Canopy bridges on the island of Borneo. Malaysia

All covered in greenery, absolutely all of Borneo

The trip to Borneo was my first self-prepared trip. I bought my own tickets, booked hotels, and made contacts with guides in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu. By the way, I chose guides on the website Turister. It was a little scary, considering that the vacation was planned with a child. What if I screwed up somewhere? I decided to fly to Sabah via Kuala Lumpur, because I was unfamiliar with the city.

I flew to Kuala Lumpur from Moscow with Qatar Airways. From Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu with Malaysia Airlines. As very often happens when you buy tickets well in advance of your trip, domestic flights closer to the travel date like to reschedule. We were asked to spend an additional 2 days in the Malaysian capital, which I was in no way happy with. I was greatly surprised that Malaysia Airlines had no representative office not only in Moscow but in Russia in general. I had to turn to Inga (guide in Kota Kinabalu) for help. Inga responded very quickly, and thank you very much for that. So, the next day after my request Inga sent me the revised Kuala Lumpur – Kota Kinabalu tickets for the dates I needed.

The two days in Kuala Lumpur passed in one breath. After getting a portion of positive emotions from the metropolis, our next resting place on the third largest island in the world of Borneo was Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort. In terms of value for money the hotel ranks very well. I had read at one time that hotels in Borneo were twice cheaper than in Langkawi, and the service was the same. It is true. The quality of service and accommodation at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort is five-plus.

There is an orangutan rehabilitation center on the property.

Tourists from other hotels come here to watch the “forest people”, because this is how the word “orangutan” is translated, and to see how they are fed. So, staying at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, you can visit these “babies” every day and enjoy their company.

If you wish, you can make an appointment with the staff at the center to feed these “little forest people.

There is a suspension bridge at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort conservation area. This was our first experience walking over the canopy (which is what suspension bridges on the island are called).

The South China Sea on Borneo is very clear and warm. Perhaps for some people the warm water in the sea is a disadvantage, but we were happy. We didn’t want to get out of the water.

So why should you visit the island of Borneo? And what interesting things can be seen on this island? Beaches and warm sea, for sure.

There were no jellyfish during our trip, so absolutely no one prevented us to take sea and sunbathing, sitting in the water for an hour.

The only, but significant disadvantage of our serene beach vacation was sand flies. I read a lot about it. However, as I found out later, in Goa, Thailand, and Vietnam, Russian tourists were also bitten by it. After reading about this disaster, I bought some strong repellents in Moscow. But it was a failure. It is not very boyish to come to the beach and pour mosquito repellents over ourselves. And what to do, tell me please, with even and beautiful tan? In the end, on the third day I was the first to itch. Then joined the rest. Stocks of repellent, brought with them, ran out very quickly, so I had to empty the shelves of local stores. Therefore, if you want to visit Borneo just for the beach vacation, it is better to look for another, less biting place.

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After spending four wonderful days at Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort, we set out to explore the flora and fauna of the island. Our first stop was Danum Valley National Park. Early in the morning we had a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Lahat Datu. Everyone knows that Borneo is a rainforest island. But to understand how green Borneo is, you have to fly over it. I hardly saw any settlements: forests, hills, mountains, forests….The entire 50-minute flight I sat without taking my eyes off the porthole, admiring the views opening to my eyes.

Borneo is the third largest island in the world. It is amazing that for such a size it is also one of the greenest islands in the world.

At the airport we were met by a representative of a local travel agency who took our company to his office. We were given a short briefing on our stay in Danum Valley Park and the Kinabatangan River. A nice surprise for us was the present of water flasks. After refreshing ourselves with tea and coffee, we set off on a three-hour road trip to Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Booking hotels back in Moscow, I tried to find the lodges I liked in the national parks. But all my attempts were in vain. I was constantly sent to the sites of local travel agencies. In the end, tired of fighting the local monopoly on lodges, I trusted Inge, which she did perfectly. Throughout our little trip through the parks and jungles of Sabah we were accompanied by a wonderful girl Valya, who works with Inga.

A very nice, bright and kind person. She, moreover, has such a level of knowledge about local flora and fauna, that she can eclipse in this matter most of the guides working in the National Parks of Borneo.

When I asked: “How do you know such knowledge? – Valya modestly replied that a few years of guide in Borneo have done their job. So we were lucky with the escort.

Danum Valley is a jungle-covered tropical forest lowland.

The reserve covers 438 square kilometers of pristine rainforest.

This area is recognized as one of the most complex ecosystems, where biologists still find flora unknown to science.

And for ornithologists, the forests of Danum Valley are simply paradise.

Rainforests, the beauty of which could give Borneo a head start over many of its competitors? Danum Valley Reserve.

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The Segama River and its many tributaries flow through the territory of Danum Walay Reserve.

The island has a well-developed river system. The Segama River flows through the Danum Walay Reserve with its numerous tributaries.

Two places are available for tourists to stop in this pristine and lush forest. These are the Biological Station, where scientists live and work, and the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, where we stayed.

Accommodation at the lodge involves two packages: 3 days/ 2 nights or 4 days/3 nights. To see the most interesting things around Borneo Rainforest Lodge, the 3 days/ 2 nights package is enough. We arrived at the lodge in time for lunch. After settling in and satisfying our hunger, we were shown a movie about the reserve, after which we took an introductory hike around the lodge with a naturalist guide. The group, accompanied by a guide, usually consists of four people. Since there were four of us with Valentina, we got a separate guide. While there, I fully experienced what the rain forest means. In the morning it was sunny and clear. And in the afternoon, when evaporation reaches a certain limit, all this mass is poured on the jungle with a tropical downpour. So having a raincoat is a must in these parts, as umbrellas do not save, as we encountered later the next day.

The forests of Danum Valley are rich in a variety of plants, animals and birds. If you’re lucky, you may encounter pygmy elephants, rhinos, the smoky leopard and many, many wild monkeys. We weren’t so lucky. We saw red langurs and orangutans, which sat at such a height that you could only see them with binoculars.

In the evening they put us on an open truck and took us into the pitch black to look for the nighttime jungle inhabitants.

I do not know how guides do it, but to see animals on the height of 30-40 meters in the treetops, of which there are hundreds, even though in the light of a small spotlight – from the realm of fantasy, in my opinion. I was impressed by the flying squirrel that steamed right above us. I did not manage to photograph it, unfortunately, but the fireflies pleased me. No, we did not see any bushes or trees covered with fireflies, but I was sincerely pleased with each passing glowing bug in the gloom.

The next morning, we woke up early at 6:30 and hiked to the suspension bridges to see the sunrise from a bird’s eye view, touching the treetops.

The bridges are about 40 meters high and consist of five sections on different levels. Usually walk on them early in the morning to admire the sunrise and see the birds just awake. Or in the evening, when the sunset adds lush jungle greenery in shades of red and pink.

Walks on the suspension bridges at Danum Valley are usually done early in the morning so that visitors to the reserve have a chance to watch the birds

I would walk and walk all day just on these bridges, enjoying the pictures I saw. I asked Valentina that on the day of departure we were allowed to take another walk on this suspended wonder by ourselves without a guide, which we later did.

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After breakfast, we had a three-kilometer hike up the mountain to the observation point with a picturesque view of the Danum Valley Reserve. Since the sun was shining in the sky and we planned to be back at noon, we didn’t want to burden ourselves with rain gear.

There are beautiful waterfalls in the park, one of which was on our way. But alas, during the rainy season in January 2015 there was a landslide and we didn’t get to see the waterfall.

We stopped at the Kadazan-Dusun burial site when we climbed up. It looks approximately as follows: hollows are hollowed out in the rock, in which once upon a time the aborigines who lived here were buried. You can even see the remains of bones. I’m not a fan of visiting such places, let alone photographing them, so the Kadazan-Dusun burials were left out of the picture. But my son was interested in this place, it was the first time he saw such a picture.

The last and, as always, steepest step up was left and the forests of Danum Walay majestically appeared before our eyes.

One could sit on this observation deck and admire the views for hours, taking in the pristine beauty of the Malaysian jungle.

But the clouds suddenly appeared out of nowhere and prevented us from carrying out our plans, as the prospect of descending on wet, soaking wet ground drove us back down. And the rain did not keep us waiting long. The guide kindly offered us his umbrella, which I did not refuse in order to cover my child with it. But ten or fifteen minutes were enough to be convinced of the pointlessness of this venture. We returned to the lodge soaked through. The hotel has a free dryer, so we were brought dried clothes for dinner. But after dinner we had another walk planned. And if a change of clothes with neither me nor my son had no problem, then that’s what to go to the wet jungle sister, the question arose.

What do we leeches, mosquitoes and other creatures, when the Russian Amazons go hunting. Fear all! Speaking of leeches. There are leeches in Danum Valey and quite a few. We have not had one sucked on us. And that’s a pity! I hoped in my heart…) But seriously, it’s a matter of luck. Brought a few little leeches on the sneakers in the room, but got away without casualties. I was amazed at how fast they moved while I tried to “stun” them with my shoe.

In addition, a kind guide told us that the local leeches sometimes reach a length of 40 cm. In my head I immediately drew a sinister picture of a small leech, drunk on blood, growing right before my eyes to gigantic proportions. Guess how I spent the night? Yes, that’s right.) But if the meeting with the local bloodsuckers you can not avoid, the lodge will give you a consolation prize – a certificate that you are a donor of leeches. And I’m not kidding here.

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The farewell overnight trek into the jungle was probably the most extreme outing of the two days.

It’s one thing to ride in a truck, and another to walk in a dark forest among crawling and flying creepers. But our guide was the first in our company, so it was more comfortable to follow him.

That’s how we spent two days at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Why two and not three? We had a long car ride first back to Lahat Datu and from there to Mount Kinabalu to Myne Resort lodge on the Kinabatangan River. So our checkout was well ahead of schedule. The rest of the guests enjoyed the solitude and contemplation of the rain forests of Danum Walei until noon.

At the end of the story I want to give some information about Borneo Rainforest Lodge . The lodge is very decent.

We had a deluxe room which was a different size than a standard room. We were given a third extra bed, which we eventually gave up on. One of the beds was big enough to sleep 2 people.

The food for the lodge was 5+. Very high quality and delicious food. Meals – buffet is included in the package price. The rooms are cleaned every day. There are toiletries: soap, gel, shampoo. Slippers and bathrobes, of course, no. There is always bottled water in the room. There is a kettle, tea and coffee. And in the fridge as a present waiting for you 6 chilled cans of various soft drinks. The lodge can accommodate a maximum of 60 people. So it’s better to book in advance. Well, after another walk over the suspension bridges at 8 am the next day we started our way back.

Such a large number of suspension bridges I have not seen anywhere else. Located about 40 meters above the virgin forest, the bridges are very harmonious with the nature reserves of the island.

Kanopi Suspension Bridges of Borneo Island

From time immemorial, people have used suspension bridges as crossings. The well-known Kapilano Bridge in Canada still not only copes with its direct duty of “transporting” people from one side of the river to the other, but is also a local landmark. Sometimes such exotic bridges are built not so much as a crossing, but to attract tourists. One such bridge (or rather a cascade of bridges) is built in Malaysia on the island of Borneo.

Borneo is actually officially called the island of Kalimantan. This wonderful corner of the planet is shared by three states – Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. In the northeastern part of the island, on the territory of Malaysia and is the Danum Valley National Park, which has these amazing suspension bridges. They are called canopy walkway (in the original Danum Valley canopy walkway).

I must say that canopy is not its own name and not the name of the bridge. Literally, “canopy walkway” translates as “rope park,” and “canopy” as “canopy. That is, exaggerating, we can say that it is just a ropeway or a suspension bridge. For example, similar bridges are located near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, and they too are called “canopy walkway”.

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Canopy walkway bridges are located in the eastern part of Danum Valley Park and cross the left tributary of the Danum River.

Canopy walkway bridges on a map

  • Geographical coordinates 5.028991, 117.752291
  • Distance from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia about 1800 km
  • Distance to the nearest airport Lahad Datu is about 65 km
  • Distance to the nearest international airport in Kota Kinabalu is about 220 km

In this case, we can say that the kanopi suspension bridges serve as both a landmark and somewhat of an observation deck in the park. Since both the country’s government and the park’s staff are trying in every way to preserve the natural pristine and beauty of the surrounding nature, the suspension bridges are used as a small optimal trail, which can easily direct the flow of tourists. And the views from swing bridges are much more impressive.

View from Kanopi Suspension Bridges

The bridge is a narrow path suspended on ropes and fenced on the sides with netting. It does not look very safe, but locals and guides say it is safe. The total length of the bridges is about 300 meters. They run at different heights from the ground. Many sources indicate the maximum height of 40 meters. But the official website of the park said that the height reaches 26 meters, which is also quite high.

Here is a drawing with a diagram of the kanopi bridges, and it notes that the maximum height is 30 meters above the river.

Diagram of Kanopi Bridges

If you have exact information about the height, please let us know.

The trees in the park are quite tall. Rope paths are suspended between them at a height of about 15-25 meters. And at best it is only the middle of the trunk. There is an octagonal-shaped observation deck at each point of connection to the tree. On them you can take a breath (if it was very scary), have a little rest and again conquer the next span of the bridge. The suspension bridges have a total of five support trees. One of the trees has three viewing platforms at different levels.

3 tree platforms

The bridges are designed and built so as not to cause any damage to the jungle. And the age of the rainforest on the island is more than 130 million years. That is, the “ancestors” of modern plants and animals have seen living dinosaurs. The surrounding flora and fauna is very diverse. Orangutans and flowers of prey, flying lizards and the largest flowers – rafflesias.

Rafflesia

There are even species that are still unknown to scientists. Everything around is literally fragrant and breathes life.

A walk across the creaking and swaying bridges will certainly leave a lot of stirring memories. By the way, there’s a fee to use a camera on the suspension bridges of the canopy. But without a camera there is nothing to do.

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