Travel to Borneo Island and walk above a rainforest, have an orangutan hold your hand, see a rhino in the wild and relax on a pristine beach resort. See why Borneo Island makes a wonderful adventure Island destination!
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Travel to Borneo Island
Borneo always seems to conjure mystical images of an unknown world. Its very name suggests jungle wilderness and a world teeming with wild animals. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest island of Asia. It’s the home of the sea turtle and the orangutan, ancient indigenous tribes and one of the world’s oldest rain-forests.
So what’s it like to travel to Borneo island?
Redolent landscapes set the scene. Lush tropical jungle extends as far as the eye can see, the undulating mountains covered in competing shades of green. Immense rivers meander through the trees, creeping towards the mangroves and filtering into thick swamps.
Rich blue waters surround the world’s third largest island, but there is much more here than just beautiful beaches and resorts.
Why travel to Borneo Island?
People come to Borneo for the bounty of its unique landscapes. Endemic wildlife lurks in the trees and it’s much sought after by both tourists and poachers. The Bornean orangutan can fetch big money on the black market, and the Sepilok Orangutan Centre was set up to rehabilitate orphaned babies and then reintegrate them into the wild. You don’t need a pair of binoculars to spot them.
Swinging through the trees, often just meters away from tourists, is a whole gang of playful orangutans. The centre has a hands off approach to their care, yet the primates crave personal attention. Confident and inquisitive, they jump towards people, puckering up for sloppy kisses and sending mischievous hands into open backpacks.Be careful, because once an orangutan has stolen your sunglasses they’re unlikely to give them back.
They’re genetically 97.4% identical to humans, and they march along the walkways holding hands with visitors. None of this is allowed of course, but trying to stop an orangutan from having fun is pretty difficult.
More Incredible Wildlife When you Travel to Borneo Island
Borneo is split into two. The southern Indonesian part is almost impenetrable, offering little but challenging expeditions into the rainforest. The Malaysian part is more visitor friendly, particularly the north eastern province of Sabah. It’s where you’ll find the orangutans, comically jumping around and using their furry hands to liberate biscuits and caps.
Also living in the trees here is the Sumatran rhino, a critically endangered species that also captivates both poachers and visitors. On a three day canoe trip tourists try and get a glimpse of them in the wild, a furtive glance at the majestic mammal plodding through the trees. Imperial horns symbolize their power and fierce protection of territory. But evocative eyes and graceful movements suggest that these are gentle giants.
Discovering an Untamed World
When you travel to Borneo island it isn’t always easy, especially when travelling the road less travelled. Getting around the non tourist part of the island is sometimes slow and cumbersome, the muddy roads struggling to puncture a way through the rainforest. Heat and humidity takes its daily toll, often leaving everyone in search of non-existent air conditioning units. And a ferocious combination of leeches and mosquitoes like to attach themselves to ankles on jungle treks by foot.
Strongly recommended are the surreal three day canoe trip there is nothing but untamed rainforest. The boat serenely floats through overhanding mangrove forests, passing creeping roots and a hundred shades of green. Bird song and monkey chatter comes down from the treetops, while ancient tribes can still be found living in the middle of nowhere. To go by foot would be treacherous and almost impossible. Go by river and an untamed world unfurls before your eyes.
Looking for something a little less adventurous? Not a problem! Borneo is full of beautiful places to relax and soak up the sun.
One More Reason to Travel to Borneo Island
There’s even more to discover, this time from the water that surrounds Borneo. Famous diver Jacques Cousteau once described the underwater pinnacle of Pulao Sipadan as “an untouched piece of art.”
It’s barely 200 meters across, and it’s arguably the highlight of travel to Borneo island. Walk out ten meters from shore and the water placidly lolls around waist level. Take another step and you fall off the edge of an 800 meter vertical underwater cliff.
A strong current pulls you around the apex, effortlessly taking divers past hundreds of white tip reef sharks and giant schools of barracuda.
It’s a dive site that pumps up the adrenalin and pulls on the nerves. But another ubiquitous sea creature calms everything down. Sea turtles are everywhere, elegantly swimming around Borneo island, their beautiful shells contrasting the clear ocean waters. They’re emblematic of the experience when you travel to Borneo Island.
This isn’t a typical island destination. It can be challenging and it’s miles away from being idyllic if you travel outside of the resorts. But anyone prepared to put on a protective layer will find that they’re alone in one of the world’s few remaining wildernesses.
Although I have never had a longing to visit Borneo, this article makes me want to see the aquatic life off shore. It reminds me of diving the waters of Roatan Island, Honduras. Roatan is located along the Located near the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second only to the Great Barrier Reef It is much nearer than Borneo and has the most incredible azure water, teaming with hundreds of species of fish. They dance in colors aflame with brilliance to vie for your attention. Swimming these warm waters provide comfort diving within inches of large and small fishes, amphibians and corals. I hope that someday you get to experience this incredible island possessing the cultural clash of Latinos and Scotsmen found nowhere else on earth. It’s a common occurrence on this island to be in the presence of a Latin American when she speaks with a Scottish brogue. These things happen at nearly every turn on Roatan Island which became inhabited by many Scottish sailors after being shipwrecked on its shores. -
Thanks for sharing Dwight! Sounds like an island we need to put on our bucket list. -