Starting our Borneo trip on Mt Kinabalu

For many years Karen has wanted to go to Borneo to see orang utans in the wild. After a number of trips to Europe in recent years it was time to do a trip closer to home and fulfil her dream. We booked with local company Raw Wildlife Encounters for a trip in March with potentially lots of wildlife encounters. Our mid afternoon flight from Melbourne to Sabah in Borneo had one transit point. Flying with Royal Brunei was a new experience for us and after a comfortable seven hour journey from Melbourne we had a couple of hours wait in transit in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, before a quick flight of 25 minutes to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. After collecting our luggage and clearing customs we were met by the friendly Oswell from Borneo Eco Tours. We drove into Kota Kinabalu and were soon at the Grandis Hotel at the end of the city. We checked into our room and then ate dinner in the restaurant on the first floor- just about the only ones there it was so late.

Early start next morning. Had a really good buffet breakfast and then met our guide, Adam and the same driver, Oswell, in the lobby at 8am. We started on a long, very windy drive up into the mountains. After a couple of hours we stopped at a small town for a break. The guides had a coffee while we checked out the scenery and recovered from almost being car sick the road had been so windy. We had an excellent view back to the road we had been driving on.

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The mountain scenery was marvellous although the humidity and clouds detracted from how spectacular it really was.

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After our break we continued on to Mt Kinabalu National Park. Our first activity was a guided tour through the natural history museum which was fascinating.

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Next we went for a guided walk in the beautiful Mt Kinabalu Botanical gardens.

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Our guide, Adam explained lots about the many beautiful and fascinating plants. The pitcher plants especially interested us. It seems they are carnivorous and as well as insects can even absorb small creatures.

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After completing the circuit in the gardens we drove to a busy restaurant contained within the Mt Kinabalu National Park. However it wasn’t long before a number of platters with a wide variety of delicious foods were brought to our table. The battered fish was particularly good in my opinion. Karen appreciated the tofu and the vegetarian dishes more.

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Feeling completely full we drove further into the Mt Kinabalu National Park. After putting on our hiking boots and collecting our walking poles we left the car and our driver. Our guide, Adam led us on a hike on the Mempening Trail, one of many trails in the park.

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Adam was very knowledgable and more than happy to stop and look at the many amazing plants more closely.

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The orchids were plentiful and beautiful.

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I was particularly happy with this photo of a fern unfolding.

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At the end of the trail, our driver was waiting to collect us. By then we were quite hot and sweaty but had really enjoyed our short trek. From Mt Kinabalu National Park we drove for a while until we reached the well spread hill town of Kundasang. Here we would be staying overnight at the Zen Gardens. Once we checked in we had a drink and a rest in our room before exploring the lovely gardens. In the evening we ate in their restaurant. Again it was like a mini banquet. Another larger group from Sweden was also staying there but apart from a few others we had this peaceful place to ourselves.

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The next morning we loved the misty view of the hills outside our room.

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We also had a greeting party just outside our door.

Rhinoceros beetles

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But it wasn’t until we walked up to the restaurant for breakfast that we actually were able to see Mt Kinabalu from the restaurant balcony.

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It was a lovely way to start our second day in Sabah, details of which are in the next post.

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