Kota Kinabalu is the usual point of entry and from here, one
instant focal point is the brooding presence of Mt Kinabalu, which
at 13,500ft is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Despite its
height, the mountain makes for a challenging but eminently
achievable climb involving an overnight stay on the mountainside.
The mountain dominates the surrounding landscape of Kinabalu
National Park, home to some of the richest flora in the world. As
you climb the mountain, you pass through a variety of ecosystems,
ranging from tropical forest at the bottom to cool alpine meadows
at the top.
Further afield, the creatures the island is most famous for are
the so called 'men of the jungle', or orangutans. These apes can be
seen 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 can be
viewed. 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 than the equatorial
forests of the Amazon or the Congo.
For marine wildlife, the island of Lankayan has some of the best
dive sites in the region, and Selingan Island is a favourite
nesting place for giant turtles that travel hundreds of miles to
lay their eggs on the same beach they were hatched on years before.
Altogether, it would be difficult to overstate the attraction of
Borneo for anyone with a passion for the natural world.
Malaysian Borneo is a melting pot of ethnic tribal groups,
including the once-fearsome Headhunters of the Iban tribe and the
Bidayuh people. Many Iban and Bidayuh people still inhabit
traditional 'longhouses' which consist of a wide communal corridor
lined with doors leading to private living quarters housing each
family. They are still a feature of many villages in Malaysian
Borneo and we can arrange a night to be spent sleeping in a
longhouse during your holiday. Sarawak was also the setting for a
curious episode of colonial history - once been ruled by the Brooke
family, known as the 'White Rajahs' - for over a century prior to
The state of Sarawak is known as 'Land of the Hornbills' in
reference to the many species of beautiful Hornbill birds that
inhabit the region. The regal Rhinocerous Hornbill in particular is
an auspicious emblem for the Iban tribe. Birding aside, the
Semenggok Orangutan sanctuary provides an opportunity to see the
beautiful, endangered orangutan in close proximity, while the Bako
National Park is home to all manner of wildlife, from the endemic
Proboscis monkey, to grey languar, pit vipers and wild boar.
The other feather in Sarawak's beautifully plumed cap is the
Mulu National Park. Mulu is home to the second largest cave in the
world; it held the world's largest title until Vietnam's Hang Son
Doong swiped the title early in the 21st century. Spend days
exploring the caves on foot and by boat, and marvelling bats of
Deer Cave - over 3 million exit the cave at dusk daily.