If you are looking forward to having a lifetime experience, Danum Valley is the place to be. If you are a lover of nature, birds and all kinds of animals, then this trip is a plus for you. Danum Valley has been in existence for over a million years and is, therefore, a place where you will find a host of various animals that you are not likely to find in any other parts of the world.
What to Expect in this Article
- Danum Valley Conservation Area
- How to Get to Danum Valley,
- Getting to Lahad Datu,
- Getting to the Danum Valley Field Centre
- Danum Valley Accommodation
- Rest house
- Danum Valley Activities
- Early Morning Birding
- Jungle trekking
- 4×4 Night Drives
- Night Walks
- Danum Valley Sunrise
- Swimming in the Segama River
- Danum Valley Wildlife
- Bornean Orangutan
- Clouded leopard
- Western Tarsier
- Slow Loris
- Rhinoceros Hornbill
- North Bornean Gibbon
Danum Valley Conservation Area
Danum Valley Conservation Area is the mecca of wildlife lovers in the world. It is nestled in the far north-east of the world’s third largest island. The 140-million-year-old ecosystem consists of pristine primary lowland forest with all the flora and fauna that you never thought of seeing before. This is the best place to experience Borneo’s rich wildlife culture as it has the tallest trees.
How to Get to Danum Valley
Getting to Lahad Datu
The Danum Valley Conservation Area is two hours from the town of Lahad Datu, which is between coastal towns of Sandakan and Tawau on Sabah’s East coast. It takes 3.5 hours to get from Sandakan to Lahad Datu, and 2.5 hours from Tawau. However, travel times are affected by traffic.
If you are coming from a further place, you will need to take a flight to Lahad Datu. Many flights are offering the services from Kota Kinabalu. It is important that you get to Kota Kinabalu early in the morning to maximize your time by ensuring you get to Danum Valley before lunch hours. Besides, you get to enjoy the Sabah’s jewel Mount Kinabalu in the mountain as the flight passes by its west.
If you are traveling on a low budget, you will require to allocate more time and travel by bus. Fortunately, Sabah roads are in better condition and a lot safer than many roads in other parts of Southeast Asia .Buses from Kota Kinabalu depart from the Inanam Bus Station Terminal, which is 25 minutes from the city center.
Getting to the Danum Valley Field Centre
After getting to Lahad Datu the only way to get to the Danum Valley Field Centre is with your own private means of transport. On the way, you will see a secondary forest that has been mostly replanted. With the thick green forests on both sides, you feel bound by green walls amidst the warm humidity.
Danum Valley Accommodation
The Danum Valley Field Centre offers accommodation that is favorable and comfortable for the visitors. Initially, it was difficult to visit Danum Valley because tourism was not one of their priorities.
However, over the years, the venue has become a tourist attraction with university courses and international courses about the area and its environs coming up. The Danum Valley research center station has improved their rooms by availing electricity from 7 am and 11 pm to help the visitors with their charging.
The chalet is the most premium guest room in the Danum Valley research station. The chalets are equipped with air conditioners which regulate the hot temperatures. It has more privacy because it is separated from the common area and dining area.
The rest house is second in the line of the accommodation options at the research center. It is next to the dining area, and you, therefore, do not have to travel far for your meals. The houses are near each other so there can be a little traffic during busy hours. Otherwise, the rooms also have fans which regulate the temperatures ensuring you have a good stay.
The dormitory may not have much privacy as that of the rest house and chalets. However, it is a comfortable place for the budget conscious individuals. It has two dorm halls; one for males and the other for females where the residents of each dorm share bathrooms. The dorm is 10-15 minutes away from the dining and common area; it is, therefore, vital that you carry all the needs you will require when going for jungle treks.
Danum Valley Activities
Early Morning Birding
As the saying goes, the early bird catches worm. There is, therefore, no better time to observe the variety of birds and what they do in the early morning. Birds are not the only active creatures in the early morning; you also get to hear the gibbon echo sounds as they mark their territory. You might see a few other wild animals if you are lucky. After your morning walk, you get back to the Danum Valley Field Centre for breakfast.
Trekking in Danum is probably the only chance you get to walk among giants as it is the home to the tallest trees, with the longest standing at 92 meters. Trails cut through the forests; some longer trails lead to Tembaling Waterfall and Rhino Spots. As you walk through the forest, you are likely to meet all kinds of wild animals. The humidity of the area can be overwhelming for those who reside in cool areas. It is, therefore, crucial that you carry enough water to avoid dehydration.
4×4 Night Drives
The Danum Valley Field Centre has nightly 4×4 drives that begin after dinner to see the nocturnal wildlife that is done by the staff. It’s exciting as it’s done the ‘safari style’ four-wheel drive, with a pickup that has seats at the back. Animals that you may encounter during these drives include; slow loris, leopard cats, civets, flying squirrels, and other nighttime creatures.
To fully understand the biodiversity of the area, you need to see the small animals that make up the forest family. Night walks will allow you to see reptiles, amphibians, wonderful insects, and sleeping birds. If you are fortunate, you get to see nocturnal primates such as Western tarsier and the slow loris. Be sure to have a torch because you will need it to navigate through the forests.
Danum Valley Sunrise
Near the research center is the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) tower located on Bukit Atur (Arthur Hill). The Field Centre drives early rises to the beautiful wooden tower. It gives a perfect view of a 43,800-hectare conservation area, and it’s just the right place to watch the sunrise at the Bornean jungle. As the sun rises, the magnificent golden hour backdrop creates a gorgeous impressive scene.
Swimming in the Segama River
As aforementioned, the humidity of Danum Valley is high, and you could be sweating uncontrollably after taking a shower. Fortunately, you can refresh yourself by swimming in the Segema River. The river’s currents are not very strong, but the condition can change after heavy rains; so it is advisable to swim in the river when you are sure it’s safe.
Danum Valley Wildlife
Bornean Orangutan means a person of the forest in the Malay language. The Danum Valley Conservation Area provides a habitat to endangered species which is of benefit in the long term basis.
Seeing orangutans in the center is a matter of luck with the highest chances being during the fruit season.
The clouded leopard is among the wild animals that no one has a chance to see. However, some people in the Danum Valley have had a chance to see them, so who knows? It might be your lucky day. With the many primates, there is no shortage of food for the animals so while it may difficult to spot them, it is possible.
I hate to be the one to break the news for you, but there is nothing pygmy about these elephants; although they are the smallest animals in the elephant family, they are still big. Elephants love to feed in the secondary forest as they move with ease, and it also has the food they prefer. Once in a while, they will eat on the roadside of the center where you can see them.
The western tarsier is the smallest primate and the only one that is fully carnivores. You will find them a meter away from the forest as they try to hunt. They feed on reptiles, birds, insects, and bats.
The cute slow loris is likely to catch your eye and steal your heart. However, they have some hidden issues beneath that beauty. They are the only venomous primate that produces a toxic secretion from glands on their elbows which they rub on their face or lick. They have a specialized grooming claw which makes them even prettier.
Red Langur is among the common primates in Danum Valley. They are comfortable in the center, and they are therefore comfortable carrying out their business around people. Their stomachs are structured to help in deriving nutrients from a diet of leaves.
Colugo is also known as the flying lemurs. They have a skin membrane extending between the hands, feet, and tails that allow them to glide from one tree to another fast avoiding predators. Although they might not be easy to spot, your guide will easily spot them lying on the tree.
Danum valley offers space for multiple birds, the largest family being hornbills. The most prominent type of the family is the rhinoceros hornbill. The latter is tall and has a brightly colored casque and an unforgettable call. The hornbill sells itself out with its loud noise or the banging of its feathers. Rhinoceros hornbills create life-bonds accommodates the female into their nest during mating. The female will then stay in that nest while the male provides until the young ones are ready to fly.
North Bornean Gibbon
After hearing the loud voice of the Bornean gibbon, it’s something you will not forget even long after you are out of Borneo. Although they are a little tricky to see because they are shy, there is still a chance to see them in the Field Centre. North Bornean gibbons are one of the primates that have fully adopted the forest canopy climate. They jump from one branch to another is effortlessly and is mesmerizing to watch.
Danum Valley is a home of multiple reptiles from lizards, skinks, snakes, and freshwater turtles. One of the common snakes to find is the Bornean keeled pit viper, which is an impressively big snake that sits on one place for long periods predating for unsuspected victims. Ensure you keep your distance from the snakes to avoid any bites. There is always one hanging in the tree near the Field Centre field. Otherwise, a night walk will help you see other animals.
Danum Valley hosts more than 138 amphibian types in total on their island. While it is impossible to list all the amphibians by name, Wallace’s flying frog is worth the mention. While the frog does not fly or something of the sort, it has extra skin like the colugo to help it glide through the forest.
They also have an extended webbing between their legs that acts like parachutes helping them to escape from predators.
Explore Danum Valley
There is a lot of activities you can do in Danum Valley to have fun. It is impossible to mention all the activities and the animals you may get to see during your visit. The only way you get the thrilling experience is by actually visiting the place. The fun begins in the morning by seeing the golden sunrise and ends in night walks/rides giving you fulltime fun in the valley.
Visiting Danum Valley is also an opportunity to see all the different animals and birds in the jungle. The costs of the vacation are affordable thanks to the accommodation options such as the dormitory.