Friday, June 10, 2016

Wanderlust: 7 things you must do in Borneo

Impenetrable rainforests, rare wildlife and diverse culture – Borneo is perfect for adventure and nature lovers alike. Here’s what you need to do to get under its skin

1. Swim with turtles in Sipadan

Imagine kneeling on a sandy seabed ogling a large hawksbill turtle, only an arm’s length away. That’s the kind of encounter that awaits you under the crystal clear waters off Borneo’s Sipadan Island.

And it’s not just turtles. Drift across the shallow reef plateau on the eastern tip of this tiny uninhabited island, and you’ll be surrounded by curious batfish and clouds of brilliant-yellow snappers. Snorkel out to where the reef drops away to deeper waters and you’ll meet jacks, barracuda and tuna, as well as the occasional giant Napoleon wrasse.

Sipidan truly is a snorkeller’s paradise.

2. Climb South East Asia’s highest mountain

Standing majestically at 4,095m above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It is also one of the most accessible, with well-maintained paths, and the world’s highest via ferrata.

Whichever route you choose, make sure to look up from the path as you climb. The mountain is a botanist’s Mecca. As well as insectivorous pitcher plants, there are 1,200 varieties of orchids thriving here in the cool, moist climate. It’s home to frogs are tiny as your fingernails too, but, understandably, they are harder to spot.

While it is possible to climb the mountain in one day, most climbers prefer to overnight at Laban Rata, a spacious hut at 3,272m, before setting off before dawn to reach the granite dome of the summit. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a long, revitalising soak in the Poring Hot Springs nearby.

3. Head up river

The mighty Kinabatangan River acts as a pathway into the tangled interior of Borneo. It is a land of pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys and traditional tribespeople, straight off the pages of a Boy's Own Adventure.

Cruise the river at dawn and dusk, stay in a bamboo hut at Sukau or Abai Village and savour the great food being served. Take a night walk in the jungle with a local guide who will find things you would never have spotted on your own.

The nearby Gomantong Caves are worth a visit for the bats and swiftest and their nests – a spectacle straight out of a David Attenborough documentary.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Wanderlust: 7 things you must do in Borneo