The Road Less Travelled To the Tip of Borneo
TAKE A JOURNEY AND DISCOVER THE END OF THE ROAD AT THE NORTHERN-MOST TIP OF MALAYSIAN-BORNEO; JOIN NICKY SHEEHAN ON THIS ULTIMATE NATURE ESCAPE WITH STUNNING COASTLINES & STEAMING JUNGLES.
Words & photography: Nicky Sheehan
Kota Kinabalu (KK) is the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state in Borneo. It’s a bustling coastal city overlooking the South China Sea with friendly locals, markets & a vibrant arts scene. KK offers an enviable choice of culinary pleasures from across the world; served in hip restaurants and by street vendors, you may want to linger far longer than you planned. One way to burn off those extra calories is climbing Mt Kinabalu – the highest peak in Sabah’s Crocker Range takes you 4,095m above sea level. Don’t be surprised to start your trek in tropical weather and then find freezing conditions on the summit. Alternatively take an easier and relaxing option and visit the lush Botanical Gardens and the many walks through the jungle in Mt Kinabalu Park.
Qatar Airlines flies from Doha to Kuala Lumpur; Malaysia Airlines & Air Asia fly KL to Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu (KK) to Kudat: Taxis from Bandaran Berjaya (3hrs) Bus route KK-Tuaran-Kota Belud- Matunggong-Kudat (3.5hrs) Plane: MAS Wings (40 minutes) not daily Car Hire in Kota Kinabalu & Kudat (limited, book well in advance).
The hot & dusty road north punctuated with the occasional wandering cattle, passes acres of paddy fields & beautiful rolling hills. 4 hours and 190 kilometers later is the peaceful seaside town of Kudat, the heartland of the Rungus people, the largest ethnic group living here. The town has its own weekly tamu or native market featuring locally produced fruit & vegetables, fish, edible seaweed & rainforest honey. It also has an 18-hole golf course, the oldest in Sabah, established in 1906 when it was affiliated with St Andrews of Scotland. It sits adjacent to the Marina Resort and provides a scenic view of the Bengkoka Peninsular. All around Kudat take off & explore the many stunning deserted beaches and islands that line the coast.
TAMPAT DO AMAN JUNGLE CAMP
In the native Rungus language, Tampat do Aman means a place of peace or friends. Created by Brit Howard Stanton, it covers 6 acres of lush tropical land alongside the only road leading to the Tip of Borneo and miles of deserted pristine beaches. The Jungle Camp accommodation sits within a nature reserve. The buildings are designed and built in the traditional Rungus style: the backpacker’s longhouse, tented huts and private chalets, a jungle restaurant & the Rungus Cultural Museum. Solo travellers, families & groups are all warmly welcomed. Choose to relax or get active and explore the extraordinary tropical vegetation & wildlife. Jungle survival courses led by experienced guides are an eye opener to the magnificence, as well as the beauty and dangers, of the dense & steaming jungles.
- Jungle trekking
- Jungle survival courses
- Mountain biking
- Mangrove cruises
TIP TOP RESTAURANT AT KOSUHUI BEACH
Run by local Kudat ladies who cook up a heart-warming menu using fresh produce. Ikan billis – dried anchovies shallow fried with peanuts, chili and lime. It’s easy to embrace the laid back vibe, swing in a hammock or join fellow travellers on the wooden deck and simply gaze out over a shimmering sea. A short walk or drive from Kosuhui Beach is the Tip of Borneo. Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is the dramatic headland meaning “lingering junction” and the place where the South China Sea meets the Sulu Seas flowing from the east. Here sizzling sunsets bathe the rocky outcrop in vibrant colors. It may be the end of this road but it’s truly worth the ride. A simply stunning beach with endless perfect white sand and an aquamarine sea; dotted along the beach are little wooden stilted houses painted in a bright hues of sunset red. Dramatic landscapes and cloud formations set against blue skies and starry nights have plenty to excite photography enthusiasts.
SO WHAT CAN I EAT?
- Fresh seafood
- Homemade spring rolls
- Malay style chicken curry
- Tasty pastry treats
DID YOU KNOW?
- It’s the 3rd largest island in the world.
- The Borneo rainforest is around 140 million years old
- It has about 3,000 species of trees, over 1,700 species of orchids and more than 50 carnivorous pitcher plant species
- A Borneo plant, Rafflesia arnoldii, produces the largest flower in the world
- Borneo is home to around 222 mammals, 420 birds, 100 amphibians and 394 fish
- The fleet of Ferdinand Magellan, on its famous voyage to circumnavigate the globe, was said to have stopped at the Tip of Borneo for 42 days to repair their ships
Tampat do Aman
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