By Farah Bode

Made up of a number of islands, Borneo itself isn’t a country, but 3 countries who exist side by side, Malaysia, Indonesia and the supremely tiny but extremely oil-rich kingdom of Brunei. Our adventure takes place in Malaysia.

If you are looking for a fun family adventure holiday with something for a large group across ages, look no further. Malaysian Borneo is your own island paradise. Made up of 2 districts— Sabah and Sakau there is so much to see, feel and experience.

Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, who is an old hand at wild water rafting, or simply someone who wants to experience the joys of wild water rafting, or simply want to introduce your passion to those important to you with grade 1 & 2 rapids, the Kiulu River awaits. This beautiful river, in the north-western part of the Sabah province, is the perfect place to truly engage with the deceptive grace and hidden power of this beautiful sport, to be humbled by a mighty river, to get soaked and make memories of a lifetime. Easy enough for the children in the group and the folks enjoying their second childhood to partake, this is truly a family activity.

While the rapids may take all your attention, and your energy, a quick look up towards the rainforest will calm your soul.

Returning to the hotel after a sumptuous lunch will put you in the right mind for the next day’s adventures.

Snorkelling is perhaps the closest that we can get to being fish, enjoy the colour, beauty, diversity and calm of the world beneath the waves. Riding out to the marine park under the watchful eye of a master diver will allow you to enjoy a brief spell of sunshine on the boat, preparing you for the majesty of what lies beneath!

Schools of fish, welcome you into their quiet serene world. Following the rules keeps you safe and respecting their domain keeps the fish safe. What wonderful sights await the intrepid adventurer, one who is brave enough to take the plunge- pun intended.

An experience that will be hard to describe, because as usual so much happens beneath the calm of the surface. Swimming, hiding from predators, feeding, all in a day’s work for the underwater folks, but an experience of a lifetime for us, who are merely visitors to their world!

For those who haven’t found their inner mermaid or merman the beach awaits! Sunbathing, walking by the shore in the spotlessly clean beach, picking up shells but keep you busy on the outside, while your soul is refreshed by the gentle lapping waves, the rhythmic flow of water that lulls you into a state of bliss. Perfect for deep introspection, or revisiting the forgotten art of daydreaming. Watching clouds roll by, or curling up with a great book. Switch off from the world, move beyond technology to the here and now.

All the nature lovers, immerse yourself in the lush equatorial forest of the islands. Bring that geography class to life, moving the words about Equatorial forests, canopies and the like to really live 3D experience
While the youngsters marvel at this, the older generation will be reliving a past when these dense forests were but a drive from their very city.

The UNESCO World Heritage site Kinabalu National Park is home to a mind-boggling 4500 species of plants including 77 types of orchids! Spot pitcher plants, that devour insects, to beautiful orchids that are indigenous to Kinabalu on your guided tour. Finish your day with a Canopy walk, a look at the forest from a totally different angle. Enjoy the grandeur of the old trees from the treetops – a height that is usually reserved only for birds and monkeys. Feel the majesty of nature in all her glory. Soak up the aura of the deep green foliage, recharge your soul through this immersive experience. Breathe in the pure air, recharge your spirit!

Somewhere between the humongous pitcher plants and the grace of the old forest canopy, lies the Poring Hot Springs. These sulfur springs are best enjoyed in Japanese style bathtubs, perfect for rejuvenating from the exertions of the earlier two days. Tired and aching muscles will find a new lease on life, the cool forest climate is a perfect foil for the warm and welcoming bath.

The beautiful state of the Sabah still has so many intriguing and wonderful secrets to share. The Gomantong cave system with its intricate cave system that is home to the largest birds cave, home to bats and swiftlets.

Moving on to the Sakau province, explore the richness of the ecosystem by the banks of the Lower Kinabatangan River as your real adventure awaits. Cruising down the river spot Orangutans, River Monkeys, Gibbons and Macque. The mere beginning of your own Indiana Jones Adventure.

Taking this up to the next level is the nocturnal safari, where one can sight crocodile birds and other creatures of the night!

Waking up to the calls of the hornbills and chattering monkeys, this alarm clock sets the tone for yet another day immersed in the forested wonderland.

Spending the day learning about Orangutans at the Kabili-Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Watch dedicated workers work with these cute and adorable orphaned babies rehabilitate them in their natural habitat. Making the 10 min trek to the viewing point becomes so worth it when these gentle giants come to share a meal with you.

This trip is one of a kind. The very wide variety of things to do makes it a complete family holiday. With something for everyone, it moves beyond just lush meadows and paddy fields into the very heart of an undisturbed jungle. Beaches and snorkelling, diving and boat cruises, walking under the canopy to walking alongside it, watching animals to playing with baby Orangutans. This is, in fact, the perfect trip to take the whole family on.

When we all speak of saving the Earth’s forests, it is when we visit places that are supremely well tended that we are actually in reality helping save them. By putting our money where it can be utilised best and most effectively we are in effect helping save these wonderful forests and the animals that inhabit them. But with all great and wonderful things, it rests on us to enjoy responsibly, because after all we but guests in their world!