Travel Borneo’s “Land Below The Wind”
Known as the ‘Land Below the Wind’ because of its location below the typhoon belt, Sabah is one of Borneo’s most exciting destinations. It is the only place on earth where you can come face to face with an Orang Utan or a giant nesting Green Turtle, not to mention its ancient rainforests, unique dive sites, and significant cave systems.
1.Meet Borneo’s gentle giants
Sabah is home to a protected Orangutan population. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was established in 1964 when 4,500 hectares of virgin jungle were designated as forest reserve and sanctuary for these primates.
Since its establishment, the centre rehabilitates baby Orangutans orphaned from logging sites, plantations and illegal hunting, facilitating their safe return to the forests as soon as they are ready. Orangutans are generally shy and solitary creatures, rarely seen in the wild, but with a bit of luck, you can spot a juvenile wandering in the wild.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is, without doubt, the best place to observe one of nature’s most fascinating creatures, up close, and in their natural habitat.
The centre is located about a 40 minutes drive from Sandakan.
2.Reach the summit of Malaysia’s first UNESCO site
Mt Kinabalu and its surrounding area is Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the highest mountains in South East Asia.
This spectacular granite massif stands at 4,095.2 metres (13,435ft) tall. Climbing Mt Kinabalu is an awesome experience exposing you to the rich biological diversity, exotic rare plants, orchids, birds, not to mention the views once you reach the summit.
You’ll start in a t-shirt and shorts in some 30C slowly climbing to temperature as low as 3C if you reach the top. Curios chipmunks, colourful butterflies, and stunning scenery will keep you company throughout this challenging but achievable, adventure.
Most importantly, climbers do not require any special equipment or skills other than a basic to moderate level of fitness, warm clothing for the summit, sturdy hiking boots and a good camera. Mt Kinabalu is a couple of hours drive from Kota Kinabalu.
If you wish to go all the way to the top, you’ll need to secure a permit and prepare for an overnight stay.
3.Join the conservation program for Hawksbill Turtles
Turtle Islands Park is internationally known as a nesting destination for the Green and Hawksbill Turtles. These are two major species of marine turtle which come ashore to lay their eggs.
This is a rare opportunity for you to witness the three stage conservation program established by the Malaysian government to protect and increase the population of these majestic marine creatures.
The first stage of the program is truly moving. It consists of accompanying a park ranger to a nesting site to watch a mother turtle as it lays its eggs under the cover of night. Once she is done, the ranger tags, measures, and gives the turtle a full body check.
The second stage invites you to take the freshly laid eggs to the hatchery where they are counted, dated and replanted.
The final stage of the program, is emotional and exhilarating, as you watch hundreds of baby turtles hatch during the night and be released for the first time to the open sea.
The Turtle Islands are simply idyllic. During the day you can roam along the beautiful beaches, swim or snorkel the warm and clear waters before your night with the turtles.
The program often starts late a night and can last for several hours, but the memories and experience will stay with you for ever.
Turtle Islands are about an hour from Sandakan by speedboat.