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Entry Fees : Conservation Fee: RM 50 per person
Education/Nature Gallery: RM 10 per person
Ranger: RM 30 per hour
Compact Camera: RM 10
DSLR Camera: RM 100

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Danum Valley Conservation Area, Kota Kinabalu Overview

Located in the north-eastern part of Borneo in Sabah, Danum Valley Conservation Area is a lowland dipterocarp forest. Spreading over 438 sq. km, this pristine forest land is around 82km away from Lahad Datu, which is the nearest town. It houses endemic flora and fauna and is known for species such as gibbons, mousedeer, Borneon orangutan and over 250 species of birds.

Danum Valley is an ideal place for birdwatching, wildlife sighting and an adventurous stay in a forest. The forest has great topography ranging from cascading waterfalls to hills to rivers, thus offering a wide variety of activities like swimming, trekking and hiking. Night Walks and Night Drives are among other thrillful activities to experience at the Conservation Area. The Valley is of great interest to the scientists who have been researching the forest for years. Several research programmes are conducted all year around. The forest is unique as it has never had any permanent human settlement or hunting. 

Must Know Before You Visit Danum Valley Conservation Area

Tips :

  • Danum Valley Field Center is closed from Christmas to New Year’s.
  • Accommodations are to be booked in advance.
  • As the tourist surge is high from July to August, the bookings exhaust fast. 
  • Several Activities are offered by Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) and Danum Valley Field Center (DVFC).
  • There are official guides provided by the Lodge who accompany treks, trails and specialised guided activities like Professional Birding.
  • Field Center has several Rangers who help and accompany on trails and treks. They charge RM 30 per hour.

Danum Valley Conservation Area Highlights

1. Early Morning Bird Watching

Early morning is the best time for birding as they can be spotted in large numbers. The guide takes the tourists through the trails and roads where other animals like Gibbons, Borneon Britslehead (Read More), Blue-headed Pitta and Argus Pheasant can be spotted. 

2. 4X4 Night Drive

These are planned and done by the Danum Valley Field Center. Drives are meant for spotting nocturnal animals like wild cats, civets and flying squirrels. They charge RM 160 and a maximum of 8 people a (Read More)re allowed in the car. BRL also has an extended night drive which starts at 8:30 and returns at 1-2AM. Charges are extra for the extended rides.

3. Night Walk

Night Walks are a major draw of the forest. This is a guided tour to spot several animals and reptiles. Slow Loris and Western Tarsier are majorly spotted during these night walks. 

4. Danum Valley Sunrise

Another major activity offered by the Field Center is a short trip to Bukit Atur Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW). Being at an elevation, Atur Hills gives a panoramic view of the rainforest and splendid (Read More) sunrise. Immerse in the tranquility  of rising sun over the canopy of this Bornean Jungle. 

5. Swimming in Senggama River

Tourists are allowed to swim in the Senggama River. However, the tourists are only allowed to bath near the river bank by the Field Center. 
Night Drive: RM 160
Sunset Drive : RM 160 (Read More) />Ranger: RM 30 / hour
For all guided trails and activities, RM 30 per hour is charged for the Ranger. All tourists are recommended to walk into the forest with a professional guide or a ranger.

Read More on Danum Valley Conservation Area

How to Book?

You may book through either of the Lodges : Borneo Rainforest Lodge or Danum Valley Field Center.  Usually people are turned away to enter for day-trips if they have not booked in advance but it is subject to change depending on the crowd inside the area. Thus, it is suggested that tourists do online booking or book at DVFC office at Lahad Datu or Kota Kinabalu. 

Other than these, there are several private tourist agencies that book and plan a trip to the conservation area. Though communication and pre-booking directly is difficult, independent travellers can book in advance by mailing either of the DVFC offices. However, this has to be done well in advance as they take a long time to reply. Booking is confirmed on paying the advance fee.

Wildlife

  • It is an ideal spot for bird sighting as there are more than 275 species of birds found in the forest. Spectacled Flowerpecker, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Borneo Bristlehead, six species of Pittas and all eight species of Hornbill have been found here. 
  • More than 120 species of mammals and 10 species of primate have been discovered so far in the forest. Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Borneon Orangutans, Muller’s Borneon Gibbons, Horsfield’s Tarsier, Sun Bear, Bornean Rhinoceros, Wallace Flying Frog and Wild Cats can be spotted here. 
  • This almost impenetrable arboreal fortress is also copious in insect fauna and land snail fauna. 61 species of snails have been discovered in an area of 1 sq. km itself.
  • It also has a variety of 72 species of reptiles. Snakes, lizards, skinks and turtles, all can be found, several species being completely endemic. Borneo keeled viper can be easily spotted and so is the case for soft-shell turtles.

Flora

This dense rainforest boasts 15000 species of flora. It is shaded by towering high trees that may go as high as 70m. World’s Longest tree, Shorea Faguetiana, with a height of 100m is also found in the Danum Valley Conservation Area. Majority of the trees of the forest are Dipterocarp trees. Pitcher Plants can also be commonly found here.

Trekking at Danum Valley Conservation Area

There are many tails in the forest but most of them are for sole use of the scientists. DVFC has three to four walking trails in the jungle while  BRL has twelve walking trails in the forest for tourists. These trails require an accompanied guide. There are hardly two trails that are self-guided. 

Guided Trails:
  • Coffincliff Trail: A 3km trail to the cliff which has Kadazan-Dusun Coffins. It also offers a panoramic view of the forest and is suitable to enjoy a peaceful sunset. From the cliff, either return or detour to Fairy Falls and Serpent Falls which lie behind the cliff. 
  • Elephant and Segama Trails: These trails are longer trails through the jungle and to the river. Pygmy Elephants can be spotted on this trail. 
  • Hornbill and East Trail: These are simple trails with a few hills which offer astounding wildlife sightings. Helmeted Hornbill can be spotted on these trails.
  • Tembaling Falls: The trek is of 1 to 2 hours to the high fall amid the lush green forest.
  • Sungai Purut Falls: This is a 20m high waterfall which have 7 pools at the base of the fall. It takes about 4 hours to trek from the DVFC to reach the falls but it is definitely worth the view. 
  • Hike to Gunung Danum: Gunung Danum is the highest peak in the reserve. The hike to the hill is adventurous and thrilling. The hill has a picturesque view of the forest. 
  • Hike to Rafflesia Hill or Rhino pool: Rafflesia flower is a rare species of flower found only in Malaysia and Indonesia. A trip to Danum Valley is incomplete without a view of this parasitic flower. Rhino Pool is another famous spot where Sumatran Rhinoceros was spotted. 
  • Canopy Walkway: This is exclusively provided by BRL and is just a 10 minutes walk from the Access Road. The walkway has a good view of impenetrable high long trees. A mesmerising sunrise can also be enjoyed from this walkway. 
Self- Guided Trails:
  • Orchid Trail: Orchid trail is a loop trail around the DVFC with sign boards at every step and on every tree. Gibbons and Red Leaf Monkeys can be spotted on these self-guided trails.
  • Nature Trail: The nature trail is also a 500m loop trail which has several signs and boards to guide the tourists. However, rarely do tourists spot any wildlife on this trail.

How to Reach Danum Valley Conservation Area?

The nearest city to the Conservation Area is Lahad Datu which is approximately 83 km from the forest. Lahad Datu is a small city between Sandakan and Tawau and is easily accessible by flights and by road.

From Lahad Datu, take a private car or a taxi to Danum Valley. It just takes a 2 hours drive from Lahad Datu to reach this area, one of the world’s most complex ecosystems.  Private taxis cost RM 350 to RM 450.

Mini buses operate from DVFC office in Lahad Datu to DVFC at the Reserve. The bus is scheduled at 3 PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and returns from the Reserve to Lahad Datu the next day at 8:30 AM. One way travel cost is RM 70. However, the working of the bus depends on the passenger turn ups.

Where to Stay in Danum Valley Conservation Area?

There are only two alternatives for accommodation at Danum Valley Park:  Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Danum Valley Field Center. Tourists may opt for Chalets which are located further away from the Dining Area and are cozy and peaceful with air conditioner facility. On the other hand, Rest House Rooms are located near to the dining area and common area which makes it easier to go grab a meal in no time. A standard room costs around RM 300 per night.

A very affordable option is to stay at the dorms which are located 10-15 mins walk from the dining area. There are two dormitory halls, separate for males and females. Dormitories have two bunk beds each and shared washrooms. Due to their location further away from the dining hall and common area, it is best for the tourists staying at these dormitories to leave the dormitories with all the things required for the day. Apart from these alternatives, an exciting and adventurous accommodation is to opt for camping. There is a permanent camp area beside the Danum Valley Field Centre with facilities of shared washrooms and showers. 
Dorm: RM 98 per bed per night
Sheltered Plank Bed: RM 78 per bed per night
Standard Room: RM 300 per night

Where to Eat Inside Danum Valley Conservation Area?

Tourists who book accommodations at either Borneo Rainforest Lodge or at Danum Valley Field Center have their meals included in the total package. These two are the only available options for food. Those visiting the park for the day trip, can opt for day meals which cost RM 137. It is recommended that tourists bring their own snacks. 
Meal Charges are subject to change.
3 Meals: RM 137
Dinner: RM 53 
Lunch: RM 46
Breakfast: RM 38

The kitchen is also available for the tourists to make their own food. However, the food supplies have to be arranged. The Area kitchen has a few supplies but are expensive. Apart from this, Camping area has a separate kitchen with a different chef. Those who require a packed meal can let the staff know one day in advance.

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