Trekking in the Kelabit Highlands, Borneo

Tucked away in northern Sarawak, near to the border with Kalimantan, lie the remote and rugged Kelabit Highlands. A hidden gem for keen hikers, these jungle-covered peaks and valleys offer some of the very best trekking in Borneo. From the friendly village of Bario, you will be guided through dense rainforest along paths bordered with elegant flowers and vibrant rhododendron bushes, and past ancient standing stones. Each day’s roaming through this stunning wilderness ends with a warm welcome at a local longhouse, where you can recuperate with delicious food and good company.

What to expect in the Kelabit Highlands...

The rocky jungle terrain of the Kelabit Highlands is the perfect setting for an energetic and exciting trek through Borneo’s unique tropical landscape. Until the 1940s, this isolated area was only accessible by a week-long journey on foot through unmarked rainforest, but these days a short flight from Miri to Bario provides an immediate route into this secluded region. 

This is definitely a trip for the physically fit, but providing you are you can tailor your experience to suit your abilities perfectly. A stay can range from a few days gentle hiking between local villages, to tougher treks across the highlands, or even a challenging expedition to scale Sarawak’s highest mountain, Gunung Murud.

A great day-trip option is the hike from Bario to the remote settlement of Pa’Umor. This stunning route meanders through rich jungle vegetation, scattered with some of Borneo’s many delicate orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants, to the mysterious stone carving of Batu Narit and the striking natural rock formations beyond. 

For a more demanding adventure, the multi-day treks (all led by skilled local guides) take you to a wide variety of fascinating villages and landmarks. One popular 4 to 5 day hike passes through the charming settlement of Pa’ Lungan, where there is a magnificent ancient stone ‘table’, many intriguing carvings and some imposing standing stones, before taking you right up to the border with Kalimantan wilderness.

Your home-from-home while travelling through this extraordinary region will be with welcoming local hosts in traditional longhouse accommodation. These communal houses offer a rare glimpse into daily life within the rainforest while providing a comfortable haven for weary trekkers.

Here you can mingle with other travellers, swap highlights of a satisfying day’s hiking and enjoy mouth-watering regional delicacies (including the famous sticky Bario rice, fresh fish and sweet pineapple) while you share in the thrill of having explored this unspoilt paradise.

Location: Sarawak, Borneo

Duration: varies

Accommodation: traditional longhouse

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Our client Alan B says...

'The Kelabit Highlands are a beautifully scenic area of Borneo, and we were delighted to spend 4 days trekking deep into the jungle and enjoying the hospitality of families in remote villages. During the trekking the only people we saw were our guides, border guards and the locals in the villages where we had the homestays.'

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