Bako National Park is a small, coastal, mangrove forest well known for its conservation and education work and is one of the best places in the state to see proboscis and other rare monkeys as well as an array of colourful birdlife.
The itinerary includes a visit to the Iban Headhunter tribe who live in their traditional longhouse homes and here you experience their age-old culture. You can stay for a night or two with one of the Iban families or at the Hilton Resort. Do not be put off by the fact that this is a Hilton: as one of the international chainís most remote properties it is built in the style of a wooden longhouse. The resort employs and trains local staff and demonstrates a refreshing awareness of the natural environment and local culture. Through your visit to the resort and Iban longhouses you contribute financially to the medical and educational needs of the Iban people.
The Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary is the leading orang-utan conservation and rehabilitation centre in the world. Here you are virtually guaranteed some impressive sightings of one of manís closest relatives at the twice-daily feeding sessions. The orang-utans at the sanctuary are orphaned youngsters and adults who have lost their jungle homes due to deforestation. Whilst they are fed and protected by rangers at the sanctuary they are free to venture into the forest. There are no cages or bars: when the orang-utans are ready to return fully to the wild they can simply disappear into the forest.
The lodges in Kinabatangan River area are making a conscious effort to minimise the impact of tourism on the environment whilst using the income to support local projects and preserve the forest. Villagers are paid to collect seeds, become involved in tree-planting programmes and grow their produce using organic techniques. Most of your wildlife viewing is done from small boats supplied by locals and many are moving towards electric motors which are more environmentally friendly. The lodges use solar-power where possible; recycle as much of their waste as possible and employ staff and guides from local villages. In this way the people are encouraged to preserve the forest and avoid hunting the diverse wildlife of the area. Here you will have the opportunity to be involved in a local tree planting initiative to restore areas affected by logging.
After your stay in the rainforest you might like to have a few days of luxury enjoying one of Sabahís beautiful beaches. North of Kota Kinabalu, Sabahís capital city, the 5* Rasa Ria Resort might appear to be a surprising choice. However, this large resort has its own nature reserve and plenty of conservation programmes that you can be involved in. You can foster one of its animals or plant a tree as well as learn about the amazing flora and fauna of the two main types of rainforest in the country (dipterocarp and mangrove).
The directors of this company went to university together and met up again when they were travelling. They started doing tours to Vietnam in 1996 and were so successful that they expanded to many other destinations. Their company now employs 170 well-travelled staff who can advise customers on how to put together the perfect itinerary. They share the same no-nonsense, honest approach and ensure anyone who travels makes the best use of their time and budget. The amount of research that goes into these trips means you get to see the slightly quirkier places and can travel at your own pace.
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