Dear friends,

‘Sabah’ – the very name conjures up images of misty rainforest, winding rivers and wetlands, huge caves, tropical islands and coral reefs, orang-utans, monkeys, hornbills, kingfishers, and much much more. I have been lucky enough these past two weeks to visit four National Parks in Sabah: in Sepilok, the Orangutan and Sun Bear Rehabilitation Centres, the Kinabatangan Wetlands Reserve, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the Danum Valley Rainforest Reserve, and finishing with two days on Mateking Island on the east coast archipelago in the Celebes Sea.

The trip was organised by Wilderness Travel (Berkeley, California) and our small group of six was guided by Karin Betts and John Nizam, both of whom shared their wealth of knowledge on the wildlife and conservation efforts in the region. My only regret was that I had just my small camera with me and I don’t feel as though I have done justice to the superb opportunities we had to view life in the wild.

In this blog I will lead you through some highlights of our trip, and in subsequent blogs over the coming days, I will add more specific information and photos on: animals and birds, life on the forest floor and the Bajau Lau (Sea Gypsies) one of the last remaining semi-nomadic seafaring groups in South-East Asia.


sabah_01Kota Kinabalu, capital city of Sabah Province of Eastern Malaysia

sabah_02What a look!  Male Orangutan at the Internationally renowned Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

sabah_03Juvenile Bear at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre established in 2008

sabah_04Bridge over a lake at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

sabah_05Red flower, home to busy ants, Rainforest Discovery Centre 

sabah_06Wild fig, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

sabah_08Insect eating plant, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

sabah_09Colourful seed pods, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok

sabah_10Houses and mosque dwarfed by the forest clad hills at Sandakan 

sabah_11The wide Kinabatangan River winds its way through the forest

sabah_13A stork-beaked Kingfisher amongst the foliage above the river

sabah_14A long-tailed Macaque monkey wanders along a log at the river’s edge 

sabah_15Palm fronds reflected in the still waters of a side stream of the Kinabatangan River

sabah_16A blaze of colour, sunset over the river

sabah_17The Gomantong Caves, Malaysia’s largest site for the collection of edible bird’s nests

sabah_18  A Maroon Langur (Red-leaf monkey) high in the trees by the Gomantong Caves

sabah_19A magnificent ’emergent’ tree in the forest, rising high above the canopy, Tabin Wildlife Reserve

sabah_20A Borneo Pygmy Elephant enjoys himself at a mud volcano in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve

sabah_23Lotus flowers illuminated by a torch beam on a night walk, Tabin Wildlife Reserve

sabah_21On the canopy walk, high above the forest floor, one feels as a bird or a flying squirrel

sabah_22A Masked Palm Civet, Danum Valley Rainforest Reserve  

sabah_25An owl atop a marker post in the Danum Valley

sabah_26A full moon shines over the forest and the Danum Valley Rainforest Lodge boardwalk 

sabah_27Dawn breaks over the mists and mountains of the Danum Valley Rainforest

sabah_29Leaving Semporna on the way to Mateking Island in the Celebes Sea

sabah_31The beach at Mateking Island, looking towards the sand spit and the little adjoining island

sabah_32Newly hatched Hawksbill Turtles scrambling through the sand to the sea, Mateking Island

sabah_33Stilt houses at Kalapuan Village, home to the Bajau Laut sea gypsies

sabah_34Giggling Sea Gypsy girls, Kalapuan Village