We had been planning for it for the last 6 months or so; and finally, day zero was there. It’s crazy how time flies. The new year had just started and suddenly it was the 10th of March. The north of Italy just went into quarantine because of a massive outbreak of the new corona virus, but we were happy to fly off to Sandakan over Doha and Kula Lumpur with Qatar airways just as planned. After a long journey of almost 27 hours we arrived at our first hotel, a sleep-over in Sandakan. We just dropped our bags and just hit the pool with our 2 dive buddies, Steven and Anke who will accompany us for the largest part of our journey. The flights actually were not too bad, the planes were only partially filled, because a lot of people changed their plans last minute. Trying to get in the new rhythm as fast as possible we went for dinner just outside the hotel and to bed around 9.30 PM and fell in a long and deep sleep. Next morning Johnathan from Borneo Eco Tours was waiting for us downstairs at the hotel check in desk at 8.00 AM where we handed over our diving luggage and all other unnecessary stuff to the driver of the coach to be stored in the office for the next couple of days. On day one before we headed of for the lodge, we visited the Orangutan rehabilitation center of Sepilok where had the chance to see some of the rescued Orangutans in the protected area. The main purpose of the center is to prepare their guest to a return to the wild. Orangutans are very clever animals, they have 96% of our DNA, and they certainly know how to charm their visitors. You simply cannot fall not in love with them. And honestly 96% is a lot, it’s probably more than most humans, which sometimes look like cave men to me J. After waiving the Orangutans goodbye, we walked just across the road to the Sun bear center which is located in the former Rhino breeding program area. Unfortunately, the Rhino has been declared extinguished in Borneo as of October 2019. Makes you wonder right? The same afternoon we were brought to the pier for a 2,5h last speed boat transfer to the Sukau rainforest lodge. Finally, the trip took 3h, but only for the good reasons, we spotted an orangutan in the wild, which did totally not care of us taking pictures and studying it from close by. Shortly after that we were lucky for the 2nd time that day because there was a pygmy elephant, close to the riverbank. Although the elephant was shyer than the Orangutan, we still managed to get a couple nice pictures. We only realized how lucky we were afterwards, because apparently none of the groups in the lodge had seen the elephants. The next 3 days we went on boat cruises early morning, late afternoon and sometimes after sundown. The rainforest or what is left from it, there is the palm oil industry, which is still expanding, was way above our expectations. Wonderful birds, monkeys, crocodiles and many others. Going on a boat tour along the river was amazing every single time. The Sukau Rainforest Lodge is really a unique place to stay, the standard rooms had just been refreshed and were excellent.
Time went by too quickly, but we managed to see the Borneo Big Five! It’s time to pack our stuff together and prepare for one more night in Sandakan and our trip to Mabul ❤
- Sukau Rainforest Lodge: What an amazing place to stay, in the middle of the rainforest, the award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo’s magnificent wildlife. The lodge combines the comfort of beautiful rooms, where you wake in the morning with the sounds of the rainforest, with the warm and welcoming team making your one to remember. More info on: https://www.sukau.com
- Borneo Eco Tours: A fantastic team, perfectly organised, making the wildlife part of our trip memorable. A very big thank you to our guide Johnathan, for sharing so much information about the wildlife and the war history of Sabah. Our advice: if you want to do a tour in Borneo, go for Borneo Eco Tours! More info on: https://www.borneoecotours.com
- Ba Lin Rooftop Bar & Restaurant: Last but not least, this amazing italian inspired restaurant in Sandakan. OMG, the seafood platter (we shared it with the four of us as an appitizer) was a-ma-zing! And the main dishes, we had pizza’s and pasta were just as good. Amazing view on the rooftop too! If you’re craving for some italian food in Sandakan, go to Ba Lin! More info: https://www.facebook.com/Balinrooftop/