Sabah, a region that lies in the north of Malaysian Borneo, is famed for its sprawling jungles and captivating flora and fauna. With 130-million years of natural history spilling over its borders, this remarkable place holds secrets of the wild which are lying in wait to be discovered.
This varied and untouched terrain lends itself to adventure. Jungle trekking, mountain climbing, river cruises and diving are all on offer for those who dare seek them out. Here, you can discover three of the best adventure destinations in Sabah and the great cultural, historical and natural impact they have on not only the region, but the world.
Kinabalu National Park
The Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO Global Geopark, lies nestled in the north of Sabah and has attracted adventurers for centuries. Wildlife, adventure and history overflows here and it is one of the most spectacular places on earth. A geological marvel, the park is home to a number of endemic species you will only be able to experience if you make the trip. This includes more than 90 species of
orchids that only thrive on the rocky face of Mount Kinabalu.
This mountain, crowning Sabah at 4095m, serves up the ideal cocktail of adventure, culture and nature. For the Kadazan Dusun people, the region’s largest ethnic group, the mountain is the sacred resting place of their ancestors. As the mist comes to rest on its rocky granite peaks, the reverence of the place is revealed.
To uncover the secrets of the sacred summit climbers have two options: the moderately easy Ranau Trail, or the lesser known but thrilling Kota Belud Trail. This latter route requires a good level of fitness and a steady nerve. Regardless of which route you take, the magic of the mountain will be on full display. There is also the option to take on the highest via ferrata in the world on the Panalaban rock face, the Iron Road. It is a truly special place full of unbeatable wildlife and, of course, adventure.
Danum Valley Conservation Area
Borneo is famous for its ancient rainforests, and one of the best places to experience this majesty is the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Lahad Datu. With 130-million years of history the conservation area allows for an unparalleled look at the earth’s history.
It boasts the tallest trees in the tropics, at 100 metres tall, as well as 120 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, and 10 species of primates. A trip includes the chance to see all eight species of hornbill, banteng, and clouded leopards. You can do so from the land or sky with plenty of opportunities to trek through the jungle, (which is particularly alive at night), and explore the tree tops on the canopy walk. Alternatively, watching the sun rise over the shrouded trees from the Bukit Atur (Atur Hill) is an other-worldly experience as you listen to the forest hum its secret tune.
Tawau Hills Park
The Tawau Hills Park was protected in 1979 to preserve water resources for the Tawau and Semporna peninsulas. Where it is teeming with as much wildlife as the rest of Sabah, it is also a hub of adventure in the area. The three hills that make up the park, Mount Magdalena (1310m), Mount Lucia (1201m), and Bombalai Hill (530m), make it the perfect place for thrill-seekers.
Mount Magdalena especially is ripe with excitement. The jungle springs up from its hills and within it lives the best of Southeast Asia’s wildlife. With an experienced guide you can try and spot the elusive clouded leopard or the shaggy red leaf monkey, endemic to the Bornean jungle.
If you dare to go deeper, 3km into the jungle hides a natural sulphur spring, which, along with the seven rivers that originate in this forest, offers the perfect opportunity for wild swimming. The natural pools are said to have healing properties for the skin. There is also the chance to dive into coral studded waters for a truly unique jungle experience. Whether you want to trek, climb high into the rugged mountains or explore the depths of the crystal waters, the Tawau Hills Park is a paradise on earth.
To experience the indescribable magic of Sabah with all of its history, culture and wildlife, head to www.sabahtourism.com.
Beat the Bites with Craghoppers
Though the tropical climate and abundance of fresh water are some of the things that make Sabah special, the mosquitos love it there too. It is important to protect yourself from bites as some of these pesky locals carry nasty diseases. You can do this with high quality repellents and a number of gadgets, as well as with your clothing.
Craghoppers NosiLife outdoor clothing collection is infused with an anti-insect treatment that will last the lifetime of the garment. They have everything from socks to jackets that will keep the bites at bay, but two of our favourite pieces include the Adflex Low Boot, which are supremely comfortable and will keep you jungle trekking all day long, and the NosiLife Adventure Jacket III, (also available as a gilet), for those cooler evenings. Take a look at the full range on www.craghoppers.com to stay safe and comfortable on the trip of a lifetime.