The largest Asian island, Borneo is also the third largest island in the world. It is shared by three countries: Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is an island with undeniably beautiful natural wonders, from Mt. Kinabalu to the various steaming jungles. In recent times, however, due to the advent of package tours and cheaper flights, the once deserted paradise has become a thing of the past. Today, Borneo is buzzing with tourists year round and a place of solitude is hard to come by. But with some knack of adventure and effort it’s not difficult to discover the tranquil pleasures of the island.
Mentioned below is a list of places that offer the serenity and solitude that one desperately seeks in Borneo.
Located in Malaysian Borneo and covering an area of 390 square kilometers, Maliau Basin is one the last pockets of untarnished wildernesses remaining. Discovered by chance by a British pilot in 1947, this dense forest ringed by walls is justifiably called ‘Borneo’s Lost World’. Maliau has an amazing biodiversity with 38% of the island species, from seraya tress to the critically endangered Sumatran Rhinos and clouded leopards, found here. It is protected as a natural reserve. Maliau is pretty hard to reach: after a two hour off-road drive to the nearest road, another five hour drive leads to the nearest city of Kota Kinabalu. However, the isolation could soon become a thing of the past, amply suggested by the ominous logging roads skirting the edge of the basin.
Located on the Indonesian side of Borneo in Central Kalimantan and covering an area of 415,000 hectares, Tanjung Puting National Park is the best place in the world to see an orangutan in its natural habitat. Orangutans are known to be shy and usually stay clear of human proximity. The best part about visiting Tanjung Puting is the opportunity to ride a klotok (houseboat) and travel down the Sungai Sekonyer River for a few days and watching wildlife up close. Along with the orangutan there are many other exotic species to be seen here like sambar deer, gibbons, flying squirrel, horn bills and crocodiles. Borneo’s weirdest inhabitant, the proboscis monkey, is also found here.
The Kelabit Highlands
Located in eastern Sarawak, the Kelabit Highlands are perfect for a peaceful hike because of the lesser number of visitors here.It is, however, advisable not to hike alone since some of these areas are extremely remote and mostly cloud-blanketed. Guided hikes are available aplenty in Kelabit. It is inhabited by the Kelabit tribe and the main hub of the highlands is the village of Bario. The locals here thrive by farming the special variety of Bario rice along with fruits and vegetables. The Kelabit people still dwell in longhouses and since they are known to be hospitable, visiting one isn’t difficult.
Borneo still has some secret areas yet to be uncovered by tourists; and for those looking for a peaceful getaway and reliving Borneo’s past, these places should be a delight to explore with friends and family alike.