Borneo, located in the Indonesian archipelago, is the third largest island in the world – with almost 5,000 km of coastline, most of which are relatively inaccessible due to mangrove swamps and where there are only a few bays. The real scenic attraction of Borneo is its dense jungle… with an incredibly colorful and lively nature, which has a lot to see in both flora and fauna. There are over 600 species of birds, around 400 species of reptiles and amphibians and more than 200 species of mammals to discover. The Bako National Park, which is the oldest national park in Sarawak – the state on the island that, besides Sabah, is characterized primarily by lush, often impenetrable rainforest areas, is ideal for discovery tours. The Betung Kerihun National Park, on the other hand, is suitable for multi-day trekking tours with the option of staying overnight in a traditional Dayak longhouse. A visit to the Mulu National Park, which extends around the 2,376 m high Gunung Mulu and contains a cave system that is one of the largest in the world and has therefore been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an extraordinary natural experience in Borneo. The depths of the sea around Borneo and their colorful diversity are best explored in the areas off Pulau Derawan and Pulau Sangalaki. On the other hand, the path leads you high up in the northeast of the island, where a long mountain range extends. However, on a trip to Borneo you should definitely also visit its different cities, the numerous testimonies from the colonial past.
The Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Malaysia, its loftiest peak, the Low’s Peak measures 4091 meters. It is located in the northern part of the island of Borneo and sits enthroned in the middle of the rainforests as a gigantic rock over the South China Sea.
Lush rainforest and alpine barreness
The Mount or Gunung (mal. Mountain) Kinabalu consists for the most part of granite and its vegetation zones range from the jungle to the tree line. The dense rainforest is overgrown with lichens and mosses and orchids bloom everywhere. Pitcher plants are particularly common here, catching and eating insects in their cup-shaped calyxes. Above 3000 meters, the vegetation becomes increasingly sparse, until at some point only bare granite and rubble are left.
Through tropical mountain forests up to the summit
All tours up to the summit start at Timpohon Gate and mostly lead steeply upwards over well-trodden paths and steps in the midst of tropical vegetation. Along the way there are always small huts with water tanks where you can take a break.
The overnight stay is in the Guest House Laban Rata, which is 3300 meters above sea level. From there, the ascent to the summit takes place between two and three in the morning the next day. Climbing in the dark requires good surefootedness, but at the same time is particularly attractive. At sunrise the summit is climbed and rewarded with a breathtaking view down into the valley and over the rainforests. In the light of the breaking day, the other peaks of the Kinabalu are particularly impressively staged.
A trekking permit and a guide are required to climb Kinabalu. The ascent begins at an altitude of 1,800 meters and is 8.8 kilometers long. The hikes are offered as two or three-day tours. Since only 135 tourists are allowed on the mountain per day, it is advisable for holidaymakers who are not traveling as part of a group or study trip to book the tours a few months before the start of the trip.
Bako National Park
a place for exciting nature experiences
Bako National Park is the oldest and smallest national park on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is located about 37 km north of the city of Kuching on the Muara Tebas peninsula, which is part of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The Bako National Park is a popular destination for nature-loving tourists thanks to its diverse, pristine vegetation, which is home to a species-rich fauna, as well as an extensive network of wonderful trekking trails. The park can only be reached by boats that dock on the beaches of the peninsula.
The relatively small national park with 27 km² contains almost every type of vegetation that can be found on Borneo: swamp forests, mangrove forests, grasslands, scrubland, heather, jungle and high plateau forests. The variety of different carnivorous pitcher plants and wild orchids that thrive in the wild is impressive. With a little luck the rare black orchid can be discovered. On the coast are beautiful white sandy beaches with secluded bays surrounded by high sandstone and limestone cliffs. Bizarre rock formations, like the famous rock needles, protrude from the turquoise blue sea.
In contrast to the other national parks of Borneo, many different wild animals can be found in the Bako National Park. In addition to sun bears, long-tailed macaques, gibbons, wild cats, bearded pigs and deer piglets, you can see squirrels, black monitors and rare proboscis monkeys that only live on Borneo. Of the unusual animals, which differ from other monkeys by their large hanging noses, 275 specimens live in the park. They are best seen in the morning or before dark. Various lizards live in the rocks on the beaches, such as bright green emerald lizards that change color or flying lizards. The largest species of lizard is the olive-green sea dragon, which can reach a length of up to two meters.
The national park has 16 different jungle trails that are suitable for simple hikes to adventurous full-day trekking tours. They lead through the dense rainforest, past bubbling streams and waterfalls and mostly end on the beach.
Every year millions of tourists from all over the world vacation on the island of Borneo. After all, the third largest island in the world offers not only dream beaches but also lots of breathtaking natural highlights. Nature lovers and water sports enthusiasts should not miss the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park in the Malaysian part of the island.
Breathtaking flora and fauna: a paradise for divers and snorkelers
The national park, which includes five islands, is only a few kilometers away from the provincial capital Kota Kinabalu. The Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park is primarily characterized by its species-rich flora and fauna and excellent conditions for divers and snorkelers – especially off the islands of Pulau Gaya and Pulau Sapi. In addition to a wide variety of fish species, seahorses and turtles can also be observed in their natural habitat in the 5,000 hectare nature reserve. In addition, huge coral gardens in various colors can be seen in the water. In addition to numerous diving spots, there are also many diving schools on the coast of the national park. Not only in the water but also on land, nature lovers get their money’s worth in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. After all, pangolins, rare hornbills and some rare squirrel species also live here. The national park, which opened in 1974, is named after the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
the most visited island on the Sabah coast
Manukan Island is the second largest island in a beautiful archipelago that lies on the coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo in Southeast Asia. Together with the islands (Gaya, Sapi, Mamutik and Sulug) Manukan Island forms the ‘Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.’ The boomerang-shaped island is 1 ½ km long and has wonderful long sandy beaches with crystal clear water and a diverse colorful underwater world as well as dense vegetation with hiking trails. As Manukan Island is only a 15-minute boat ride from the capital, Kota Kinabalu, it is the most visited island on the Sabah coast.
Most of the island’s visitors are Kota Kinabalu residents and tourists departing from the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal on a day trip. They mainly come to practice water sports or to relax on the beach from the exertions of a strenuous mountain tour on Mont Kinabalu. Manukan’s 1.5 km long snow-white beach is on the south coast, with the most beautiful stretch of beach being on the eastern tip of the island. The crystal clear water in the bay is shallow and calm, making it suitable for non-swimmers and children.
The most popular water sports are diving and snorkeling. About 25 meters from the beach there are beautiful coral reefs in front of the island. In addition to black and white striped sergeant major fish and colorful trigger fish, you can admire iridescent parrot fish, butterfly fish, cleaner fish and clown fish. Other options for exploring the underwater world are offered by ‘Scuba-Doo’, an underwater scooter or a leisurely ride on a glass bottom ship. Jet skiing, kayak or banana boat rides, parasailing and fly fishing are also offered.
Dense tropical forests spread out behind the beaches of Manukan, which are ideal for hiking. Monkeys, anteaters and monitor lizards can be seen on the edge of the trekking paths. There are also spotted hornbills and flocks of terns and waders that roam the sandbanks at low tide. If you want to stay overnight on the island, you will find a resort on Manukan that has chalets on the beach and on the mountainside that offer a unique view of the sea.