For those with a real sense of adventure, Borneo has it in bucket loads. The world’s third largest island is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei (the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak lying to the north). The laid-back little city of Kota Kinabalu (KK for short) is the starting point for any wildlife adventure in Sabah – it is also the capital. A few days here are the perfect antidote to your long journey before heading over to one of the islands or deep into the jungle.
With much of the island covered in pristine jungle there are plenty of opportunities to encounter the wildlife and explore this untouched environment. A visit to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre is a truly privileged encounter with orang-utans living wild in the reserve. The rangers place fruit and sugar cane on the feeding platform, approximately 60 feet from your viewing area where these human like primates come for their morning feed. It's a magical experience for all and can be reached in a day from KK with return flights into Sandakan or it makes an easy stop-off point on the way to the Kinabatangan River.
The Danum Valley is a lowland valley rainforest, one of the most pristine and unspoilt regions of Sabah. The sheer variety of native flora and fauna is simply staggering and includes over 340 bird species as well as pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, wild orang utans, gibbons and many other species of monkey, reptile and insects. Jungle treks, canopy walks, river tubing and wildlife drives are all part of the experience which showcases this exceedingly precious and rare environment at its most glorious. Many of our guests will chose one of these lodges and stay for two or three nights, or maybe combine them and spend two nights at each, creating a neat little five day rainforest experience. Top this off with a luxury stay in one of Borneo’s blossoming beach-chic resorts and you have a perfect Safari-beach holiday.
Jungle-strewn Gaya Island lies off the coast of Sabah, the largest of a cluster of five idyllic tropical islets that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park just a 15 minute speedboat from Kota Kinabalu. Gaya Island Resort is a peaceful place with a truly lovely vibe or alternatively Bunga Raya is a real hidden gem – a cross between jungle-chic and being at one with nature. With dense jungle canopy and divine white beaches you feel a million miles away from civilization, think Jungle Book meets Robinson Crusoe.
An alternative starting point, and an often more affordable option is Kuching in Sarawak. This charming city is easily accessible with regular flights from Kuala Lumpur and onward flights to Kota Kinabalu. Spend three or four nights exploring this laid-back city, staying in the gorgeous boutique Ranee Boutique Suites. Enjoy a day tour to Bako National Park – a glorious day of jungle trails, mangroves, wildlife and traditional fisherman’s villages. Visit Semenggoh Nature Reserve, a semi-wild Orang-Utan rehabilitation centre, where they care for orphaned or injured Orang-Utans and train them to be able to survive in the wild. Other excursions include boat cruises on the Santubong River to spot Irrawaddy dolphins, cycling tours through local villages, cultural shows and foodie tours.
By its very nature as a jungle and rainforest island, Borneo can be hot and humid for most of the year with the highest rainfall generally falling between November and March.
Where to stay in Borneo
Best time to visit Borneo
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