Sarawak is home to thousands of endemic species, 40 indigenous groups including sea gypsies, longhouse-dwelling communities and former head-hunting tribes, and one of the largest rainforests remaining in the world, so as well as the incredible wildlife, a Sarawak holiday has everything a cultural traveller could ask for. Longtail boat trips upstream through the emerald green waters of the Batang Ai reservoir are a truly mesmeric way to reach the remote villages of its near impenetrable jungle; the skilled Iban boatman will manoeuvre your boat around huge black boulders in the lake and treetops that emerge from the water as a visual reminder of the valley that flooded in 1980 to create the reservoir. And there’s plenty of chance to get stuck in locally too, with floating markets and living museums. Don’t overlook a rustic longhouse homestay; the Iban of Sarawak are famous for their longhouses, sharing communal life with dozens of local tribespeople. It’s a seductive and incredibly enriching experience.
What you can do
Community tourism is a way for visitors to learn about local traditions
; for local communities to continue practicing them and sharing the knowledge with younger generations; and for people to demonstrate that their culture, their sustainable way of life and their knowledge is valuable – even in the modern world. Some of the best community tourism projects are in Sarawak, where you can stay in a communal longhouse and live alongside the tribe knowing that your money will go directly into their community and conservation initiatives.