For many visitors to Borneo, the island’s diverse wildlife and habitats are a strong draw. Depending on your interest, you may choose to visit any one of a number of areas across the island. There are few spots. However, that can beat Danum Valley for the range of activities and places to explore. Here we look at the top 5 things to do in Danum Valley.
About Danum Valley
The 438 square kilometres of the Danum Valley are unique as conservation areas go. This is because, prior to becoming a conservation area, there were no human settlements there. Therefore, the area that is now protected has had no prior human interference. Subsequently, the area is now prominent in conservation, research and habitat restoration. The wildlife that inhabits Danum Valley includes Bornean orangutans, pygmy elephants, gibbons, sun bears, clouded leopards, and mousedeers. There are also around 270 bird species.
Things to do in Danum Valley
The Danum Valley may well be one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, but how is it best to experience this unique part of the world? You’ll need more than a day to do it all, so a stay in the exceptional Borneo Rainforest Lodge is the best base for your adventure. From a deluxe chalet, you wake to the hum of the rainforest, which will make you eager to start the day! These top 5 things to do will cover all of the features of Danum Valley, leaving you both awed and educated.
1. Canopy Walks
This network of rope bridges and platforms among the treetops is a unique way to experience the jungle. The canopy walks are fixed among giant dipterocarp trees, so you’ll feel immersed in the ancient prehistoric rainforest. You’re right up there in the canopy, so from this vantage point, you’ll get to see wildlife in closer proximity. This is especially true of birds, so if you are a keen bird watcher, don’t miss the opportunity to get into the trees. The only way up is via a 30-metre ladder, so it might be a challenge for those with an aversion to heights. However, once in the treetops, you’ll be glad that you made the effort as you spy passing monkeys and tropical birds.
2. Day Trekking
Trekking through the jungle by day gives the opportunity for a huge range of experiences. Firstly, the surroundings of the valley floor are spectacular. Around the Field Centre and Rainforest Lodge are basic nature trails, or guides will take you further into the rainforest. On daytime jungle treks, you should keep your eyes peeled for the plentiful array of wildlife that inhabits the jungle around you. The proboscis monkey, orangutans, and gibbons may all make an appearance, and along the river itself, you may see a herd of pygmy elephants. Plus, don’t forget the universe of mini-beasts and insect life that are just as interesting to observe at ground level. Day treks will often take you via a pool or waterfall, which are great places to cool off. Fairy Falls and Serpent Falls are taller cascades, while the Jacuzzi pool is a smaller fall surrounding a scenic pool. All of these waterfall destinations give a magical rainforest experience and fantastic photo opportunities.
3. History and Education
Just because you are on holiday, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn! A trek to discover ancient indigenous burial sites will give you a real sense of perspective in these amazing surroundings. The Kadazandusun burial ground is known as ‘Coffin Cliff’. This is because the communities would lay their dead to rest in ornately decorated wooden coffins which would be placed on natural shelves along the rock face. The Danum Valley Field Centre offers more opportunities to learn about more recent ecological concerns. While the facilities are mainly limited to visiting researchers and scientists, there are increasing opportunities for tourist visitors who book to stay in the more basic accommodation and wish to get involved in the activities.
4. Jungle at Night
There are a number of options for experiencing the jungle at night. Look for tours that include a night walk or trek. These guided excursions are a fantastic opportunity to spot nocturnal wildlife. The Danum Valley, by night is abundant in insect and reptile life, and if you’re lucky, you’ll come across a clouded leopard too. More common sights are snakes, deer and owls. What you don’t manage to see, you will hear. Nighttime in the rainforest is surprisingly noisy, with so many creatures active at this time. A night drive in a guide-led jeep allows you to cover more ground and venture further afield in search of nocturnal wildlife. For a romantic experience, try a trek or drive through the jungle before dawn to watch the sunrise from a vantage point. This is a chance to experience a wondrous sight, and to hear the breaking dawn as birds start to sing and monkeys begin their days.
5. Tubing down the river
This offers a really different perspective on the river and the rainforest. Tubing means floating down the slower-moving currents of the river in a huge inflatable rubber ring. Of course, safety is paramount, with lifejackets required and a full safety briefing beforehand. You’ll trek upriver, which is a great warm-up before getting in the cool and refreshing water. After that exertion, once you’re on the river, this is one of the most exciting yet relaxing ways to experience your surroundings, spotting wildlife on the banks.
The best tour packages of the Danum Valley will naturally include all of these ways to experience the rainforest. Browse our tours to discover more.