SABAH is Malaysia’s premier nature adventure destination situated in the northern tip of Borneo Island, the third largest island on earth. Sabah is popular for its wildlife conservation attractions, rain forest, surrounding nature and islands, beach resorts, tropical white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and its warm and friendly individuals. If you’re thinking of visiting Borneo, these places of interest and activities will whet your appetite!
Allow me to start with my favorite place and certainly not to be missed if you’re visiting Borneo, Mt. Kinabalu (4,093m). It’s the summit of Borneo and the tallest mountain in South East Asia. This mountain is sacred to the natives. Thousands from all over the world have trekked to its peak. At the feet of the mountain is Kinabalu National Park, a botanical paradise where rare plants are found: rare orchids, nepenthes pitcher plants and the rafflesia, the largest flower in the world.
Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre
In case you have not heard yet, the most popular native of Borneo is the Orang Utan. The world-famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre enables visitors to come in close contact with these awesome animals. This sanctuary allows visitors to witness an exciting conservation programme in action. Set in 43 square km of beautiful rainforest, the sanctuary helps once captive Orang Utans learn to fend for themselves in the wild. Watch how these orphaned Orang Utans being taught to climb, and then go to a stage where you can witness them coming in from within the forest for their daily meals of milk and bananas.
Danum Valley Rain Forest
If nature is close to your heart, then this next destination I am going to present you is a must see, Danum Valley. Danum Valley is nestled deep in the rain forest of Borneo where nature is at its most pristine. As you travel deeper and deeper into the jungle, you will suddenly come across a magical paradise of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL), erected overlooking the magnificent setting of the Segama River and flanked by tall hill ranges. BRL is an impressive resort, designed by naturalists and built on stilts using traditional timber materials, and has the comfort of a 3-Star Hotel. I totally recommend Danum Valley to those who yearn to see wildlife in a primeval Borneo rainforest – the rare Sumatran rhino, proboscis monkeys, Orang Utan, elephants and over 275 species of birds.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Island Park
When you feel you have enough of sightseeing and you want to have a day’s break idling around to charge your energy, then I suggest you take a 30-minute boat trip to Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. The park is composed of five beautiful islands and is a well-known sanctuary where peace and tranquility prevails. The tropical white sandy beaches are great for relaxing and tanning. The crystal clear water is fantastic if you fancy snorkeling or watching the sea lives and corals. The park is also a wonderful place for a BBQ picnic under the long hours of golden sunshine. Other activities include windsurfing, fishing, parasailing, kayaking and bird watching.
If golf is your game, then try the numerous high quality golf courses in Sabah. Among those classes as described by its designer -“I had to create a masterpiece by combining the natural splendor of the mountains and the seas, with ingenious architecture, and create a first class championship course to provide an enjoyable, yet challenging game for top professional golfers and amateurs alike” – Graham Marsh. Enough words said for the quality of golf courses here.
For the true adventure seeker looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, Sabah offers some of the most exhilarating thrills in the world. My scariest experience, only because I’m not a great swimmer, is white-water rafting down the Padas River (a grade-3 river). Whilst trying to negotiate the rapids along this raging river for a distance of about 5 kilometers, do enjoy the breathtaking view that the surrounding rain forest provides. But be warned, do not take your eyes off the rapids and waves too long!
Off the North Eastern coast of Borneo lies a tiny jewel of an island, Sipadan, with a marine ecosystem so perfect and unique it is world famous as one of the best dive spots in the world. Sipadan Island rises as a pristine Coral Sea mount, 650 meters from the floor of the Sulawesi Sea. This pinnacle off the eastern coast of Borneo is an oceanic magnet for marine life. The moment you enter the crystal clear waters of Sipadan Island, you’ll understand why you have endured a journey that has taken you halfway around the world. As you start to descend into this tropical water, you will also understand why the World Wildlife Fund says,”No other spot on the planet has more marine life than this island.”