Sarawak, Borneo

Sarawak is overflowing with some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes and hidden gems. We were lucky to have had the chance to experience two of them, Bako National Park and Damai Beach, during our free weekend from the volunteer program at the Matang Wildlife Center. There was so much more to see in Sarawak than we had time for, but if you get the chance to visit these places, here are a few tips we found to be helpful.

BAKO NATIOAL PARK: SARAWAK, BORNEO

Must know

We recommend you get a guide- For 100 ringgit (roughly $30USD) you’ll almost certainly see the animals (and much more). If you don’t get a guide, it’s almost certain you won’t see any animals. We had friends who went and didn’t get the guide. They unfortunately didn’t see anything. Insider tip: If Alex is available, we’d highly recommend getting him.

Must stay

We’d recommend booking accommodation overnight for one night. The night brings with it an entirely fresh set of wildlife and other creatures that you will only be able to see if you do the night walk after regular park hours. Accommodation though is basic and far from luxurious, so we’d recommend bringing with you a sheet liner and mosquito net.

Must do

  • The Kecil Trail. We recommend you do this with your guide as part of the day tour. It’s about a 2.5 hour trail, and along the way s/he will point out a number of interesting facts and species you wouldn’t otherwise see or think to realize. At the end, you end up on an absolutely stunning yet remote beach, where a private boat (pre-arranged to meet you there) will pick you up and take you back to the main area of the island.
  • The night walk. 10 ringgit per person, and well worth it. A guide takes you through the jungle once the stars have come out, and over the course of two hours, points out a number of rare spiders, insects, snakes, birds and vegetation.

Must look out for*

  • Proboscis Monkey
  • Silver Langur
  • Long Tail and Pink Tail Makacks
  • Pit Viper
  • Bearded Pig
  • Flying Lemur
  • Select carnivorous vegetation, including Pitcher Plants
  • Fireflies (only seen at night in the mangrove along the boardwalk)
  • King Fisher (only seen as part of the night tour)
  • Multiple large spiders, including tarantulas (only seen as part of the night tour)
  • Various frogs, many venomous, including the smallest frog in the world (only seen as part of the night tour)
  • Loads of insects: Long- Legged Centipede, Giant Stick Insects, Giant Forest Ants (only seen as part of the night tour)

*Excluding night tour-specific sightings, if you get a guide, s/he will surely point these all out for you.

DAMAI BEACH: SARAWAK, BORNEO

Must stay (or visit)

Damai Puri Resort & Spa. A beautiful sprawling resort, set within the mountains of Kuching, right on the water at Damai Beach. There is an sleek infinity pool surrounded by beach chairs and umbrellas, facing the ocean. It’s a perfectly secluded getaway.
Insider tip: If you’re just passing through and aren’t planning to spend the night, you can use the resort’s facilities for the day. You’ll pay a small fee of 10 ringgit at the gate, but if you dine while there, and spend 30 ringgit or above, you’ll get your entry fee back on the way out.

Must unwind

Escobar Restaurant. This is a bar/restaurant right outside of Puri’s gates. It offers semi-decent food but an incredible view of the sunset. Their menu is limited and subject to ingredient availability (this also goes for their cocktail menu), so we don’t recommend saving your appetite for the meal, but you truly won’t be able to beat the views of the sunset from their top deck!

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