The Danum Valley Conservation Area, 83km south-west of Lahad Datu, is blessed with a startling diversity of tropical flora and fauna. This vast Eden-like basin is home to the rare Sumatran Rhinoceros, orang utans, gibbons, mousedeer and the beautiful clouded leopard. Some 270 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The Danum Field Research Centre is located within the confines of the 440 sq km forest reserve.
It also boasts one of the first eco-resorts in Sabah, known as the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. This comfortable resort has a restaurant, bar and comfortable chalets overlooking the Danum River. Jungle treks, river swimming, bird watching, night jungle tours and excursions to nearby logging sites and timber mills are some of the activities offered here.
Kinabalu Park, the entrance to Mt Kinabalu, 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 Mt Kinabalu. Its covers an area of 754 sq km and is made up of Mount Kinabalu, Mount Tambayukon and the foothills.
It was gazetted to preserve this valuable natural environment. The mountains have a fascinating geological history, taking ‘just’ a million years to form. The mighty Mount Kinabalu is actually a granite massif that was later thrust upwards through the crust of the surface.
Subsequent erosion removed thousands of feet of the overlying sand and mud stone, exposing this massif. During the Ice Age, glaciers running across the summit smoothed it out, but the jagged peaks that stood out above the ice surface remained unaffected, retaining the extremely ragged surfaces. This rugged mountain is the focal point of the National Park.
Kundasang War Memorial
This was one of the first memorials to commemorate the brave Australian and British Prisoners of War who died in Sandakan and during the infamous death marches to Ranau during World War II.
The fort-like Memorial was designed by a local architect by the name of J.C. Robinson. It has 4 interlocking but separate gardens to represent the homelands of those who has died: an Australian Garden, a formal English Garden of roses, a Borneo Garden with wild flowers of Kinabalu and at the top level is the Contemplation Garden with a reflection pool and pergola.
The memorial is open to local and foreign visitors not only to view the perfect gardens but to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the Freedom of others. The Memorial is open to visitors with minimal entrance fees charged.
Layang Layang Island
Layang Layang, meaning kite, is fast becoming another one of Malaysia’s premier dive destinations after the world-famous Sipadan Island.
This oceanic atoll is situated in the South China Sea about 300km north-west of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah.
The little land mass supports a luxurious 90-room dive resort, a Malaysian Naval base and a nesting colony for several sea-faring migratory birds. The reef topography is essentially made up of a rich growth of hard corals; some so shallow that they break the sea surface during low tides, but most begin at depths of about 5m right down to the ocean floor.
Some of the marine animals observed around the 14 dive sites include black-tip sharks, hammerheads, jacks barracudas, bump-head parrotfish, lionfish, moray eels, turtles, nudibranches, gobies and the ghost pipe fish.
Mabul Island is reputed to be one of the best places for underwater macro-photography in the world. Located in the clear waters of the Celebes Sea off the mainland of Sabah, it is surrounded by gentle sloping reefs two to 40m deep.
Covering some 21 ha., it is considerably larger than the nearby Sipadan Island and is home to the Bajau Laut tribe, one of many ethnic groups in Sabah.
Diving is the main activity on this island, and it can be done all year round. Marine life that can be seen here includes sea horses, exotic starfish, fire gobies, crocodile fish, pipefish and snake eels. There are over eight popular dive spots, each with its own speciality.
Three resorts cater to scuba divers — two are on the island itself while one is on a converted oil rig platform about 500m offshore. All of the resorts provide day trips for their guests to the nearby Sipadan and Kapalai Islands.
Monkey Tops Safari
It is accessible by highway and takes about 1 hour 30 minutes to get there. You can see an abundance of mangrove tress are found in the Klias Wetland Peninsula. This wetland forest is enriched with vegetation and wildlife such as the Proboscis Monkeys, Long Tail Macaques, Crocodile, Fireflies and many species of Birds.
The building is made of local building materials and can accommodate at least 200 visitors at any one time. The complex houses a Counter Bar and a Souvenir Shop with a good assortment of local handicrafts.
It also has a 30 feet observation tower that enables you to enjoy the sighting of tropical wetland and its rich wildlife across the river banks. The complex has a 500-feet boardwalk with Nipah Atap roofing and a river jetty providing a comfortable river cruise.
Facilities they have is built using Local Materials, Eco-Lodge consist of boardwalk, Bird Watch Tower, Dining Hall, Sundeck, Fish Spa and space for 300 visitors. Multi-media facilities for seminar for seminar etc are available. Incentive group event most ideal. River cruise boat 25-33ft, capacity 16-30 pax on most comfortable seating.
Mt Kinabalu Via Ferrata
The highest point for the via ferrata starts at 3,400 m and ends at 3,800 m. An activity for everyone, the via ferrata is devised to give people with little or no climbing experience access to rock faces normally reached by mountaineers and rock climbers.
Via ferrata (or iron road in Italian), is a mountain path consisting of a series of rungs, rails and cables embracing the rock face. There are more than 300 via ferrata routes around the world and the world’s highest via ferrata, can now be found on Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia.
This is the first time that the sport of via ferrata climbing is being introduced in Asia. The highest point for the via ferrata starts at 3,400 m and ends at 3,800 m. An activity for everyone, the via ferrata is devised to give people with little or no climbing experience access to rock faces normally reached by mountaineers and rock climbers.
There are several requirements to follow the via ferrata activity, including having an average fitness level and able to hike up to 3,200 m in 6 hours; at least 10 years old and 1.3 meters tall, and especially do not have a fear of heights (or willing to conquer their fear of heights!).
This is challenging adventure, and those interested to experience via ferrata on Mt Kinabalu should note that the beginner’s route will let the climber take their first experience along the granite walls of Mt Kinabalu (a journey of about 2- 3 hours).
The intermediate route will let the climber experience a 4 to 5 hours journey, which will reward the climber with a breathtaking view of the heights and sights. Ready to take the challenge? Give via ferrata on Mt Kinabalu a try!
Pulau Tiga Marine Park
Pulau Tiga is the largest of the three islands that make up Pulau Tiga Park. Its beautiful landscape and unspoilt natural environment has attracted CBS TV Network of the USA to use this island as the main location for the popular ‘Survivor’ Programme, dubbing it the ‘Survivor Island’.
This island was formed through the eruption of several mud volcanoes. The last explosion happened in 1941 and since then the volcanoes have remained relatively passive.
Several small mud volcanoes spewing cool, mineral-rich mud can still be found near the summit of the island. The notion that this mineral rich mud is good for your skin makes mud-bathing a must-do activity on this island.
The island’s lush green jungle serves as a soothing backdrop, while the fine, white sand beaches and the clear unpolluted water are a wonder for nature lovers.
The coral reefs encircling the island are home to many species of fish and other marine life. Among the activities that await you here are diving, non-motorised water sports, trekking, bird watching and mud bathing.
The Park Headquarters is situated on the southern side of the island, not far from Pulau Tiga Resort, the only resort facility available on the island.
Rainforest Discovery Centre
The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) situated in Sepilok, Sandakan is a part of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Located in Sabah, the RDC is an environmental education (EE) centre in the state.
Take a walk through the park, or a stroll on wooden the suspension bridge at the 950 metres canopy walk and view countless of exotic wildlife.
Night walks along the trail also offer a chance to catch a glimpse of wildlife such as the cunning mousedeer, wily civet cats, cute tarsiers and various insects and birds.
There are also many magnificent flowering shrubs a the Plant Discovery Garden, with about 250 species of native orchids. The orchid family, is known to be the largest flowering plants with about 25,000 wild species throughout the world.
Enthusiasts, naturalists, budding scientists and nature lovers from all walks of life will get to know more of the wonders of the rainforests through this unique Rainforest Discovery Centre.
The RDC helps to raise public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources.
Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary
The Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary is a fascinating place where visitors can observe trainers teaching orphaned or displaced Orang Utan apes to climb in their natural habitat. At this rehabilitation centre, captive animals are retrained for life in the jungle.The centre allows a close-up view of these arboreal creatures.
The best time to visit is at 10.00 am and again at 2.30 pm when the primates emerge from the forest for their daily ration of bananas and milk. You can see the orang utans being fed from a platform in the centre. Nicknamed the ‘Wild Man of Borneo’, the orang utans are returned to the forest when they can fend for themselves.
Aside from the orang utan, over 200 species of birds and a variety of wild plants can be found within the 5.666 hectares of forest reserve.
Sipadan Island, Sabah
The late Jacques Cousteau, the world-renowned oceanographer, described Sipadan Island as an untouched piece of art, while divers around the world voted it as one of the top five dive sites in the world.
Malaysias only oceanic island, it is very small only 12ha. in size. A 25-minute walk is all that is required to circle the island on foot. As an oceanic island, it rises about 700 metres from the sea floor, attracting diverse marine life from the blackness of the open sea. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, this crown jewel is a treasure trove of some of the most amazing marine animals.
Declared a bird sanctuary in 1933 by the Colonial Government of North Borneo and re-gazetted in 1963 by the Malaysian Government, the dense vegetation on Sipadan Island supports a large variety of tropical birds which include sea eagles, kingfishers, sunbirds, starlings and wood pigeons. Exotic crustaceans including the amazing coconut crab roam the beaches and scurry among the undergrowth.
When diving here, encounters with turtles, resident schools of jacks, bumphead parrotfish and barracudas are almost assured around the tiny coral island.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
The Tunku Abdul Rahman park comprises a group of five islands located only 20 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital. The park is spread over 4,929 hectares, two thirds of which is sea.
The five idyllic islands, Manukan, Mamutik, Sulug, Gaya and Sapi have soft white beaches and are teeming with fish and coral, perfect for beginner divers as well as snorkellers and picnickers. Gaya and Sapi Islands also have hiking trails through their pristine jungles.
These islands are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including one of the most intriguing birds, the Megapode or Burung Tambun, a chicken lookalike with large feet and makes a meowing sound like a cat.