Een wilde Bengaalse tijgerkat
A wild leopard cat in Danum. Guo Qi

Darum Valley is home to many animals including orangutans, hornbills, sun bears, western tarsiers amongst others. It’s a rainforest full of life.

This rich natural area was opened to researchers and biologists in 1986, and only recently did the Danum Valley Conservation Area become accessible to tourists. There are more than 270 bird species in this nature reserve. It’s also home to orangutans, the sunda clouded leopard, Borneo pygmy elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros to name but a few.

A young orangutan eating fruit in a tree. Corno van den Berg

There are also eight kinds of hornbills, which you’ll see quite regularly, and the number of insects here can barely be believed. The flora here is also very diverse and unique, there are around two hundred kinds of trees per square hectare. You can really see the Asian rainforest in all its glory, and it seems to almost breathe.

When people think of Borneo they often picture a big green rainforest, and that’s because it has been just that for a long time. The northern part of Borneo belongs to Malaysia and is right on top of the equator, between many other islands.

Danum is an impenetrabele rainforest. Corno van den Berg

Many islands used to be attached to each other via land bridges, allowing animals to roam from one to another. When the lower-lying ones disappeared into the sea one by one due to rising sea levels, the animals and plants became isolated.

It can be hard to explain for an island like Borneo, because it’s such a large island. The plants and animals here have evolved to adapt to their surroundings, literally creating new species. This makes Borneo one of the most biodiverse places on earth. And the Danum Valley is an area where you can find almost all of Borneo’s animals. It’s a wealth of fauna you can barely comprehend.

Een Sumatraanse neushoorn neemt een bad.
A Sumatran rhino takes a bath. Just Chaos

These days there isn’t much left of the rainforest due to deforestation, there are only a few parts that haven’t been touched by human hands. When you look at a map of Borneo it doesn’t seem like there is much left of the rainforest, but in reality those areas still cover hundreds of kilometres.

And so they should, many of the animals need large habitats. Especially the centre of Borneo is untouched, though logging companies have established roads and are logging all around.

Enkele kamers in de Borneo Rainforest Lodge.
Accomodation at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Corno van den Berg

The climate here is tropical, humidity is high and it rains heavily and frequently, but briefly. Everywhere you look you see green, a green wall almost eighty metres high. Danum Valley is quite an experience.

Best time:

The driest time to go is between mid-March and the end of October. But it’s not called a rainforest for nothing, it could rain here any day. The showers are heavy but brief, and you’ll soon understand why it’s so green here.

Please note!

Leeches are also part of the Danum Valley creatures, so if you walk around here (the main activity) you’ll encounter these inconvenient little suckers. They can be in low scrubs, and also on the forest floor.

You can buy leech socks that prevent these critters from getting their teeth into you, but they will still climb up, so you still need to check your clothes. They can also try and make their way into your shoes, so do be cautious.

More information: