From the rugged granite peaks of Mount Kinabalu, down to the rolling hills that surround it, to the verdant jungles where rare and endangered species roam to the magical blue waters, Sabah is truly blessed with an abundance of treasures from mountain high to ocean deep. It is no secret that The Land Below the Wind is where adventure awaits you..
Conquer the Peak of Borneo
Whether for its splendorous beauty or for the challenge of a climb, Mount Kinabalu is tirelessly and proudly recommended to visitors. This mountain, standing at a towering 4095 meters, is located in Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site and is the highest accessible mountain in Southeast Asia. Daily climbers conquer the mountain in 2 days while hardened athletes who run up and down the mountain in the annual Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon clock-in at about three hours on the same tourist route. More recently, the Via Ferrata opened routes that used to be accessible only to rock climbers for conquerors hungry for a different experience. While there are many trails already explored by the adventurous, there are many other undiscovered routes waiting to feel the footsteps of explorers upon them.
Trek the Trails
Lace up those hiking boots for a trek through the mystifying jungles of north Borneo. After being identified as a gold mine to some of Mother Nature’s best treasures, vast areas of Sabah’s rainforests are protected for crucial preservation. Among these areas is Danum Valley, situated in the south-easterly region of Sabah, known the world over for containing some of Asia’s last remaining primary rainforests and consequently home to some of the world’s rarest wildlife such as the Borneo Pygmy Elephant and the Sumatran Rhino. A demanding 8-day trek from Danum Valley will take you into Maliau Basin, the “Lost World” of Borneo within the enclosure of mile-high cliffs. As you breathe in the thick green scent of the rainforest on your hike, peer carefully through the trees and listen intently to your surroundings, for you may very well cross paths with some of Borneo’s rare and wonderful wildlife.
Employ the aid of a mountain bike if you’re looking for a little more speed and a whole lot more challenge through Sabah’s landscapes. 300 to 400 visitors traverse the Land Below the Wind on two wheels annually, taking on a rewarding journey like no other. Various cycling tour packages lasting anything between two and ten days, take cyclists through villages where they can stop and meet the Bajau natives of Kota Belud or the Rungus of Kudat. Some choose to take a journey through the historical Sandakan Death March route, while others search for the up and downhill terrains of Kundasang for a physically testing expedition. Certainly opt for a cycling adventure for a journey close to nature.
Shoot Through the Rapids
Get ready for a thrilling ride through the raging Padas River. Experience the ultimate rush of adrenaline as the fast flowing waters pitch your raft at an exciting speed downriver through rapids with names like the Headhunter, the Adrenaline Flow and the Merry Go Round. To get to this river is an adventure in itself – part of your journey there involves hopping on a train that has been in service for almost a century and riding it through the south-eastern countryside of Sabah. For mild adventure seekers, there is the gentler excitement of the clear-waters of Kiulu with a scenic bonus.
About 10 kilometres from Sukau are the famous Gomantong Caves. Simud Hitam and Simud Putih are the two pitch-black crevices accommodating an ecosystem of bugs, bat and swiftlets. The swiftlets provide the expensive commodity of birds’ nests – constructed with the saliva of the small birds that make a health delicacy worth thousands of Ringgit by the kilogramme. Brave experts climb up flimsy bamboo and rattan ladders that reach up to the roof of the cave to collect the valuable birds’ nests, risking their lives with every minute spent far from the solid ground below. Make your way past this activity through to a dark maze of tunnels and caverns and find your way to the opening of Simud Putih by evening for a hair-raising show. When the sun begins to set, millions of bats take flight from their dark refuge into the open, blackening the open skies. You may well catch sight of serpent eagles and kites swooping down on these bats to catch their dinner.
Dive the Deep Blue
Beneath the sapphire waters that surround Sabah lie underwater thrills for scuba divers. It’s time to squeeze into your scuba suit and get ready to swim alongside an unbelievable array of sea life. Kapalai, Mabul and Mataking are among the stars of dive sites, as is the north-eastern Lankayan Island and the north-western island of Layang Layang. Then there is Sipadan Island, arguably the best dive site on earth, the home to countless species of sharks, thousands of barracudas, hundreds of green and hawksbill turtles as well as coral reefs rivalling the Great Barrier Reef. It’s no wonder that many have attested that any other dive site in the world pales in comparison to the colourful waters of Sipadan.
Source: Sabah Tourism Newsletter