Danum Valley Guide

Danum Valley Guide

Exploring Danum Valley: A Guide to Pristine Jungles and Diverse Wildlife in Sabah

Why is Danum Valley a coveted destination for ecotourists and wildlife enthusiasts? Situated in Borneo, Malaysia, this conservation area stands out for its ancient rainforest and rare species. Here, you can hope to spot Bornean orangutans or hear the calls of indigenous birds, all within an untouched natural landscape. This guide unravels Danum Valley’s enigmatic beauty, practical travel advice, and the conservation efforts that protect its unique ecosystem.

Key Takeaways

  • The Danum Valley Conservation Area is a protected sanctuary for Earth’s oldest rainforests, rich in biodiversity and significant for global conservation efforts, without human settlements to impact its natural state.
  • Visitors can engage in various jungle experiences, such as guided treks, wildlife sightings of Bornean orangutans and pygmy elephants, bird watching, and a canopy walkway, all within a responsibly managed eco-tourism framework.
  • Accommodation options range from luxury eco-resorts to more authentic jungle stays, with opportunities for personalized experiences through customized tours and activities like river tubing, ensuring a responsible and immersive visitor experience.

Discovering Danum Valley Conservation Area

Tucked away in Sabah, the northern state of Malaysian Borneo, lies the Danum Valley Conservation Area—a 438 square kilometers sanctuary devoted to the protection of one of Earth’s oldest rainforests. Here, the absence of human settlements has historically shielded the valley from the impacts of hunting and logging.

The global significance of this conservation area is underscored by its consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testament to its irreplaceable role in preserving our natural heritage.

The Importance of Conservation

Conservation goes beyond a simple concept at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge—it’s a daily practice. The lodge supports crucial research projects, like the Danum Orangutan Research Project, which gathers vital data to inform strategies that protect these magnificent creatures.

Partnerships with institutions such as Kyoto University and the Sabah Foundation exemplify the collaborative spirit essential for sustaining the natural environment and the wildlife it supports.

Wildlife Highlights

Wildlife enthusiasts will find the lush landscapes of Danum Valley irresistible, teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Here, one can encounter a menagerie of creatures from the elusive clouded leopard to over 270 species of birds, making every step an opportunity for unique wildlife sightings.

Not to be missed in Southeast Asia are the resident Bornean orangutans, whose nests adorn the forest canopy, the red leaf monkeys, and the recently discovered spectacled flowerpecker, a bird endemic to this jungle realm.

Journey to Danum Valley: Getting There and Accommodation Options

Although a trip to the heart of Borneo requires careful planning, the journey to the Danum Valley Conservation Area itself is an adventure. With accommodation options ranging from the luxury of Borneo Rainforest Lodge to the more rustic Danum Valley Field Centre, visitors can choose their preferred style of immersion into the rainforest experience.


The first step to reach the valley is flying into the nearest town—Tawau, Lahad Datu, or Sandakan—although Lahad Datu is the most convenient starting point to the conservation area. From there, a 97 km journey, typically traversed in a 4×4 vehicle, will navigate you through the heart of Borneo to the doorstep of this remote paradise.

Comparing Accommodations

At the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, located near Kota Kinabalu, luxury meets wilderness. Guests are treated to an eco-friendly resort experience with the comfort of chalets equipped with modern amenities and unparalleled access to the valley’s natural wonders.

Those seeking a closer connection to the rainforest might consider the Danum Valley Field Centre, which offers a more raw and authentic jungle stay.

Jungle Trekking and Canopy Walkway Adventures

Danum Valley tempts the daring to visit Danum Valley and traverse its dense jungles and stroll through the treetops. With an array of trails and the majestic canopy walkway, visitors can engage in jungle trekking to explore the forest floor or ascend to the heights for a bird’s-eye view of this tropical haven.

Guided Jungle Treks

Guided jungle treks in Danum Valley offer:

  • A deeper appreciation of the complex ecosystem
  • Insights into the valley’s ecological intricacies
  • Practical assistance, such as adeptly removing leeches, an inevitable part of the jungle trekking experience.

Canopy Walkway Experience

The 300-meter-long canopy walkway, suspended 27 meters above the forest floor, is a passage to discovery. This aerial platform offers a vantage point unlike any other, allowing for an unparalleled perspective of the rainforest’s diverse habitats and their wild inhabitants.

Wildlife Encounters and Bird Watching Opportunities

The real charm of Danum Valley is its abundant wildlife. Both day and night treks promise encounters with Borneo’s iconic species, while the valley’s avian population offers bird watchers glimpses of some of the island’s most stunning and rare birds.

Spotting Iconic Species

For those patient and observant, Danum Valley reveals its treasures. Iconic species such as orangutans, pygmy elephants, and occasionally the clouded leopard, grace the landscapes.

The tree platform and Viewpoint Tower, located near the world’s tallest tropical tree, serve as prime spots for these sightings, offering panoramic views where the jungle’s inhabitants roam freely.

Bird Watching Paradise

Bird enthusiasts will find Danum Valley a paradise, teeming with a symphony of calls and colors. From the riverbanks at dawn to the dense canopies, bird watchers can spot a plethora of species, making every venture out an opportunity for a memorable sighting.

River Activities: Swimming and River Tubing in Danum Valley

Besides the trails, the cool waters of the Danum River call out, providing a refreshing break and the pleasure of river activities like swimming and river tubing—a tranquil experience that well complements the valley’s land-based adventures.

River Swimming

Swimming in the Danum River is an invigorating way to connect with the valley’s natural beauty. Immersed in the clear waters, surrounded by the dense jungle, it’s an experience not to be missed. Of course, safety is paramount, and adhering to guidelines ensures a delightful swim.

River Tubing Adventures

River tubing offers a laid-back adventure, allowing visitors to gently glide along the Danum River’s currents while soaking in the sights and sounds of the rainforest. With a life jacket snugly fitted and a safety briefing in mind, this activity promises to be as relaxing as it is enchanting.

Responsible Tourism and Supporting Conservation Efforts

Visiting Danum Valley is not only about the experience but also about aiding the conservation of this remarkable ecosystem.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge exemplifies responsible tourism with its sustainable practices and active involvement in conservation initiatives that guests can participate in.

Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is woven into the fabric of the valley’s accommodations. The Borneo Rainforest Lodge utilizes natural design elements to reduce its environmental footprint, while the Field Centre’s use of natural materials and energy conservation measures further minimizes impact on the habitat.

Supporting Local Initiatives

Community-led conservation efforts are integral to preserving Danum Valley’s natural environment. Initiatives like MESCOT empower local communities, and by partaking in eco-tours, visitors can directly support these sustainable projects, fostering a harmonious relationship between tourism and conservation.

Customized Tours and Experiences in Danum Valley

Customized tours help shape your Danum Valley journey with personalized experiences catering to individual preferences and adventure levels, from indulgent stays to exciting wildlife safaris.

Choosing the Right Tour Operator

Finding the right tour operator is crucial for an enriching visit to Danum Valley. Operators like Remarkable Borneo Travel & Tours provide packages that can include exclusive experiences such as access to the coveted canopy walkways, ensuring your trip is nothing short of extraordinary.

Unique Experiences

Danum Valley is a realm of unique experiences, and finding the right danum valley accommodation will enhance your stay. For the nocturnal adventurer, night safaris reveal the hidden life of the rainforest, while photography enthusiasts will find endless inspiration in the valley’s scenic vistas, from the Fairy Falls to the serene Jacuzzi pool.


From the depths of the ancient rainforests to the tranquil waters of the Danum River, Danum Valley Conservation Area presents a world of wonders to be discovered. Whether it’s through the thrill of a jungle trek, the awe of a wildlife encounter, or the relaxation of a river swim, each experience in the valley contributes to a deeper appreciation of our planet’s natural treasures. As a visitor, your journey not only offers an unforgettable adventure but also an opportunity to support the preservation of one of the world’s most important ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to swim in the Danum River?

Yes, it is safe to swim in the Danum River when following safety guidelines provided by local guides or posted notices near swimming areas.

What type of wildlife can I expect to see in Danum Valley?

You can expect to see Bornean orangutans, gibbons, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, and over 270 bird species in Danum Valley, providing a unique opportunity for wildlife encounters.

How do I get to Danum Valley Conservation Area?

To get to Danum Valley Conservation Area, you can start with a flight to Lahad Datu, followed by a 2-hour 4×4 drive to the conservation area. Enjoy your trip!

Can I participate in conservation efforts while visiting Danum Valley?

Yes, you can participate in conservation efforts while visiting Danum Valley by engaging in initiatives such as creating EM mudballs for wastewater treatment and supporting local conservation through eco-tours that contribute to community projects.

Are there any unique experiences offered in Danum Valley?

Yes, Danum Valley offers unique experiences such as river tubing, night safaris, and photography opportunities at Fairy Falls and the Jacuzzi pool. These activities provide a diverse and memorable adventure for visitors.

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Remarkable Borneo Travel & Tours is a Malaysian tour operator based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. We offer a wide range of affordable and appealing Sabah tour packages, such as Mount Kinabalu climb, Borneo tours, Sabah diving and island packages and Sandakan tours. Our mission is to provide memorable travel experiences that allow our customers to discover the wonders of Borneo.

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