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Mick Fogg: Scouting Trip Through Wild Borneo

Mick Fogg, Expedition Leader

Mick Fogg: Scouting Trip Through Wild Borneo

Mick Fogg, Expedition Leader

From the abundant wildlife, the rapidly disappearing rainforests, white sandy beaches encircling picture postcard perfect islands, to crystal clear waters teeming with fish and corals, Borneo has so much to offer even the most seasoned traveler!

Each of our four voyages offers a great insight into the spectacular scenery, wildlife, culture and history of the third largest island on the planet. We have put together some truly unique destinations, coupled with some famous locations to ensure that you get the best from your Borneo experience.

Since my return I have constantly been asked “What was the highlight?” This is a difficult question to answer as there were so many.

The landmark Camp Leakey and Tanjung Puting National Park still rate as one of my favorite destinations. However, it is a destination that can be overwhelming. Nowhere else is the plight of the orangutan so obvious. When you lock eyes with an orangutan you know that you are looking at a very intelligent and thoughtful animal. It is heart wrenching to see them in care facilities that are overcrowded and underfunded, and you can’t help wondering what their future may be. However, it is heartwarming to know that we are going to be making significant contributions to the well-being of these distant cousins. I have always wanted to become involved in helping these creatures and always looked at ways of achieving this. Thankfully now, I know that through donations and adoption programs established by Orion Expeditions, our visits will have a positive impact on their future.

The mighty Kinabatangan River is described as Malaysia’s gift to the planet and rightly so. It is one of only two places on the planet that you can see 10 species of primate. Borneo’s biodiversity is immense; numbers such as 15,000 species of flowering plants (400 only recently discovered), 3,000 trees, 620 birds and 220 mammals are hard to fathom. Yet, spend a day on the Kinabatangan and you get a sense of what they really mean. To take advantage, guests will spend two full days on the river and overnight in the Kinabatangan River Lodge.

The Borneo campaign of ’45 is one of the lesser known theaters of war in the Pacific. Visiting the Sandakan Memorial on the site of the old POW camp is a very moving experience. We will pay our respects with a memorial service. The bodies of those that were recovered from the camps and death marches have been relocated to the commonwealth cemetery on Labuan Island. Both destinations will be a great reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that was made to allow us the freedom we experience today.

Borneo is located in the heart of the coral triangle and the islands on the eastern side are home to some of the best snorkeling locations that I have ever seen in 20 plus years of diving and snorkeling in the Indo-Pacific region. Snorkeling with the Manta Rays at Sangalakki Island, as well as witnessing the unique jellyfish lake of Kakaban have to rate as two of the great aquatic highlights I was lucky enough to experience. The clarity of water at Mataking Island is breathtaking. The visibility was over 30 meters directly off the shoreline, with minimal current and shallow reefs it is a great snorkeling destination.

I visited Toraja Land in central Sulawesi, for the first time and found it a sensory overload. The Torajan people are very proud of their heritage and culture. The region has some wonderful scenery, but the cultural traditions are unique in the true sense of the word. The funeral ceremonies assault the senses and the burial sites have a somber and mystical feel to them. In addition, the Torajans and Makasarese have to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Always willing to assist and engaging you in dialogue so they can practice their English.

I left Borneo happy in the knowledge that I would return and be able to show our guests the true essence of the Island and all it has to offer. I invite you all to come and see Borneo as it should be experienced – the Orion way.