Into the heart of Borneo. Landscapes

Featured image: early morning safari on the Kinabatangan river.

After reading Redmond O’Hanlon ‘s book “Into the heart of Borneo”, my next destination was decided. Jungles, rivers and mountains covered in dense Ditocarp rainforest where leeches and insectes crawl the forestfloors…

Early morning view from a mountaintop near Mount Kinabalu. Birdwatching is a pain, you have to get up around 5 am, but the reward is there! Binoculars are your best friend.

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View on Mount Kinabalu around 6 am.

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View on Mount Kinabalu around 2 pm. You can clearly see the top.

On my way to Bako National Park, one of the best places in South East Asia to watch wildlife. Most people only stay for a night. I strongly recommend you to stay longer. The place is amazing, well marked trails throughout the national park. Not crowded in November/December. You can even camp in some remote spots. When you decide to go jungle camping be well equipped and make sure you are able to stay hydrated, this is very very very important… If you prefer more luxury you can stay in the lodges near the visitor centre. Everything you’ll need is there for a fair price.

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Bako National Park (Sarawak), can only be reached by boat.

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Mangroves in Bako National Park.

Beware of the sandflies in the mangroves. Cover up because they are mean motherfuckers. You will only feel and see their bites after 2/3 days. It will itch for weeks…

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 Mangroves in Bako National Park.

The Sarawak region is the southern part of Malaysian Borneo, most of the transportation is done by boat. Sitting on  the deck of these river “torpedos” while cruising jungle rivers is quite an experience. Most passengers however, prefer to watch Malay dubbed kungfu-movies below deck while freezing in the the noisy turbocharged airconditioning!

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Port of Kapit (Sarawak)

As in most parts of the world there’s no escaping pollution, ecological destruction and wildlife habitat loss. Borneo’s gold, palm oil, can be found in shampoo’s, baked goods, household products, cosmetics, toothpaste, etc.. Malaysia and Indonesia produce 85% of the worldwide palmoil production. Deforestation in Borneo is dramatic, Over 90% of orangutan habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years. An estimated 1000-5000 orangutans are killed each year for this development!

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Deforestation map of Borneo

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Palmoil industry in action

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Similajau National Park near Bintulu. In the distance you can see the liquid natural gas production sites, owned by the Petronas company.

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Damn shame!

Don’t be put off by these pics to visit Borneo, despite intense deforestation there’s still a lot to enjoy! Ecological awareness is growing and eco-tourism contributes to that. National Parks are a good place to start your visit. Highly recommended!!!

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