Sabah Eco Tours: Top 10 Destinations for Nature Lovers
The splendid island of Borneo is a package carefully designed by Mother Nature. It is not just home to the most beautiful and exotic rainforests in the world. Other natural attractions like pristine beaches, winding rivers, mountains, and islands add to its natural attraction.
The biodiverse habitats present here are a constant charm for naturalists around the globe. Sabah eco-tours are the best way to get a closer look at some endemic species like the Bornean Orangutans, Labuk Bay Proboscis monkeys, Pygmy elephants, butterflies, the Rafflesia flower.
Sabah, Borneo’s Rich Biodiversity
The tropical rainforests and climatic conditions of Borneo are perfect for hosting a large number of species. The island has been a favorite with scientists studying evolution.
The rich biodiversity is depicted by the presence of more than 15,000 plant species and around 14,000 animal species.
Borneo’s forests are a rich mixture of tropical rainforests, montane forests, mangroves, peat swamps, and dipterocarp forests. The diversity of forest conditions provides opportunities to support various life forms that are not found anywhere else on the planet.
The orangutans, for example, are only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The climate and abundant forests of Sabah provide ideal conditions for the survival of this critically endangered species.
Top 10 Ecological Tours to Consider in Sabah, Borneo
The list of popular eco tours that can be taken up in Sabah, Borneo is endless. We’ve tried to list down some of the most amazing ones for nature enthusiasts to look out for. Read on for a quick brief on some exotic Sabah eco-tours.
Orangutan Observation Tour
A half day tour to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre will give you some close encounters with the largest arboreal mammals on the planet. The centre is the largest in the world that is working towards the conservation and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured orangutans.
Getting a close look at a critically endangered species in its natural habitat is one of the best features of this eco tour in Sabah. You can enjoy walking through the rainforests to observe the natural habitat of these mammals. Additionally, there is a feeding platform that is open to visitors for observing the feeding and playtime of the young orangutans.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre also runs enlightening informational videos about these endangered mammals.
At present, around 75 orangutans live in the centre as the process of rehabilitating them to their natural homes continues.
Sepilok is a half an hour drive from Sandakan and is one of the most popular places for tourists considering a Sabah eco tour.
Kinabalu Park Day Trip
While the Kinabalu National Park is primarily known for hosting Mount Kinabalu, there is a lot more that the park has to offer. It is also the country’s first World Heritage site. The 75,000 hectares of rainforests is a wonderland for nature lovers and a complete Sabah, Borneo eco tour in itself.
The park is known for some of the world’s rarest plant and animal species. A Botanical Garden within the park will give you a glimpse of some of these exotic creations. You can opt to take a guided tour or stroll along the paths. Information signs are present all around the garden.
Kinabalu Park has a total of eight nature trails for the enthusiastic explorer. Selecting one depending on the distance and the areas that you want to explore is possible.
A 15-minute hike from the entrance will take you to the Canopy Walkway. The swaying rope bridge set high amongst tree top canopies is a perfect place to see the giant rainforest trees and the life forms that they support.
Other interesting places within the park include the Butterfly Farm and the Orchid Conservation Centre. A close look at some endangered butterflies and the world’s most expensive orchid’s is a rare privilege. If you’re lucky, you can also observe the world’s largest flower bloom at the Rafflesia Garden. And this will definitely be the highlight of your eco tour to Kinabalu National Park, Sabah.
The park is a two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu. the park provides various accommodation options within the park as well as along the highway nearby.
The options within the park are run by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (information available on the website)
Kiulu Valley Homestays
Kiulu Valley is located in Tuaran district in the north-western part of Sabah. The valley is famous for its lush green landscape full of rubber plantation, fruit orchards, paddy fields, etc.
Community-based eco tours are organized in the region to support the local population. Taking a homestay/farmstay tour in the Kiulu valley is a great way to learn more about the Bornean ecology and local agricultural practices.
A one-two day private tour can be packed with fun activities like staying with the locals or camping out in the open. Nature activities include paddy planting with the locals, learning about the rubber trees and collection of latex, hiking along some secret trails, etc.
The valley is at a distance of 60 km from Kota Kinabalu and 10 km from Tamparuli town.
The Waterfalls at Diba Titiu and stay at Guas Nabalu
Guas Nabalu is a homestay option available for tourists looking to explore the wonders available in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. While staying here, you can plan multiple challenging hiking trips on the trails available.
The foothill area is rich in biodiversity with wild and unique flora and fauna spread all over. Spotting Pitcher plants or the famous Rafflesia Flower can be a memorable part of your eco tour.
A short day trip to the Diba Titiu waterfalls will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of the landscape. The hike to the waterfall is a tiring but rewarding journey.
Nunuk Trail Trekking
This is one of the most popular trails on the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. Especially famous amongst the ecology enthusiasts, it gives you a complete experience of the wilderness of the rainforests. The pristine rainforests are full of exotic wildlife that’s just waiting to be explored.
The trek includes walking to the Nunuk Hut on a suspension bridge.
Various other challenging trails nearby can be explored as a part of the eco tour. You can take a guided trip or even ask for a walk with the locals who are willing to share their secret knowledge of the rainforest and wildlife exprience.
Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
The Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary is the perfect place to be for nature lovers. Spreading around the Kinabatangan River, the sanctuary is a mix of riparian forests, mangroves, and swamps. This Sabah eco tour gives a complete feel of the Bornean wildlife.
The sanctuary is known for some rare primate species.
Taking Kinabatangan wildlife safari is a wonderful way to explore the astonishing variety of wildlife present here. From the rare Labun Bay proboscis monkey to orangutans, Asian elephants, rhinoceros, Malay sun bear, leopards, etc can be seen in the jungles here.
Additionally, the region is rich in its bird diversity. Over 200 species of birds can be found in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
Kawag Danum Rainforest Lodge
There is no better way of exploring the rainforests than living in one. A couple of days in the Kawag Danum Rainforest lodge located in the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve can do just that. An eco tour in Sabah that involves staying within the forests, surrounded by lush greenery is an unmatched experience.
This offbeat track will give you an authentic feel of the wildlife presented by the rainforests of Sabah, Borneo.
The rainforest is home to a wide variety of wildlife, birds, insects, and flora which is sufficient to keep you engaged during your stay.
Crocker Range National Park
Spread out on an area of 1399 sq. km, it is the largest National Park in Sabah. It is also recognized by the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Trekking and camping in the Crocker National park can be an enriching experience for those looking for an authentic Sabah eco tour. Various trails like the Gunung Alba Hike, Trusmadi expedition are popular amongst tourists.
The National Park is loaded with rare plants and tree species. Additionally, the Crocker Range is home to a huge variety of insects and butterflies too.
The park also offers other activities like the white water rafting on the Padas River to add thrill to your nature tour.
Located at a distance of 96 km from Kota Kinabalu, the park is sought out by naturalists around the globe.
Mount Kinabalu Summit Climbing
This one is for the fittest of nature enthusiasts. Mount Kinabalu stands tall at 4095.2 m above the sea level. The summit climb trail is approximately 8.7 km long.
Guided climbing tours of 2 days and 1 night are available. It is also important to know that only 120 permits are issued per day. Advance bookings are hence recommended.
The climb includes steep stairs and rocky trails that lead to an overnight accommodation area. The lush green forests spreading for miles around is a rewarding site while climbing up.
The mountain is one of the most important ecological sites in the world. An estimated 6000 species of plants along with a rich spread of fauna are found here. It is also home to the endangered orangutans that are an important part of the Bornean ecology.
Climbing to the summit of Mount Kinabalu is the most popular amongst Sabah eco tours and is sought out by naturalists across the world. A choice of accommodation options are available and the same can be booked at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges which manages the stay facilities within the Kinabalu Park are.
Bird Watching Eco Tours
The east coast of Sabah is famous for its rich exotic birdlife. With more than 316 bird species in the forests around, there is a lot to do for bird lovers.
The Tabin Wildlife Reserve in this region is one of the best places for bird watching. You could also take morning river cruises available in the area for sighting the surrounding wildlife and birdlife.
Ecology and biodiversity get a new meaning when you decide to take an eco tour in this part of the world. The surprisingly large variety of flora and fauna will leave you in awe. Whether you’re meeting the orangutans or spotting the rare blooming of the Rafflesia flower, the list of observations can be endless.
Taking up one or more of the above mentioned Sabah eco tours can be an extremely enriching experience. Be sure to make notes of your trips. You would want to remember every single detail of this journey for your lifetime!