Destinations

Things to do in Borneo

Discover the 'must do's' of Borneo

A tropical island very much similar to that of Madagascar. With tribal cultures, wonderful wildlife and stunning topical island beach getaways, Borneo has something to offer from the avid wildlife enthusiast to the romantic honeymoon couple and adventurous family. 

Throughout the below we have tried to highlight just a few of the things that you should contemplate on including o any Borneo safari holiday.

Chilling with the orangutans

Obviously these cheeky red apes are one of the main attractions of Borneo. With its prime habitat fast disappearing, there are only a few select locations to spot orang-utans in the wild and if you are looking for a more up close and personal experience then a couple of rehabilitation centres. For those intrepid ones amongst you then head out to the Kinabatangan River or Danum Valley – both of these areas are rich in rainforest and are the areas that have the largest populations of wild orang-utans remaining in the wild. To see conservation in action then consider a visit to Sepilok Nature Resort where the orang-utan rehabilitation centre works with previous pet orang-utans, individuals caught in snares, bush fires etc. and work to re-introduce them into the wild.

remote islands and scuba diving

Borneo may be an island itself, but the islands surrounding Borneo are not to be missed either. For relaxation, and for snorkelling and diving, a number of islands are famous for their world class underwater worlds. Sipadan (nowadays you are not permitted to stay on the island) – of Jacques Cousteau renown – provides some of the best diving in Asia if not the world. Lankayan Island, whilst not so diving orientated, provides some great beach relaxation as well as laid back snorkelling and Kapalai Island is a world class stilted dive resort (where MD Will got engaged!). Whilst we cannot list all of the hotspots here, the best diving is off the east coast of Borneo so bear this in mind when pulling that itinerary together.


climbing mountains

Forget the wildlife and beaches for a while and take a look at Mt Kinabalu. Only a few hours north of the capital city of Kota Kinabalu, Mt Kinabalu is a nice 24hr challenge. Easily incorporated into any holiday, our local guides are from one of the leading mountain guiding families in Borneo and will maximise your chances of reaching the summit. Trek through a variety of vegetation zones, wonder at pitcher plants and admire the views over the surrounding vistas. Whilst overnight accommodation is of a basic nature, it is all you need, as you set off in the early hours of the morning to reach the summit. The trek back down does not take so long and you can be back in the comfort of your hotel by late afternoon.

canopy walkways

Admittedly not for everyone, the canopy walkway at Danum Valley is a must see. Set out in the early morning hours to trek the walkway, suspended over the forest canopy. This is a magical way to experience one of the last true remaining rainforest strongholds and if you are lucky you might be greeted by the odd primate or two. Alongside gibbons and orang-utans, the birdlife of Danum Valley is stunning and always an unexpected highlight of any visit.

River Safaris

Touched upon already, the best area for this is undoubtedly the Kinabatangan River. Running from deep inland out to the tropical sea, the Kinabatangan cuts an impressive path through some of Borneo’s most pristine rainforest. Flanked on either side by huge trees, you set out in the early morning or late evening hours to see what you can see. Listen out for the romantic calls of the Bornean gibbon, watch out for orang-utans perched in the riverside treeline, snap up pictures of riverine crocs and mangrove snakes; the Kinabatangan is a great chance to change it up and get involved in the wildlife and wilderness of Borneo.

whale shark watching

Not the most common thing to see or do we have to admit! Whale shark watching (or even swimming with them) is best done off the shores of Borneo. Throughout March and April every year migrating whale sharks frequent the coastline of tropical Borneo, making it a real highlight for any local snorkelling or diving. Be sure you book with a reputable operator that knows the ins and outs of these amiable giants as getting in the water without an experienced professional should not be taken lightly.

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