Whether you’re rafting along rapids, cruising on winding rivers amidst the jungle, trekking up mountains or following eco trails through mangroves, nature is all around in Sabah. The abundance of wildlife and awe-inspiring habitats gives this natural paradise an unrivalled wow factor.
The Danum Valley is considered by many experts as one of the most complex and unique ecosystems in the world and this remote jungle conservation area is home to a plethora of endangered animals including pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Whether you are following the guided trails or taking to the canopy walks, the views, birds, wildlife and reptiles will amaze.
Of course, one of Sabah’s greatest attractions is its dense, luscious rainforest and the orangutans that call it home. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is located near Sandakan and rescues these endangered animals from poachers. Visitors can wander along the forested boardwalks and see the orangutans in their natural environment and the walkways lead to viewing platforms where you can watch the fun-loving animals feeding and playing in the forest.
For twitchers, Sabah is also something of a bird-watching paradise. From wetlands abuzz with rare water birds to the lush interior forests where more than 650 bird species can be found, Sabah is a once in a lifetime experience. In the mountains, keep your eyes peeled for Malaysian Treepies, Short-tailed Magpies, Sunda Laughingthrush, Whitehead’s Spiderhunters and the native Mountain Barbets. The low lying forest is home to the largest number of bird species in Borneo and Sabah’s Danum Valley, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sandakan and the Poring Hot Springs in Ranau offer some of the best spots for bird watchers. The hot mineral waters at Poring are great for a reviving dip and in Tabin alone, visitors can find eight native species including the Bornean Bristlehead and Blue-banded Pitta.
Ignite your adventurous spirit by staying in treetop lodges or jungle cabins as you explore! Lipid mud volcano is home hundreds of species of birds and animals and visitors can head out on nocturnal safari treks to see the animals under the cloak of darkness. When day breaks plunge into the natural pool at the Lipid waterfall before heading into the verdant jungle again.
Often, the best way to spot Sabah’s incredible animals is from the water. Cruise along the Klias and Kinabatangan rivers and you’ll spot groups of endangered proboscis monkeys hanging out on the branches above you. Endemic only to Borneo – their long rubbery noses are sure to draw a lot of attention! As twilight falls, cruise back to your base and watch the fireflies flutter around the mangroves.
For Blue Planet fans, Borneo also boasts some of the most diverse marine environments in the world. A quick boat ride from Sabah’s cosmopolitan capital lies the cluster of islands of Pulau Gaya, Pulau Sapi, Pulau Manukan, Pulau Mamutik and Pulau Sulug, which make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Whether you want to raft, kayak, canoe, paddle board, jet ski, snorkel or scuba, Tunku’s islands are a must visit.
From November to May, the phytoplankton blooms in the waters on the outskirts of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, which in turn attracts the majestic whale sharks. These gentle mammoths of the deep are usually elusive yet this beautiful coastline is one of the top places to spot them as they migrate.
Sabah’s waters are teeming with life; from stingrays and dolphins to manta rays and clown fish and its scuba sites are diverse and plentiful; at Mataking Island explore the exotic-named Eel Garden, Lobsters Lair and Hump Head Point and dive on the island’s famous ‘Underwater Post Office’, an old 40-foot wooden cargo ship where divers leave letters.
On the picturesque island of Mantanani, you’ll find gin-clear waters, pristine corals, vividly coloured schools of exotic fish and gardens of underwater reefs. A favourite among scuba divers and underwater photographers, the laid-back atmosphere encourages sun-drenched rest and relaxation and the sunsets here are also insanely beautiful!
Natural, wild and captivating; Sabah offers a multitude of adventures from mountain peaks to dense jungle and underwater worlds and its abundant native wildlife makes it surely one of the animal-spotting wonders of the world.
*The above fares are per person from London Heathrow/Manchester and include the price of the air ticket, as well as associated taxes and surcharges, correct as at 19 December 2018, subject to seat availability and currency fluctuations. Tickets are non-refundable and date changes are allowed but may be subject to an administration fee. Other terms and conditions apply.
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