Million of years ago many islands of Malaysian Borneo were connected by land bridges, allowing flora and fauna to move around freely. When lower-lying parts of these bridges disappeared into the water due to rising sea levels, animals and plants became isolated.

Danum Valley stands for inpenatrable rainforest.
Danum Valley stands for inpenatrable rainforest. Corno van den Berg

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.

A Borneo pygme elephant in the rainforest of Danum Valley.
A Borneo pygme elephant in the rainforest of Danum Valley. Rob and Stephanie Levy

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.

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.

The inhabitants of Borneo are also intriguing people. The Penan are the indigenous people of Borneo, who no longer live a nomadic life or practise headhunting.

A Penan family hanging out on their porch in Gunung Mulu National Park.
A Penan family hanging out on their porch in Gunung Mulu National Park. Corno van den Berg

Borneo is also home to Mount Kinabalu, a mountain of around 4.000 metres that you can climb, and off the coast, you can find a wonderful underwater world full of manta rays, sea turtles, sharks and many colourful fish. The waters off the Borneo coast are becoming a popular destination for divers and snorkelers, especially around Sangalaki, Nunukan en Nabucco.

Borneo’s natural beauty is huge and diverse and perfect for a tour around the country.