Must admit that this was one of the longest trips we took. We flew from Munich (Germany) to Doha, then from Doha to Bangkok, Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and then to our final destination, Kota Kinabalu (Borneo). Traveling for almost 26 hours we were dead tired upon arrival and went straight to bed. The next morning we were on the road again.
SEPILOK NATURE RESERVE
We boarded a bus to Sepilok (Sabah District of North Borneo) where they rehabilitate orphan orangutans since 1964. The road was winding and packed with locals, who were watching what appeared to be very popular karaoke show and some of the passengers were singing along all the way to Sepilok:)
Upon arrival we went straight to Orangutan rehabilitation center to see the orangutans (it costs 30 RM to enter the Center). The center provides medical care and housing for orphaned orangutans as a result of illegal logging and deforestation and those who have been illegally caught and kept as pets. It was almost feeding time so we were there on time.
Don’t expect to feed them yourself or be in petting distance-these are not regular monkeys you see all around Asia. Center does not encourage visitors to handle the apes as this is not a zoo. Look for them in the tree tops and you can’t miss them.
The apes live wild in the reserve and will only appear if they choose so. Be sure you come in time for feeding and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll see at least one of them.
UNCLE TAN’S CAMP
After visiting Sepilok we went on adventure spree in the jungle also known as Uncle Tan’s camp. Located between Forest Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary this really is in the middle of nowhere:)
After lunch at Ops Base we traveled with boat at the Kinabatangan River to Uncle Tan’s Adventure Camp.
The employees give you a quick briefing on the program and activities before escorting you to your “cage”. Don’t expect hotel room, this truly is a cage with a thin mattress on the floor, a mosquito net and cage like doors to prevent the animals to come in your “room” at night.
Nights and morning safari are organized and you’ll see tons of animal from scorpions to proboscis monkeys.
Food in the Camp is surprisingly good, especially pancakes in the morning-if you can grab them before the monkeys do that is:) I won’t lie, this was a great experience we had when we were in our 20s but it’s definitely not something I would visit every year:) There weren’t a lot of kids running around while we were visiting but the ones that were seem to have a great time. In my opinion don’t drag your kids here before they are old enough to appreciate the nature and jungle wildlife.
Find everything you need to know about the program here: http://www.uncletan.com/wildlifetour.html
After three days we were ready to leave. The staff was very helpful and they even booked us a seat on a bus back to Kota Kinabalu. This was really a smart move since the bus was already fully packed when they picked us up and on the way to KK we picked up few more tourists that didn’t have a ticket and they either got left behind or were sitting on the floor of the bus the entire way back.
After that we were ready for some sea and fun on the sun. Paradise Perhentian Islands here we come!
Sarawak, located in Malaysian Borneo, is diverse and culturally unlike any other region of Malaysia. From the intriguing colonial base of Kuching, you can can leap into Sarawak’s main attractions: nature and adventure. The list of adventure possibilities is as long as a Sarawak proboscis monkey’s nose, with everything from river kayaking, climbing and hiking through the region’s many forests on offer to get your adrenalin pumping.
We spent the night at the same hostel in Kota Kinabalu and in the morning we were up again for a MASwings flight to Mulu. The only other way to reach this remote area is by river from Miri which takes around 12 hours so this was out of the question for us.
GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK
Mulu national park is located near Miri, Sarawak and it’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most famous for its caves and equatorial rainforest setting this truly was a place worth seeing.
We visited Deer cave that is one of the largest single cave passages in the world-it’s over 2 kilometers long and around 90 meters high and wide. The caves are dark, moist and slippery and by the time you make it to the sunlight you are covered in guano (excrement of cave-dwelling bats).
Happy to be out of the bat infested cave you have a new animal to be cautious of-leaches!! They are all over the leaves and walking thru the jungle there is no possible way to avoid them.
They are pretty small and fast so before you realize they are under your trousers. The end of the cave path lead to Garden of Eden where a hole in the cave roof lets in a ray of light which allows the rich green vegetation to thrive.
This really was a nice view. After visiting the Deer cave we went to Lang’s Cave. Relatively small compared to other caves its rock formations (stalactites and stalagmites) are well worth seeing.
We stayed a night at Royal Mulu Resort that is the only accommodation available onsite even though it’s quite expensive. We were here only one night and then moved into the Park Headquarters Chalet.
CAMP 5 IN GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK AND CLIMBING THE PINNACLES
In the morning we were back on the road so to speak. We decided to climb the famous Pinnacles at Mulu. You can organize the track yourself but you’ll need a guide to take you to the top. The Pinnacles consist of a series of 45 meter high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation. All though popular tracks in the park, this is by no means an easy one. We were in a pretty good shape and were dead exhausted after climbing it. The trail is very steep and there are ladders and robes helping you get thru almost vertical areas. Camp 5 is 2-3 hours walk thru jungle terrain and it’s a base camp for anyone attempting to climb the Pinnacles. The Camp provides basic accommodation with cooking facilities.
The accommodation is really simple-there is a thin mattress on the hard wooden floor and a mosquito net. Be aware that unless your tour here is organized you will need enough food and water to last you all your stay here.
Thankfully we were prepared and broad enough food and snacks with us to have a cooked meal every day.
As for the water-you can gather it from the near Melinau River and boil it to make it safe for drinking. The river runs in front of the camp and it provides a great (but freezing cold) swim after a long walk.
Early next morning we were set to go.
The trail to the Pinnacles is 2, 4 kilometers in length and rises 1,200 meters from Camp 5 to the viewpoint. The trek is very difficult and will last anywhere from 5 to 10 hours depending on your fitness level. Considering you depart base camp at around 7 a.m. there is almost completely dark by the time you come back. You have to carry all your water and food supplies.
The track is very dangerous and you encounter quite a few of rain showers on the way so it makes it slippery too. Our group was one of the fastest one and we were back in the camp just before the sunset.
There were still people coming down when we were going to bed. This track is difficult at day, attempting to climb it at night is nothing other than a dead trap! The view from the top? Have to say that for us, it just wasn’t worth the climb, and many other tourists shared our opinion. But once you cool down and forget the exhaustion, you’ll have a great memory to shre with your loved ones:)
We decided to leave Mulu National Park with Headhunter’s trail.
The trek is organized and it combines upriver travel, jungle tracking and an overnight stay at an Iban longhouse.
The trail itself follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties who paddled up the Melinau River to Melinau Gorge. It takes around 4-5 hours from Camp 5 track and another 3-4 hours travel by longboat to reach a longhouse.
IBAN LONGHOUSE VISIT
We had a great time at longhouse.
People, especially children were very excited and they occupied us completely-we weren’t complaining:)
They offered us rich dinner and rice wine that was too strong for our tired bodies:)
The next morning we were served with breakfast and we were on our way to Limbang.
From Limbang we took a 30 minutes flight to Miri. As a second largest city in Sarawak and a birthplace of Malaysia’s petroleum industry, this place is a major tourist destination. Miri is also the main getaway for Loagan Bunut National Park, Lambir National Park, Niah National Park and also a great dive spot. While there we spend 3 days mostly recovering from our jungle experience.
It rained almost the entire time we were there but we were used to daily rain showers by then so it didn’t really bother us.
This country is nothing like the rest of Borneo. Thanks to natural gas and petroleum resources the Sultanate of Brunei is extremely rich country and it’s widely shown. Officially Islamic country it has strict rules of conduct-prohibited alcohol and all non halal meat. We mostly just walked around and admire the country’s massive mosques that were just amazing.
After a long day we drove back to our guest house and packed our bags yet again. The next morning we were off boarding AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur and from there on to Perhentian Island. We’ve chosen this to be our final destination before leaving Malaysia and heading back home and we made the right decision.
The Perhentian Islands are basically two islands, small (Pulau Perhentian Kecil) and large (Pulau Perhentian Besar).
We visited both but were staying on the second. Apart from a small community on Kecil, islands are not permanently inhabited. There are only a handful of resorts on both islands and the main mean of travel is either by water taxi or good old fashion jungle tracking.
We stayed in Tuna Bay Island Resort and truly made the best of the few more days we had.
The resort was everything we hoped for but the beach was not all that great. At least not compared with the beach on the other side of the island next to Perhentian Island Resort that is.
We soon made it a daily routine to track dense jungle all the way to paradise.
White powdery sand, wide beach strip and crystal clear water made us not want to leave. With tons of fish and even occasional turtle this is a great snorkeling spot.
This is also the only spot we ever saw a turtle without other 30 people splashing around. Food in Tuna Bay Island Resort was good but a little too pricey for our taste, so we ate at the neighboring restaurant most of the nights.
It was a relaxing end of our otherwise intense vacation and we all agreed that this was one of the best vacation spots we’ve been so far.