Sunday, November 15, 2015

Malaysian Borneo: Can you top this for adventure?

(CNN) Malaysian Borneo has long evoked visions of adventure in the West.

Many a kid has thumbed through their parents' National Geographic mags, dreaming that one day mom and dad might pass on yet another trip to Yosemite in the station wagon and instead take them to a land where headhunters lurk in ancient rainforests and wild orangutans play.

Today Malaysian Borneo (East Malaysia, aka Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan) isn't the unaccessible impossibility it once was -- it's now serviced by a range of airlines and filled with resorts to suit all budgets.

The challenge is pinning down an itinerary. The place is huge.

Malaysia shares the island of Borneo with Indonesia and Brunei. The Malaysian portion is home to two Malaysian states -- Sabah and Sarawak -- and the federal territory of Labuan.

And it's far from perfect.

Logging continues to eat away at Malaysian Borneo's natural resources. Some researchers estimate 80 percent of the rainforests in Malaysian Borneo have been heavily impacted by logging.

Meanwhile, officials there continue to battle the illegal wildlife trade.

But it's still an adventure.

These options give you a taste of what's out there.

Mount Kinabalu

Whether or not you climb to the summit, Kinabalu is worth a visit.

Part of the UNESCO-listed Kinabalu Park, it sits 4,095 meters above sea level.

Despite the altitude it's a relatively easy trek, though guides and permits are required. A variety of overnight trek options range from one- to three-night climbs.

More information on climbing the beautiful beast is available from the Mount Kinabalu Official Climb & Booking Information Centre.


The waters off Malaysian Borneo are legendary, with dozens of dive sites offering pristine views of some of the world's finest coral and sealife.

If you want the best of the best, it's Sipadan. A contender on any dive publication's list of the "world's best dives," Sipadan lies 35 kilometers off the coast of Sabah.

In order to protect Sipadan's fragile ecosystem, in 2004 the Malaysian government ordered all dive resorts off the island, banned night dives and set a limit of 120 divers per day.

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