Danum Valley Conservation Area
Danum Valley is your gateway to experience the ancient tropical rainforest which is set in the district of Lahad Datu, Sabah. The area covers 438sq km tract that is left unlogged solely for conservation hence making it known as the Danum Valley Conservation Area.
The Danum Valley Conservation Area is a spacious paradise not just for amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals but also home to different species of flora and fauna. Keen naturalists or holiday makers have the opportunity to experience this mystical jungle either by staying a few nights at the Danum Valley Field Center, the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Kawag, Infapro or Taliwas
Tours and Accommodation in Danum Valley
Further highlights in Sabah
Danum Valley Conservation Area is a vast green ocean of old growth wilderness, untouched for over 130 million years. Surrounded with towering trees, hanging vines and jungle creepers, walking through Danum Valley is like stepping back in time, a glimpse of primeval world. The rainforest has more than 200 species of trees per hectares, some of which are the oldest and the tallest in the world while some species are no longer exist anywhere else on earth. Danun Valley Conservation Area stretches over 43,800 hectares of undisturbed lowland rainforest, which is home to an astonishing variety of plants and wildlife , including more than 340 species of birds, 124 species of mammals, 72 species of reptiles and 56 species of amphibians. Rare and endangered species such as orang utan, Banteng, Bornean pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, proboscis monkey and sun bear also can be found here. For animal lovers, Danum Valley Conservation Area offers the most authentic wildlife encounters in Borneo. It is the best place to see a family of wild orang utans and a herd of Bornean pygmy elephants feeding in their natural habitat. With its pristine forest and rich biodiversity, Danum Valley attracts naturalist, wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers from around the world.
Usually, the adventure in Danum Valley Conservation Area will start with a short walk along the nature trail that will provide you an overview of the whole conservation area. There are a handful of great jungle treks ranging from shorter walks to full day hikes, allow visitors to experience the rainforest and provide good opportunities for wildlife watching. During your trip, you can freely pick your daily activities such as morning and evening walks with the naturalist guide, night safaris with 4x4 wheel drive, relaxing and picnic by the Danum river and canopy trekking. An early morning walks reward with possible sightings of hornbills, chestnut-winged babblers, broadbills, kingfisher and the endemic Bornean Bristlehead. However, if you are a big fan of orang utan, the Chances of spotting them is higher during the fruiting season. Hiking within the primary forest are allowed on the provided trails, which can take you to the mesmerising waterfalls, natural jacuzzi pools and ancient burial site. It is possible to trek for a whole day, chasing wildlife in their natural habitat.
And one of the main highlights at Danum Valley Conservation Area is the famous canopy walkway who belongs to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. This amazing canopy walk is one of the best in the world, where you get the bird’s eye view of the whole stunning landscapes of the forest. For birdwatchers, they will surely appreciate the 300 metre long and 27 meter high canopy walk, featuring a different level of platform reaching up to 45 meters which offers a peek into the boundless world of bird life within the canopy forest. Early in the morning, the view of the misty rainforest from the treetop is breathtaking, and who knows you might spot baby orang utan peeping between the branches too.
As evening fades to dark, the shy nocturnal creatures come out to prowl. The night safari at Danum Valley Conservation Area, offers visitors a window into the mystery world of Bornean nocturnal creatures. With powerful spotlight on the four wheel drive, your guide will point out birds, insects and mammals in the trees and shrubs lining the road. You might see owls, mouse deer, flying red squirrel and slow loris. And if you are lucky, you might spot clouded leopard, western tarsier, python, Bornean wild cats and civets.
To fully experience Danum Valley and the amazing canopy walk here, one must book a stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge which is one of the unique luxurious resorts located in the heart of Danum Valley Conservation Area. According to travelers, besides the biodiversity and wildlife, the luxurious Borneo Rainforest Lodge, makes Danum Valley a paradise. You will be surrounded by the extraordinary sounds and smell of rainforest, but living inside a sweet bubble of 5 star luxury : from decadent meals to the lavish comforts of your private villa. Talking about exclusiveness, the award winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge has only 40 of standard chalets, a limited number of premium villas and exclusive presidential suites, which has hosted for Prince of Wales and other royalty along with celebrities. All of the standard chalets are indeed fairly standard. Spacious room with simple bed, fan, and an adequate bathroom plus it is facing the jungle, offers best wildlife watching opportunities. At the other end of the scale, the premium villas are something quite special. It is very popular among the honeymooners, its private, luxurious and perfect for special occasion. You get a large comfy bed, living room area, big bathroom with modern fittings and spacious balcony with loungers to relax, plus your very own private pool overlooking the Danum river. Nevertheless, if you just want to find a place to sleep after a long day of jungle trekking, the standard chalets are ideal. But, if you are looking fora place to relax and make your time at the lodge truly special, the villas are definitely the way to go. Therefore if you are planning your trip to Danum Valley Conservation Area, make sure to book your rooms in advance especially during the peak month of July and August.
As a matter of fact, depending on your budget and your expectation, you actually have a few option of accommodation in Danum Valley. The first option is the Danum Valley Field Centre. Danum Valley Field Centre is a research facility, however it has accommodation for visitors, who is looking to explore Danum Valley on a budget. Since it was built for the researchers, the place is quite basic and simple. There are rest house, rooms and dorms plus camping ground with a few hammocks under a roof. And as for the meals, you can either cook your own food or you can go to the nearby cafeteria.
In fact, Danum Valley Conservation Area is surrounded by much larger buffer zone of Ulu Segama Malua forest reserve, which has been over logged for the past few years. Today, the whole area has been rehabilitated by a project called INFAPRO/FACE. INFAPRO stands for Innoprise Forest Absorbing Project while FACE stands for Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions. The 100 years contract of joint programme between Dutch company and the Sabah State government, has planted over 2 million seedlings between 1992-2013, covering and area of 240 kilometres. Strategically located near the date of Danum Valley Field Centre, INFAPRO can be your second choice to stay in Danum forest. The rooms are clean and comfortable, complete with air-con, hot showers, attached bathroom and 24 hours of electricity. So, if you plan to explore the the extensive network of nature trails, DVFC is only half an hour away by transport.
On the other hand, Kawag Danum Rainforest is another reincarnated forest after it has been logged twice in 1997 and 2002. Located in the buffer zone in secondary forest of Ulu Segama Malua forest reserve as well, Kawag Danum Rainforest is a lowland dipterocarp forest and now is classified as Class 1 Protection Forest Reserve. Kawag offers an affordable option for anyone interested in visiting the wider part of Danum Valley area. However, it is worth noting that the habitat at Kawag consists of secondary and logged over forest, while the rainforest at Danum Valley Conservation Area is untouched, virgin forest. Multitude of wildlife can be found in Kawag nowadays, including pygmy elephants, orang utans, gibbons, bearded pigs, wild cattle, monkeys and mouse deer. And according to the record, there are over 150 species of birds, and wide array of amphibians, reptiles and insects inhabiting Kawag Danum rainforest. If you are looking to explore this area, you can stay at Kawag Danum Rainforest Lodge, that offers 20 rooms in 3 blocks. There are 10 deluxe rooms with air-con and another 10 rooms with fan-cooled. All rooms comes with attached bathroom and hot showers. Facilities at the lodge include restaurant, observation tower, boardwalk, jetty and numerous of jungle trails. Kawag Danum Rainforest can be reach by road and it takes around 60-80 minutes from Lahad Datu town.
Alternatively, you can also go to Taliwas Forestry and Recreation Area which is closer to the town of Lahad Datu. It is more cost effective and takes only 40 minutes to reach Taliwas. It is suitable for those who are really tight on budget, but want to have a glimpse of the jungle experience in Danum Valley. Situated on the gate of the protection zone, Taliwas forest previously was heavily logged. Therefore, it doesn’t guarantee seeing as much wildlife as the other places in the valley. Taliwas Forestry and Recreation Area is mostly meant for those who want to stay near nature hike and camp or enjoy the waterfalls. Jungle trekking in Danum Valley is also available in Taliwas as well as night walks and night drive. To make it more exciting, Bike and Tours have crafted a day tour where you get to explore the tropical forest of Taliwas on the two wheels. Pedal your way under the canopy and take pleasure of the breeze in the tropical rainforest. Upon arrival, enjoy a freshly cooked lunch amidst the forest and plunge into the waterfalls to relax the body after the ride. If you are interested, you can also participate in planting trees too.