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Five adventures worth having in Sabah, Borneo

April 6, 2012 - Casey Hynes

SABAH, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo, is home to some of the loveliest and most fascinating creatures in the world. While travel to and around Sabah takes a bit more planning than your average trip, it is here that you will see some of the greatest wonders on the planet.

The following are five well-trodden paths to adventure in Sabah, with good reason. They give visitors a taste of the wild beauty for which the island is known and raises travelers’ consciousness about the importance of conserving the natural treasures that call Borneo home.

Orangutans in the Sepilok Sanctuary

Orangutans in the Sepilok Sanctuary Pic: Shutterstock.com

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Home to a large number of rescued primates, the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary offers visitors an up-close glimpse at these beautiful red-haired creatures. Be warned, though, if it’s one-to-one interaction you’re after, this is not the place for it. Visitors may observe the animals during feeding times twice a day but must remain in an observation area and physical contact with the animals is discouraged.

The Sepilok sanctuary opened in the mid–1960s with the goal of rehabilitating orphaned orangutans. They continue rehabilitation work today, and promote conservation and protection of this endangered species which can now only be found in the Malaysian and Indonesian sections of Borneo.

Climb Mt. Kinabalu

If you have even a passing interest in hiking and the outdoors, a trip to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia at 4,095 meters, will be worth your while. Situated in Kinabalu National Park, the summit of Mt. Kinabalu affords those willing to make the trek breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The park is also home to lush vegetation and a variety of unique animal life. The Kinabalu experience provides a nice snapshot to the distinctive environment found on Borneo.

Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu Pic: AP

Jungle Trek in Sukau

Sukau village, situated a short ride from the city of Sandakan, is an ideal place to trek the Borneo jungles and spot exotic birds from a small boat as you drift along the Kinabatangan River. Numerous lodges and guest houses offer tour packages that include guided jungle adventures. The tour guides at the Sukau Greenview Bed and Breakfast, for example, spend several months living in the jungle to familiarize themselves with the animal and plant life there, and to prepare themselves to lead tourists through the lush rainforest.

Sunset on the Kinabatangan River

Sunset on the Kinabatangan River Pic: Casey Hynes

Dive in Sipadan

Scuba diving in Sipadan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has been rated one of the top diving adventures in the world. Sipadan is an exceptionally beautifully island and can only be visited during the day. There are no full-time inhabitants on Sipadan due to conservation efforts toward protecting the complex ecosystem found in the beautiful blue waters surrounding the island.

Diving in Sipadan

Diving in Sipadan Pic: Shutterstock.com

Whitewater Rafting

There are some excellent opportunities for whitewater rafting on Sabah, regardless of skill level and experience. Not only will you get the adrenaline rush of coursing over rapids, but you will also be immersed in the jungle setting for a rafting experience unlike any other. It’s a thrill-seekers’ way of taking in all that is Borneo.

Whitewater rafting

Pic: James Becker/Shutterstock.com

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