Borneo Trip: A Unique Adventure in the Heart of Nature

Borneo Trip

A trip to Borneo in the past illustration by idea

By Traveler Kampung

Embark on a Journey to Borneo: Unveiling the Wonders of the Wilderness

Are you tired of city routines or planning a vacation? I recommend a unique escape to Borneo, the world's third-largest island after Greenland and Papua.

Embracing the Call of Adventure in Borneo's Tropical Rainforest

For adventure enthusiasts, Borneo's tropical rainforest is an ideal choice. Exploring jungles, navigating rivers, and conquering hills offer thrilling challenges for you and your companions.

Discovering Borneo: Past and Present Insights

If it's your first time visiting this island, it's essential to gather information. Here, I'll share insights and tips based on my own experiences to help plan a safe and exciting trip to Borneo.

Borneo Through the Ages

The Borneo described by European explorers like Müller (1825) and Dalton (1828) vastly differs from the present. Divided into three countries—Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei Darusalam—much of the island's forests have given way to large-scale mining, palm oil plantations, and settlements.

The Transformation of Borneo's Forests

The once-pristine forests now exist as secondary enclaves, concentrated mainly within national parks, particularly in the border region known as the Heart of Borneo (HBO). Despite changes, Borneo's forests continue to hold mysteries that captivate the curiosity of experts.

Heart of Borneo: A Sanctuary for Unique Fauna and Flora

Beyond being a habitat for rare species like the Orangutan, the HBO region serves as a vital water source for the three countries it spans.

Protecting Borneo's Waterways: The Role of Danau Sentarum

If these forests vanish, downstream rivers and major lakes, like Danau Sentarum, Asia's largest tidal lake spanning over 132,000 hectares, could face drought. This lake is home to the famous Super Red Arowana and a diverse range of endemic aquatic life.

Navigating the Wetland Ecosystem

Located amidst mountains and the Betung Kerihun National Park, near the border of Indonesia and Malaysia, Danau Sentarum's wetland ecosystem is a unique destination for those seeking unparalleled natural experiences.

Seeking Guidance from Local Experts

Even if you've hired a travel agency with guides, connecting with local people is highly recommended.

For those not fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, it's advisable to find locals proficient in English. Why?

  1. Language Translation: They can serve as your local language interpreter, typically in Malay and Dayak. Notably, Kalimantan has around 405 Dayak sub-tribes (Tjilik Riwut, 1979), residing in and around Borneo's forests, including the HBO region.

  2. Skills of the Dayak People: Comparable to Native American tribes, particularly as portrayed by Karl May in his book Winnetou, Dayak people are skilled hunters and expert trackers, ensuring you won't get lost in the jungle.

  3. Learning Local Wisdom: Traveling with a local guide allows you to learn the wisdom of the Dayak people and their survival skills, essential in an environment where convenience stores are non-existent.

  4. Understanding the Forest's Bounty: Learn to identify various forest resources, from fruits, leaves, and mushrooms to edible animals and medicinal plants. For Dayak people, the forest is a sustainably managed organic supermarket.

Monkeys and Forests as Unlikely Guides

If venturing alone or unable to find a suitable local guide, consider seeking assistance from orangutans, monkeys, or the forest itself. It might sound unconventional, but it's a serious option.

I learned this from an elder of the Dayak Iban tribe in Ngaung Keruh, Kapuas Hulu, back in 2009.

Survival Instincts: Learning from Primates

If you run out of food during your journey, observe the habits of monkeys or orangutans. These species never get poisoned, despite lacking pots and pans for cooking. In essence, you can survive by consuming fruits and leaves eaten by these primates.

If thirsty and unable to find a clean river, cut the hanging roots of trees or bamboo. Locals call it "akar bajakah." It releases mineral water, used by Dayak people to treat stomachaches and coughs.

Last Tips for Navigating the Jungle

To avoid getting lost, first, find a river and follow its flow downstream. Usually, you'll discover fields or Dayak settlements.

If your phone, compass, and navigation tools are lost, look for moss growing on tree trunks. Thick green moss indicates East, while thinner moss points to the West. Why? Thick moss receives more sunlight, while thinner moss is exposed to less sunlight.

In conclusion, these simple tips ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure! Happy exploring!

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