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A beginner's guide to Borneo
So you’ve decided on Borneo and with a fifteen hour flight ahead of you, you’ve probably already done an amount of reading which has revealed to you what a fantastic destination it is, nestled into the northern part of the Indonesian archipelago. As the third largest island in the world, Borneo attracts visitors who are usually interested in something more than just lying on a beach, and they will not be disappointed.
Aside from the wonderful culture and friendliness of the locals there are all kinds of opportunities to engage with nature and the island’s flora and fauna. Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago and sits in Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is of no surprise that the site is of immense biological importance, with over 4,500 species of plant, 326 species of birds, and 100 identified mammalian species. You may have seen on TV or any natural history programme the famous species from this area, the gigantic Rafflesia plants and of course, the orangutan. Be sure to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. It is relatively easy to explore the parks but climbing equipment would be needed along with permission for anything other than a lower mountain walk.
After jungle trekking and tree top or canopy walking you may well be hanging out for a dip in Poring Hot Springs. It sounds as though you would be hot enough already with the trekking but in fact it’s incredibly refreshing and cleansing in the sulphur baths, and with the mountain breezes, very revitalising. Immersing yourself in the beauty and otherness of Borneo is really an adventure in itself, and you could add to that by taking a trip along Kinabatangan River to watch the Proboscis monkeys monkeying around in the jungle.
Remember to pack wisely, long sleeve shirts and knee length or full length light trousers are recommended for the jungle treks, and of course a good pair of closed toe walking shoes. By trekking into the jungle quietly you are in the perfect position to see the wildlife in their own habitat. For any evening jungle cruises, be armed with mosquito repellent for sundown, but it is far easier just to cover up sensibly.
Whilst in Borneo you must visit the Gomantong Caves, again the subject of lots of TV nature programs as it is here that the birds’ nests are harvested and have a value as much as gold. Aside from the seemingly precarious bamboo ladders and scaffolding to access the caves in which the swifts nest, the whole lifestyle of these locals who claim the nests is fascinating.
Turtle Island is also a must whilst in Borneo - see at first hand on your adventure holiday, the turtles laying their eggs. The park is a safe haven for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles and gives you the rare opportunity to watch turtle landings. In terms of accommodation, your Tropical Sky Far East consultant will be able to best advise what suits you in terms of budget and also pre-book the best places to observe these natural phenomena.
More information and to book: Borneo is a destination for nature and wilderness lovers – if you’re at home in the great outdoors you’ll love it here.
Article written by Chris Hawkins.