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BORNEO
In the land of Orang-utans

Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orang-utan, meaning "man of the forest" are currently found only in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Adventure doesn't get more exciting than Borneo. The island boasts of remote jungle beauty, tropical adventure and tribal cultures, and is home to half of all known plant and animal species in the world. This wildlife wonderland has orang-utans, the Sumatran rhino, the Bornean pygmy elephant and thousands of unique flowering species. A colourful paradise combining relaxation and adventure with its idyllic beaches, scenic mountains and rich culture.

 

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover Malaysian Borneo by car, plane, boat and on foot, beginning in the lesser explored Sarawak region, with a visit to our jungle-dwelling cousins and a stay with local tribes people
  • Fly into Kuching. Drive to Semenggoh and watch orang-utans frolicking in the canopy at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, one of the best places in the world to see the species in their natural habitat.
  • Take an upriver boatride from Batang Ai to get an insight into traditional culture at Nanga Delok, where Iban tribes people follow a way of life little changed in centuries.
  • The most striking feature of the Iban lifestyle is their use of communal dwellings known as rumah panjai, or longhouses. Each includes private quarters for up to 50 families, as well as a shared veranda for storage and village meetings.
  • Fly to Kota Kinabalu and travel offshore to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, one of Sabah's best-known island getaways.
  • Take a closer look at the turquoise water, white coral sands and the most impressive scenery that lies at greater depths. Seasonal plankton blooms coupled with powerful ocean currents attract some of the signature species of the tropics here: nurse sharks, stingrays and barracudas lurk in the deep water, while green turtles and whale sharks pass through the national park on their springtime migration.
  • Known as the roof of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu is a constant presence, catching the clouds and shading valleys. Drive 2 hours overland to its foothills and take a guided walk on one of its sublime trails. On the way stop at Pekan Nabalu market to savour local fruits in season.
  • Alternately from Kutching, fly to Sandakan and take an hour long boat ride to Selingan Island. Swim, snorkel and wait to watch Green Turtle lay eggs on the beach, transplanting of eggs to hatchery and release of baby turtles to the sea.

DID YOU KNOW

  • The Borneo rainforest has an estimated age of 130 million years, making in the oldest rainforest in the world.
  • The Rafflesia Arnoldii flower, the largest individual flower in the world, that grows on Mount Kinabalu, smells rotten. It’s even been nicknamed the “corpse flower”.
  • >An orangutan’s arms can span over eight feet. Eight. Freakin’. Feet. This makes it very hard to steal from an orangutan.
  • The island is administrated by three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
  • Borneo has one of the world’s richest biodiversities. The rainforest is home to about 15,000 species of flowering plants, 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of mammals and 420 species of resident birds. During the last ten years, over 360 new species have been discovered on the island!
  • The highest mountain of Southeast Asia is on the island of Borneo: Mount Kinabalu, now a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Nanga Delok is reached by longboat from the Batang Ai Reservoir, a journey of 250km from Kuching. There are no buses to the reservoir so you'll need to hire a car or book a taxi or tour.
  • Daybreak at the Nanga Delok longhouse, and the morning's work has already begun. Village life here has changed little in 100 years - and that's just how the inhabitants of Nanga Delok want it.
  • On the verdant banks of the Jelia River, a 50-minute boat ride upriver from the nearest road, the longhouse at Nanga Delok belongs to members of the Iban, the largest of the 20 or so indigenous tribes that make up the population of Sarawak. The Iban are jungle-dwellers, living a subsistence lifestyle in harmony with the land, finding food, medicine and materials in the forest. "In the past, the jungle provided everything we needed," says Tiyon Juna, an Iban guide who runs tours exploring his indigenous culture. "It provided us with food, building materials and told us stories that helped us understand how we came to be."
  • "All Iban people still belong to a longhouse, even when they no longer live there," Tiyon says. "For us, the longhouse is where life's big events happen - funerals, marriages, festivals. It's part of who we are."
  • Nanga Delok is one of only a few in Sarawak built in the traditional way, using timber and thatch, although the villagers do have access to running water, electricity and satellite TV.
  • "Even though I spend most of my time in the town now, it's in the forest where I feel at home," says Tiyon, as he prepares an Iban barbecue of fish, chicken and ferns, steamed in bamboo canes. "I feel in touch with my ancestors here. It's where I'm most alive."

WHEN TO TRAVEL

  • April to November is the dry season, so you are likely to experience smaller amounts of rain. This is the peak time, and also the best time to see orang-utans in the wild.
  • April to December is considered the best times to dive, with July and august having the best visibility, sometimes up to 40 metres. March to May is the best time to see whale sharks.
  • June to September is the best time to see turtles.

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