Delivering once-in-a-lifetime Borneo experiences, since 2013

Borneo Holiday Travel Experts

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

17

August, 2018

Lahad Datu lies in Tawau Division on the east coast of Sabah Borneo. It was once a sleepy small village, tucked into the north side of Darvel Bay. Then, it grew into a bustling center for palm oil and cocoa industry. Moreover, Lahad Datu also has become an important timber exporting port. 

Lahad Datu is at mid-way between Tawau and Sandakan. Thus, anyone can reach Lahad Datu by road from any major town in Sabah Borneo. It takes about 7-hour overland drive from Kota Kinabalu to reach Lahad Datu. While 3-hour drive from Sandakan and 2 ½ hour drive from Tawau to reach Lahad Datu. But, some can opt to take a 55-minutes direct flight from Kota Kinabalu City using MASwings.

With its strategic location, Lahad Datu is a gateway paradise for the naturalist. Danum Valley Conservation Area, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and Madai Caves are all situated there. This offers any visitors a chance to experience the nature and wildlife in Lahad Datu.

Lahad Datu is believed to be an early settlement area that existed as early as the 15th century. It is proven from the excavations that have unearthed Ming Dynasty Chinese ceramics. During the 19th century, a village named Tunku (east of Lahad Datu) used to be a notorious base for pirates and slave traders.

Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA)

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Canopy Walkway in Danum Valley. Photo: Rog

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a paradise for naturalists and wildlife enthusiast alike. It is about 438 sq. km area which 90% of it covered with virgin dipterocarp rainforest. Home to an almost unimaginable number of plants, insects, mammals, and birds, it is really a jungle out there!

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Orangutan in Danum Valley. Photo: Heather Christensen

DVCA is one of the tropical rainforest research establishment in Southeast Asia. It equipped with an extensive list of research and laboratories facilities. Many researchers prefer to make DVCA a base for biodiversity and environmental education. In 2016, one of the tallest tropical tree discovered by the researchers in Danum Valley. With its height reaching about 94.1m, anyone can see the trees through a moderate walk from the field center.

Though DVCA provides a base for researchers, it also opens for naturalists visitors. There are two accommodations available at DVCA, which are Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Danum Valley Field Centre. Borneo Rainforest Lodge offers visitors a luxury feels within the tropical rainforest. An exclusive retreat that provides an international standard of comfort to visitors. What’s more, the lodge is nearby the river. Visitors can enjoy sitting at the verandah while listening to the sound of the rainforest. If they are lucky, they might spot some of the rare birds from the verandah. Borneo Rainforest Lodge has its own jungle trails and a canopy walkway for its guests.

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Borneo Rainforest Lodge Verandah. Photo: Craig Ansibin

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Orangutan in Danum Valley. Photo: Heather Christensen

Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) is another accommodation in DVCA. It is available for the most budget-type visitors to spend their holiday in DVCA. DVFC has three different rooms, which are deluxe, standard and hostel. There are several activities that can be done at DVFC, such as guided jungle trekking, morning/night safari, swim in the river and catch a sunrise from atop Bukit Atur.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is another nature reserve in Lahad Datu. It largely surrounded by oil palm plantations and an hour drive from Lahad Datu Town. Tabin offers a comfortable wildlife resort in a small river valley. Gazetted in 1968 as a Class VII Forest Reserve, Tabin has an area of 122, 539 hectares. Making it the largest forest reserve in Sabah Borneo.

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Bornean Gibbon. Photo: Andrea Schieber

The existence of Tabin Wildlife Reserve is part of the State Government’s effort to protect and preserve wildlife. In 1984, Tabin declared as a wildlife reserve due to a large amount of Borneo Wildlife spotted there. Some of the wildlife is highly endangered mammals species, such as Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Tembadau, and Banteng. There are also about nine species of primates and three species of cats recorded in Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Various birdlife species are also spotted within the forest reserve. With large numbers of hornbills and eagles as well as vividly colored birds can be seen flying around at the reserve area.

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

A group of elephants at Lipad Mud Volcano. Photo: Tabin Widlldife Reserve

One of the highlights in Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the presence of several mud volcanoes. The mud volcanoes are known to provide rich mineral salts for birds and mammals. The presence of mud volcanoes are probably the reasons for the high concentration of wildlife in Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Moreover, there is a viewing tower is built at the edge of the Lipad Mud Volcanoes. Making it a perfect location for wildlife observation and bird-watching.

There is an accommodation available in Tabin Wildlife Reserve. It offers anyone a unique and comfortable stay in the jungle lodges as well as a great wildlife experience. There are about 20 units of jungle lodges (10 units River Lodges and 10 unites Hill Lodges) available at the Tabin Resort.

Several activities can be done at Tabin Wildlife Reserve which are:

  • Visit the mud volcanoes
  • Night safari to search for nocturnal wildlife
  • Trekking through the lush rainforests
  • Early morning walk
  • Birdwatching
Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Jungle Trekking in Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Photo: EstherK Borneo

Whether you are a wildlife seeker or just looking for something fun, Tabin Wildlife Reserve will never fail to amaze anyone with a great wildlife adventures experience for Borneo holiday!

Madai Cave

Lahad Datu: A gateway to virgin rainforest

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Another treasure that can be found in Lahad Datu is Madai Cave. It is an integral part of the limestone hills which located within the Baturong Madai Forest Reserve. Home to thousands of bats since hundred years ago and Madai Cave is one of Sabah Borneo’s most important site for supplies of bird nests. The Madai Cave is owned by the local villagers who live outside the cave, which is the Idahan people. Apart from harvesting the bird nests as their source of income, the Idahan people also take cares of the cave during the off-season harvest.

Madai Cave is also considered as the earliest known area of human settlement that existed from over 20,000 years ago. It is proven by the traces of human footprints were found preserved in layers and layers of bat droppings inside the caves. Madai Cave is also a burial site. Although the identity of those buried remains unknown to the villagers, except for grave the of “Nenek Apui” or grandma Apui. “Nenek Apui” is the original founder of Madai Caves but her remains have been dug a long time ago and now has been placed at Sabah Museum in Kota Kinabalu City.

Related article: Exploring Madai Cave 

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.

Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

5 Fun Activities To Escape The Heat in Sabah Borneo

10

April, 2018

Kota Kinabalu City, the capital city of Sabah Borneo welcomes you with delicious local food, unique culture and interesting sights. Kota Kinabalu City is a small city in which you can walk around for a day or two in your Borneo Holidays. But, the only challenge is braving the sun and heat if you choose to walk.

Yup, the sweltering heat of this tropical island is the neverending hotness that we have to endure on a daily basis. As a concerned local in Sabah Borneo, here are some activities that can keep you away from the heat in Sabah Borneo. Be sure to thank me later 🙂

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Surfing in Kudat beaches. Photo : Charles Mawan

1) Island Hopping at Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) Islands

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

A visit to TARP Islands is a must when you are in Kota Kinabalu City for a day trip! It consists of Gaya Island, Sapi Island, Manukan Island, Mamutik Island and Sulug Island. These islands are a paradise for day trippers. You can have a lot of fun on these islands, with beach activities such as snorkeling and diving. Moreover, these islands are only 20 minutes by boat from Kota Kinabalu City. You can choose to go for parasailing, banana boat ride, snorkeling, or you can swim by the beach. No matter what kind of activities offered here, I’m sure you will never want to leave this water paradise!

2) Underwater Sea Walking

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

As weird as it sounds, but you can actually do sea walking activity in Sabah Borneo! Of course, you will need to wear a helmet that acts as a breathing pipeline. What’s more, you will be amazed at the beautiful view of marine life. Additionally, you will get an up-close experience with the cute coral fish. It’s a perfect activity for you to spend with your family. This is a Must-Do activity on your Kota Kinabalu Tour!

3) Coral Flyer Zipline

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Ready for an adrenaline rush in Sabah Borneo? The Coral Flyer Ziplines offer you a memorable experience for your Borneo holiday. It’s known to be one of the longest island-to-island flying fox activity in Kota Kinabalu. The activity is easy and safe is their number one priority. So, enjoy the thrills and have fun!

4) White Water Rafting

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

Are you the type of person seeking adventure for your Borneo Holiday? Then, bring your travel buddies and go White Water Rafting. An adrenaline-rush activity with some exciting and tough rapids. You can choose to go for a relaxed excursion of Kiulu River (Class 1-2) or challenge yourself to Padas River(Class 3-4). Whichever you chose, these activities are definitely the highlight of your Borneo holiday!

5) Discover Scuba Diving

Fun activities to escape the heat in Sabah Borneo

When you are in Sabah Borneo, diving is a must to escape the heat. If you are not ready to take the plunge and get diver certified, you can try Discover Scuba Diving. A wonderful experience for you to learn diving skills and see the beauty of the underwater world. You will learn to wear scuba equipment, basic safety rules and breathe underwater. What’s more, when you take part in the Discover Scuba Diving, you are on your way to becoming a certified PADI diver!

There you go! These are our choices of five cool activities that you can do in Sabah Borneo to escape the perpetual heat. We hope you will have an enjoyable time in Sabah Borneo, despite the heat. Oh, one more thing, if you’re ever in need to arrange your travel plans in Sabah Borneo, feel free to reach out to us!

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.

Surround yourself with nature for Borneo Holidays

Surround yourself with nature for Borneo Holidays

Surround yourself with nature in

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holiday

Last January, I went to Tawau to attend one of my best friend’s wedding. Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah Borneo, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Besides, Tawau is also the main gateway to the world’s top dive destination in Sabah Borneo – Sipadan Island.

Last January, I went to Tawau to attend one of my best friend’s wedding. Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah Borneo, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Besides, Tawau is also the main gateway to the world’s top dive destination in Sabah Borneo – Sipadan Island.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Feel free to read the history and some information about Hills Park 

Tawau Hills Park is a recreational park and conservation area that is about 20 km away from Tawau Town. Getting there will be hard for non-local, as there is no bus available there. It is best to go there by using a taxi or Uber/Grab. Luckily for me, most of my friends live in Tawau, so I manage to get there without difficulty. The road from Tawau Town to Tawau Hills Park is quiet and secluded while passing by hills of oil palm plantations.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Entrance/ conservation fee before enter the park 

There is an entrance/ conservation fee that you will need to pay before entering Tawau Hills Park. With its size of 28,000 hectares, this park is open daily from 8 am until 4.30pm. Various comfortable facilities are available at the park for visitors. Such facilities are:

  • Canteen
  • Public toilets and shower rooms
  • Barbecue and picnic area
  • Suspension bridges
  • Jungle trails
  • Accommodations and hostels
  • Meeting/seminar/workshop room
  • Soccer Field/ Mini Hall & Court Games, and
  • Surau
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Tawau Hills Park Map Trail

Tawau Hills Park is also known by the locals as “Table”, which is based on a waterfall’s name. It became as one of the perfect places for family/group activities to do during the weekend or holidays. Several activities to do there are:

  • Picnic and barbeque
  • Swim in the river or the Sulphur Hot Spring
  • Jungle Trekking Canopy Walkway
  • Visit botanical garden
  • Climb Mount Magdalena (1,312m) or Mount Lucia (1,202m)

If a day trip in the park is not enough for you, you can go do an overnighter at Magdalena Chalet or Bombalai Jungle Lodge. Besides that, there is a hostel available in the park, but it is a bit far from the headquarters. This hostel is for those who are going for climbing Mount Magdalena or Mount Lucia.

Unfortunately, my friends and I miss the chance to go for climbing activity at the Tawau Hills Park. So, if you like climbing, be sure not to make the same mistake like we did and left our hiking shoes at home! Since we don’t have that much time left in Tawau, we spent most of our time at the main headquarters park area.

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Tawau Hills Park Area

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

One of the tallest tree I’ve seen!

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Greenery everywhere in Tawau Hills Park 

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Where shall we go?

Frankly speaking, being in Tawau Hills Park gave me a peace of mind and tranquility far beyond me chilling at home. Breathing in the cool clean air and swimming in crystal clear river while surrounded by lush green trees. Somehow, I regretted not bringing my hiking shoes that day, so I can explore more of the park area. I have read in one of the blogs that Tawau Hills Park do have some amazing waterfalls and Sulphurous Hot Springs (darn it!).

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Feels the tranquility of the park area 

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Crossing the suspension bridge to go the other side

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Apart from that, I manage to meet a few long-tailed macaques wandering around the park area. But, be aware and do not get close to the macaques. because they are mischievous animals and will grab anything from you. Funny thing is, it happened to us that day.(haha!) We were holding a plastic full of snacks, all of sudden one of the macaques jumped from the tree and frightened us. Lucky for us, we manage to run away from the macaques as fast as we could. (Haha!) It was unfortunate that it also happened to another visitor who left his backpack unattended. A group of cheeky macaques managed to steal a bag of chips and other things from his backpack! (Note: Keep an eye on your belongings and bags when visiting any Park)

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays
Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Spotted LingZhi Mushrooms that are known to have many health benefits especially on lower the blood pressure and reduce allergies

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Spotted a dragonfly that its body is almost similar colour like a tree branch

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

I find this flower very beautiful, which can be found near the headquarters park office

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

And I spotted a tiger leech at the toilet door! (oh gosh!)

Tawau Hills Park for Borneo Holidays

Where can you get this beautiful view like this?

Around 4 pm, time to head back to Tawau town, but it was not enough for me to explore Tawau Hills Park. I am sure to visit Tawau Hills Park again soon and this time I won’t be going for a short trip there. Planning to visit Sabah Borneo for Holiday? Be sure to put Tawau Hills Park as one of your must-visit for Borneo Holidays! Check out our choices of travel destination for this 2018, click here.

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.

Travel destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

Travel destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

Travel destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

29

December, 2017

Our Kota Kinabalu Tour!

scuba-diving-at-TAR-tunku-abdul-rahman-park-borneo

Discover Scuba Diving 

why you should travel with family

Proboscis Monkey River Cruise 

 

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

Do you intend to list out your year of 2018 resolution with an adventure in Borneo Island? Luckily for you, we’ve done our research and rounded up with the year‘s soon-to-be major and biggest travel destinations in Borneo. Here are some of the exciting travel destinations in Borneo that are waiting for you to check it out. Fret not, there are some amazing photos of the destinations for you too. So, book your flights and tour ASAP, before everyone else catches on!

1)  Melangkap Homestay, Kota Belud, Sabah Borneo

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Want to experience camping by the river for your Borneo Holidays? Then, Melangkap Homestay is where you should go. Feels the cooling breeze and the majestic Mount Kinabalu welcomes you in the morning, as well as the amazing stars can be seen during the night. One of the must-go destination in Sabah Borneo with your family or friends. There are so many activities you can do there, such as camping, jungle trekking, swimming at the river, barbecue, fishing, going to local market or tamu, and more.

2)  Mulu National Park, Mulu, Sarawak Borneo

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

Experience Sarawak Borneo’s largest national park (544 sq. km) and also Malaysia’s first World Heritage Area, awarded in 2000. Its iconic limestone cave system, which includes the world’s largest natural chamber and the world’s longest cave passage in Southeast Asia. The park’s main attractions will be the show caves, the bat observatory, the rainforest canopy skywalk, adventure caving and the challenging climbing up to reach the Mulu summit, as well as to witness the amazing Mulu Pinnacles. This destination is perfect for those who are seeking adventure and excitement for their Borneo Holidays.

3)  Long Pasia, Sipitang, Sabah Borneo

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

Ever wondered how does it feel living away from the city life, stay in remote villages and encounter a new culture that you’ve never seen before? Going for a trip to Long Pasia, will never leave you bored. You will get the chance to go for jungle trekking, guided by a local native guide, witness some of the amazing or rare species of Borneo flora which can be found there. Long Pasia is home to Lundayeh tribe of Sabah Borneo, you can learn their interesting cultures from their daily activities, cultural performances or take a bite of their traditional local food. Take this opportunity to put Long Pasia on your travel bucket list for 2018, so you will experience more in your Borneo Holidays.

4)  Ba’kelalan, Kelabit Highland, Sarawak Borneo

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

There is another destination of Borneo Island that you can enjoy more on Borneo Cultural experience, which located deep in the Kelabit Highlands of northeastern Sarawak Borneo. Home to Lun Bawang tribes, their source of income will be apples and organic vegetable farming, paddy rice farming, as well as salt-making. Ba’kelalan village is the travel destination that you should not miss out to go for 2018. Apart from that, you can experience the lifestyle of Lun Bawang community with Homestay program, going for jungle trekking into the Borneo Rainforest to see some of the unique flora and fauna, as well as exploring the Ba’kelalan surrounding area.

5)  Deramakot Forest Reserve, Telupid, Sabah Borneo

Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays
Travel Destination for 2018 in Borneo for Borneo Holidays

If you are not keen for cultural experiences in Borneo Island, why not go for wildlife adventures in Borneo Island? Apart from going for Kinabatangan River cruise for a higher chance to witness Borneo Wildlife, you can also go to Deramakot Forest Reserve for wildlife spotting too! Deramakot is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream, where there are about 75% Borneo Mammals species that can be found within the forest, such as Orangutan, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Clouded Leopard, Proboscis Monkey, civet, and more Borneo Mammals. Moreover, Deramakot Forest Reserve played the major role of becoming a sustainable forest management for wildlife protection and conservation purposes.

Are you getting excited after looking at the photos of the destinations? Wait no more, put the destinations on your travel bucket list for this coming 2018. In addition, you can check out our travel hacks tips to Borneo for 2018.

travel list

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.

Hinompuka – Kadazan Traditional Delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka – Kadazan Traditional Delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka – Kadazan Traditional Delicacies in Sabah Borneo

20

December, 2017

Our Kota Kinabalu Tour!

Taste of Borneo Cooking Class

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Sabah Borneo is known for its stunning nature, beautiful underwater life, exotic Borneo flora and fauna, as well as rich indigenous culture, which later reveals a wealth of fresh produce from Sabah Borneo. These ingredients, along with the creativity of Sabahan cooking resulted in a truly diverse and fascinating delicacies. One of the delicacies that travelers should try it out, will be Hinompuka, a traditional delicacy of Kadazan (Major tribe in Sabah Borneo). It is a common and popular sweet desserts within the Kadazan people in Sabah Borneo.

What is Hinompuka?

Hinompuka, also known as a steamed glutinous rice cake, is basically a delicious sticky cake that is popular among Kadazan people, one of the indigenous group in Sabah Borneo. The ingredients for this delicious delicacy is made of a mixture of brown rice flour, glutinous red rice flour, palm sugar, and grated coconut flesh. Then, wrapped it in banana leaves before steaming it.

Hinompuka - Traditional delicacies in Sabah Borneo

The above two Hinompuka are in Banana flavor, while below two are in Tapioca flavor. Photo: Dolly MJ

Nowadays, the Kadazan people are so creative, they even fill either banana or sweet potato into the Hinompuka in order to create a variety of flavors inside the delicacies. Hinompuka is usually served on certain occasions such as Kadazan traditional weddings, Kaamatan Harvest Festival (celebrated yearly on 30th-31st May), or other celebrations such as birth, engagement, etc.

Hinompuka - Traditional delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka in the making. Photo: CSSUPM

Hinompuka - Traditional delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka dough in the making closeup

Hinompuka - Traditional delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka is also good for breakfast. Photo: tinaskmoinjil

Hinompuka - Traditional delicacies in Sabah Borneo

Hinompuka best to eat with a cup of coffee/tea. Photo: Madona Nandu

Apart from that, Sabah Borneo has numerous delights to tempt even to the least adventurous eater. By exploring the villages and local cafes in Sabah Borneo, or by eating with the locals, travelers will get to know the new tastes and aromas which are unique to them. In Sabah Borneo, travelers can get the chance to taste out the other traditional delicacies in D’Place Kinabalu.

To experience more of the best local specialities and delicacies of Sabah Borneo, here is a blog post that travelers should particularly look for Borneo Holidays.

travel list

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.

DERAMAKOT, THE BORNEO WILDLIFE ADVENTURE

DERAMAKOT, THE BORNEO WILDLIFE ADVENTURE

DERAMAKOT, THE BORNEO

WILDLIFE ADVENTURE

11

November, 2017

Borneo Tour Packages
Borneo Wildlife Adventure Tour

Borneo Wildlife Tour

At 5am, I woke up and realized in another few more hours, I will be without any source of communication with the outside world. I couldn’t think of another great way of getting a digital detox and at the same time, getting my fix with nature. Score!

I started my way with my trusted driver, Arman, to Telupid from Penampang at 6 am. Since it was a weekday, traffic was already building up and it took us nearly two hours to reach Tuaran where we stopped by for breakfast for the famous Mee Tuaran (Tuaran Noodle). It was absolutely delicious, especially when I already had it in my head that I was going to “roughen it up” in the forest for a couple of days.

We sped through Kinabalu area, it was quite chilly, but fortunately for us, it wasn’t foggy. Mount Kinabalu was awake and smiling at me, wishing me well on my wildlife expedition. I was happy (or probably senile for thinking a mountain can smile and wishing me well). As hours went by, I finally reached Telupid area at around 1 pm, thanks to Arman. I had my last meal (kidding!), at one of the cafes there and waited till 2 pm, where I would be transferred into Deramakot Forest Reserve. I was quite lucky to travel with 3 more travelers, all from the United Kingdom, and all girls. So it was like a girls trip for me (only I didn’t know any of them).

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Welcomes you with the fresh air of nature in Deramakot

Seeing the fact that I knew a bit about Deramakot, and the driver who brought us into Deramakot was shy, I started talking to the other travelers about Deramakot and other places of interest in Sabah. Deramakot is the longest certified tropical rainforest in the world, since 1997 till today. Deramakot Forest Reserve is over 55,000 hectare, where 90% of the land is set aside for logging production, and the remainder is for conservation as well as community forestry.

What amazed me about Sabah Forest Department is their objective to lessen commercialized logging production, and they have made Deramakot as their “golden child” for this main project. Deramakot Forest Reserve practices Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) which is a collection of techniques combined together to minimize damage to potential crop trees, regeneration and soil to maintain its production capacity, as well as to protect the environment, as quoted from Sabah Forestry Department.

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Gravel road before reaching Deramakot
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Deramakot lodging area
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
A basic lodgings for visitors
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
My place to sleep for my adventure here in Deramakot

As we drove further in from Telupid, we passed by two massive Oil Palm Plantations. After a forty minute drive in, we were finally at the border of Deramakot Forest Reserve, it took us another one hour thirty minutes to reach the base where the Forestry Department had build several lodgings which were quite comfortable I might say. I was actually looking forward to roughing it up by building my night stays out of sticks and leaves, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

I got cosy in my room, which was equipped with water heater, a nice bathroom and washroom, an aircond, a closet with mirrors, and clean sheets. I was like hey, I feel like i’m living like a King here, because days before my trip, I was amping myself up that I was going to be camping in the wilderness, having wild animals come up to my tent, and sniffing out food (probability of me being food was there too!). The whole chalet had three rooms, and living room which you will have the privilege of sharing it with other guests. There were a few chalets scattered around the base, which definitely gives that privacy and feeling that you are in the middle of the jungle (especially at night when walking back to your room).

It was magnificent. The air while the vehicle cruise down the dirt road was cool and refreshing. There weren’t much animal sounds that can be heard during the night, but I was enjoying how our Guide, Mike, was spotting for animals through his “hawk eyes”. It was quite hard to keep up with him, after a few minutes following his spotlight hit each tree trunk along the way, I got dizzy, so I sat back and tried my best to hear for animal sounds instead. I did encounter a few “bug related incidents”, but not as bad as one guest who got her lip stung by a wasp.

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Malay Palm Civet. Photo by: Mike
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Tarsier. Photo by: Mike
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Island Palm Civet. Photo by: Mike
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Black Flying Squirel. Photo by: Mike

The first night’s highlight for me was when I saw the Flying Fox; the largest bat in the world! I was amazed by it because of its size. It has a wingspan of up to 1.5 meters, that’s huge people! I wasn’t sure how big was the one I saw, but it seemed quite big from where I was which was about 30 – 35 meters away. I also saw a few Malay, Island Palm, and Small Tooth Palm Civet. The most enthralling one for me would be the Malay Civet (also known as Malayan Civet). They’ve got black spots covering their body and black stripes around their neck and tail. It was a beautiful sight, I nearly mistook it to be the endangered Sundaland Clouded Leopard (one can only dream right?).

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Sambar Deer grazing in the middle of night

I also saw a few exciting animals such as the Sambar Deer grazing the tall grasses, Dark Eared Frog, Black and Red Flying Squirrel, and Slow Loris. Towards the end of the Safari, we had a short walk further up to look at frogs. The frogs were mating (only reason why people will walk on a really muddy dirt road filled with carnivorous insects [okay, none when we were doing our walks]) on top of trees! I’ve never heard of such a thing, but apparently they mate on top of trees so when the rain comes, the frogspawn will slowly fall from leaf to leaf, reaching closer to the ground. So by the time it reaches the ground, the frogspawn is ready to hatch into tadpoles! Oh how beautiful Mother Nature is.

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
This is my ride! (kidding!)
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Mike, our guide taking picture of Borneo Wildlife
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
4WD vehicle to go for wildlife sightings
Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Encounter this rare insects

We woke up early the next day to try our luck at finding more wildlife. We were greeted by very enthralling sounds of birds singing, and Gibbons greeting each other from afar. The sun was rising slowly from a distance and bursting high in the sky in between the old dipterocarp forest. As we rode deeper into the forest, we saw an Orang Utan! It was basically going from tree to tree in search of food. It amazes me at how serene these animals look and how they jive with other animals living in their habitat, yet, being the most intelligent species on planet Earth, we snatch this away from them and banish them from their natural habitat, slowly endangering them into extinction. How reckless and cruel can we be? Very, I should say.

My favorite bird that we came across was Rhinoceros and Wreathed Hornbill. The Rhinoceros Hornbill had a very striking bill and casque, which was red and orange in color. It has white legs and white tail with a black band across its tails. Its whole body is predominantly black in color. The Wreathed Hornbill, however, got its name from the wrinkled band formed at the base of its bill, each hornbill are able to have more than one band in a year. Distinct way to identify male or female is through the pouch below its bill; yellow for male and blue for female. All hornbills are categorized as ‘threatened’ due to major habitat loss.

Deramakot , Borneo Wildlife Adventure
Mike, our guide taking picture of Borneo Wildlife

We came across a very old and unused logging road and drove through it. The forest was denser here compared to the road we were at before. Before we know it, we were greeted by thick vegetations from both sides of the vehicle. We had to keep ducking in order not to get hit by some of the plants which were quite heavy in thorns! One was lucky enough to attach itself to my backpack which I clung on to very strongly, to the point where it was already outside of the vehicle’s vicinity! I laughed when it happened, but in my heart, I was also thinking that maybe this was Mother Nature’s way of telling us to leave them be. My bag got torn up of course, and I was cursing inside after that. Apparently, a guest had it attached close to his eyelid once; he bled profusely. Thank goodness my bag couldn’t bleed!

We also came across loads of elephant poop within this less-traveled-road. I was getting my hopes up of meeting a herd of them whilst being in the thick dense forest, but a part of me was also afraid. What if the elephants went on a rampage? What if we couldn’t turn the vehicle on time? The road was already quite narrow, and a probability of being stomped by an elephant was 50-50 if we were to encounter some angry ones along the way. Thank goodness for us all, the elephants only left their poop behind without having so much said hello” to us. Once the vegetation grew too thick for the vehicle to go through, Mike, our guide, decided to have the vehicle turn back to base camp. I was quite stoked of the idea trekking into the jungle, but the rest of the guests weren’t as much. So having to respect everyone’s decision, we made a turn back.

On the way out, after being hit several times by overgrown wild ginger and other plants (forgive me, my knowledge on plants aren’t much), one of the guest had a very weird looking liquid (I’m being nice here) from the top of her head, all the way towards her back. We were laughing of course, and we were about to gag as well after closer inspection, it really looked like vomit (imagine vomiting after having too much to drink on an empty stomach), but it was also quite starchy when touched. It was foamy, yellow to brown in colour, and had some white remnants in it. It was quite hard not to laugh and gag at the same time. After she had herself cleaned up (thanks to her amazing friends), Mike told us it was frog eggs, thousands of ‘em! Everyone literally got a bit of a “gift” that morning stuck to them in unimaginable places.

Fancy for a wildlife adventure in Sabah Borneo? Check out the video below:

Travel Health CTA

Want new articles before they get published?
Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.