The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review: Awesome Family Adventure in Borneo

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One of the highlights of traveling in Borneo with kids was kayaking in Sarawak. Here’s our review on river kayaking we did with The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking.

The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review

Looking for a family adventure in Borneo? Want something exciting but not strenuous or dangerous? Then consider a kayaking trip with The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking. This was a beautiful stretch of river without serious rocks or rapids to deal with. Our kids loved it and so did we. Here’s a rundown of our day and a detailed review on The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking review.

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Our Day on the Water

Asin — our driver and guide — came to pick us up at 8:30 am. After we buckled up and settled into his air conditioned SUV, we drove out of downtown Kuching. Soon we were in Sarawak’s lush countryside. Along the way, Asin told us about his village and about the indigenous people of the region.

When we arrived at his village, Asin took us out onto a suspension bridge. Here he introduced us to his home and to the river we’d soon be floating down. Then he fitted us with life jackets and introduced us to his brothers Uday and Koya, who would be guiding us down the river. Asin would meet us again where we pulled the kayaks out of the water.

After a quick refresher of rowing basics, we were in our kayaks and going down the river.

Ocean VS River Kayaking: The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review

We had limited experience with kayaking before this. Our only time in a kayak together was for a family sea kayaking trip in Spain. That was great fun too. But we discovered several significant differences between sea kayaking and river kayaking. For example, river kayaking was much easier and less physically demanding. On the ocean, we had to constantly row to stay on course. Not so with river kayaking. The current takes you in the right direction by default, after all.

River kayaking in Borneo was also significantly cooler for us, as well. Borneo has tropical weather of course, but there was more shade along the jungle river’s banks. The day we went, it was overcast, as well. The lack of blue skies wasn’t great for pictures, but it meant that the Borneo sun didn’t fry us like the Mediterranean sun did. In fact, it even rained on us for a little while, which only cooled us down and added to the ambiance. This is a rainforest kayaking tour, after all.

Another difference between kayaking in the Mediterranean and the rainforest is water visibility. Our sea kayaking experience involved lots of snorkeling and exploring the clear beautiful coastal waters. In contrast, rainforest kayaking is more about observing the environment above the water’s surface. The river color ranged from sage green to café latte brown.

Creatures of the River: The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review

We did get an up-close experience with some of the water’s residents, however. During a break about halfway down, Koya pulled our kayaks onto a riverbank and pulled out a bag of fish food. Standing shin-deep in the water, he threw the feed into the shallows and the water began to churn as hundreds of fish hurtled toward a free meal.

Then he handed the rest of the bag to the kids. They loved this, although the sensation of hundreds of fins against their ankles startled them at first.

There was one other wildlife encounter, although it was brief and unplanned. Koya and Uday wanted to show us a small waterfall in a minor tributary of the river. This was a nice to stop for a photo op, of course. But then on the way back to the kayaks, our daughter spotted something in a low hanging vine.

A bird nest! Right at eye-level as well!

As for other wildlife, I’d love to tell you we saw snakes, wild boar, exotic birds, and troops of proboscis monkeys along the way. That wasn’t the case for us. If you go rainforest kayaking with kids, make sure that they have realistic expectations. It’s quite possible that plenty of wildlife saw us, even if we didn’t see them.

Regardless, we all loved our day on the river. As our review on The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking can attest, we think it’s an exceptional way to experience Borneo with kids.

Excellent Lunch: The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review

After we dried off and changed clothes, it was time for lunch. Asin was waiting for us, and he drove us to his sister’s restaurant, where we ate traditional food from his village. Lunch was served buffet style: rice, eggplant, coconut sweets, and curry puffs, which are small pastries with a mild curry-flavored potato filling. Asin’s father prepared the meal’s main course using a length of bamboo. He filled the bamboo with chicken, ginger, garlic, and tapioca leaves and then sealed it closed. After that, he cooked the bamboo slowly over a fire. The flavors blended magnificently.

I had a quick coffee before Asin gave me a quick tour of his garden — corn, tapioca, and massive pepper plants. Then it was back to the car and into Kuching by late afternoon.

Summary: The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Review

No time to read the entire thing? Here’s a quick summary of The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking Trip.

What we liked

  • Great local guides
  • Smooth, easy course that required less strength and skill than sea kayaking

What we loved

  • Beautiful environment
  • Cooler, overcast weather
  • Koya and Uday’s pictures! I shot my own, of course, but it was great to know that they were shooting as well. In fact, most of theirs were much better than mine, since they were able to move through the water more skillfully that us and get to the best spot.

Other things worth mentioning

  • Drink water
  • Use sunscreen — despite the overcast weather, the UV still seeps through.
  • Eat or bring along a snack: Lunch was a little later than we usually eat, so you might consider carrying something small for halfway through the trip.

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Did we answer any questions you have? Would you go kayaking in Borneo?

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Disclosure: Our day with The Rucksack Rainforest Kayaking was sponsored, but all opinions are my own.

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