I have finally made it to the bustling metropolis of Kota Kinabalu and I must say I’m extremely happy to be able to finally relax! Over the next two weeks I am going to explore Borneo and take in as much high-flying adventures as I can!
I am going to spend a couple of days here exploring the city and the islands off the coast. Tunku Abdul Rahman National park is an archipelago just off the cost of KK and offers top notch diving, snorkeling, and animal and bird spotting. Rare animals such as proboscis monkeys and silly looking Hornbills can be found here! More time will be spent in the Kota Kinabalu area then the rest of the island due to it’s unique location and access to so many sites and national parks! The few days in KK will be split between the bustling metropolis, the islands, Mount Kinabalu where one can explore hot springs and hike to the peak of the largest mountain in Southeast Asia, and river rafting local rivers.
From KK our group will head south to Sipdan! One of the world’s best preserved recreational diving locations! Pristine blue waters and a sea free from fishing opens up an underwater paradise for the more adventurous. We will fly from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau in the Southeast corner of the state boarding Indonesia. After a van transfer and a boat ride my family, friends, and I will spend 4 days on the only oil rig in the world that has been converted into a commercial hotel! Being in the middle of the ocean, connectivity will be an issue, as anyone could probably understand!
After a few days of diving and relaxing on the sun decks, we will travel by bus to Sadakan, a town that was nearly wiped-out during World War II, but has been rebuilt and is now the second largest city in the state. The visit to Sandakan has actually nothing to do with the city, despite its vast history, but instead the purpose of the visit is to explore the more remote Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and the rainforests and rivers basins that surrounds Sandakan.
The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation center opened in 1964 as the first orangutan rehabilitation projects and is now home to over 60 orangutans that have been rescued from logging sites, plantations, illegal hunting, or saved from living a life as someone’s pet. The center is not only home to a number of Orangutans, it’s located in the virgin rainforest, Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, and is about 25km from Sandakan. The center allows tours and interactions with Orangutans as the primates are retaught how to survive in the wild. In addition to the center, a visit to the surround river basin will include jungle trekking, river cruises, and a “hotel” stay in a traditional Malaysian cabins. We will be on the hunt for pygmy elephants (discovered only a few years ago) and man-eating snakes (ok that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point!)! Cameras will be ready for up-close jungle encounters!
After exploring the rainforest and searching for exotic animals our group will be off to the even more remote Mulu Caves. The Mulu Caves, located in central Borneo and Gunung Mulu National park is only easily accessible by air, with a very limited number of primarily prop planes flying in and out daily (3-4 50 seat or less planes a day). From the national park’s webpage,
This is home to many fauna species from the World’s smallest mammal, the Savi’s Pigmy Shrew, to some of the largest insects on Earth. In the dense foliage secretive macaques, bearded pigs and moon rats hide, blending in so well that we rarely see them among the tall towering trees blocking out the sky with their dense canopy. Richly coloured butterflies glide among trees entwined with lianas, ferns and orchids. The ground is a thick mat of leaves and fresh new seedlings struggling to find their own space. The heartbeat of life is all around you, plants and animals, living, eating and dying.
As you can imagine, the jungle trekking here will be among the best, along with the wildlife spotting! Yet the true reason why we are visiting is for an opportunity to get underneath what’s seen at the surface and get below the earth in some of Malaysia’s best caves! Repelling, swimming, crawling through small dark spaces is all on the lists of must/will dos before heading home.
As you can see the next two weeks are going to be full of adventures! Expect a full in-depth trip report in the future, but for now I’m putting away my laptop and pulling out my camera. It’s time to get out and the see world for what it offers but at and below the surface! Wish me luck!
(we connect in MYY to get to Mulu)