The third largest island of the world, Borneo is a nature’s paradise. It is the largest part of the Malay Archipelago which is shared unevenly by three different countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is believed that the name ‘Borneo’ came from the Hindu Lord of Water ‘Varuna’ which also means ‘ocean’. Despite its size, the island is sparsely populated. On a bright sunny summer day, you would half expect people to carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain. But that is Borneo for you. The size of the island makes the weather very unpredictable and varied. One side of the island may be flooded with rains and the other side may be suffering from a drought. But it has everything that nature has to offer – water, mountains, rainforests, wild animals and an air of adventure. Borneo is eco tourism at its best.
The biggest highlight of this place, Orang-utans, said to be our distant cousins and an endangered species, populate a part of the rainforests of Borneo. They are said to be the most intelligent primates.Do not be surprised if you were told that they make medicine, tools, even exchange gifts, they virtually live like us humans!! People are allowed to walk on a large boardwalk which goes through the jungle. There is a feeding platform, where tourists can observe these primates live their daily lives. Apart from this, night treks are conducted to see exotic nocturnal animals in their natural habitat.
The longest river Kinabatangan offers open boat rides to experience the flora and fauna from the waters.This quiet approach by boat allows one some delightful sights of proboscis monkeys, river sharks, pygmy elephants, hornbills, eagles, and kingfishers.
The third-highest peak in Southeast Asia, at 13,435 feet tall, Mount Kinabalu in Sabah is the tallest mountain in Malaysia. Climbing the summit of this mountain requires sheer grit and energy. Thousands of visitors every year start their ascent which is a two-day long adventure, butmany of them are unable to succeed. The final stretch of the climb requires some assistance of the rope to go through the clouds. The descent can be done on foot or via the ferrata – clutching onto metal brackets using both hands and legs. The mountain again boasts of some exotic flora and fauna which attracts biologists and botanists from the world over.
Dive in Sipidan Island
One of the top diving sites in the world, this island allows only 120 permits per day in an effort to conserve the breathtaking marine life and the fragile reefs found deep under. Turtles, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, manta rays and eagle rays are the sights found below.
The Poring Hot Springs are found within the boundaries of the well-maintained forest park. These hot springs steam with hot sulphurous water which are enjoyed by both the elderly and the children.
The Pinnacles of GunungMulu National Park
Deep into the jungles of the Mulu National Park, after a rigorous trek of two days, you would be in for the most spectacular visual treat – magnificent layers of jagged limestone which are almost 40 metres high. This is place serves the appetite of anybody hungry for adventure.
The images of towering trees, abundant wildlife and dense rain forests filled with raging rivers would remind you of a National Geographic video.But once you are in Borneo, you are actually reliving that experience.The island of Borneo, today, is a very different one of few decades ago. As we get more environment conscious, we realize the extent of destruction man has been responsible for, for his own personal needs. Forests are still being cleared to allow Oil Palm Plantations and poaching of endangered species such as the Orangutan and the Clouded Leopard is on the rise.
Beyond a few towns and cities, life is still rustic. You would never forget the hospitality of the tribal or the magnificence of nature. This is what makes Borneo magical.