Turtle Islands National Park
Forty-two kilometres offshore of Sandakan, in northeastern Borneo, idyllic Turtle Islands National Park awaits. Spend the day lazing on the sun-bleached sands of Selingan Island and swimming in the warm Sulu Sea; stay up late to witness a hawksbill or green turtle lay its eggs in the sand and assist in the release of newly-hatched babies.
Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre
Located in North Borneo, Sepilok stewards 43-sq-km of virgin lowland equatorial rainforest dedicated to the rescue, rehab and, hopefully, release of orang-utans. Visit during feeding times to closely observe these beautiful apes; you’ll be inspired to symbolically adopt a baby orang-utan to help fund the centre’s good work.
Based from Myne Resort, a delightful respite in the jungle, boat cruises on the Kinabatagan River reveal proboscis and silverback monkeys, hornbills, saltwater crocodiles and, if you’re lucky, orang-utans and pygmy elephants. Afterwards, relax in the open-air restaurant or hike nearby rainforest trails, then sleep soundly to the cicada’s lullaby.
Gomantong Caves, located near Myne Resort, is an ammonia-smelling guano depository worth the visit just to revel in horrid amazement at the sight of a million cockroaches climbing its 90-metre-tall walls. It’s also the world’s premier location for the collection of edible swiftlets’ nests. (Twice yearly, workers build towering rattan and ironwood scaffolding to collect these valuable nests.) Keep your eyes open for orang-utans swinging from the fig trees on the walk in.
Sandakan Memorial Park
“You will work until your bones rot under the tropical sun of Borneo.” These words hint at the brutality British and Australian soldiers faced at the hands of Japanese forces in the Sandakan POW Camps of the Second World War. Set within a garden park in Sandakan — once the start of the infamous Death March — Sandakan Memorial Park is a place of sombre reflection on the world’s most destructive conflict.
The highest point between the Himalayas and New Guinea, Mount Kinabalu offers a lung-busting overnight hike up more than 2,000 vertical metres, leading from dense jungle to barren granite atop a massif said to harbour the spirit-world. Fitness, hydration and comfortable boots are key elements to a successful summit of this 4,095-metre mountain. It’s not to be underestimated, but the view from the top is well worth the sweat.
G Adventures' Borneo-Sabah Adventure covers all five destinations.