the Billit Rainforest Lodge, where you spend 2 nights to enjoy the amazing wildlife opportunities. On the bank of Sabah’s longest river, the Kinabatangan River, Bilit Rainforest Lodge is situated in the heart of numerous intriguing wildlife and fascinating habitats such as oxbow lakes, limestone caves, mangrove swamps and various types of tropical forests. In the late afternoon, we go on a river cruise down the Menanggul River, a small tributary of the Kinabatangan River, in search of proboscis monkeys, birds and other wildlife. A view that never fails to delight is a glimpse of the playful porboscis monkeys who are particularly active at this time, socialising, crashing through trees or foraging for food. The Kinabatangan River starts high in the mountain range and meanders through the interior and coastal lowlands for 560km before reaching the Sulu Sea on the East coast of Sabah. The lower reaches of the Kinabatangan River are home to an ecosystem of amazing richness - stranded ox-bow lakes, swamp and mangroves - which supports a rich, and diverse, concentration of wildlife. Here you will find Orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys, Bornean Elephants alongside a large array of birds, reptiles and amphibians. Daily activities, include: guided jungle trekking, jetty fishing, river cruises along the Kinabatangan River. River tours are conducted by boats powered by electric motors and four stoke outboard engines and a variety of educational lodge programs. Accommodation: Bilit Rainforest Lodge. Dormitory style

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we depart to Sepilok Forest Reserve. We visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, the world's largest orangutan sanctuary, where captive orangutans (known as the wild man of Borneo) are reintroduced into the wild. You will be able to observe them at the feeding stations in the rainforest and see a video presentation on the rehabilitation program. We will meet one of the carers and be given a presentation of the important work they undertake to ensure that the orangutan has a bright future. The Sanctuary started in 1964 was established for the rehabilitation of orphaned baby orangutans from logging-sites, plantations and illegal hunting, and returning them to the wilds as soon as they are ready. The facility provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans as well as dozens of other wildlife species. Some of the other animals which have been treated at the centre include; sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and the occasional injured elephant. Recently rehabilitated individuals have their diet supplemented by daily feedings of milk and bananas. The additional food supplied by the centre is purposefully designed to be monotonous and boring so as to encourage the apes to start to forage for themselves. Sepilok is considered by the Wildlife Department to be a useful educational tool with which to educate both the locals and visitors alike, but they are adamant that the education must not interfere with the rehabilitation process. Visitors are restricted to walkways and are not allowed to approach or handle the apes. It is only a very short walk to our accommodation at the Sepilok Jungle Lodge where you can enjoy a refreshing swim! Accommodation: Sepilok Jungle Lodge. Dormitory style. Swimming pool.

Meals:  B,L,D

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) was founded in Sabah, Malaysia in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide for the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally. The Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), found only in south-east Asia, is the world’s smallest bear species. Volunteers will be working with our groups of rescued bears. The enclosures are very natural and have large rocky outcrops, native fauna, climbing frames and platforms, pools and other enrichment’s. It is a safe and happy home to bears that have been rescued from a range of different situations including poachers, the black market, the bile farm industry and businesses using them for entertainment, trades which often leave behind very young orphaned cubs. Approximate Schedule: 09am - 10am: A lecture about the sun bear and BSBCC 10am - 12pm: Sun Bear viewing and Q&A at the observation platform. 12pm - 1:30pm: Lunch 1:30pm - 4pm: Making enrichment for the sun bears. HOW CLOSELY WILL I BE WORKING WITH THE BEARS? There will be tasks that will not involve direct contact with the bears, but will benefit them greatly. These include building new enrichment’s, repairing and maintaining their enclosures and maintenance of the area surrounding the enclosures. You will also get to work with the keepers giving out the daily feeds and cleaning the enclosures (the bears will be brought in to holding cages whilst you are in the enclosure). Obviously, direct physical contact is not possible as these are large wild animals and can potentially be dangerous. THE BENEFITS You will have a unique, once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes of this world class bear rescue facility. Your time and your financial contribution will provide critical aid enabling us to rescue more bears and continue to improve and enrich their lives. On a personal level you will have an amazing opportunity to work alongside these incredible animals and gain the satisfaction of helping to make a difference to their lives. In the late afternoon, we will return to our accommodation. Accommodation: Sepilok Jungle Lodge. Dormitory style. Swimming pool.

Meals:  B,L,D

Sandakan is the second largest town in the state of Sabah. Sandakan is steeped in history and has a mixture of people, lifestyles, cultures and faiths. The story of the infamous Sandakan Death Marches is one of the most tragic and most heroic of World War Two. The Memorial Park today is located on the location of the original Prisoners of War camp which was set up back in the 1940s during the WWII. This, was where it all happened… Lest we forget. We will also visit the Central Market where you see the most amazing variety of fresh seafood and agricultural products and variety of craft works which would make interesting souvenirs. After Dinner we will transfer to the airport at the required time for your flight home to Sydney. The flight transits in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumper. MH3094 06 OCT SDK BKI 1810 1905 MH2631 06 OCT BKI KUL 2005 2230 MH 123 06 OCT KUL SYD 2345 1100+1 (Arriving Sydney 07 Oct, 2016)

Meals:  B,L,D

Upon arrival into Sydney all services conclude yet the memories, lessons and friendships made will last a lifetime. Congratulations for completing this challenging yet productive adventure to the jungle!

Meals:  Nil

What's Included

  • Return Malaysian Airlines economy class flights from Sydney to Kota Kinabalu including luggage, all taxes, and surcharges valued at approx $593
  • One-way Malaysian Airlines economy class flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu including luggage, all taxes, and surcharges
  • All meals. 13 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 12 dinners
  • 4 nights accommodation on Gaya Island - camping
  • 3 Days PADI Open Water or Advance Diving Course including PADI eLearning and Qualification Fee, all required gear and equipment
  • 3 days, 2 Nights Mt Kinabalu climb package including accommodation, meals, climbing permit, expert mountain guide and insurance
  • Expert local guide (English speaking) throughout
  • All land transfers required within the program in private air conditioned vehicles
  • National park permit fees and sightseeing and entry fees as per itinerary
  • 3 nights accommodation Sepilok Jungle Resort - dormitory
  • 2 nights accommodation Bilit Adventure Lodge on the Kinabatangan River - dormitory
  • 1 nights accommodation at Tahubang Lodge near Mt Kinabalu National Park - dormitory
  • Planning of the Borneo Sunbear Conservation Centre service projects
  • Pre Departure Information kit and evening meeting to help you prepare and pack

What's Not Included

  • Meals and beverages not indicated in the program
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, email etc
  • Tipping for crew and guides. This is not compulsory yet is customary in this part of the world
  • Camera and video entrance fees
  • Sleeping bag and pillow for camping on Gaya Island
  • Travel Insurance - compulsory
  • $150 donation required for the purchase of materials to be used for the Community Service projects. This should not be seen as an out of pocket expense as we encourage this amount to be fundraised through school sanctioned events


Duration:15 Days
Starting Point:Sydney
Activities:SCUBA Diving/Snorkeling
Wildlife Safari
Adventure Touring
Service Learning
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SOG3541