The most pristine, protected lowland rainforest in Borneo extends over 169 sq miles (438 sq km) of the Danum Valley in eastern Sabah. Comprising primarily dipterocarp jungle, the area provides sanctuary for an exceptionally rich array of species, from the rarely sighted clouded leopard and Sumatran rhinoceros to more common pygmy elephants, gibbons and proboscis monkeys. Orangutans are also present here in healthy numbers. Among the best places to see them is the forest in the immediate vicinity of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a wonderful eco-retreat that offers an impressive level of comfort for such a far-flung location.

Among the best places to see them is the forest in the immediate vicinity of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, a wonderful eco-retreat that offers an impressive level of comfort for such a far-flung location.

Reaching Danum involves a short flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu, on the east coast, followed by a 2-3 hours’ drive inland (though it is also accessible by a 4-hour road journey from Kinabatangan River). Once installed in your comfortable rainforest chalet, you’ll be in the capable hands of the lodge’s highly trained naturalists.

First foray into the conservation area is usually a guided tour of the majestic, 107-metre-long canopy walkway, from which vantage point you’ll be able to begin ticking off many of the 320 species of birds resident in the valley. Around 30 miles (50km) of marked trails thread through the reserve to observation posts and other places of interest, such as a Kadazan–Dusun cliff-coffin burial site and Sungai Purut waterfalls. Tubing, night hikes to spot nocturnal animals, and predawn treks to panoramic viewpoints where you can watch the sun rise over the mist-drenched rainforest canopy are also offered.

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