Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seven reasons to visit Malaysian Borneo

Malaysian Borneo is one of those rare places where you can sense the adventure in the air, along with the green smells from thousands of miles of rainforest just waiting to be explored. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, and a virtual paradise on Earth for anyone who shares a love for plants, wildlife, and adventure.

The island of Borneo is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia, and tiny Brunei. The Indonesian part of Borneo -- known as Kalimantan -- covers around 73% of the island, while Malaysian Borneo occupies the rest along the northern edge.

Malaysian Borneo has two states, Sarawak and Sabah, which are separated by the independent country of Brunei. Sarawak's capital of Kuching and Sabah's capital of Kota Kinabalu are the usual entry points, and act as hubs for exploring Borneo's wild attractions.

Here are just a few of the many reasons to get yourself to Borneo!

1. See Wild Orangutans

Borneo is one of two places on Earth -- Sumatra is the other -- where endangered orangutans can still be viewed in the wild. Orangutans are among the smartest primates; they make medicine, craft tools, and even exchange gifts!

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss caused by massive palm oil plantations, orangutan numbers are dwindling; now is the time to see them while you still can.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in East Sabah is the most popular place to view orangutans in Borneo. A better option is the cheaper and less-crowded Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre just outside of Kuching. While there are never guarantees, you have a pretty good chance of seeing semi-wild orangutans at both refuges during feeding times.

Alternatively, you can chance a real orangutan encounter in the wild by taking a river cruise along the Kinabatangan River!

2. Learn About the Rainforest

Only open to the public since 2006, the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sabah is a world-renown environmental education center.

Today, for a great entrance price of only US $3.50, visitors can learn about an amazing array of plants, insects, and animals found in Borneo's rainforests. After touring the well-manicured botanical garden and education center, visitors can then apply their new knowledge while trekking along the many trails nearby.

An impressive, canopy walk matrix elevates visitors above the dense trees where they can spot rare birds and sometimes even orangutans.

3. World-Class Scuba Diving

Not all of Malaysian Borneo's natural attractions are found on land. Sabah boasts some of the world's premier scuba diving sites. Compared to diving in places such as Malaysia's Perhentian Islands, diving in Borneo is certainly not cheap; however, from turtles and macro life to hammerhead sharks and whale sharks -- you get what you pay for!

The diving in Sipidan is so famous, that conservationists now only issue 120 permits per day in an effort to preserve the fragile reefs; you must organize your diving well in advance to ensure a permit.

Mabul, a nearby alternative to Sipidan, offers arguably some of the best muck diving in the world, and is also considered the premier dive site for underwater macro photography.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Seven reasons to visit Malaysian Borneo

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