In March this year I had the enviable task of trying some of our fabulous bite sized trips in Borneo, and having visited Borneo (Sabah) back in 2003 I was interested in seeing what the more undiscovered part of Borneo – (Sarawak) had to offer. Here’s how it went…
Day 1: Kuching
My Sarawak trip started in the beautiful city of Kuching. This small city is easily walkable with plenty to offer; based on the river you can spend your time wandering along the waterfront, people-watch in one of the many coffee houses and wander around the old part of the city taking in the local architecture and the small shops that have been converted from old tea houses. It really is a magical laid-back city where locals like to enjoy their holidays.
Day 2: Bako National Park
Situated only 1 hour away by car and boat, Bako is one of the best places in Sarawak to see wildlife in a natural setting, on arrival I was greeted by a wild boar and during my trek my guide with his binoculars at the ready spotted proboscis monkeys, long tail macaques, a monitor lizard and a very long snake! The trek lasts about 90 mins and takes you through forest, swamps and mangroves before opening up to a beautiful wild beach.
Day 3: Semengoh Orangutan Rehab Centre
Sarawak has its own centre which is far less busy than the more famous centre in Sabah. Situated a short car journey away over 20 orangutans live in the forest within a natural reserve and often return to the centre at feeding times. The aim is to train orphaned or rescued orangutans on how to survive in the wild. These beautiful animals come swinging through the trees for their free meal and you also get a small talk from the rangers to learn about their work at the centre.
Day 4: Gunung Mulu National Park
On day 4 it was time to head to Gunung Mulu National Park. It was an early start back to the airport to catch a small plane to an even smaller airport of Mulu consisting of one runway surrounded by forest and cliffs with a luggage belt a metre long (it’s true). Park HQ and check in was a 5 minute golf cart drive and my lodge was situated smack-bang in the park; a stunning setting with lush green rainforest surrounding my bungalow. There I enjoyed a brief cool drink on my private veranda before setting out on my first trek to deer and Lang cave. The clouds looked ominous so I packed my waterproof and followed my guide through the rainforest. The walk was mostly by plank walks and small trails and along the way we learned more about the rainforest. Deer Cave is the worlds largest cave with a 150 metre entrance it is home to about 2 million bats… there is something quite magnificent to wander around this huge cave, the dimly lit walkways casting shadows over the stalagmite and limestone formations.
As dusk set, we made our way to the bat observatory to wait for the spectacular exodus of bats that make their way out each evening in search of food. However, the heavens opened and I got to experience a rainforest shower – my waterproof did not stand the test and I was soaked from head to toe within a minute! The bats stayed in the cave and I wish I had too! Back at base having dried off, I made my way to the on site restaurant, where I was spoilt for choice. On the menus I was greeted by local and international dishes along with a choice of wine. Having worked up an appetite, I chose a vegetarian Thali and sat with a glass of wine with new friends listening to the background of jungle noises; it was my best evening in Borneo to date!
Day 5: On to Kota Kinabalu
On day 5 after a breakfast of fluffy pancakes, we proceeded by long tail boat up the river to wind & clear water caves. Along the way we made an impromptu stop at a local village. All is quiet as the children are at school, but the locals greeted me like an old friend and I was soon treated to a tour around their small stilted wooden houses, vegetable patches and land. Next stop was a short plank walk to the caves. After a morning coffee & biscuit break, we climbed the 250 steps where we were greeted by a lush green entrance. The cave provides a natural habitat for an array of unique species of plants… can you call a cave pretty? Well this one certainly was as photo sensitive algae glowed on rocks; forming needle-like formations that pointed towards the light. After a tour of the cave we made our way to a wonderful swimming area shaded by giant rainforest trees. We a quick swim to cool off followed by a giant picnic of curries, veggies and rice.
After lunch, it was time to leave my wonderful rainforest oasis and head back to Mulu airport to catch my onward flight to my next destination, Kota Kinabalu – Sabah is another adventure…..