Archive for March, 2012

Wildlife Galore on Danish Group’s Borneo Adventure

Friday, March 30th, 2012 @ 11:33 Danish Adventure Group, Groups & Schools, News

Up-close and personal with a juvenile Borneo pigmy elephant in the Kinabatangan River

Our second group of adventurous Danes just returned to Kota Kinabalu after the east-coast Sabah leg of their Borneo Adventure with Downebelow.

The east-coast of Sabah is where the Borneo Adventure takes participants to experience Sabah’s wildlife, pure and unadulterated like nature intended.

Such is wildlife though, that sometimes you see a lot, and sometimes you don’t. Luck was on this group’s side though, as they saw pretty much all the wildlife the Kinabatangan River has to offer.

Not only did they see orang utan, proboscis monkeys and river crocodiles fairly up close, but they had multiple encounters with the shy Borneo pigmy elephant.

Once encounter in particular was quite exciting.

“We suddenly saw an elephant in the river”, recounted an excited Abby, Downbelow’s staff who accompanied the group, “so close, that I had to sit back to take pictures.”

They also encountered a small heard, as well as two elephants protecting an elephant calf, the highlight of their river cruises.

Downbelow frequently hosts groups to experience Sabah’s wildlife both below the ocean’s surface and in the Borneo jungles.

To get more information about our Borneo Adventure, whether or not you’re part of a group, just contact us and let us make all your arrangements.

Gomantong Caves Visit for Danish on Borneo Adventure

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 @ 15:42 Danish Adventure Group, Groups & Schools, News

The Gomantong Caves in Sabah is a huge system of caves known for the nests of swiftlets used in Bird Nest Soup

During the east coast leg of our Danish adventure group’s Borneo Adventure, one of the interesting places they visited was the Gomantong Caves.

The Gomantong Caves are best known as significant source of Bird Nest, the key ingredient for the sought after Chinese elixir Bird Nest Soup.

So important are the Gomantong Caves’ bird nest resources, that because of it the surrounding jungle was declared a national park, while the caves are guarded year round, even in the off season.

During the Borneo Adventure with Downbelow, adventurers get to wander inside the Gomantong Caves and explore the labyrinth with gravity defying bamboo ladders reaching for the cave roof high above.

Our Danish adventurers learned more about bird nest harvesting and got to see how the harvesters spend their days.

To enjoy this interesting stop on its own or as part of the Borneo Adventure, please contact our Travel Consultants with your dates, and we’ll happily put a package together to suit your needs.

Danish Group White Water Rafts Sabah’s Padas River

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 @ 14:54 Danish Adventure Group, News

Our February / March group of Danish adventurers recently returned from their Borneo explorations and with them a whole bunch of photos.

One of the activities our adventure groups enjoy during their Borneo Adventure with Downbelow is white water rafting.

The wildest white water rapids in Sabah are to be found on the Padas River, where, if conditions are right, Grade IV rapids are not an uncommon occurrence.

We’ve taken the slew of Padas River white water rafting photos and compiled them into a short video.

Experience the Padas River rapids with our Borneo Adventure group…

Borneo’s Most Recent Whale Shark Sighting in Kota Kinabalu

The tails of the pair of whalesharks our Glamorgan group spotted while diving in Kota Kinabalu on Sunday

Sunday was another beautiful day in Kota Kinabalu’s TAR Park where Downbelow is hosting a group of 19 students from the University of Glamorgan during their research project in Sabah, Borneo.

Resident PADI Course Director Richard was, as always, in the water, this time leading a group of 6 students and assisted by one of our professional interns, on an Adventure Diver course.

During the Fish ID dive of the course, things went from adventurous to downright exciting, when something big came up for a closer look, perhaps wanting to be identified?

Kota Kinabalu, not too far from the northern tip of Borneo as we are, have seen quite a bit of whale shark action this season, which typically stretches from January to March. We’ve had whale shark sightings every month so far this year.

In spite of this, when the 2 large beasts appeared from the blue it was nevertheless a surprise.

Not only did the 6 students doing the adventure dive get to see the whale sharks, but the remainder of the group, doing a fun dive nearby also got to see them.

One of the group, David Taylor, had a camera handy, and managed to snap the tail end of the pair as they made their way past the group.

“I’m pretty pleased with this picture”, David said commenting on the pic posted on Facebook, “even with my novice underwater photography skills.”

Novice skills perhaps, but that makes the catch all the sweeter.

We hope that the whale sharks will be around this part of Borneo for still many weeks to come, and will keep a keen lookout for whale sharks in Kota Kinabalu.

If you fancy your chances of seeing a whale shark while diving in Kota Kinabalu, contact us and let’s go diving.

Glamorgan Students Do Survey Diving Skills Session

Monday, March 26th, 2012 @ 11:21 Glamorgan University, Groups & Schools, News

The University of Glamorgan students fun diving following their survey skills diving session

The group of 19 students from the University of Glamorgan, currently residing at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre on Gaya island, got their skills on this weekend.

In Borneo as part of a module for their bachelor and master degrees, the students will be surveying the coral reefs and sea-grass beds near Gaya island.

The class of 2011 kicked off the survey last year and gather interesting stats about density and diversity of various forms of underwater life.

The class of 2012 will build on their work and survey the same spots again to see what has happened to the environment over the last year. The more data points are collected, the more insightful the University of Glamorgan research becomes.

Before they can start their surveying though, the students need particular skills; buoyancy being an important one.

Lead by resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann and his team of expert PADI Instructors, the students took to the depths of the TAR Park in Kota Kinabalu to hone their specific diving skills.

The skills session was followed by some fun diving, giving the Glamorgan Uni students the opportunity to enjoy a bit of the underwater life they will soon be studying in detail.

Professional Intern Strides Towards PADI Divemaster in Sabah

Friday, March 23rd, 2012 @ 11:36 News, Professional Diving Internships

Pro Intern Liz Street (far right) presents her second Discover Scuba Diving course

Downbelow’s newest Professional Intern, Liz Street, is blazing a trail towards become our latest PADI Divemaster here at our PADI 5 Star Dive Centre on Gaya Island in Sabah.

Liz joined us a few short weeks ago for a 3 month internship, which will see her qualify as a fully fledge PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.

Less than a month down the line Liz already conducted her 2nd Discover Scuba Diving experience, under the watchful eye of the Downbelow instructor team, of course.

Soon she will be qualified as a PADI Divemaster and set her sights on the May Instructor Development Course.

Bofore then, however, the PADI Divemaster Exam awaits. We know she will eat it for breakfast…

Glamorgan Students Sign the Shark Petition. Have you?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 @ 10:01 Glamorgan University, Groups & Schools, News, Project AWARE

Resident PADI Course Director Richard explains the shark petition to the Glamorgan group

The new group from the Glamorgan University moved into the temporary accommodations on Gaya island in Sabah, Borneo this week and have made themselves at home.

They will be with us for a few weeks here in Kota Kinabalu as part of a Tropical Ecology module of the Bachelors Degree they are studying at the uni.

In line with Downbelow’s Marine Conservation, resident PADI Course Director, Richard Swann, wasted no to time to bring home the message about environmental responsibility and the main causes of the day.

An avid Marine Biologist himself and a crusader for cause of sharks, Richard brought the Glamorgan group up to speed with Project AWARE’s various shark initiatives and how they can help by signing the shark petition.

The 40 strong group were more than happy to join the fight for legislation that will slow the decline of the world’s shark populations and added their signatures to the petition.

Have you voided out for sharks? Sign the shark petition and join the shark fight for survival.

18 Danes do AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Course in Sabah

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 @ 16:05 Danish Adventure Group, Groups & Schools, News, Project AWARE

The 18 Danes taking part in the Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Course

Before the great Danish adventurers vacated Gaya Island last week, Downbelow’s resident PADI Course Director Richard had one more course in store for them.

All our group programs have a conservation component to them, intended to foster a greater awareness and a love for taking care of the marine environment, which participants will enjoy.

Very apt for when groups are learning to dive is the Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Course.

It opens the world of corals to divers right when they are going to experience it first-hand and up-close and illustrates the importance and complexity of coral and reef systems.

While explaining the threats facing our oceans’ corals, the course also outlines how we can make a difference through organisations like the non-profit Project AWARE Foundation.

The course presentation is follow by, of course, a dive. The object simply being to enjoy the coral-scapes and to apply the knowledge learned.

For more info about the Project AWARE Coral Reef Conservation Course, check the speciality course section on this site.

Adventurous Danes Complete Diver Training

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 @ 16:12 Danish Adventure Group, Groups & Schools, News

Danish Adventure Group Completed Their Diver Training

Our adventurous Danes vacated the island last week and headed off to Mt. Kinabalu to continue their Sabah adventures.

While they were on the island and in the capable hands of resident PADI Course Director Richard Swann and the rest of the Downbelow Instructors, the Danes completed a slew of PADI diver training courses.

Amongst the 18 strong group of Danish adventurers, Downbelow qualified 16 Open Water divers, 2 Advanced Open Water divers, did 2 Underwater Photography courses and 18 Coral Reef Conservation courses.

Well done to the Danes for mastering, with smiles all the way, the steep learning curve, and to the Downbelow staff for successfully guiding the Danes through their diving adventures.

The Danes are almost immediately succeeded by our next group, but more about that in an upcoming post.

March Whale Sharks Sighting in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 @ 15:45 News, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Whale Sharks

Whale shark sighted in Kota Kinabalu in March 2012

This year so far has enjoyed a bumper whale shark season in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah with several sightings every month since January.

In the latest sighting, which was just yesterday, several of Downbelow’s guests literally came face to face with the whale shark.

Some of guests had cameras with them and snapped these beautiful pictures, showing how close the giant filter feeder got to them.

Resident PADI Course Director Richard, who was on the island at our PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Centre at the time, immediately grabbed his camera gear and raced to where the whale sharks were sighted.

Unfortunately, buy the time he got there, they had already moved on, so, this time, no pictures for Richard of the march whale sharks sighting in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

We continue our daily diving with high hopes of further enjoying the frequent whale shark sightings in Kota Kinabalu’s TAR Park.

Want to join us and try your luck? Contact us and let’s get wet.