Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, located in Southeast Asia and is shared by three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The Indonesian part of Borneo is known as Kalimantan, the Malaysian part is known as Sabah and Sarawak, and the Brunei part is known as the Temburong District. Each of these countries has its own government and laws, and they manage their respective parts of the island independently.
When To Go To Borneo
The best time to visit Borneo depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to do. Borneo has a tropical climate, with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The weather is generally divided into two seasons: the wet season and the dry season.
The wet season in Borneo usually starts in November and lasts until March or April. During this time, the weather can be unpredictable, with heavy rainfall and occasional thunderstorms. However, this is also the time when the rainforests are lush and green, and wildlife sightings are more common.
The dry season in Borneo starts around April or May and lasts until October or November. During this time, the weather is generally drier and less humid, making it a great time for outdoor activities such as trekking, diving, and snorkelling. The dry season is also the best time to visit the beaches in Borneo.
Wildlife Spotting In Borneo
Borneo is famous for its incredible wildlife, including orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, and a wide variety of birds and reptiles. If you are interested in wildlife spotting, here are some tips to help you have the best experience:
Visit A National Park
Borneo has several national parks that are home to a variety of wildlife. Some of the most popular national parks for wildlife spotting include Kinabalu National Park, Danum Valley Conservation Area, and Bako National Park.
Hire A Guide
Hiring a local guide can greatly increase your chances of spotting wildlife. Local guides are familiar with the area and can help you navigate the jungle, identify animals, and provide valuable insights into their behaviour and habitat.
Wildlife spotting can take time, so be patient and allow yourself enough time to explore the area. Early morning and late afternoon are generally the best times to spot wildlife, as animals tend to be more active during these times.
Respect The Wildlife
When spotting wildlife in Borneo, it’s important to respect their habitat and behaviour. Keep a safe distance from the animals, do not disturb their habitat, and do not feed them.
Bring The Right Gear
When wildlife spotting in Borneo, it’s important to bring the right gear. This may include binoculars, a camera with a good zoom lens, insect repellent, sturdy shoes, and light, breathable clothing
Wildlife spotting in Borneo can be an incredible experience. By visiting a national park, hiring a guide, being patient, respecting the wildlife, and bringing the right gear, you can increase your chances of having a successful wildlife spotting experience.
Best Places To Visit In Borneo
Borneo is a large island with a variety of attractions and destinations to explore. Here are some of the best places to visit in Borneo:
1. Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia:
Kinabalu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia. The park is located in Sabah, Borneo, and is home to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Here are some things to know about visiting Kinabalu National Park:
Hiking: One of the main attractions of the park is hiking to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. The hike can take two to three days, and hikers must be accompanied by a licensed guide. The trail is challenging but offers stunning views of the surrounding rainforest.
Flora and Fauna: The park is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, and the endangered orangutan. Visitors can explore the park’s rainforest trails and observe the wildlife.
Accommodations: The park has a variety of accommodation options, including lodges, chalets, and campsites. The lodges and chalets offer comfortable accommodations with amenities such as restaurants and hot showers. The campsites offer a more rustic experience, but are a great option for budget travellers.
Other Activities: In addition to hiking and wildlife spotting, visitors to Kinabalu National Park can enjoy other activities such as hot springs, canopy walks, and cultural tours of the local villages.
Climate: The weather in Kinabalu National Park can be unpredictable, with frequent rain showers throughout the year. Temperatures can also be cooler at higher elevations, so visitors should bring warm clothing.
2. Danum Valley Conservation Area, Malaysia:
Danum Valley Conservation Area is a protected area in Sabah, Malaysia, located in the north of the island of Borneo. The conservation area covers an area of approximately 438 square kilometres (170 square miles) of primary lowland rainforest and is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including endangered species such as the Borneo elephant, Bornean orangutan, and Sumatran rhinoceros. The conservation area offers a range of activities for visitors, including guided nature walks, night safaris, birdwatching tours, and canopy walks. The canopy walk is a popular attraction that takes visitors 27 metres (90 feet) above the forest floor and provides stunning views of the surrounding jungle.
The Danum Valley Conservation Area was established in 1986 and is managed by the Sabah Forestry Department. It is recognized as one of the world’s most complex ecosystems and has been the subject of numerous scientific research projects over the years. The forest is also an important resource for the local communities who rely on it for their livelihoods.
3. Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia:
Tanjung Puting National Park is a protected area located in the province of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. It covers an area of approximately 4,150 square kilometres (1,600 square miles) and is home to one of the largest populations of orangutans in the world. The park is also home to other wildlife, including gibbons, macaques, crocodiles, and numerous bird species. The park was established in 1982 and is managed by the Indonesian government’s Ministry of Forestry. Its primary purpose is to protect the natural habitats of the orangutans and other wildlife species that call the park home. The park is divided into several zones, including a research area, a rehabilitation centre for orangutans, and a tourism area.
The rehabilitation centre, located in the tourism zone, is a popular attraction for visitors to the park. The centre works to rehabilitate and release orangutans back into the wild. Visitors to the centre can observe orangutans up close and learn about the efforts being made to protect and preserve these endangered primates.
One of the most popular activities in the park is a riverboat tour along the Sekonyer River. The tour takes visitors deep into the park, providing opportunities to see orangutans in the wild, as well as other wildlife species. Along the way, visitors can stop at several different feeding stations where orangutans are given supplementary food. Tanjung Puting National Park is an important conservation area that highlights the need to protect Indonesia’s unique and valuable ecosystems. The park’s efforts to rehabilitate and protect orangutans have made it an important site for primate conservation, and its stunning natural beauty has made it a popular destination for eco-tourists from around the world.
4. Bako National Park, Malaysia:
Bako National Park is a protected area located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The park covers an area of approximately 27 square kilometres (10.4 square miles) and is known for its diverse range of wildlife and stunning natural scenery, including rugged coastline, sandy beaches, and dense rainforest.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, bearded pigs, and numerous bird species. It is also home to the rare and endangered Bornean bearded pig, as well as several species of pitcher plants.
Bako National Park is easily accessible from the nearby city of Kuching, making it a popular destination for day trips and longer stays. Visitors can explore the park on a variety of hiking trails, ranging from short walks to multi-day treks. Along the way, visitors can spot wildlife, explore the park’s many caves, and relax on the park’s beautiful beaches.
5. Sandakan City, Malaysia:
Sandakan is a city located on the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. It is one of the largest cities in Sabah and serves as a gateway to many of the region’s top natural attractions, including the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Kinabatangan River, and Turtle Island.
The city has a rich history, having served as the former capital of British North Borneo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, visitors can explore the city’s heritage through its historic landmarks and museums, including the Sandakan Heritage Trail, which takes visitors on a walking tour of the city’s most important historical sites.
One of the most popular attractions near Sandakan is the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which is located approximately 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of the city. The centre is home to orphaned and injured orangutans, which are rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Visitors can observe the orangutans up close as they are fed and trained for life in the jungle.
Another popular attraction near Sandakan is the Kinabatangan River, which is located approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) southeast of the city. The river is known for its diverse range of wildlife, including orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and crocodiles. Visitors can take a river cruise to explore the river and its surrounding rainforest.
6. Turtle Island, Malaysia:
Turtle Island is a small island located in the Sulu Sea, off the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo. The island is named for its importance as a nesting site for endangered sea turtles, including the green turtle and hawksbill turtle.
The island is part of the Turtle Islands National Park, which includes several other small islands in the area. The park covers an area of approximately 1,740 hectares (4,300 acres) and is managed by the Sabah Parks authority. The primary purpose of the park is to protect the nesting sites of the sea turtles and their eggs.
Visitors to Turtle Island can observe the turtles in their natural habitat and witness the nesting process firsthand. The nesting season typically runs from July to September, with the peak nesting period occurring in August. Visitors can also see the hatching process, which usually takes place at night.
The park is also home to a diverse range of marine life, including coral reefs, dolphins, and various species of fish. Visitors can go snorkelling or scuba diving to explore the underwater world and see marine life up close.
Accommodations on Turtle Island are limited, with only a small number of chalets available for overnight stays. Visitors are advised to book well in advance, especially during the peak nesting season.
Turtle Island is an important conservation area that highlights the need to protect Borneo’s unique and valuable ecosystems. The park’s efforts to protect the sea turtles and their nesting sites have made it an important site for marine conservation, and its stunning natural beauty has made it a popular destination for eco-tourists from around the world.
Getting Around and Travelling to Borneo
You can fly into one of several major airports in Borneo, including Kota Kinabalu International Airport (Sabah) and Kuching International Airport (Sarawak). Some tours include internal flights to get from one end of the island to the other, but most transport will be by bus or boat.