Borneo is such an amazing island with great beaches, thick jungle and cultural treasures to discover. You should not miss the orangutan sanctuary at Sepilok, and you can even see pygmy elephants in the Danum Valley.
Located on Gaya Street, one of the few tree lined streets in downtown 'KK' - the Jesselton Hotel is a throw back to colonial times. Kota Kinabalu, formerly know as 'Jesselton' pre WW2, is the capital of the Sabah.
While the hotel gives itself the rather grandiose title of 'Premier Boutique Hotel in Sabah' it is really no boutique by European standards, but is definately a cut above the majority of options in the centre of town. It might not have the majestic views of the Hyatt or Meridien on the waterfront, but has a charm more akin to finding yourself turning up in a small hotel in Paris or London. The rooms are spacious and the green outlook over the trees is welcoming amidst the searing heat of Borneo. Downsides are no balconies and breakfast is very expensive and not worth the trouble - but hey, Gaya Street is choc a bloc with super tasty Chinese and Malay cafes where you can set yourself up for the day with an excellent roti canai, laksa and a teh tarik!
A perfect way to walk off the xmas excess. A one and a half day Mount Kinabalu climb, reaching the peak just before sunrise on day two, for some beautiful views of the national park, then if you still have the energy a three day trek in the Maliau basin, some of Borneos only remaining primary rainforest. Day one's grueling uphill climb into the basin is particularly tough, where some bits are so steep that they have strapped ladders to the rock face, the next day is a little easier until you reach the Maliau falls and have to walk back up the very steep and slippery way you came in. Then day three is a pleasant meander through the rainforest with a little more time to take in the beautiful pitcher plants and fend off the persistant leaches! All in all a very rewarding trip, which you will finish with a great sense of achievement and absolute exhaustion!
Sutera Sanctuary Lodges run Mount Kinabalu climbs, and Borneo nature tours (an excellent tour company, with great guides) do five day treks in the Maliau basin. Air Asia do very reasonable flights to Kuala Lumpar then onto various airports in Borneo.
Uncle Tans run a 'jungle camp' with basic facilities and huts on the Kinabatangan river in Sabah. The camp represents a fantastic base from which to see an incredible amount of wildlife. As part of a very reasonably priced 3D/2N tour you also get to visit the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok.
Other 'tour' options are becoming available. The people working at Uncle Tans are super friendly, informative and great with children. Uncle Tans can be reached easily from Kota Kinabalu or Sandakan.
Sabah is in easy and inexpensive reach from Kuala Lumpur through Air Asia for example (airasia.com).
This has to be one of the highlights of many trips to southeast Asia, a real fantastic, family-friendly opportunity to see crocodiles, wild pigs, gibbons, lizards, proboscis monkeys and if you are lucky, elephants and orang utans.
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