Monthly Archives: January 2019

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Danum Valley

The deep forest of Danum Valley in Sabah offers some of the most breathtaking rainforest sceneries in the world. The prominent mountain ranges that zig zag its way across Borneo makes for amazing and beautiful valleys. As the dawn is breaking a sea of cloud delicately covers the rainforest, the tallest trees appear to be supporting the cloud with its branches. The cool breeze brushes your skin. The valley echos the swish swoosh of the Rhinoceros Hornbill in flight. A scene that could come from the next addition of The Jungle Books, but in truth this is just some of the daily scene in Danum Valley.

Danum Valley - Rainforest View

Danum Valley – Rainforest View

Danum Valley has a tropical rainforest climate, which means that it is warm and humid year round. The relative humidity is rarely below 80%, mist are often so pregnant with water that they burst down as big droplets from high canopies. The tree canopies are so dense that sunlight rarely reaches the forest floor but what is stunning is the different type of biodiversity and even ecosystem in each layers of the same rainforest. The thick foliage also means that the forest is often darker and would make spotting wildlife difficult, or rare.

More often than not, one would need the guidance of a seasoned naturalist to look for the variety of animals found in Danum Valley. They have an elevated sensitivity to movements, sounds and even smells in the humid tropical rainforest, in fact hiring a private guide is always highly recommended when travelling to this part Borneo.

Private Guide at Danum Valley

Private Guide at Danum Valley

The great thing about the rainforest of Danum Valley is that it’s got different sight to offer during different times throughout the year. With an area that spans only 438 square kilometres, Danum Valley has an impressive attribute. Half a square kilometre of forest can sustain well over a thousand tree species, and as a pristine unlogged forest the wildlife is abound by ancient trees up to or more than 80 meters in height.

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Danum Valley Conservation Area

Being a rainforest, Danum Valley does receive constant rainfall year round. Typically it is the wettest between the months of October to February which means the fauna will be less active during these time of the year. Not so for the six and eight legged creatures that crawl along the forest floor. Insects and arachnid flourishes in the dark and cool rainforest.

As the climate gets warmer, the rainforest suddenly changes into a garden when trees starts flowering. One might be surprised to see flowers growing from tall sky reaching trees. The flowers are dainty and not flashing in colors, but simply white and sometimes dotted with colored spots making a stark contrast from the green of the forest. The breeze carries a faint floral smell, and sometimes also bring the flower to the ground – creating a regal white carpet fit for jungle royalties. Moth and butterflies will also be making an appearance, making the fairytale scene even more magical.

After a while, the flowers will finish falling and fruits start to grow. Fruiting season is definitely the merriest. Orang Utan and other apes can be sighted on fruiting trees at this time. Fruiting trees are nicely scattered in the rainforest, which means food is in abundance to all the different species of wildlife in Danum Valley. Fruiting season may come mid year and last until July or August. This period is notoriously assumed as best time for wildlife sightings including mammals and birds.

Later in the year around September through December is peak migration time for the migratory birds, and you might also find the endemic species starting to nest around this time of year. As the forest welcomes the new year, chicks would have hatched and Danum Valley blesses us with new life again.

Pygmy elephant migrating pattern in Danum Valley is not consistent, but the river flowing through the valley does guarantee the elephant population. This is different to Kinabatangan and Sukau where sightings are more often. It would be unfair to not mention the wild cats of Borneo when talking about Danum Valley, several including the very elusive clouded leopard can be encountered here. In recent years, sightings of mother and cub have been recorded at different times throughout the year marking a promising continuation of this species.

Danum Valley is like an opal, magnificent and rare. Housing a myriad of life, many still undiscovered. The attributes of the valley knows no threshold and will never cease to surprise us. Lodgings in Danum Valley have adopted a sustainable approach in operations and maintaining the chalets and rooms, and have been a key player in the ecotourism industry. Guest staying there will be able to see first hand and experience the green practices that have been implemented in order to preserve all the wonders of nature at Danum Valley. This among others are all efforts and actions to make sure that the forest remains pristine, as how nature should be – timeless.

Danum Valley - Canopy Walkway

Danum Valley – Canopy Walkway

There really isn’t one perfect time to visit Danum Valley, because any time is perfect. Though you may need to book your stay in advance as there is a limit to daily arrivals at the lodges. Options are available and at Downbelow Adventures we take booking up to a year in advance, whether you prefer a more basic expedition style trip or a more luxurious and tailored itinerary.

If you are interested and wish to know more about our Danum Valley programs, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgable Travel Centre team at +6012 866 1935 or via email at info@DownbelowAdventures.com. To book our Danum Valley programs and other wildlife adventures online, click here.

Danum Valley2019-02-07T11:58:11+08:00

Borneo Big Five

Lying astride the equator, Borneo – the third largest island in the world is mostly covered by tropical rainforest. Mountain ranges and long navigable rivers flows across the island with hot and humid climate year round, makes Borneo a haven for a multitude of unique and endemic flora and fauna. The Borneo Big Five consist of Borneo’s most novel and exceptional wildlife. 

Sabah, Malaysian Borneo is home to some of the most iconic wildlife in the island. The Borneo Big Five are Orang Utan, Proboscis Monkey, Pygmy Elephant, Rhinoceros Hornbill and Estuarine Crocodile. A visit to Sabah would definitely be incomplete without a visit to some of the hotspots for the Borneo Big Five encounters!

Orang Utan

Borneo Big Five

Bornean Orang Utan (Pongo Pygmaeus Morio)

Number one on the list is the Orang Utan. Orang Utan needs no introduction, they are extremely intelligent and distinctively different from other great apes. Orang Utan has a bright orange-reddish fur and likes to be solitary. A female can care for its offspring for up to 6 years. Deforestation caused the Orang Utans to be critically endangered, hopefully all the efforts from the authorities and NGOs in the country can put a stop to the species’ decline. Wild Orang Utan can still be safely encountered in several eco-lodges in Sabah including Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley.

Proboscis Monkey

Borneo Big Five

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis Larvatus)

Proboscis Monkey is one of the most unique animal in the world, the male have a huge pendulous nose and large pot belly. Highly arboreal, their long tails help them to maneuver long jump from tree to tree. The Proboscis Monkey is so unique to Sabah, that they have become a mascot to represent Sabah. Its pot belly is thanks to its chambered stomach, which is useful to digest young leaves and unripe fruits that are inedible to other mammals. The Proboscis Monkeys are also excellent swimmers, so don’t be surprised if you see these natural acrobats crossing the rivers next time you go on a cruise to the Kinabatangan Rivers.

Pygmy Elephant

Borneo Big Five

Elephas Maximus Borneensis

Pygmy elephant is the largest mammal in Borneo and also the smallest in elephant species. Their ears are proportioned larger compared to its head, making them the most adorable looking elephant in the world yet least understood among its bigger cousin. The pygmy elephant of Borneo is a high conservation priority, in fact most studies about this species are quite recent making them a very enigmatic creature of the forest. Nevertheless they are facing the same threat as many wildlife across the globe – illegal poaching due to more human encounters caused by their shrinking habitat. Now, a sustainable forest management could be the only answer to keeping the long time survival of the species.

Rhinoceros Hornbill

Borneo Big Five

Buceros rhinoceros

Next on the Borneo Big Five is the magnificent rhinoceros hornbill. The Dayak people or native people of Borneo revere this great bird as the supreme worldly bird. With wingspan reaching 1- 1.2 metre, and it’s very prominent large orange bill and casque one could hardly dispute its reign as the national bird for Malaysia and state bird for Sarawak. Motive of this bird is also common in traditional arts and handicrafts. The rhinoceros hornbill or Kenyalang is monogamous and mate for life, and usually comes back to the same tree for nesting. Though many have known that the female will stay sealed in a dark hole in a tree until the chicks hatch, many Dayaks also believe that if something happens to a female during nesting the male can die of heartbreak. Till now, the rhinoceros hornbill is still regarded as a symbol of good fortune and good omen to Bornean. Malaysia’s largest natural aviary located in Tabin Wildlife Reserve is the best place to encounter this great bird.

Estuarine Crocodile

Borneo Big Five

Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus Porosus)

Once as endangered species, the estuarine crocodiles have made a full come back in Sabah. They are the largest crocodile to inhabit river estuaries including mangrove remote beaches. These living fossils are considered deadly, and are widely known to showcase their predator skills right after hatching. A common saying in Malay that translate as “ Don’t take a calm river for granted, as you don’t know the crocodile that lives in it”. They are a powerful predator and can kill their prey very swiftly with a strong force.

Seeing the Borneo Big Five should be high on your list when visiting Borneo, grab the opportunity to encounter all five amazing wildlife in our Wildlife Adventure Program. Easy online booking available, but if you are looking for a bespoke travel experience our professional tour consultant will help you to tailor a personalized package that suits your preference and interest.

To get in touch with our our Travel Centre team, contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at info@DownbelowAdventures.com. Book our wildlife programs here.

Borneo Big Five2019-01-17T12:39:08+08:00

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter

Hi everyone! In this post, get to know Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures and read about our activities in the December 2018 Monthly Newsletter. We have gathered a selection of special happenings for your reading pleasure as well as to showcase the beauty of Sabah and give you an insight on us as a company. This month, it had been very eventful and lively as Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director Richard Swann conducts the PADI Dive Against Debris Specialty Instructor Training with our awesome Go Pro candidates at Dive Downbelow PADI 5 Star Career Development Centre, PADI IDC Staff Instructor Lulu and Senior Travel Consultant Joey represents the company to attend the Diving Resort Travel Expo Hong Kong 2018, Downbelow Director Joanne bought something special for the Downbelow Adventure Lodge‘s communal area, and more exciting news!

To download the newsletter, click here. For further info, you can contact us at +6012 866 1935 or email us at info@DownbelowAdventures.com.

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter

December 2018 Monthly Newsletter2019-02-28T17:50:48+08:00