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Sabah, Malaysia

Telupid Forest Reserve Safari

The Telupid Forest Reserve (also commonly known as the Deramakot Forest Reserve) is one of Borneo's best kept secrets. The roads here are narrow and closely bordered by the forest, brimming with wildlife. The wildlife here is unpredictable and capricious: imagine your 4WD vehicle getting surrounded by a herd of elephants or a civet cat jumping out into the road during the night safari. If you're lucky, you may even spot the elusive clouded leopard which hunts in the night.

To get to Telupid you will need a 4WD and it will take about 7 hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu. Your guide will provide transport from your hotel in Kota Kinabalu to Telupid.

To get to Kota Kinabalu you will need to get a flight from any of Malaysian main airports or many of the regional ones. If you are already in Borneo you can travel overland to Kota Kinabalu by bus from a few of the main cities.

There are few places in Borneo that are as 'off-the-beaten-track' for travellers as Telupid Forest Reserve (also known as Deramakot). Telupid Forest Reserve is traditionally only visited by scientists, researchers and government officials. Not only does it not have rangers to provide guiding services to travellers, it also doesn't have a kitchen that produces meals for travellers. The roads leading to Telupid Forest Reserve can also get fairly bumpy and muddy, necessitating a 4WD to get there (and sometimes, we even need a spade to dig a route for the car to pass!).

A guide will provide the 4WD transport from Kota Kinabalu (as the roads can get very bumpy!), bring the food and portable stove to cook your meals and will be able to bring you on jungle walks and safari drives to spot the elusive wildlife hiding in the thick of the forest.

No, you don't need to train up as this will be a fairly relaxing three days. Depending on the weather, there will be a couple of afternoon walks into the jungle but the jungle terrain is fairly flat and mainly leafy underfoot, so it's more like taking a stroll through the park on an autumn's day.

Telupid Forest Reserve is open all year round, but the roads could get quite muddy during monsoon season (November to February), making for longer journey times.

Three full days as you'll start early in the morning on the first day and get back to Kota Kinabalu late afternoon/early evening on the third day.

Day 1: Pick up at your hotel in Kota Kinabalu at 8am and take a scenic drive in the Sabah countryside (including meandering around the beautiful Crocker Range). Arrive at Telupid town after 4 hours' drive and stop for lunch at local street food stall. Drive for another 2-3 hours and arrive at Telupid Forest Reserve at mid-afternoon. Head out for an early evening walk in the jungle with your guide for an hour and learn about the local fauna, insects, and how the locals make use of the forest in their daily lives. Head back to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, evening safari drive to see the animals that are hunting and feeding in the night.

Day 2: Early morning safari drive to see animals that are feeding in the morning (e.g. birds, primates) and stop for picnic breakfast on the way. Lunch back at the lodge and rest. Mid-afternoon walk in the jungle with your guide for an hour. Head back to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, evening safari drive for a last glimpse of the nocturnal animals and a chance to spot the elusive clouded leopard that hunts in the night.

Day 3: Early breakfast and last morning safari drive before heading back to Kota Kinabalu. Lunch near Mt Kinabalu and back at your hotel in Kota Kinabalu late afternoon.

Insect repellent
Change of clothes
Jacket (as it can get cold on the evening/morning drives)
Raincoat (if your jacket is not waterproof, as the weather can be erratic at times!)
(Snacks for the car journey if you wish!)