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Danum Valley Conservation Area

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Travel Guide Asia Malaysia Malaysian Borneo Sabah Danum Valley Conservation Area

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Introduction

danum valley - heaven

danum valley - heaven

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The Danum Valley Conservation Area, a must see spot for all nature lovers, is a 438 kmĀ² protected area of virgin rainforest in the eastern part of Sabah, Malaysia. Within this area it is possible to see a wide variety of Borneo's world famous plant and wildlife, including orangutans, clouded leopards, Sumatran rhinos, mouse deer, gibbons, and Borneo pygmy elephants. Over 270 bird species have been recorded in the Danum Valley.

In 1986, the Sabah Foundation opened a scientific field study center. Through this center there have countless research projects undertaken, including studying orangutan behaviour. During this time a lot of tourists wanted to visit Danum Valley and consequently stayed at the field study center. This created difficult working conditions for the researches which led to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge (see below), the only lodge in the valley, being built in 1994.

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Activities

Depending on your enthusiasm, fitness, and the weather, you can expect to do up to four activities in a day: one both before and after breakfast, one in late afternoon, and one in the evening. Again, the schedule is quite flexible, and you can make requests about specific things you would like to include in your itinerary.

Guides

You will be introduced to your guide when you check in. Your guide will accompany you on jungle treks, helping to locate animal and plant life, and will answer any questions that you may have. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable, but have various areas of expertise. If you have a particular area of interest, inquire in advance about a guide specialized in that area. Accommodations for special requests can be made with adequate notice.

Day Activities

IMG_6095 Canopy walkway

IMG_6095 Canopy walkway

© All Rights Reserved agc_cwm

  • Jungle trekking - there is an extensive trail system surrounding the lodge, with trails to suit any fitness level. Most hikes are designed to last from one to three hours, depending on seasonal trail conditions and your level of inquisitiveness. If you stop to watch wildlife, the hikes will invariably take longer. Bear in mind the humid, tropical climate of the area and prepare accordingly: stay hydrated. One of the more popular hikes is the climb up Coffin Cliff Trail to an ancient burial site. As this is the highest point in the valley, there is a spectacular view.
  • River tubing - After an hour-long hike to the launch point, you can enjoy a leisurely float down the Danum River back toward the lodge.
  • Canopy walkway - Suspended 30-40 metres above the forest floor, the 240-metre long canopy walkway is a good place to see wildlife without having to crane your neck up to the treetops.
  • Swimming - Jacuzzi Pool, on the Coffin Cliff Trail, is only about 15 minutes from the lodge. After a morning of hiking, this is a good place for a refreshing dip.

Night Activities

  • Dusk/night drive - Departing at 6:30pm/8:30pm, these drives take you on a trip on the access road, where your guide will use a high-powered beam to search for wildlife in the trees. A word of advice: don't continuously track the light with your eyes, as you'll end up with a very sore neck.
  • Night walk - Departing after dark, your guide will lead you on a "flashlight safari" around the immediate lodge area, looking for wildlife. It is advisable to bring your own flashlight for this activity.

Packing list highlights

  • Rain gear - it is the rainforest after all
  • Quality, broken in hiking/walking shoes
  • Binoculars - your wildlife watching experience will be much more interesting
  • Leech socks/gaiters - although more of an annoyance than a real threat, gaiters and leech socks are good preventative measures to take.

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Facilities

DSC00056 (Large)

DSC00056 (Large)

© All Rights Reserved agc_cwm

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is the primary source of accommodation for tourists to the Danum Valley. There are 24 standard and deluxe chalets available, either semi-detached or fully detached and each coming with a private bathroom and balcony. Some of the chalets are equipped with outdoor hot tubs. A raised boardwalk connects all the chalets to the main lodge. The main lodge houses the Merbau Restaurant, a bar, a conference room, gift shop, reception desk, reading/leisure corner, and foot massage services. It also serves as the launch point for all jungle treks and activities.

Food and Drink

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the Merbau Restaurant. Meals are buffet-style, serving a wide variety of freshly prepared local dishes. Dessert always includes local fresh fruit. Unlimited coffee, tea, and drinking water are available throughout the day. Snacks are available for purchase at the gift shop. The bar stocks a selection of local and imported beverages.

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Cost

The cost to stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge varies depending on the duration of your stay and the type of room you request. There are standard and deluxe rooms, which are newer and around 20% larger with generally better views and bigger patios. Prices range from around RM 2,000 for a 3-day/2-night package based on double occupancy in a standard room to almost RM 4,000 for a 4-day/3-night package based on single occupancy in a deluxe room.
Note that March/April and July to half October are peak seasons with extra costs added per night.

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Getting There

By Car

The Danum Valley Conservation Area is located 82 kilometres west of Lahad Datu on mainly logging roads. The trip usually takes 2.5 to 3 hours to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. You can arrange for transfer there when you book your package, which is usually included. The gravel road to the lodge is challenging, and can be impassable after heavy rains. If you insist on taking your own mode of transportation, you will need to be issued access permits.
Lahad Datu can be reached with MASwings from Kota Kinabalu, or by public transport from Sandakan, Semporna and Tawau.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 12:50 on Dec 3, 10 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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