By Nikki McKee
It’s a quiet type of eco tourism in Borneo: no one hounds you when you step off the plane, no one haggles with you…in fact, you are pretty much welcomed in to the country and then left in peace. This continued throughout my trip to Borneo in June 2015 when my six year old son and I went on a two week holiday.
We started in Sandakan and spent a few nights in the jungle at Sepilok before heading to the Kinbatangan River and then back to Sandakan before heading to Kota Kinabalu
A trip to Borneo is about the wildlife. It is ecotourism at its best. The well being of the wildlife comes first, and tourists fit in around that. The result is that you get to see animals in their own environment doing what they do. If they’re shy that day, so be it. If they feel like putting on a show, that’s what you get. There is no coaxing and no fancy tricks.
I was left realising that animals aren’t too fussed with humans. We seem to get in their way a bit, but they are not too bothered. They just continue to do what they need to do: the orangutans are gentle creatures and even the babies have the eyes of old wise men; the turtles are ancient beings that seem steady in what they do; the Bornean sun bear seems uncomfortably hot in their thick coat of black fur in the equatorial heat; the macaques seem ready to jump in your boat if you get any closer, they just want to be left alone to feed; the proboscis monkey looks at you with such completeness that you feel a bit silly standing there with your camera; and the crocodile – you may as well not exist while they are waiting patiently for unwitting prey.
The people of Borneo are relaxed. They are open and welcome you with a smile from their heart. Tourists blend in and are not kept separate. The tour guides are chatty and the locals seem to enjoy a flow of people coming and going from their lives.
You really get the chance to come and observe life in Borneo – there is no special show for tourism – either from the locals or from nature.
It’s simple, it’s relaxing and it’s non-imposing. It’s easy to step into live in Borneo for a week or two and a great place to take a holiday.