Borneo – 3rd Largest Island in the World!
If it’s nature, excitement, tropical adventure and diverse tribal culture you’re looking for, you’ll find all these and more in Borneo: the largest island in Asia, and the world’s third largest island! This incredible region is home to wondrous cave systems and impressive wildlife populations, and one of the world’s longest underground rivers. Trek high into Borneo’s mountains, travel down its mighty rivers, explore its caves, trek through its rainforests, see the planet’s largest (and stinkiest) “corpse” flower, and walk along Borneo’s pristine beaches. Borneo truly is one of holiday destinations that fits to be called a paradise.
Borneo – A Wildlife Lover’s Dream
Over 70 percent of Borneo is Indonesia – the rest of the northern part of the island disproportionately belonging to both Malaysia and Brunei. This remote jungle island rests on the equator and is composed mainly of lush, verdant rainforests. Borneo’s rainforests are one hundred and forty million years old, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, and cover most of this large island – 427,500 square kilometres to be exact. With so much mature rainforest it’s no wonder Borneo is home to approximately 15,000 species of flowering plants, with 3,000 species of trees, 221 species of animals on land and 420 different species of resident birds. It’s such a diverse and vibrant habitat, the World Wide Fund for Nature stated in 2010 that 123 new species have been discovered in Borneo since the “Heart of Borneo” agreement (a conservation agreement to protect a 220,000 square kilometer forested region of the island) was signed in 2007.
Borneo is so impressively brimming with wildlife – what other island on Earth boasts 639 different species of ants? The rainforests of Borneo are one of the world’s last remaining natural habitats for the endangered Bornean
orangutan. The island is a refuge for many native species, such as the vulnerable Hose’s palm civet, the endangered Asian elephant, the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Bornean clouded leopard, and the rare little dayak fruit bat. If you’re interested in checking out some of these species for yourself, Borneo is the place to be!
Trekking Opportunities in one of the World’s Most Biodiverse Regions
There are many different tour opportunities for all sorts of budgets and preferences, from luxury retreats to backpacking in the mountains to family vacations with the little ones. By far one of the most rewarding Borneo holiday experiences is being able to see many of the island’s wildlife up close and personal.
One example of a terrific Borneo vacation is the “Culture and Wildlife” holiday through responsibletravel.com – you’ll get to experience Borneo’s incredible biodiversity and local culture first-hand while traveling by boat, taking jungle walks, and spending two full days at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Throw in a visit to a local tea plantation and accommodations with a local tribe in a rainforest longhouse and you have a recipe for an amazing Borneo experience. Experience a true Borneo fun filled adventure as this tour factors in just as much important tribal culture and local Borneo life as it does wildlife experiences.You’ll stay at basic camps and take public transportation, cutting the overall cost of your holiday and adding to the authenticity of your Borneo vacation.
The Borneo “Culture and Wildlife” tour
- Small groups, maximum 12 people
- Activity level: Walking leisurely
- Accommodation: 4 nights in hotel, 5 nights in nature resort, 2 nights in rainforest longhouse.
- Solo: Solo travellers are welcome. Private rooms are available at hotels and resorts for an additional fee.
- Meals: 11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners.
- Included: Accommodations, transfers, transportation, entrance fees, English-speaking local guide.
The Borneo Culture and Wildlife tour spans twelve days, each one of them structured to allow you to experience some of the most impressive things the island has to offer. Every day will have many interesting activities – here are some of each day’s highlights:
When you arrive in Kota Kinabalu you will be greeted at the airport and transferred to the hotel.
Take a boat trip to Manukan Island and visit the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, relax on the big beautiful crescent shaped beach and enjoy some world class snorkelling, nature trails are waiting for those who want to explore this island.
Visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the first official orangutan rehabilitation sanctuary for rescued orphaned baby orangutans. Have lunch at The English Tea House, located on top of a hill with a panoramic view of Sandakan, and then a visit to Labuk Bay Borneo Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
Choose to either re-visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre at feeding time or take to the nearby Borneo Rainforest Discovery Centre. Later, see the Gomantong caves renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet bird’s nests, harvested for bird’s nest soup. Continue onto the jungle base in Sukau.
Take a Sakau boat cruise on the Kinabatangan River, home to an impressive variety of wildlife such as macaques, monitor lizards, elephants and a Borneo favourite, the proboscis monkey. Jungle walks are optional for those wishing to explore further.
Travel to a tea plantation and spend the next two nights in a traditional style longhouse as used by the tribal people of Borneo. Explore the surrounding rainforest and take in the astounding views of Mount Kinabalu. Observe a blow pipe demonstration and learn how headhunters traditionally hunted their prey.
Explore the tea plantation and take a tour of the tea factory to learn all about the tea grown in Borneo before a picnic near the Sapona River. Participate in batik painting and join in the traditional dances of Borneo’s Rungus Tribe.
Start the day at Poring Hot Springs and then move on to Kiau village to learn about life in rural Borneo and pineapple farming – then learn to cook traditional pineapple dishes!
Travel by boat to the small island of Pulau Tiga with it’s impressive coral reefs and wide variety of Borneo wildlife.
Enjoy Pulau Tiga “Survivor” Island – this island’s claim to fame being the first ever ‘secret’ location for the reality series, ‘Survivor’. Relax, swim, kayak or go snorkeling. Diving courses are available, and divers can explore the island’s underwater beauty.
Return to Kota Kinabalu – do some last minute Borneo shopping or explore the British North Borneo Memorial.
The Borneo tour ends after breakfast.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
If you’re going to be spending a day or two visiting Borneo’s Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, it will be an experience you’ll never forget. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in the Malaysian Sabah District of North Borneo was founded in 1964, with a mission to rehabilitate the area’s orphaned orangutans. The rehabilitation grounds cover 43 square kilometres of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve, and there are between sixty and eighty orangutans currently living free in the reserve today. In 1963, at the time that Sabah became an independent state in Malaysia, a Game Branch was created in the Forest Department with the purpose of promoting conservation of the region’s wildlife. 43 square kilometers of reserved land at the was turned into the rehabilitation site for the orangutans, and a centre was built to provide a facility to care for the apes. There are currently about 25 young orphaned orangutans being cared for in the centre’s nurseries, in addition to the ones living free in the reserve.
The care facility provides necessary medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans, and numerous other different species of local Borneo wildlife. Some of the other rescued animals being treated at the centre include sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos. On occasion the centre will also provide medical care to injured elephants. Participate with the caregivers and engage in feeding of the orangutans which takes place twice a day. There are also a number of beautiful nature trails and jungle walks within the reserve ranging from tropical highland rainforest biomes, to lowland mangrove swamps. The different wildlife that can be seen includes orangutans living free on the reserve, and a variety of nocturnal animals viewable on the night walk. The reserve’s walking trails vary from 250 metres to 5 kilometres, so take your pick!
Take Advantage of Borneo’s Amazing Diving Sites!
Borneo has a wealth of excellent scuba diving sites. Some of the most popular spots are the islands of Perhentian, Redang, Tioman and many others off the East Coast of peninsular Malaysia. If you’re planning on visiting Borneo during the April to September dive season, check it out! The most famous dive site (often regarded as being one of the best in the world) is Sipadan just off the easternmost tip of Malaysian Borneo. Divers and tourists all over the globe come to Sipadan, home to thousands of turtles, schools of hammerhead sharks, barracuda, and amazing coral walls stretching more than 2,000 meters straight down to bottom of the sea. Sipadan is famously known as
the world’s number one dive destination, and the Sipadan Barrier Reef is the largest Barrier Reef in southeast Asia, home of the world’s greatest marine biodiversity. Manta Rays, Devil Rays and all kinds of sharks, thousands of schooling fish, Pygmy Seahorses, Cuttlefish, Mandarin Fish and many other marine life call this place home.
Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo was established as a bird sanctuary in 1933. Later, in 2004, the Government of Malaysia made the decision to regulate diving in Sipadan in an effort to preserve the area’s pristine natural habitat. The island is open for divers from 6am to 4pm, and no night dives are allowed. The number of divers allowed to dive in Sipadan daily has been limited to 120, a reasonable number of visitors.
Close to Sipadan is Mabul Island, a quick 15 minute trip by speedboat from the famous Malaysian Borneo diving site. Mabul has made a name for itself as being one of the best muck-diving sites in the globe – a type of diving when visibility is limited at shallow sites, usually ones with sandy bottoms. Mabul is well known for its stunning variety of macrolife, making the region an underwater paradise and a photographer’s dream location for capturing images of some of the most rare ecological species on earth. Octopus, cuttlefish, spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray eels make their home here beneath the waters of Mabul.
SipadanBorneo.com operates tours from The Dragon Inn Floating Resort, daily from 8:00 am to 5.30 pm. Reserve a diving vacation with Sipadan Borneo, and book your tour at Mabul Island with a choice of several packages that suit different needs and different budgets. The tour offers vacationers many different selections for creating the perfect Borneo holiday, including backpacking trips as well as deals on luxury resorts, different diving trips, snorkeling activities, honeymoon packages or simply beach relaxation.
Diving courses are a fantastic way for new divers to get to know Borneo! SipadanBorneo.com offers registered diving lessons, featuring a range of different diving classes for different levels. Learn to dive as a beginner, or take some advanced classes up to Divemaster. The experienced diving instructors will be there every step of the way to help you realize your tropical diving dreams.
Visit the Asia destinations category to learn more about other tourism opportunities available in Asia!