Borneo is not an uber-modern stronghold neither is it backwater territory. The region’s a popular stopover point for tourists due to its cultural and natural bounty but the area’s also got plenty of efficient, modern cities.
The Indonesian state of Kaliamantan lays claim to two-thirds of the island, Malaysia’s easternmost states of Sabah and Sarawak retain a good chunk of Borneo’s north section and the Islamic Sultanate of Brunei occupies two slices of land between them. Each province in Borneo has its fair share of sightseeing offerings so be sure to check out Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, Brunei and Kalimantan’s individual area guides before you make a trip to Borneo. We’ve worked hard to make sure you see and experience all that the world’s third largest island has to offer!
Orang-utans, Rainforests, Pygmy Elephants, Sepilok Sanctuary, Mt Kinabalu and Beautiful Beaches…
Borneo is one of the world’s greatest holiday destinations for nature lovers. A visit to the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary allows you to come in close contact with this remarkable “man of the forest”. Orang-utans are so finely adapted to the rainforests that they are unable to adapt well to any other habitat.
The Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary is set in 15 square miles of beautiful virgin rainforest. It opened in 1964 to help once captive orang-utans learn to fend for themselves in the wild. Interesting and exciting to watch, these large red apes are also astonishingly gentle, highly intelligent and will gaze at you with almost disconcerting frankness.
The biggest mistake one could make however is to watch the Orang-utans and only the Orang-utans; this sanctuary offers the traveller an opportunity to truly appreciate the great bio diversity of this island. We recommend you spend at least a couple of days taking advantage of the birding, trekking and river trips in the neighbouring areas.
Stay at Sepilok Nature Resort, a lodge set amongst tropical trees and plants bordering a lake in the middle of the jungle. The comfortable timber chalets offer hot and cold running water and air conditioning – all of the creature comforts required after a long day in the jungle.
Kinabatangan wildlife safaris - It is not surprising that given this rich mosaic of habitats, the abundance and rich diversity of wildlife are so apparent along the Kinabatangan River and floodplain. The exceptional variety of primates that share these forests is astounding: Orang-utans, the agile Gibbon, Borneo’s Proboscis Monkey are three of its most charismatic primates. Less often seen are the nocturnal flying lemur, slow Loris and tarsiers. This sanctuary home to crested serpent eagles, rhinoceros hornbills and a variety of other birdlife is also a paradise for birders.
During the drier months of the year, the Asian Elephant roam these forests during their annual migration to the floodplain. With the large network of swamps and lakes in the region, a large number of aquatic animals inhabit the Kinabatangan River including, freshwater rays and sharks; crocodiles and wild otters. Exploring the Kinabatangan River in the early evening, as Proboscis Monkeys roost in the trees along the riverbank and elephants move through the undergrowth is an unforgettable experience.
Accommodation on your Borneo tour is at Bilit Adventure Lodge located on the bank of the Kinabatangan River and from there you can participate in jungle trekking, boat trips or just simply sit back and relax and soak up your surroundings. Lodging is in comfortable cabins with basic facilities.
Alternatively one can stay at Sukau Rainforest Lodge built in traditional long house style with viewing platforms overlooking the river and jungle and the longest covered boardwalk in Borneo with two elephant passes allowing for the elephant migration route. The Kinabatangan area is a must for wildlife fanatics and forms an essential part of your tour of Borneo.
Mt Kinabalu walking holidays - The highest mountain in Borneo rises majestically into the sky at 4,095m. Dominating the surrounding landscape and often shrouded in mist, Mt Kinabalu offers the traveller the chance to watch the sunrise over the state of Sabah as you reach the peak. On descending the mountain why not refresh yourself at the Poring Hot Springs, a natural open air spa where you can bathe amidst the tropical rainforests of Borneo. No climbing experience is required to conquer the peak and only one night is spent on the mountain.
Tanjung Puting National Park - The best known animals in Tanjung Puting are the orang-utans, made famous through the efforts of the Orang-utan Research and Conservation Program, which is based at the landmark Camp Leakey research station. Without this rescue centre, many of the orang-utans would not have survived the mass deforestation that has taken place over the last few decades and it is primarily through the famed primatologist Dr Birute Galdikas that this work has been possible.
Tanjung Puting also boasts the bizarre looking proboscis monkey as well as several other primate species. Covering 3,050sq km of tropical rainforest and mangrove swamp Tanjung Puting is a magical haven where one can mix with the only Great Apes that survive outside the continent of Africa.
Sipadan Island diving holidays - Located directly in front of the World Famous Wall Diving called “DROP – OFF”. The name of Sipadan is simply legendary in diving circles, conjuring images of twirling tornados of barracudas and jacks, patrolling hammerhead sharks, millions of technicoloured reef fish and, above all, dozens of sea turtles. Sipadan is considered one of the two or three top diving destinations in the world. This small, rainforest-covered tropical island rising from a 700 meter abyss in the Celebes Sea is a destination the committed diver cannot miss. Other locations offer fantastic diving include Lankayan Island and Mataking Island.
Danum Valley safari holidays - Your Borneo travels will not be complete without a visit to the famous Danum Valley. Set up to protect the area from logging, Danum Valley encompasses 43 kilometres squared of pristine rainforest. Aside from this the conservation area has a variety of wildlife including, orang-utans, gibbons, a variety of birdlife, clouded leopard, elephant and if one is very lucky the Sumatran rhino. With both a canopy walkway and a viewpoint which looks out over the jungle canopy and the dramatic mountains this conservation area is definitely worth dropping in on.
Accommodation is at Borneo Rainforest Lodge in locally crafted bungalows connected by a walkway and perched along the bank of the river with views into the rainforest.
Best time to visit Borneo: the best time of year to go to Borneo is between March and October although this does not preclude travel at other times of the year. Travellers should note that as this is a rainforest destination they should be prepared for rain at any time of the year.
Once in a lifetime: why not combine a trip to Borneo with a visit to Northern Sumatra to form a breathtaking itinerary of jungles, beaches and wildlife.