Why Every Traveler Needs To Visit Borneo Once

When I was young, the word Borneo conjured in me vague ideas of exotic wildlife and remote, unexplored India Jones-worthy jungle. I’m not sure where I got those ideas from, but when I finally did visit Borneo they turned out to be pretty accurate.

Borneo isn’t a country. It’s an island divided among three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The northern province of Sabah, Malaysia, is really where the good stuff is. That’s the part this blog post is about.

I got to do some pretty amazing things during my trip, which I’ll mention below. The even cooler thing is that most of the stuff I didn’t do there (yet) are the things the province is most famous for.

So, this blog post is divided into three parts: 1) the stuff I did in Sabah, 2) the other stuff Sabah is famous for (that I didn’t do), and 3) the most amazing thing in Sabah that barely anybody has heard about (and which I really, really want to go back for).

Here’s why everybody needs to visit Sabah at least once.

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Adventures in Malaysian Borneo Part 5: The Eye of the Elephant

A Note From Matt: If you haven’t read the first four parts of the story, you should either read the recap below or read the story from the beginning to make sure you’re up to speed. If you have read the story from the beginning, you should skip the recap, which is the section below written in italics.

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Adventures in Malaysian Borneo Part 4: A Mountain of Bat Guano


When I rented my motorcycle on my first day in Kota Kinabalu, I asked the owner of the shop where I could find bornean pygmy elephants, an endangered species found only on Borneo.

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Adventures in Malaysian Borneo Part 3: Salvation in Sandakan

My trip had failed. I had taken two weeks off from work to visit the Malaysian province of Sabah on the island of Borneo to find and photograph the elusive and endangered Bornean pygmy elephant in the wild and, hopefully, write an adventure travel story that would make my reputation as a travel writer.

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Adventures in Malaysian Borneo Part 2: Lost in a Monsoon

borneo road

I was eating breakfast in the hotel dining room and looking at my map when the hotel manager walked by.

“Where are you going?” He asked.

“Kinabatangan.” I replied.

“You’re driving a car?”

“A motorcycle.”

“Oh.” He replied and looked out the window beside my table. I turned and looked out the window. It was overcast and raining lightly.

“Maybe you should take a bus.” He suggested.


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Adventures in Malaysian Borneo Part 1: Driving at Night with No Lights


“Don’t drive at night.” The rental agent told me.


It was 4pm. I was in the capital renting a motorcycle that I planned to drive around the perimeter of the state and I was already a day behind schedule. The first thing I planned to do was drive at night.

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The Best of My Borneo Wildlife Photography: Pygmy Elephants, Orangutans, and Proboscis Monkeys

Last month I went to Borneo to photograph the island’s most exotic endangered species: pygmy elephants, orangutans, and proboscis monkeys.  All are found only on the island of Borneo (except the orangoutang, which is also found on the island of Sumatra) and all are classified as endangered. Heavy rain prevented me from shooting on all but three days of my trip, but I made the most of the time that I had. Here some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

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