The two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up the northern third of the island of Borneo and are famous for the natural wonders of their rainforest national parks, unique fauna and flora, fascinating indigenous peoples and white sand beaches.
But forget all that - what the children will really want to see
are the orang-utans.
The best place to see the so-called 'men of the jungle' is at
the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, located in an area of virgin
equatorial rainforest. Sadly, this is one of only a few places
remaining on Earth where this endangered species are protected.
Borneo's rainforests also contain a stunning biodiversity of
other plant and animal life, and the forest itself is some of the
most ancient on the planet - far older even than the equatorial
forests of the Amazon or the Congo. If your children are budding
naturalists they'll love knowing that new species of beasties from
bugs to carnivores are discovered here every year. The Kinabatangan
River, which lies just South of the Sepilok sanctuary and involves
a trip up river by boat, is home to an impressive array of wildlife
including macaques, monitor lizards, pygmy elephants, wild
orang-utans and most famously, the proboscis monkey, with his
unique colouring, large nose and harem of 'wives'.
Moving further south again, the conservation area of the Danum
Valley has been set up to protect the area from the destructive
impact of the logging industry. Not only is this area teeming with
a huge variety of birds and wildlife, but there are canopy walkways
high above the jungle floor and the option for night safaris into
the surrounding rainforest.
For marine wildlife, the island of Lankayan has some of the best
dive sites for beginners (children as young as eight can try diving
with PADI's excellent Bubblemaker course at Lankayan) but there are
also fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Nearby Selingan Island is
also a favourite nesting place for giant turtles who travel
hundreds of miles to lay their eggs on the same beach on which they
hatched years before.
Finally, for a bit of relaxation and indulgence after
action-packed wildlife adventures, Original Travel recommends a
stay at either of the Shangri-La hotels in Sabah, both of which
have superb family facilities. The Tanjung Aru is conveniently
located just 15 mins from Kota Kinabalu's airport and right by the
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Alternatively, the Rasa Ria is
about 45 minutes away and has a beautiful private beach and its own
orang-utan sanctuary - just in case you haven't had enough of them