Kiulu Farmstay

Kiulu Valley is a small area in the District of Tuaran – the northwestern part of Sabah – with a population of over 2,000 people. Its name (Kiulu) was derived from a plant that is called Tulu, which is a small bamboo that commonly grows on the river banks.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for local communities in Kiulu Valley – this includes rubber plantations, fruit orchards, paddy fields and mixed gardens (mostly vegetables, pineapples and ginger).

Albert Teo, Managing Director and Founder of Borneo Eco Tours envisioned a community based ecotourism development in Kiulu Valley under Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST) Society, with the aim of transforming it into an integrated ecotourism destination that includes farmstead, homestays and outdoor adventure activities such as quad biking, hiking and many more.

The principal objective behind Kiulu Valley is to alleviate poverty among the local communities by creating new income and job opportunities – a social entrepreneurship approach that acts as a catalyst for community development and capacity building.

Kiulu Valley is committed to using local resources (accommodation, activities and people), maintaining unique culture practices and developing rural tourism through training of hosts and linking homestays with surrounding products or activities.

This is what makes Kiulu Valley unique and a great place for family outings, school field trips, camping and team building activities. Kiulu Valley is a real learning experience and it is one of those experiences that will leave a lasting memory.

 

Crocker Range

The Crocker Range National Park covers the north-south Crocker Range, of 1,200-1,800 metres mountains in Sabah, east Malaysia on the island of Borneo, which separate the western coastal plain with the rest of the state. Lying 300 metres above sea level, it is spread over 1,399 kilometres making it the largest protected park in all of Sabah. The Crocker Range has been under protection as a forest reserve since 1968 but was declared as a National Park in 1984 to protect its rich biodiversity and rare species of plants and wildlife, also in part to protect the natural freshwater reserve area. Crocker Range National Park receives a rainfall of 3,000-4,000 millimetres per year, making it one of the highest precipitation areas in Sabah. The water catchments in the park provide an indispensable water source for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes, and to sustain the daily needs of more than one third of the population of Sabah.

The Padas Gorge in which the Padas River swiftly runs – cuts the park in two, making this place the best white water rafting spot on the Island of Borneo. There are 11 other rivers and several streams and waterfalls that interlace through the park. In the Crocker Range National Park, it is possible to identify the five distinct types of vegetation in Sabah, which includes the montane forest, lower montane forest, upper montane dipterocarp forest and lower land forest. The word ‘di-ptero-carp’ meaning ‘two-winged-fruit’ comes from the Greek for the leaf-like appendages of the mature dipterocarp fruits which cause them to spin like helicopter blades and slow their fall to the ground. Although this type of tree is most prevalent within the park, it is also rich in chestnuts, oaks and conifers. The huge Belian (Borneo Ironwood) trees and the Seraya trees which can reach upwards of 70 metres can also be found in the park.

The Rafflesia Pricei, one of the three species of Rafflesia that can be found in Sabah, is the world’s largest flower and can be found in the Crocker Range National Park. It is a parasitic plant that gets its food from the Tetrasigma vines on which it grows. The flower can grow up to 38 centimetres across with the largest of the Rafflesia being 100 centimetres across and weighing 10 kilograms. It has no leaves, roots or a stem of its own and buds take several months to grow before the five-petaled flower opens. Orchids, Rhododendrons and Pitcher Plants are also widely dispersed throughout the Park.

There are at least five species of primates that can be found in the Crocker Range National Park such as the Orang Utan, Gibbons, the tiny Tarsier with its enormous button-like eyes, and the long-tailed and pig-tailed Macaque. The Clouded Leopard, Wild Bearded Pigs, Sun Bears, Civet and Marble Cats, Porcupines, Squirrels and Tree shrews can be found in this area as well as a rich variety of birds including hornbills, pheasants, and partridges.

The Crocker Range National Park is a paradise for hardcore campers and trekkers with the abundance of local people’s trails that run through the park, namely the ‘Salt Route’ – considered as one of the most beautiful and adventurous jungle treks in Sabah. The trek takes four days and you can experience home stay with the local people during your journey.

 

Danum Valley

The Crocker Range National Park covers the north-south Crocker Range, of 1,200-1,800 metres mountains in Sabah, east Malaysia on the island of Borneo, which separate the western coastal plain with the rest of the state. Lying 300 metres above sea level, it is spread over 1,399 kilometres making it the largest protected park in all of Sabah. The Crocker Range has been under protection as a forest reserve since 1968 but was declared as a National Park in 1984 to protect its rich biodiversity and rare species of plants and wildlife, also in part to protect the natural freshwater reserve area. Crocker Range National Park receives a rainfall of 3,000-4,000 millimetres per year, making it one of the highest precipitation areas in Sabah. The water catchments in the park provide an indispensable water source for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes, and to sustain the daily needs of more than one third of the population of Sabah.

The Padas Gorge in which the Padas River swiftly runs – cuts the park in two, making this place the best white water rafting spot on the Island of Borneo. There are 11 other rivers and several streams and waterfalls that interlace through the park. In the Crocker Range National Park, it is possible to identify the five distinct types of vegetation in Sabah, which includes the montane forest, lower montane forest, upper montane dipterocarp forest and lower land forest. The word ‘di-ptero-carp’ meaning ‘two-winged-fruit’ comes from the Greek for the leaf-like appendages of the mature dipterocarp fruits which cause them to spin like helicopter blades and slow their fall to the ground. Although this type of tree is most prevalent within the park, it is also rich in chestnuts, oaks and conifers. The huge Belian (Borneo Ironwood) trees and the Seraya trees which can reach upwards of 70 metres can also be found in the park.

The Rafflesia Pricei, one of the three species of Rafflesia that can be found in Sabah, is the world’s largest flower and can be found in the Crocker Range National Park. It is a parasitic plant that gets its food from the Tetrasigma vines on which it grows. The flower can grow up to 38 centimetres across with the largest of the Rafflesia being 100 centimetres across and weighing 10 kilograms. It has no leaves, roots or a stem of its own and buds take several months to grow before the five-petaled flower opens. Orchids, Rhododendrons and Pitcher Plants are also widely dispersed throughout the Park.

There are at least five species of primates that can be found in the Crocker Range National Park such as the Orang Utan, Gibbons, the tiny Tarsier with its enormous button-like eyes, and the long-tailed and pig-tailed Macaque. The Clouded Leopard, Wild Bearded Pigs, Sun Bears, Civet and Marble Cats, Porcupines, Squirrels and Tree shrews can be found in this area as well as a rich variety of birds including hornbills, pheasants, and partridges.

The Crocker Range National Park is a paradise for hardcore campers and trekkers with the abundance of local people’s trails that run through the park, namely the ‘Salt Route’ – considered as one of the most beautiful and adventurous jungle treks in Sabah. The trek takes four days and you can experience home stay with the local people during your journey.

 

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park, about 90 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, is one of the world’s most significant natural environments. The park is located at 1,585 metres above sea level and is the main starting point for the summit trail that leads to the top of Mount Kinabalu. It covers an area of 75,370 hectares surrounding Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia with 4,095.2 metres height. Kinabalu Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000 – the first in Malaysia for its “outstanding universal values” and its role as one of the most important Biological Sites in the world.

The presence of Mount Kinabalu is one of the contributing factors to the wide variety of animal, bird, insect and plant life found in the park. The terrain ranges from lush, green rainforest at the park’s lowest altitudes, while further up the mountain, rhodendron and coniferous forest is prevalent. At the highest altitudes, stunted plant growth and small marsupials survive in a harsh environment. Orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants are among the park’s most famous plants, although they are rare along the park’s most worn tourist trails. However, they are all on display in a botanical walk near the park headquarters where visitors can view some of the area’s most beautiful flora.

The most famous of the pitcher plants endemic to Kinabalu Park is Nepenthes Raja, a giant pitcher plant whose bell can hold more than three litres of water. There are a number of other species of pitcher plants in the park and these can be seen just off some of the tracks in the park. Kinabalu Park is also home to the world’s largest flower, the Rafflesia, which blooms exceptionally rarely and only for a couple of days. With a diameter of up to one metres and a potential weight of 10 kilograms, the blooming of the Rafflesia is an event keenly awaited by botanists around the world.

Given the size of the park, there are several activities for you to choose from. Whether you prefer laidback activities or activities that are sure to get your heart pumping, you will find it at Kinabalu Park. Climbing Mount Kinabalu takes about two to three days on average. Thousands of people have done this climb and have nothing but good things to say about it. For those who are not keen on testing themselves on Mount Kinabalu’s slopes, there is still much to enjoy from a visit to the park. Other activities include rappelling, rope ascending, taking a dip in the Poring Hot Springs, Kipungit and Langanan waterfalls, visiting the butterfly farm, and many more.

 

Maliau Basin

Maliau Basin is Southeast Asia’s ‘Lost World’, an area almost the size of Singapore, home to one of the most diverse collections of flora and fauna on earth. Maliau Basin is located in the southern region of central Sabah, about 40 kilometres north of the Kalimantan border. It is accessible via the towns of Keningau and Tawau, both four to five hour drives away. Maliau Basin has remained largely untouched and is a single huge water catchment, drained by one river only – the Maliau River, which flows through a gorge in the southeast of the Basin, joining the Kuamut River and eventually the Kinabatangan – Sabah’s largest and most important waterway.

With over 70 kilometres of marked trails, only about one third of Maliau is open to visitors and less than half the Basin has been explored by researchers so far. Maliau Basin contains many outstanding natural features, including the greatest number of waterfalls anywhere in Malaysia. The most renowned of these is the spectacular seven-tiered Maliau Falls on the Maliau River – the highest fall of 20 metres. Maliau Basin is also the home of the fabled Lake Linumunsut, Sabah’s only non-oxbow lake, situated below the outer banks of the northern escarpment. The indigenous Murut from the nearby forest, believe that a dragon dwells in the Lake – Sabah’s only freshwater lake – at the bottom of the basin.

Major expeditions discovered a distinct and diverse flora of over 1,800 species, including at least 6 types of pitcher plant and more 80 species of orchid, several of which are new records for Sabah. The rare Rafflesia tengku-adlinii has also been found in Maliau Basin, one of only two known localities in Sabah, and two species completely new to science, a tree and a moss, have so far been discovered. The main forest area is dominated by majestic Agathis trees, rare montane heath forest and precious lowland and hill dipterocarp forest.

Although much of the terrain remains to be explored and studied, Maliau has already revealed itself to be the home of some of Sabah’s most rare and endangered wildlife species, including the Sumatran Rhinoceros, Banteng, Orang Utan and Proboscis Monkey. Others among the over 80 mammal species so far confirmed include Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Malayan Sunbear. An impressive bird list comprising nearly 300 species has been recorded to date, including the spectacular Bulwer’s Pheasant and Bornean Bristlehead – making Maliau Basin a global hot spot for bird biodiversity. More than 35 species of amphibian have so far been found, including a frog which makes its home in pitcher plants. Maliau has also yielded new species of fish, crab and water beetle, with no doubt many more species still to be discovered amongst its rich biodiversity.

Nature explorers will simply love the Maliau Basin as it is an excellent site for jungle trekking, bird watching, nature photography, night drives to spot nocturnal wildlife, waterfall swimming and recreation, and simply experiencing the thrill of being in a truly unspoilt wilderness.

 

Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Built in 1995, The Sukau Rainforest Lodge is perched on the bank of the Kinabatangan River in Borneo, one of Asia’s most important waterways. Sukau was the first lodge in the area designed based on ecotourism principles. It is built on stilts using Borneo hardwood species and is completely self-sufficient in water, harvesting rainwater and solar energy for hot water heating. Electric motors are used for river safari tours to wildlife areas to minimise air and noise pollution and reduce stress to the wildlife. Every room has an attached bathroom with solar hot water shower while electricity is supplied at night by a generator set. Facilities included – a bar lounge, gift shop, Gomantong Hall meeting place, education centre, Hornbill Boardwalk with two elephant passes, three open decks for wildlife viewing, an enclosed garden, a riverside Melapi restaurant, open sun-deck, river jetty and a dip pool.

The lodge provides a great wildlife experience to visitors while preserving the Kinabatangan flood-plain. At 560 kilometres, Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah, and second in Malaysia. The flood-plain of the Kinabatangan is one of the most exceptional areas in eastern Malaysia. The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is known to have among the highest concentration of wildlife in Borneo. Early dawn and late afternoon river cruises provide the perfect opportunity to see 10 primate species – usually the Proboscis Monkeys, Orang Utan and Borneon Gibbon. Among the 50 recorded mammals species found here including the Borneon Pygmy Elephant and Bearded Pig.

With over 200 species found in the area, Sukau is a birdwatcher’s paradise. All eight species of Borneon hornbill exist here and are often in fig trees along the river. Other exciting birds which are regularly seen include Storm’s Stork, Crested Serpent Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Black-and-Red Broadbill, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Hooded Pitta, Buffy fish-Owl, Long Tailed Parakeet, Maroon Woodpecker, Rufous Piculet, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Little Spiderhunter, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Straw-headed Bulbul and Hill Myna.

For more information on Sukau Rainforest Lodge, please visit our website at www.sukau.com

 

Sipadan – Mabul

The late Jacques Cousteau, a world-renowned oceanographer, once described Sipadan Island as an untouched piece of art while divers around the world have voted it as one of the top five dive sites in the world.

Rising 700 metres from the sea floor and at only 12 hectare, Malaysia’s sole oceanic island is very small in size. A 25-minute walk is all that is needed to circle the island on foot, but the huge amount of diverse marine life it attracts from the blackness of the open sea is simply mind-blowing. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, this crown jewel is a treasure trove of some of the most amazing species out there.

The dense vegetation on Sipadan supports a large variety of tropical birds that include sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. Exotic crustaceans including the amazing coconut crab roam the beaches and scurry among the undergrowth. Encounters with turtles, resident schools of jacks, bumphead parrotfish and barracudas are almost assured when diving around the tiny coral island.

In addition, Sipadan has ten dive sites, including Barracuda Point, Coral Garden, The Drop Off, Hanging Gardens, Midreef, South Point, Staghorn Crest, Turtle Cavern, Turtle Patch and Whitetip Avenue.

Located only about 15 minutes by speedboat from Sipadan, Mabul Island has gained its own recognition as one of the best muck diving (a term used to describe limited visibility dives at shallow sites with usually sandy bottoms) sites in the world.

Mabul is a small oval shaped island surrounded by sandy beaches and perched on the northwest corner of a larger 200 hectare reef. The reef is on the edge of the continental shelf and the seabed surrounding the reef slopes out to 25 – 30 metres deep. Mabul is considerably larger than Sipadan and could not be more different. While the interior of Sipadan is untouched tropical forest, Mabul is predominantly made up of actively producing coconut trees.

Mabul is also renowned for its amazing array of macrolife, making it an underwater photographer’s dream location to capture some of the rarest ecological species on film. Flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus, spike-fin gobies, frogfish and moray eels are just some of the spectacular critters you will encounter beneath the waters of Mabul. There are seven dive sites in Mabul, including Crocodile Avenue, Lobster Wall, Ray Point, Seaventure, House Reef, Eel Garden, Froggy Lair and Paradise.
Although all the excitement is underwater, you can always set your scuba gear aside for a day to laze on Mabul’s soft sand to work on your tan. Day time activities include relaxing, snorkeling, fishing or exploring the local fishing village.

 

Mulu National Park

Gazetted in 1974 as the largest Park in Sarawak, Mulu National Park together with Kinabalu Park were designated as Malaysia’s first World Heritage Sites in 2000.

At 4 degree North, it has plenty of rainfall (from 4.5m to 1600m per year) and sunshine (19 – 34 C). Its biodiversity includes 1,500 species of flowering plants, 1,700 mosses and liverworts, 450 ferns, 4,000 fungi, 80 species of mammals, 50 fish, 270 birds, 50 reptiles, 75 amphibians and an estimated 20,000 species of insects. (extract from Mulu World Heritage Area)

Mulu began millions of years ago under the sea where layers of sandstone, limestone and shale were formed and then lifted above the sea level, buckled and folded to form steep mountains of sandstone and limestone. Over time with heavy rain, river, changing level of underground water table and chemical reaction of mildly acidic water eroded them to form some of the most dramatic karst landscapes of pinnacles, caves, cracks, sink holes, joints, pendants, blades, passages, chambers while evaporation created stalactites, stalagmites and columns.

Among the caves dwellers are the bats and swiftlets above on the cave roof, cave racer snakes and crickets, gecko, spiders, scorpions, crabs, centipedes beetles and cochroches. Of course, among the most impressive are the 2-3 million bat exodus from Deer Caves at dusk depending on weather condition.

Outside the caves, time and patience and having a good guide will greatly increase the chance to see some of the exotic flora and fauna including single leaf plant, nepenthes, pygmy squirrel, hornbills among others.

A visit to Mulu is not complete without visiting the four show caves. A normal itinerary for a visitor on day of arrival by flight from Kuching, Miri or Kota Kinabalu is to walk the 3 km raised boardwalk and visit the Lang and Deer Caves (the largest cave passage in the world) and witnessing the bat exodus at the bat observatory at the cave entrance at sundown. On day 2, we take the 40 minutes ride by long boat to visit the 200 km long Clearwater system (the 8th longest in the world) and the charismatic Wind Caves. A short visit by boat is usually made at Batu Bungan, a Penan village and the small handicraft stalls before the caves followed by a picnic lunch and a dip in the cool refreshing water of Clearwater.

For a more intimate knowledge of Mulu National Park, it is worth staying another day. A visit to the Discovery Centre, the 1.5 km self-guided and very informative signages at the botanic trail, the treetop tower for birdwatching and the 2 hours guided night walk is a must. The more adventurous can explore Mulu Canopy Skywalk, the longest treetop canopy walkway in Malaysia, or do adventure caving at Racer Cave. Those who want more comfort at the end of each day can pamper yourself at the at the pool or spa at the 4 stars Marriot Mulu Resort & Spa while the budget conscious can choose the newly renovated chalets at Mulu Park or the backpackers hostel outside the park across the small river.

 

Selingan Island

A designated National Park, Selingan Island is popular with tourists and turtles alike. Located approximately 40 kilometres north of Sandakan in the Sulu Sea, the island is a safe haven for the endangered green and hawksbill turtles and gives you the rare opportunity to watch turtle landings.

As turtle landings usually occur after dusk, an overnight stay would be the best plan to see the turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs. Turtles lay their eggs throughout the year, but the best time to head there is between July and October when the sea is calmer. Observe the collection of eggs, tagging of mother turtles and releasing of baby turtles into the sea. During the day, visitors can resort to other activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling.

Other islands in the National Park are Bakungan Kecil and Gulisan islands. Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight on the islands due to conservation efforts and research being carried out; however day visits are sometimes possible.

 

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Tabin Wildlife is a nature preserve in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. Tabin comprises a rectangular area of approximately 122,539 hectares in the centre of the Dent Peninsula, northeast of Lahad Datu town. Created in the year 1984, Tabin has been declared a Wildlife Reserve primarily on account of the large number of animals inhabiting its forests, some of which are highly endangered. The three largest mammals of Sabah, namely Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Tembadau are all found within the reserve; nine species of primate are present, as well as three species of cats all of which are on the protected wildlife list. Of bird species, 42 families representing 220 species have been recorded. Covered in euryspecies lowland rainforest, Tabin nurtures a colossal number of tropical plants; some of which are rich in medicinal and therapeutic values.

Since the availability of accommodation provided by Tabin Wildlife Resort in 2004, Tabin has gained popularity to be one of the best places in Sabah to observe the rich bio-diversity of nature and to part-take in nature-based activities. One of the highlights of Tabin being the active and mineral-rich mud volcanoes, attracting frequent visits by wildlife for their mineral intake and present an ideal platform for wildlife observation and bird-watching. Amongst the popular activities in Tabin are jungle trekking, night safari, night walk, wildlife spotting, birdwatching, and rainforest education.

Whether you’re a wild adventure seeker, an environmentalist earth mother, a photography lover, an animal activist, or simply just someone looking out for something fun; Tabin extends her arms in welcome. Here, you’ll get a taste of nature like nowhere else.

 

The Heart of Borneo

Heart of Borneo by Borneo Eco Tours invites adventure seekers and curious travellers to a unique community-based ecotourism experience that combines the richness of culture, nature and adventure.

The Heart of Borneo is the world’s largest remaining transboundary rainforest where forests still remain intact on the vast island. Being the third largest island in the world, Borneo’s lush rainforests holds approximately 6% of global biodiversity and is home to some of the world’s rarest and unique flora and fauna, including the iconic giant Rafflesia flowers and pitcher plants, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Orangutans, and Proboscis Monkeys among many others.

In 2007, a programme called the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative was established. HoB Initiative is a unique government-led and NGO-supported programme, a joint Declaration initiated by the governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The programme aims to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Heart of Borneo for the good and benefit of people who rely upon its lands through a network of protected areas, sustainable management of forests as well as other sustainable land uses.

Our Heart of Borneo tours are aimed to protect and conserve Borneo’s rainforests and its people’s culture through ecotourism efforts and partnerships. Presently, our HoB tours cover Sarawak as its destination but will further expand to destinations in East Kalimantan, Sabah as well as Brunei.