It’s midday. You can tell by the warmth of the tropical sun, and the drop of sweat escaping the creases in your forehead. The sound of chirping birds, buzzing insects, and gushing water coalesce into quiet whispers, time slowing down as the unmistakable orange fur of the Orang Utan becomes clearer and clearer with every twist of your lens. Your hands are shaky, your heart is pounding – and then – click!
The perfect shot!
Getting right into the heart of the wilderness and coming back with beautiful raw footage of nature… it is an unforgettable experience, especially for those who visit Sabah (the northern portion of Borneo Island). Here, virgin rainforest, rolling hills, mesmerising islands and wonderful animals are just begging to be recorded so you can relive the experience over and over again.
Before you start documenting your adventures here however, remember: at some places in Borneo, you will need to pay a camera fee.
Don’t worry – the proceeds from these fees go to a good cause. They are used to maintain the pristine beauty and sanctity of these locations as well as the welfare of local wildlife. In other words, you’ll be helping out with conservation efforts while also taking a memorable piece of Borneo back with you. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
So if you are travelling through Sabah, this applies to the following popular destinations:
The Poring Hotsprings – a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, Poring is not too far from Kinabalu National Park. It’s where you go for a relaxing dip in naturally heated groundwater pools or a thrilling walk through high suspension bridges and canopy walkways. For the latter, you will need to pay a small fee to record anything, but it’s pretty affordable – and well worth the cost.
- Camera (photographs only): RM5 per equipment
- Video camera: RM30 per equipment
If you’re heading to Poring / Kinabalu Park anyway, why not make a stop at Kampung Luanti? Wade into the clear waters of Moroli River and be amazed/terrified as swarms of fish, specially trained by the villages here, gently nibble on your dead skin. It’s a pretty cool experience, with only a tiny fee needed for a whole group of visitors to whip out their cameras and capture the excitement.
- Camera/video: RM3 per group
Located in the Sandakan district, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is a nursing home for rescued orphaned baby orangutans. Filmmakers in particular will need to pay a sizeable sum, but it’s all for a good cause – ensuring that these tiny great apes are able to learn the basics of survival and live a normal life once they are released back into the wild.
- Any camera with zoom lens from 100 to 400mm, video cameras or other video recording equipment (for personal use only): RM10 per equipment
- Any camera with >400mm / film-making equipment (1 day only): RM1,000 per equipment
- Any camera with >400mm / film-making equipment (for a period not exceeding 1 week) : RM10,000 per equipment
Azure waters, white sandy beaches, endless blue skies… it’s no wonder that Selingan Island is popular not only with tourists, but with wildlife as well! It’s a safe haven for the endangered green and hawkbill turtles, who have made the island their nesting place. Your contributions go a long way towards ensuring their survival.
- Camera (for personal use only): RM10 per equipment
NOTE: Flash photography and video taking are strictly prohibited here.
Those already in Sandakan may be tempted to go to the richly biodiverse Kinabatangan area – where the Gomantong Caves are. Home to swiflet birds (whose nests are harvested here), bats, insects and various other wildlife, it’s a living and breathing cave system that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
- Camera: RM10 per equipment
The Probosics monkey is pretty hard to miss – you could see those impressive noses from a mile away! Like the orangutan, you can only find these guys in Borneo – and, sadly, just like their cousins they are also an endangered species. Many live peaceful lives at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary though, and you’ll only need to pay a small fee to snap some beautiful shots.
- Camera (photographs only): RM10 per equipment
- Video camera: RM20 per equipment
Deep in the heart of Sabah, lies Maliau Basin. Shrouded in thick fog and filled with virgin forest, plunging waterfalls, and exotic animals, it’s easy to see why Maliau Basin is also called the Lost World of Sabah. It is truly remote and isolated from civilisation – which makes it perfect for nature lovers in search of something deep and personal with Sabah’s mystical wilderness.
- Camera (Non-DSLR, personal use only): RM10 per equipment
That said, you should always double-check with your tour co-ordinator and/or tour guide about any camera fees being enforced at your desired destination. Some have very specific rules and guidelines, while others tend to be a bit more relaxed. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand in order get the most out of your Sabah experience!
After all, many of these experiences can be a once-in-a-lifetime event – so make them count! 😉
If you wish to make a tour enquiry or ask any questions, feel free to contact us: