Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ToddlerAdventureHoliday: Borneo – Danum Valley – not for the faint hearted!!

If you want to stay in pure luxury, be told what to do, be guaranteed to see wildlife and feel safe this is not the place for you.

If you have a sense of adventure, love wildlife and want a once in a lifetime experience then this is something not to miss! 

Danum Valley Field Centre, near Lahad Datu in Sabah is a primary rainforest, diverse in fauna and flora, mammals include the Sumatran Rhino, elephants, different types of Leopard, Gibbons, Red Leaf and Proboscis Monkeys and Orang-utans!  The latter two are only found in Borneo.

Travelling through the rest of Sabah you will understand how sacred this place is, passing miles and miles of cultivated land and linear planted palm trees.

The adventure and nerves began at the office at Lahad Datu.  We had prepared ourselves to be prepared for the worst as the field centre is primarily for researchers. 

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge (office next door) is the luxury tourist version (albeit out of our – and many people we spoke to’s budget). 

Arriving at the air conditioned office, we were stunned when we were given a price list and apologetically told that only the hostel was available.

Although the costs add up (taxi to get there from Lahad was 350RM as the minibuses only ran three times a week and the next one was booked up), the total price for two of us for three nights was a fairly affordable 1,200RM (about £240). 

This included three meals a day and transport to and from the centre, but excluded rangers and leech socks (highly recommended!). 

After enduring most of a rather bumpy (to say the least) two hour trip to the Field Centre in the 4×4 taxi, about two miles from the field centre we stumbled across a couple of elephants, happily strolling down the road seemingly oblivious to our 4×4 about 15m away! 

After proudly informing the rangers of our spot, I was horrified to find out that the campsite was currently closed as a week ago elephants had trampled and ruined it, and a few days ago two frog researchers heard a noise and turned round to find their 4×4 upturned by some destructive elephants.

The elephants were about 300m from camp and coming nearer!  The true terror started when we started the trails and saw elephant dung everywhere!

Trails – trails are set out clearly with markers every 100m.  The nature and the orchid trails are the only trails that tourists are officially allowed to do trek without a guide. 

However in speaking to the only other two tourists there at the time, and noting the reluctance to provide us with a guide, the general ruling is only hire a guide if absolutely required (only 20RM/hour). 

We felt it was absolute necessary to hire a guide for a night walk and the coffin trail (worth every penny as we heard elephants in the distance and a King Cobra stepped in my path!)