By Epoch Times StaffTired of Singapore’s concrete jungle and hectic pace?
Jet set across the ocean to Sarawak – ‘Land of the Hornbills’, and embark on a journey back to nature.
Draped along Borneo’s northwest coast, Sarawak is home to pristine wilderness, lush greenery and exceptional natural beauty, where orangutans and proboscis monkeys roam wild in the rainforest.
The Malaysian state is also home to myriad indigenous ethnic groups like the Bidayuh, Iban, and Orang Ulu, each having their own unique customs and way of life.
With Sarawak only two hours’ flight from Singapore, it’s an amazingly convenient escape from the city to rejuvenate in the natural wonders and cultural riches of Borneo.
In the Heart of Nature: Borneo Highlands Resort
From Kuching International Airport, take a 60-minute ride to Borneo Highlands Resort, a unique eco-wellness resort located in the mountains, at 1000 meters above sea level.
Hidden in the heart of Borneo’s flourishing rainforest (the world’s oldest and second-largest), the resort immerses guests in nature at its most pristine. Wake up to the tranquil sounds of the tropical jungle, fresh mountain air, and a glorious view of lush greenery.
The nature sanctuary also offers guest many outdoor activities, including a rainforest walk, jungle trekking, horseback riding, and trips to Simanggas Waterfalls and the Annah Rais Bidayuh longhouse.
The resort itself hosts a plethora of attractions, including West Kalimantan Viewpoint, a horticulture nursery, organic farm, flower gardens, spa, and golf course. There are also a variety of facilities including a mini theatre, mini gymnasium, library and reading lounge, and the Annah Rais Café, which dishes up healthy cuisine made from vegetables, fruits and herbs cultivated in the resort’s organic farm.
Batang Ai: Wildlife Oasis
From the capital city of Kuching, it’s a four-hour journey to Batang Ai, a special conservation region. Here, you can mingle with the Iban people, stay in traditional longhouses, or explore the 24,040 hectare Batang Ai National Park and the 192,800 hectare Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.
This biodiversity hotspot is bursting with wildlife. Trekking trails in Batang Ai National Park take you through a medley of primary and secondary rainforests, where you can glimpse gibbons, hornbills, pig-tailed macaques, birds and the endangered orangutan.
One of Batang Ai’s most intriguing and popular trails is the Red Ape Trail, which takes visitors through a major orangutan habitat.
Alternatively, charter a boat across the crystal clear Batang Ai reservoir, or travel upriver to the scenic Enseluai Waterfall.
Batang Ai is also the heartland of the Iban – the largest indigenous group in Sarawak. Also known as Sea Dayaks, the Iban are born boatmen and maintain many of their traditional customs. Their longhouses and longboats dot the banks of the rivers that flow into the Batang Ai reservoir.
Spend the night in Batang Ai by staying in an Iban longhouse, a unique experience that can be reserved with tour groups. Alternatively, rest and relax in the lakeside Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat, or the award-winning Nanga Sumpa Lodge.
If living in the great outdoors is your thing, camp out in the two rustic jungle camps at Mawang and Lubok operated by Borneo Adventure.
Mulu: Where the Adventure Begins
Fly over to Mulu World Heritage Area for a wild retreat into Borneo’s mystical rainforests.
Gazetted as Sarawak’s largest national park in 1974, Mulu’s landscape was formed 60 million years ago, when a massive limestone formation rose from the seabed to form three imposing peaks — Api, Benarat and Buda.
Mulu was named a World Heritage Area in 2000, in recognition of its spectacular landscape and rich biodiversity.
The majestic mountains, rivers, lush rainforests, canyons and vast caves are home to over 1,500 species of flowering plants, 4,000 species of fungi, 80 species of mammals, 270 birds (including 8 species of hornbill), 125 reptiles and amphibians, and an estimated 20,000 insect species.
Mulu prides itself for its magnificent limestone caves, which are some of the world’s largest. Deer Cave, Sarawak Chamber and Clearwater Cave were carved out by water, creating striking pinnacles, cavernous chambers, sink holes, joints and passages.
The legendary Mulu is where the adventure begins.
Climb to Gunung Mulu Summit, a gruelling three-day, four-night hike. Or trek up the slopes of Gunung Api to see the razor-sharp limestone Pinnacles. Watch three million bats swarm out of Deer Cave, or explore Clearwater Connection — a habitat for unique plant species. Traverse through Sarawak Chamber — the largest cave chamber in the world, or climb the bird watching tower.
Other activities include the Mulu Canopy Skywalk — the longest treetop canopy walkway in Malaysia; the historic Headhunter’s Trail that winds through lush rainforest; chasing the sunset on a traditional longboat; or visiting the villages of the Orang Ulu — the upriver indigenous people.