Most Inspirational Moment
Almost too many to mention.
As a keen photographer, I had to make myself put the camera down so I could take in what I was experiencing. Seeing Orang Utans, Broboscis Monkeys, Pygmy Elephants, Mouse Deer, Pit Vipers, Bearded Pigs, Hornbills, and various lizards and insects in the wild, is not something you should just view through a camera lens. The Bat Exodus from Deer cave in Mulu NP is a wonder of nature. The sanctuaries we visited offer a closer contact with some animals, which some people will probably prefer to the hit-and-miss nature of the jungle, but the necessary glass divide between you and the Orang Utans in Sepilok is undoubtedly a distraction. By contrast, in Labuk Bay where there is no divide, the Proboscis Monkeys charge around the decking area showing the visitors who’s boss. But for me, the sightings in the wild were the really special moments. Holding a huge male Rhinocerous beetle in your hand, with its fish-hook legs gripping on, is not something you experience every day. During a visit to Gomantong Caves which teemed with cockroaches, a Skink dropped onto my shoulder and hitched a ride with me out of the caves.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Nostalia (Talia), is without question, one of the best guides I have ever had. Extremely knowledgeable and articulate, she did not shy away from thornier topics such as Palm Oil cultivation and deforestation. Always smiling and cheerful, she bound the group together with assured ease. Our “Exodus Group” quickly became our “Exodus Tribe” much to Talias amusement and delight.
She consistently went the extra mile, in my case sitting with me on two occasions to go through my photographs so I could make accurate notes for a book I have planned.
She brought us to out of the way places to eat that we most likely would not have considered on our own. One such meal at a non-descript looking outdoor Chinese in Kuching, for me, was probably the best meal of the entire trip, and cost next to nothing.
A special mention must also go to our three guides in Danum Valley. Along with Talia, Aldrin, Syafiq and Helen were exceptional. We did several walks over two days and nights, and were amazed at what they spotted for us. They were all equally enthusiastic, and genuinely loved spotting wildlife and sharing stories with us.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Take a poncho, or buy a cheap one when you get there. It gives you much more freedom than a rain jacket.
Always carry a spare, medium sized dry bag. You’ll be surprised how much you use it.
Bring a day-bag with a waterproof covering. You will need it.
Drink as much water as you can, and top up at every opportunity. Free top-ups are available almost everywhere you stay. A reservoir for your day-bag is very useful.
Bring a hat with a brim. The sun can be unrelenting.
For photographers, only bring a tripod if you really need it. This is quite an active holiday, and you will be constantly on the move. Stopping to set up a tripod is not just impractical, it is unfair on your fellow group members and guides. (I brought a Gorilla tripod, and it never came out of my bag.)
Again for photographers, bring spare batteries for the camera and a charger. This may seem obvious, but remember you will be shooting a lot of wildlife and will probably be using multi shot mode, and that chews up your battery. The humidity also seems to drain the batteries more quickly.
Mosquitos were not as big an issue as I thought they would be. Normally I get eaten alive, but not in Borneo. But bring plenty of repellent.
Likewise, leeches were rare. Two people from the group did get bitten, but otherwise the leeches were hard to find. I had leech socks with me which certainly helped, but long tight socks will work just as well.
If travelling solo (With a single supplement), be prepared to have to share a room for maybe a couple of nights.
Travel light and do laundry when you can.
Try the Durian. Don’t let the smell put you off.
Something that is not mentioned are the suspension bridges. While the canopy walks are optional, some bridge crossings are not. If you have a problem with heights, you may want to take this into account. On the other hand, unless it is a serious problem for you, I wouldn’t let it put you off going.
Do everything on offer. You’ll regret it if you don’t.