Kota Kinabalu is the usual point of entry and 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.
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. The chance to spot one of these
majestic orange primates is truly once-in-a-lifetime stuff, though
sadly, this is one of only a few places remaining on Earth where
this endangered species can be viewed.
Another such spot is in the 43,000 hectares of pristine tropical
rainforest known as the Danum Valley. The verdant flora here is
home to all manner of weird and wonderful wildlife, with over 120
species of mammals, 72 reptile species, 56 amphibian species and
over 340 bird species calling it home. Wildlife aside, exploring
this ancient rainforest by soaking in natural pools and waterfalls,
visiting ancient burial sites, and listening to the bird's chorus
will make for a truly memorable stay.
For a more under the radar rainforest experience, visit the
Tabin Wildlife Reserve which is a protected area of dipterocarp
rainforest the size of Singapore, or Deramakot Forest Reserve,
which is the longest Forest Stewardship Council certified tropical
forest in the world. Borneo pygmy elephant, gibbons, civet cats and
orangutan all call Tabin home, as do some of the world's last
remaining Sumatran Rhinoceros. Meanwhile, in Deramakot you can spot
75% of Sabah's mammal species, including potentially the ever
illusive and extremely rare clouded leopard.
Malaysia's second longest river is another great destination,
owing to the sheer biodiversity of species inhabiting the
Kinabatangan River basin, and the exposed river banks. Exploration
here is by boat, cruising the main river and narrow tributaries
while on the lookout for wild orangutan, troops of proboscis
monkey, colourful birdlife and herds of pygmy elephant. The cooling
river breeze, and leisurely river cruises make this one of Sabah's
most relaxed wildlife spotting locations.
For aquatic adventures we rate Gaya Island, which sits just off
the coast of Kota Kinabalu in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
Days spent here are easily filled with snorkelling, kayaking, and
lazing on the beach as you spot proboscis monkeys in the trees. 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
to lay their eggs, however please note that currently we cannot
offer trips to Lankayan and Selingan.