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Borneo The ultimate nature trip

Real Holidays’ travel expert and resident nature lover, Rob, took his animal-crazy family to Borneo.

This is an adventurous holiday to see unique creatures and rare birdlife in some of the world's most pristine rainforest.

Below, Rob outlines the highlights of their trip that took them from the Sepilok conservation area to Kinabatabgan River, Danum Valley rainforest to Gaya Island.

Best Birdlife Spot

We stayed a few nights by the Kinabatangan River which is a fantastic place to spot wildlife. On boat cruises that snaked through the jungle we saw wild orangutans, crocodiles, frogs and pygmy elephants.

However, a standout moment for my budding ornithologists and I was on a night cruise from Sukau River Lodge. We saw four or five sleeping black and red broadbills all huddled up together asleep, and as we drifted past, they all flew off individually. A beautiful sight.

Best Animal Encounter

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley is a truly special place to stay and it was here that we had one of our most memorable animal encounters. Surrounded by ancient rainforest on one side and the twisting Danum river on the other, it’s no wonder that wildlife sightings are high.

One evening we took a night drive and were amazed to see a clouded leopard. Our guide said it was the first wild cat he’d seen in two years working there. We watched open-mouthed as the delicately patterned cat wandered across the road then appeared to sit posing on a log while my daughter took photos of it.

Best Trek

I was surprised that my children (age 12 and 8) really took to trekking, and while we were staying in the Danum Valley we took an incredible four-hour hike to Coffin Cliff and Fairy Falls. Coffin Cliff was a burial site for many years with 500-year-old bones still visible. Here was also an immense view onto the tangle of ancient jungle, criss-crossed with vines and clicking with noisy cicadas.

On our way back we saw orangutan swinging in the trees, before our hike was interrupted by a suspected venomous pit viper right in our path, which on later inspections from our photos turned out to be an oriental vine snake (still venomous, but not dangerous to humans).

Best View

Much as my family and I loved getting out into the jungle and spending time on the river, sometimes I had to stop myself to appreciate what was on our doorstep. This was especially apparent at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Our bedroom overlooked the misty Danum River with the dense jungle rising atmospherically behind. This absorbing ever-changing view meant plenty of animal spotting from the comfort of our terrace. By day we saw lots of blue throated bee eaters, and evening brought sambal deer heading to the river at night.

Best for Kids

What kid doesn’t like the idea of exploring the jungle, Tarzan-style, spotting monkeys and re-living The Jungle Book? However, the reality can be quite different in the hot, humid and energy-sapping rainforest. So, we were grateful to have excellent guides who worked hard to engage our children, telling stories and captivating them with the big and little details.  This was especially good on our tour around the boardwalk at Sukau, a specially designed walking trail that takes you into the heart of the rainforest. Our guide regaled the children with tales from headhunting days, which he himself remembered, and also enthralled us all with his crucial jungle survival tips. You never know when you might need them!

If you’re interested in a trip to Borneo why not give Rob a call? He can talk you through you through the options, and based on your needs, he can create an itinerary that will suit you perfectly. Whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or with family, Borneo can offer an extraordinary experience, full of the wonders of the world.

Rob Milverton

Travel Planner

In the Sepilok area I'd recommend a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre - well worth a visit around dusk as there’s a good chance of seeing flying squirrels.