The scenic beauty of Borneo's attractions offers incredible exploration into the complex and colourful tapestry woven by nature and wildlife, across its rainforests, beaches and islands. Spotting the loveable orangutans of Borneo in the wild will be high on people’s wish lists, and Sepilok is the best place to experience this within its forest reserve. The area of Bilit and the Kinabatangan River and their myriad habitats including river and rainforest are also a key highlight of the Sabah region. Other attractions include mountainous foothills and jungle areas of Mount Kinabalu and the glistening islands and marine paradises of Lankayan or Mataking beckon after some exciting inland explorations. Listed below you will find some of the best parks and attractions of the tropical island of Borneo that we incorporate in our Borneo holidays.
The area of Bilit and the Kinabatangan River, the longest in the Sabah region, offers a mosaic of different habitats, which provides a unique wildlife haven for an astounding variety of animal and bird species. This is one of the best places to see orangutans in the wild. Plying gently through the swirling waters, your open-top river boat journeys along the Kinabatangan will provide ample opportunities to spot some of the area’s best loved wildlife, and our specialist guides are fine tuned to the activities of the various creatures that dwell around the banks of the rivers, making it easy for them to point them out.
Three of the most charismatic of primates can be seen – the loudly hooting gibbon, the unusual red-nosed proboscis monkey and, of course, the orangutan, although the latter are difficult to spot in the wild, despite a number still residing in the basin area of the river. Less often seen due to their nocturnal nature are the flying lemur, slow loris and tarsiers, and on the odd occasion you may also be lucky enough to spot a pygmy elephant or even a clouded leopard. The area is also home to crested serpent eagles, rhinoceros hornbills and a variety of other birdlife including majestic kingfisher, making it a paradise for ornithologists. In the river itself lies an array of aquatic creatures such as freshwater rays, crocodiles, wild otters and sharks.
Originally established to provide the area with protection from logging activities, the Danum Valley Conservation Area is a 438 km2 of lowland dipterocarp forest that provides a pristine sanctuary for a dazzling array of undisturbed wildlife in south-eastern Sabah, and also has a reputation for being one of the world’s best destinations for birding as well as seeing orangutans in the wild. An area that is roughly the same size as Singapore, this ecosystem is said to have the highest concentration of wild orangutans in the world, and whilst such a sighting cannot be guaranteed, the area is well worth being included into your Borneo holiday.
Activities within the Danum Valley include walkways, raised wooden viewing platforms and trails through the rainforest, as well as treetop canopy walks where you can have the opportunity to spot the rare wildlife in action. There are also waterfalls in the area, enhancing the feel of feeling effortlessly at one with nature.
One of just four orangutan sanctuaries worldwide, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) was founded in 1964 with the aim of rehabilitating baby orangutans and those saved from captivity. Arguably the best known in the world for its groundbreaking work in protecting these much-loved primates, it remains Sabah’s premier attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and travellers looking to explore Borneo’s natural wonders. Sepilok offers the best opportunity to witness the ‘man of the forest’ in a beautiful setting, occupying 15 square miles of virgin rainforest within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve– the only habitat in which the loveable primates are able to exist so comfortably. Located just 25 kilometres north of Sandakan, the primary goal of Sepilok may be orangutan rehabilitation, but it also focuses on public education, conservation projects and exercises as well as research and information on other endangered animals like the rhinoceros, making it an important centre for wildlife and ecology.