Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Borneo: Danum Valley Conservation Area - A Weekend in the Wild

This was now our 6th day in Borneo and already we’d seen wild Orangutans, Probiscus monkeys, Tarsias and as of yesterday following an absolutely epic ride into the valley (Danum Day One) Pigmy Elephants and an incredibly rare Pigmy Rhino!

However our experience at Danum was altogether different from anything we’ve experienced not only through Borneo, but across our entire travels. Arguably this tops the lot!

The entire Field-Centre complex couldn’t have been inhabited by more than 50 people- most of which were either scientists or on-site volunteers to maintain the research facilities in the middle of a vast, mostly undiscovered rainforest. The lack of people and knowledge of what exactly was out there made this experience all the more special.

There are two dorms on site- one male, one female- both able to hold about 30 people and come complete with mosquito nets. This sounds pretty chaotic, but our minibus of 8 people occupied the entire dorm. We were literally the only tourists here and had the whole dorm to ourselves!

Rhino Ridge Trail

On our first morning, we rose at dawn and started along the Rhino Ridge trailhead. There are only about 3 or 4 forged trailheads throughout the valley and this was the longest one with a provisional time of 5 hours to complete the circuit. We took a mental note of the map and a picture for further reference.

The 8 of us slashed our way through the thicket, not sure as to which was a trail and which was just mud. In the end we ended up following elephant tracks, which had managed to establish a far more visible route through the forest.

Just as the sun began to rise through the treeline, a troop of Gibbons howled their way across the trees above. These apes (not monkeys)- are tanked! Their arms are absolutely huge! They’re also lightening quick and although we all got a good glimpse at them as they sounded out their alarms, they just as quickly vanished through the trees in lieu of our best efforts to follow them and track down their calls. Sadly no decent pictures.

We continued our march and it didn’t take long for us to realise that we were getting eaten alive by leeches. Literally, every 5 minutes one of us would have one of these little fuckers attached to our legs sucking away through our socks!

But this wasn’t to deter us from our hike and we had plenty of time for some fooling around, before reaching a pool known as Rhino Pool.