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Sabah's Danum Valley Conservation Area

The pristine lowland rainforest of Danum Valley is arguably Borneo’s premier wildlife location. Situated amidst and enormous forest concession, over 400 square km have been set aside as a conservation area.

These forests are known to harbour some of the richest concentration of species anywhere on the island – orangutans, clouded leopard, pygmy elephants, Sumatra rhinos, Banteng (wild ox), red-leaf monkeys, gibbons, pig-tailed macaques, sambar deer, bearded pigs, western tarsier, sunbear and 320 species of bird including all eight species of the Bornean Hornbills and six species of Pitta, including the impressive Giant Pitta. Several bird species are endemic to Borneo: Bornean Bristlehead, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, Bornean Wren-Babbler, Black-throated Wren-Babbler and Dusky Munia, just to name a few. Danum Valley is indeed a birdwatcher’s paradise!

For more information see  Mammal’s List and  Bird’s List 

Danum Valley rainforest is one of the oldest, tallest and most diverse in the world. Dipterocarp trees dominate the forest around Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Danum Valley Field Centre with the canopy in places reaching a height of over 70 metres. 90% of the Conservation Area is classified as lowland dipterocarp forest with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly at Mt. Danum in the heart of the Conservation Area.  The family Dipterocarpaceae comprises over 500 species from 17 genera and have a pantropical distribution; Borneo is a ‘hotspot’ for dipterocarp diversity. The family name derives from the characteristic two-winged fruits and the trees are exploited for timber and other products.

Sunrise and sunset from an observation tower

Danu Valley features include a canopy walkway, a heart-stopplingly springy platform 107 m long and 27 m above the ground, an ancient Dusun burial site, waterfalls and jungle trails.

Early morning is perhaps the best time to enjoy the tree top view of the forest from the canopy walkway.  As the sun breaks through, the canopy is briefly set on fire in a golden blaze of light beams. With gibbon calling and hornbill flying by, few more evocative experiences are imaginable.  The canopy walkway provides a great birdwatching opportunity; various barbets and broadbills may be seen, as well as the enigmatic and endemic Bornean Bristlehead. 
After dark, night walk and night drive safari offer a window into the secretive world of the forest’s nocturnal creatures: mouse deer, flying squirrels, civets and flying lemurs are often seen. There is also a reasonable chance of seeing Slow Loris, Western Tariser and Bornean Horned Frog. 

The Danum Valley has not always been uninhabited. Several centuries ago a Sutpan longhouse sat opposite the site of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The Sutpan are an ‘upriver’ subtribe of the Dusun. A 300 year old burial site, easily accessible from the lodge, was discovered at the top of the steep hill overlooking the river. A huge wooden coffin sits on a rocky outcrop. It is thought to belong to a Suptan chief, his trusty blowpipe laid out inside the coffin, his sun-bleached bones to one side.  Nearby are the small coffins of two children, both of whom are said to have died of chickenpox.

     

Jungle Trail Danum Valley

Scarlet Rumped Trogon

Red Leaf Monkey


Accommodation

Borneo Rainforest Lodge is one of the finest tourism developments in Sabah.  It has only 31 chalets with fans and en-suite bathrooms, accommodating up to only 60 guests. These chalets are designed like local village houses on stilts. They are made up of "belian" (ironwood) and stones from the nearby rivers. The main building with a spacious lobby that overlooks the forest is the ideal place to have your meals and compare notes on the day's findings. Borneo Rainforest Lodge amid the tranquil tropical forest is nature at its best.

Main Lodge

Deluxe triple chalet

Deluxe chalet - outdoor tub

 

Travel packages

Danum Valley Tropical Rain Forest

RIVER & RAINFOREST SAFARI - Sukau, Danum and Tabin
A wonderful 8 days wildlife viewing tour in Sabah

Gliding

Mengaris Trees

Hornbills keep Asian rainforests healthy and diverse

Gliding among animals is seen to be only common in the Asian tropical rainforest. Many animals there ascend up trees and glide either to the ground or to other trees nearby. The main mechanism behind gliding is to increase the body surface area. To do this, all the species of gliding animals have a flap of skin that is flattened and spread out. The wider the spread, the smoother the glide and the longer the time they spent in air. Gliding is not exclusive only to a group of animals; in fact gliding can be seen, among, snakes, lizards, frogs and mammals. The following at specific species, paradise flying snake (chrysopelea pelias), flying dragon (draco volans), flying gecko (ptychozoon kuhli) and Wallace’s flying frog (rhacophorus nigropalmatus).

Mengaris trees are among the tallest trees in the rain forests, especially in the lowlands. In fact, a mengaris can grow up to a height of 90 m! Yes, that's as tall as a 30-storey building! In fact, it is one of the ten tallest tree species in the world.Although they can be very large in size, mengaris trees are seldom cut down, or logged, because their wood breaks or splits easily when they fall. Also, their wood has a very high content of silica (like sand) and this will cause the saws in sawmills to go blunt very fast! Mengaris trees are homes to bees. Bees, especially during the flowering season, make their hives high up on the trees. Village folks know how to get honey from the hives without getting stung by the bees.

Hornbills are one of Asia's most attractive birds. Large, colorful, and easier to spot than most other birds, hornbills have become iconic animals in the tropical forests of Asia. Yet, most people probably don't realize just how important hornbills are to the tropical forests they inhabit: as fruit-eaters, hornbills play a key role in dispersing the seeds of tropical trees, thereby keeping forests healthy and diverse. Hornbills are especially vital for Asia's fragmented rainforests because they are "mobile link" species. This means that because hornbills are capable of soaring over cleared forest areas or plantations, traveling from one forest patch to another to spread seeds across fragmented ecosystems.