Lahad Datu

Lahad Datu

Head to the Danum Valley

Known as a centre for destructive palm oil—some 32 million tonnes of the stuff per year is produced in the surrounds—and a reputation for pirates, Lahad Datu has seemingly little to entice travellers. The sleepy coastal town however is the kick-off-point for adventures into some of the richest wildlife areas found anywhere in, well, anywhere.

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Almost halfway between Sandakanand Semporna, Lahad Datu faces the sea on the east coast of Sabah at Darvel Bay, with Mount Silam at its back and the magnificent Danum Valley Conservation Area to the west and Tabin Wildlife Reserve to the east.

The riches of palm oil are evident in Lahad Datu. : Sally Arnold.
The riches of palm oil are evident in Lahad Datu. Photo: Sally Arnold

Danum Valley Conservation Area is one of the world’s special places: 43,800 hectares of mostly virgin rainforest bursting with mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Danum Valley is a protected area and you can’t just wander in. There are two places to stay, the high-end and highly regarded Borneo Rainforest Lodge, which offers the ultimate in jungle luxury, or Danum Valley Field Centre, the down and dirty research facility that also welcomes, well, you (and us).

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is another wildlife hotspot, graced with animal-attracting mud volcanos. There’s a good chance of sighting elephants and orangutans here, but only one spot to stay.

The Danum Valley is a key attraction in the area. : Sally Arnold.
The Danum Valley is a key attraction in the area. Photo: Sally Arnold

Mount Silam is in the Sapagaya Forest Reserve, home to the Tower of Heaven, a perhaps appropriate name for a lookout as the views are divine. The reserve is Lahad Datu’s most accessible to visit too, both physically and ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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A chocolate tour perhaps?