Looking for an off the beaten track itinerary for your next adventure holiday in Borneo? Finding secluded, undisturbed destinations in Borneo without the tourist crowd is easy if you know where to look. Here at Sticky Rice Travel we have the insider knowledge and access to get you away from the tourist traps and allow you to enjoy a side to Borneo that few get to experience. As the world’s third largest island, Borneo is known for its stunning beaches, world-class diving, pristine jungles, unique wildlife, and far flung adventures into some of Southeast Asia’s most incredible landscapes.
No matter how beautiful a destination, if it is dripping with tourists, we understand just how much this can negatively impact your experience. I’m sure we’ve all been there, trying to take in a monument or landscape and you are surrounded by selfie sticks. Trust me when I say there is nothing worse than stumbling across this crowd when you are just out to soak up your surroundings and take it all in without interruption. To save you the effort we have put together some of our top pick destinations that will take you to some of Sabah’s best kept secrets.
Our first pick is a campground nestled amongst the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, staying within the Kinabalu National Park where you will practically have this incredibly lush and peaceful section of the park all to yourself. With few visitors and a healthy network of walking trails to get you exploring the rainforest, you will no doubt get a sense of feeling of being well off the beaten track. The birding opportunities in this section of the National Park are very unique too as both lowland and higher elevation bird species overlap here offering a wonderful birding experience.
If you want to know more about this stunning destination take a look at our BLOG on the Sayap Substation camping experience. Take a look at our 3 DAY 2 NIGHT CAMPING PACKAGES for further information about trips to the area.
The misty forest, streams and waterfalls of Sayap are breathtaking
Towards the lower reaches of the Kinabatangan River is the exclusive Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort. With only 10 rooms this resort has a set capacity so that you can be sure you will only be sharing the place with a handful of other guests. As the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort is one of the few accomodation options along the lower reaches of the river the chances of coming across other tourists spotting wildlife on boat cruises are slim. This part of the Kinabatangan really makes you feel like you have stepped off the map.
For more information about the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort feel free to read our BLOG for more details. We offer 3 DAY 2 NIGHT STAY itineraries for the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort which is sure to be sufficient time immersed in this unique river and wetland ecosystem.
From left to right: Bornean orangutan, mornings on the Kinabatangan River, One of the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort’s bungalows.
As a tourist it would be a real shame if you came all the way to Borneo and not have experienced the real heart of the Bornean jungle. By the simple nature of its location Danum Valley receives fewer tourists than some of the other Sabah tourism hot spots. The simple but comfortable rest house at the Danum Valley Field Centre offers tourists the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s leading tropical biologists as the field centre was first established to facilitate researchers during their studies.
In recent years the field centre has been catering more towards tourists that are wanting to see the unique wildlife of the Bornean jungle and one of Sabah’s last strongholds of primary lowland rainforest. To keep our tour groups more personalised we limit our group sizes to 8 guests per guide. We also provide the option to hire a private guide to suit any requirements or specialist activities such as birding. If you want to read more about the Danum Valley Field Centre you can check out one of our BLOGS along with our ITINERARIES.
If you are more in the mood for spoiling yourself in the forest and treating yourself to exclusive comfort in the jungle the Borneo Rainforest Lodge is just the place for you. The Borneo Rainforest Lodge brings the experience of the Bornean jungle to you with a lodge setting that is surrounded by nature. Walk along the suspended canopy walkway that put you amongst the wildlife in the treetops. Orangutans, red-leaf monkeys, wild boar and occasionally clouded leopards can be seen within the vicinity of the lodge with much of the wildlife habituated to the presence of humans. For more information about the Borneo Rainforest Lodge see our BLOG and take a look at our ITINERARY for further details about accommodation options.
If it is one place in Sabah that really stands out as an off the beaten track destination Maliau Basin really takes the cake. Maliau Basin Conservation Area is ‘a huge bowl of pristine forests described as one of the few remaining relatively untouched wilderness areas in the world’. This description is quite fitting given the unique bowl-like geological formation that has given rise to the name of the conservation area. The forest of Maliau Basin is still relatively unexplored as research in the area only began in the early 1980’s. If you have the true spirit of adventure at the forefront of your travel plans you can’t go past a Maliau Basin expedition
Not for the faint-hearted an expedition in Maliau Basin requires a certain level of fitness and endurance for leeches, mud and some moderate trekking. To really make the most of a visit to Sabah’s Lost World we suggest doing the full loop which takes 5 days to complete and takes you to the most famed and undisputed jewel of all the waterfalls in Maliau Basin, Maliau Falls. Check out the ITINERARY for more details about expeditions to Maliau Basin.
Tucked away in Sabah’s south-west corner and only a two hour drive from Keningau lies Orou Sapulot, a place that takes you well off the tourist trail to experience the local sites and generous hospitality of the Murut community who are the indigenous people of this part of Sabah. Spending a few days in the region will give you one of the best experiences on offer for jungle adventure activities and exploration without having to embark on a fully fledged expedition.
The highlights include spending a night at a camp along the river after exploring a network of caves taking you deep into the landscape at Pongiton Camp, climbing the limestone pinnacle at Batu Punggul, and spending the night at the Vangkaakon Waterfall. With a minimum requirement of two people to embark on a tour you can be guaranteed to have a close-nit intimate experience with your travel buddy or small group of friends for the duration of your trip. This is also a great opportunity to become immersed in the culture of the local people, experience what it means to be a part of the Murut community whilst learning about subsistence living and how this community are holding on to their traditional roots.
This grass-roots community based tourism initiative is the first of its kind within the region. Since its establishment, the local community has benefited from the small-scale tourism activities in various ways. Guides accompany tourists as they explore the region whilst various members of the community provide support at accomodation facilities and for logistics. Orou Sapulot is a unique experience that you definitely will not find elsewhere in Borneo. For more information about trips to Orou Sapulot take a look at our trip itinerary and our blog for more details about the experience.
There are more people now than even that are choosing to travel and explore the beautiful planet we live on. In some cases the natural beauty of a destination can become overshadowed by the relentless crowds of people wanting to take selfies. Sabah is a destination that still has plenty of undiscovered secrets to explore and locations well of the tourist trail that are guaranteed to immerse you in the natural beauty of this incredible part of Borneo.
For us at Sticky Rice Travel we are passionate about providing our guests with unique memorable experiences in Borneo, tailoring your trip to your every need and ensuring smooth sailing throughout. Don’t be one of those people with the selfie stick, get amongst the true adventure that comes with exploring the road less travelled by stepping off the beaten track.
Photography: Charles Ryan & Rasiz Nasri