Explore a hand-picked selection of our favourite journeys, articles, experiences and special places to stay in Borneo. Not one to be read in a rush, it’s time to grab a cuppa, and see where it takes you…
Discover a remote, untamed habitats; dense vegetation concealing endangered animals and rare birds; plants with mysterious medicinal properties. The spaces between are filled with deep rivers, cool lakes and rushing waterfalls, all sheltered beneath a canopy of towering ancient trees. This might seem otherworldly and out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be.
Glide through Kinabatangan’s backwaters to the sound of hooting gibbons and exotic birds, and keep a look-out for rare pygmy elephants on the tangled banks.
The critically endangered orang-utan has become the poster-child for vulnerable species in Borneo, but when asked to explain why its habitat should be protected, many people struggle for logical reasons. We looked to some of Borneo's other species for the answer...
Borneo’s biodiversity (the number of different living species in a given area) is the stuff of legend. The island provides ideal conditions for life to thrive. It’s given its residents just the right level of challenge (shifting temperatures and fluctuating rainfall, but no extreme disasters) to encourage them to diversify into thousands of different species, as they adapt to make the best of a range of conditions.
Another legendary fact about Borneo is that, despite their sheer strength in numbers, many of its species are being pushed towards extinction by human activities. Deforestation for palm oil is the most famous of these, but the truth is complex - a mix of clearing rainforest to harvest timber and make space for oil palm, pine, eucalyptus and coffee plantations, overhunting for bushmeat, and demand for wild animals. One in five Indonesian households keep pet birds, and there is still a huge call for for wild animal parts to use in medicine and display as status symbols. According to the Economist, an interest in eating wild meat is growing amongst younger affluent Asians, perhaps inspired by the foraging trend in foodie circles.
Big brands are working to make palm oil production sustainable (palms yield more oil per acre than most other oil crops, so it’s a worthy goal), but there is still a great deal of confusion, apathy and conflicting priorities amongst consumers.
Traverse mountain passes, skirt some of Sabah’s oldest settlements, then head deep into the forest. When the small villages and paved roads run out, you’ll find yourself at the Maliau Basin, within a pristine area of rainforest, almost entirely encircled by imposing mountains - be excited - you are now members of an exclusive club…