Danum Valley… An ancient tropical forest

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a 438 square km national park in Sabah, where logging is not allowed. Before it became a conservation area there were no human settlements within the area, meaning that hunting, logging and other human interference was non-existent, making the area almost unique.

The Danum Valley Field Centre was already established in 1986, one of the foremost rainforest research establishments in South East Asia where permanent research is being conducted. It has extensive facilities including well-equipped laboratories, climatic station data, nature discovery centre, canopy observation platforms and towers. It also serves as a field-training centre for undergraduate and graduate programs. We met some friendly students who had been there for several weeks already.



When it comes to fauna, there’s orangutan, pygmy elephant, sun bear, clouded leopard, bearded pig and several deer species. We did see red-leaf monkey and gibbon – finally! And we had to show patience to get a sight of the gibbon! Joe – our wonderful guide – spotted a gibbon on the first day we were at the valley and we heard his calls, but couldn’t get a good glimpse on camera. He kept hidden for the whole time we were standing there. So, before leaving on the last day, my husband and Peter got up at 6 and went back to that same tree. And huray!

The red-leaf monkeys were a lot easier to spot, this time. We saw them 3 times – whole groups of them. They were really curious and kept jumping from tree to tree right above our heads.

And next to the mammals of course a lot of bird species and – as usual – big-ass insects! Up until then I thought the blood-sucking leeches were quite alright. Until I saw one coming off the back of a backpacker staying with us at the hostel – it was HUGE! Ieeeuuuw… I didn’t think there was any blood in him left…

Things to do


There’s a self-guided nature trail, a 500m loop trail with numbered posts and labelled trees and over 50 km of other marked trails.

Next to the hikes, we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and sunset from a platform overlooking the forest in 360°.



Two options:

– Hostel or campsite, for which self-catering applies. Luckily for us we had Joe and his lovely wife Emee cooking for us!

– Rest house with private bathroom. When staying in the rest house, you can enjoy meals in buffet-style served in the dining area. Coffee and tea are served free of charge

We stayed at the hostel for the first night, where we could savour the wonderful smell of young folk laying their all-day-hiking socks all over the place… There’s nothing like it, really. The bunk beds were pretty comfortable and although I was anxious about the temperature at night, it was pretty ok. Male and female are in principle separated in different buildings. Each building has a fridge and bathing area.

For the second night, we moved to the rest house, which smelled somewhat fresher 😉

Other Countries we visited
Have a look at the other countries we ‘achievied’ to visit, and other Achievies