Famous as the home to the Orangutan, Borneo is a refuge for a plethora of endangered species: the Proboscis Monkey, the Borneo Rhino, the Pygmy Elephant as well as the Green and Hawksbill Turtle.
In Borneo, you’re among some of the few untouched wildlife environments in Asia. Across the sparkling waters of the South China sea, you may spot an Irrawaddy dolphin leaping out of the blue. Down by the river you may lock eyes with the cold gaze of a saltwater croc. And as you move along the river banks you may begin to pick out other details: the pitcher plants, lianas and orchids. Further on, the lowland forest gives way to conifers and rhododendrons as you ascend the flanks of Mount Kinabalu.
Borneo is a melting-pot of cultures, religions and languages. All kinds of tribal communities still live off the land here, and practise ancient ways of life. Most cities have large Chinese communities, while the coastal villages of Sabah and Sarawak are populated mainly by Malays. Inland the dominant culture is indigenous. At Chinese restaurants, you can dine on fresh seafood. As you wander the Malay night markets, it’s the smoky smell of chicken satay stalls, or spicy sambal that tickles your throat.
Then there’s the cooking of the Kelabit people – Bario rice and pineapple curry, bamboo chicken and midin jungle fern. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever tasted.
When to go
We recommend the dry season from April to September. It will be hot and humid throughout, with temperatures rising towards the end of the season before the rains come.