Some time ago, say in the 1930s and 1940s, the very mention of “Borneo” conjured up the world of jungle, orangutans, and adventurers such as “Bring ’em Back Alive Frank Buck”. And in many ways, the island still lives up to the billing of one of the “last best places” for adventure. Geographically, the northern part of the island includes the tiny (but very wealthy) kingdom of Brunei, sandwiched between two, much larger Malaysian states – Sabah and Sarawak – while an Indonesian province, Kalimantan, fills the map of central and southern Borneo.
Most visitors these days head for the “eco-destinations” of Sabah and Sarawak. Head into the heart of Borneo and you’ll see animals and plant life found nowhere else, including the rafflesia, the world’s largest flower (nearly 3 feet across). Hiking trails through Sabah’s Danum Valley and Kinabalu Park can take only a few hours to traverse, while treks deeper into unspoiled jungle can last for days.
Meanwhile, the diving offshore is nothing less than sublime, notably at Sabah’s famed offshore island, Sipadan. Jacques Cousteau visited the island in the late 1980s and said “I have seen other places like Sipadan – 45 years ago…” And new discoveries, such as Sarawak’s Luconia Shoals and Sabah’s Layang-Layang atoll, are only now beginning to be explored – a truism for much of Borneo.