The Sultanate of Brunei, a country on the north coast of the island of Borneo, gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1984. Apart from its coastline on the South China Sea, it is completely surrounded by the state of Malaysian Sarawak.
Early European explorers were overwhelmed by the exotic wonders of Borneo rare orchids with blooms the size of dinner plates, monkeys with long, curved noses and rivers snaking through forests. They saw shades of green never before seen. All that and more can still be enjoyed in the 21st century in Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei, a two-and-a-half-hour journey from the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
Seventy percent of Brunei is covered by primary rainforest. Logging is not practised and according to His Majesty, the Sultan of Brunei, if all their oil and gas is depleted, 55 percent of the greenery of Brunei would remain untouched.
Temburong is one of the world's oldest and finest primary rainforests. Human impact has been limited, mainly thanks to its location and rugged terrain. There are no roads leading into the park its rivers are the forest highways.
There are a few legs to the journey to this amazing place. First a 45-minute speedboat ride up river, then a half-hour bus ride before boarding a traditional longboat for the final destination after a bit of a hike. What you will experience is worth every bit of effort.
The Canopy Walkway rises more than 60 metres from the ridge top. From there the surprisingly diverse ecosystems can be observed. A series of tree houses linked by hanging bridges are excellent observation points.
To reach the canopy, you need to climb 1260 steps. Along the way you will probably encounter moss deer, wild pigs and hornbills.
Pre-dawn is the best time to experience Temburong. The jungle is waking, with birds and animals out foraging for food.
Sunshine Borneo Tours run excursions to Temburong. They have English-speaking guides and porters to carry gear. Of course, to enjoy all the park has to offer, consider staying overnight.
There are a number of excellent basic chalets near the park headquarters. Each sleeps up to six in bunk beds, have hot showers, ceiling fans, fully equipped kitchen and open-air dining facilities. There’s also a self-contained two bedroom house with kitchenette and ensuite.
Nestled in the middle of the park’s rainforest on the banks of the Temburong and Belalong Rivers is the beautiful Ulu Ulu Resort. Set amidst 50,000 hectares of Batu Apoi forest reserve, you will be entertained by the colourful and exotic sights and sounds of the tropical rainforest in complete comfort.
The cool 2-River Terrace serves lunch, barbecue or buffet dinner at the ethnic design Valley Cafe with wooden panels and pillars. Afternoon tea and light snacks are served in the Club Lounge.
Brunei on the north coast of Borneo.
Sunshine Borneo Tours have seven-hour Ulu Temburong National Park tours for around $120 for adults and $90 for children. They include park fees, speedboat ride, land transfers, lunch and an English-speaking guide. They run every day.
Two day and one night packages are around $700 a double a night. Guide, transportation, land and water transportation are included. They also run every day.
Royal Brunei Airlines have flights to Bandar Seri Begawan. Fares are $727 from Perth and $998 from Brisbane. Conditions apply.
Prices correct September 4, 2008.
For further information
Sunshine Borneo Tours & Travel
No 2, Simpang 146
Bandar Seri Begawan
Ph: +673 2 441791
Fax: +673 2 441790
Ulu Ulu Resort
Box 2612 Bandar Seri Bagwan
Ph: 673 2 441791
Fax: 673 2 441790
Royal Brunei Airlines
Ph: 1300 721 271 (eastern states)
Ph: (08) 9321 8757 (Western Australia)
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