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.
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).
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.