Consisting of 3 nations which are the Malaysian states Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesia’s Kalimantan, and also Brunei, the island of Borneo has some incredible collection of features that makes it truly special and out of this world! Here’s a long list of Borneo’s unique features and facts for you to get to know more about this amazing island.
If we can describe Borneo in one word, it would be “massive”. Though it’s only the third largest island in the world, Borneo is still considered huge. What makes it even more amazing is the fact that it has a mind-blowing ecosystem and incredible biodiversity!
Borneo is home to countless flora and fauna species, numerous ethnic tribes, and breath-taking landscapes. Also, did you know that the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo is the second busiest airport in Malaysia?
Being the largest island in all of Asia and the third largest in the world, it’s ironic that Borneo is home to some of the ‘smallest’ mammals in the world. The Bornean pygmy squirrel, for instance is a tiny lil’ fella, growing up to 7.5cm and weigh up to only 20 grams! The average squirrel is normally 18cm in height and weighs 400-600 grams.
Besides that, Borneo is also home to the famous Bornean pygmy elephant and the Bornean sun bear, which are both the smallest elephant and bear species in the world respectively.
A queer sight to behold, the Proboscis monkey is one primate that’s sure to leave an impression. Found only in Borneo, this monkey is famously known for its exceptionally unique nose. However, only the males possess a long large nose which, and the larger the nose, the more attracted the females are to them. The male’s nose can be as long as 18cm in length!
“Ain’t no mountain high enough” but being one of South East Asia’s tallest and mightiest peak is still an awe-inspiring quality. Standing at 4,095 m (13,435 feet above sea level), Mount Kinabalu is located in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and has a few folklores about it, including one of a dragon that lives up in the mountain. Catching the sunrise from the peak of Mount Kinabalu is one of the greatest sunrise scene anyone will ever experience.
Known for its size (and smell), the Rafflesia flower is one of the world’s largest flowers and is a parasitic flowering plant. The Rafflesia arnoldii species can weigh up to 22 pounds and grow to be 39 inches in diameter.
The rafflesia flower gives out an unpleasant odour like rotting flesh and its colour of dark reddish-brown even looks like it, which is why it’s also infamously known as the ‘corpse flower’. It is the official state flower of Malaysia’s state, Sabah.
The Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and the second longest in all of Malaysia. It stretches at 560km and is precious life source of all who lives in and around Kinabatangan. Villagers there depend on the river to fish and get around by boat, whereas for the wildlife there, the river is basically their home.
Along the river is where you’ll also find Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a proud member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, as well as the centre for research and voluntourism, Sukau Ecotourism Research Centre (SERC). Since the Lower Kinabatangan River has one of the highest concentration of wildlife, it is a haven of research for academicians, scientists and students alike to explore.
Borneo is not complete as a massive tropical island without its mysterious caves, and though it has a number of them, it is also home to one of the largest underground cave chambers in the world! At the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, the Sarawak Chamber sits quietly in its immensity. Just picture eight jumbo jets lined-up perfectly within the span of the chamber- That’s how immense the cave is
The tallest tropical tree in the world can be found in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and it was recently discovered by scientists in early 2019 at Danum Valley. The yellow meranti tree (Shorea faguetiana), which stands tall and proud at 330.7-foot (100.8-meter) is an exceptional giant which has been given the name “Menara”, meaning tower in the Malay language. More giants in Borneo are waiting to be discovered every year!
Borneo’s Rainforests are about 140 million years old, compared to the Amazon rainforest which is only 55 million years old, making them one of the oldest forests in the world- That’s unbelievably old! This definitely answers why the island is an astounding mega-biodiverse area where new species keeps getting discovered from time to time. Travelers can experience the lush rainforests of Borneo in locations such as Danum Valley, Deramakot, Crocker Range and Tabin.
The nations that make up Borneo have numerous ethnic groups, heritage and cultures, making it a truly colourful cultural destination to experience. In Sabah, Malaysia itself, there are a total of 33 indigenous groups and over 200 sub-ethnic groups. The largest ethnic group in Sabah is the Kadazan-Dusun tribe, which makes up 30% of Sabah’s population. In Sarawak, Malaysia on the other hand, there are about 30 ethnic groups altogether, which is still considered a large number.
Many tour operators that specialise in diving have listed Barracuda Point, located in Sipadan Island, Sabah Malaysia as one of the top dive spots in the whole world! It’s one of the best dive sites especially because of the thousands of Barracudas (which is how it got its name) that divers can get to witness during their dive. It’s truly a mesmerising sight! There are also possibilities of sighting sea turtles and hammerhead sharks there.
Nothing makes you stop and stare in awe like a scene of the sun setting below the horizon, painting the sky a beautiful burst of colours in pink, orange and yellow. Here in Borneo, there are various locations where the sunsets (and sunrises) are out of this world.