Land & Dive Resorts surrounded by the azure waters of the Sulu Sea and set astride the Equator, Borneo is one of the ultimate diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Located on islands and atolls these resorts are often wonderfully isolated and many have turtle nesting sites that you can observe in carefully controlled night watches.
With large chalets providing immediate access for snorkelling and swimming you are often sharing the water with marine turtles right out of your room! All the dive resorts come with PADI rated dive centres and some even have dive sites straight off their jetties.
Being such a wildlife-focused destination, location is key to ensure that you enjoy close proximity to it. Standards of accommodation in Borneo can vary according to the area and activity, with some lavish and opulent hotels in Kota Kinabalu contrasting with stilted rainforest eco-lodges on the Kinabatangan River or basic rustic camps in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. On the island retreats of Lankayan and Mataking, you will find chalets and bungalows teasingly close to the pristine beaches, some on wooden walkways out in the ocean
Sabah in North Borneo harbours the highest mountain in Borneo – Mount Kinabalu and at the base of the mountain, set amidst mist shrouded montane wilderness that contains giant pitcher plants, are a set of the most beautifully adapted and furnished mountain lodges.
These once belonged to the Park service and are more like self-contained chalets with very high quality fittings, linen, fire places and even kitchenettes although when you book one the package is on a full board basis. These are excellent for a family to book especially for those climbing Mt. Kinabalu – welcome dose of luxury!
There is only one world class jungle lodge in Borneo – fittingly in the Danum Valley one of the world’s great wildlife sanctuaries. Here the government has created a tourism concession administered by a trust – the Yayasan Sabah which uses tourism to fund conservation and local development.
The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is set in a bend of the Danum River with chalets looking out over towering rain-forest echoing to the calls of Borneo Gibbons and Orangutans and hornbills and flashing trogons. Beautifully designed, it offers a level of food, personalised service and natural history experience that is generally alien to the somewhat functional attitudes of most Borneans.
Other wildlife lodges are much simpler, functional and need the quite of personalised guiding provided by Asian Explorations for visitors to truly appreciate the wealth of wildlife to be found.
Longhouses & Home-stays
The rich cultural heritage of the vastly diverse cultures of Borneo is too often dismissed or unsuspected. The best way to experience this and to interact with the people is to stay in a traditional long-house in Sarawak. This is a colourful, busy, communal setting that provides wonderful insights into the everyday lives of the various tribes and groups that live here.
Long-houses are more typical of the various Dayak groups but in other areas local people have set up home-stays that are simple and basic especially in the facilities department but this is where you have the best food, the best company and along the Kinabatangan River some of the best local wildlife guides. For those willing to rough it a bit, well worth the experience.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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