You can see mist hangs in the heavy jungle air as the yellow sun rises over the valley. Buzzing insects surge into an almost deafening dissonance. Waking up inside Danum Valley, Malaysia is close to a dream. Explore the top activities in this mystical rainforest in eastern Sabah. Eastern Sabah’s reclining Danum Valley is among the unexplored forests on the planet. Only some privileged tourists have had the opportunity to visit it. Check out some of the top things to do in Danum Valley for wildlife, jungle treks and pagan burial sites.
Trek through Borneo’s oldest rainforest
Travelling to Danum Valley and not trekking is like visiting Kuala Lumpur and skipping Petronas Towers. Orchid and Nature Trails are guided trails that loop around the Field Centre accessible to all tourists. You can see red leaf monkeys watch with interest from the tree branches while gibbons howl from the canopy. Longer trails lasts between two to seven hours and head deep through the thick rainforest.
Discover almost forgotten pagan burial sites
Situated approximately 2.5 kilometres from the Field Centre, explore the remains of a pagan cemetery. Jungle tribes called Orang Sungai, or ‘River People’, originate in Danum Valley’s dense forest for centuries. Burial ceremonies covered in mystery lead up to wooden coffins carried into the vertical rock face. A handful of these wooden coffins and the remains of ceramic spirit jars can be spotted on the natural shelves. This cemetery rates among the most amazing things to do in Danum Valley—a few activities like a window into the native peoples’ pagan lifestyle before conventional religion can be taken up.
Embrace the buzzing nocturnal jungle on night safaris
Majority of Danum Valley’s native residents come out to play once night falls. Night safaris provide a chance to meet these nocturnal species, including flying foxes, civets and sambar deer. Right after sunset, 4×4 jeeps pick up travellers and roll along dirt logging roads. Guides with flashlights point out the night owl and sun bear sneaking in the treetops. The luckier tourists might even see a group of tiny pygmy elephants roaming in the jungle.
Experience Danum Valley’s vast biodiversity
More than 120 species of mammals, including clouded leopards, friendly orangutans and sun bears make Danum Valley their home. Herds of pygmy elephants can be spotted near the river. A group of shy Sumatran rhinos live deep inside the thick forests. Apart from these more than 300 species of birds and 8 types of hornbills, 40 species of fish and uncountable insects fill the valley. Danum Valley’s biodiversity is second-to-none.
Unleash your inner tweets
Birdwatching is one of the top things to do in Danum Valley for tourists with a passion for birds. You can stand on observation decks near the Field Centre to search for the millions of species of birds. Enormous hornbills glide overhead. Tiny blue-headed pitta with auburn breasts chirp elegantly on the branches. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare Bornean ground cuckoo and listen for their distinct ‘heh, heh, heh’ call.
Spy on wildlife from the rainforest canopies
Take canopy walks on elevated ropewalk suspended high on treetops. Wooden observation areas provide ideal spots to spy on the wildlife like monkeys and birds. Danum Valley’s canopy walks last approximately 300 metres, hovering 30 metres above the forest layer. But they’re not for the faint-hearted—the only way up is by climbing a wooden ladder attached to the tree by a rope! Overcome your fears and witness the jungle spectacle from the treetops.
Admire the beautiful sunrise over an ancient rainforest
Because of Danum Valley’s location, the sun rises at almost the same time every day (roughly around 6:00 AM). The clear skies bless the forest with refreshing air every day early in the morning. This creates opportunities to witness the hypnotic sunrise over the prehistoric forest. The daily tours to Danum Valley Field Centre starts at 5:00 am to a nearby observation deck. Mesmerised tourists can watch the mist hanging in the valley as the sun slowly brightens up the thick dark sky. Simultaneously, the forest opens into life with buzzing insects and singing birds.
Cool down in a natural pool
After a tiring day of trekking, what can be more exciting than diving into a natural pool? Rockpools, waterfalls and the Segama River border the Danum Valley. Guides take travellers to these hidden locations for a quick dive before getting back to the Field Centre. The hiking ends with a jacuzzi pool and serpent waterfall. You can include a stop during your hike to enjoy this trip!
Brush up on conservation
Danum Valley Field Centre has world-class amenities to execute cutting-edge conservation research. Renowned scientists and post-graduate students from around the globe study its special ecology. During breakfast time travellers can interact with the experts around the centre or take advantage of their collection of library books on native flora, fauna and conservation measures.
Experience the lost world of Maliau Basin
If you thought Danum Valley was wild, wait until you explore the Maliau Basin. The region in the heart of Sabah is exactly the same area as Singapore. But only a small area has been mapped till today. This makes the basin a lost world, and experts still don’t know what’s exactly inside this UNESCO-listed forest. Follow the path to the summit of the basin and stay overnight at the mountaintop hostel. Nothing compares to hiking along trails that only a handful of privileged souls have climbed before you.
Suggested Read: The 10 Best Ecotourism Experiences in Malaysia
Reasons outnumbered for you to kick-start your bookings to the vibrant city. Malaysia is going to be a delightful experience for you filled with adventure, luxury and tasteful memories. We at Pickyourtrail make sure the best travel experience is put into planning your Malaysia trip with lots of excitement. Customise your itinerary online with the top highlights of Malaysia! Start planning your vacation and Happy travelling!