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One of the most alluring destinations in the Far East, the island of Borneo offers an unparalleled diversity of activities and cultures, and is a destination in its own right, even when not combined with mainland Malaysia.

The two Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up roughly the northern third of the island, the rest being part of Indonesia.

Sabah and Sarawak are primarily known for the natural wonders of their national parks, comprising dense rainforest, unique fauna and flora, white sandy beaches, and remote islands. They also have an interesting cultural aspect as this is home to many different ethnic groups, and Sarawak was also the setting for a curious episode of colonial history - once been ruled by the Brooke family, known as the 'White Rajahs' - for over a century prior to Malaysia's independence.

Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, is the usual point of entry for any visit to this fascinating island. From here, one instant focal point of the region is the brooding presence of Mt Kinabalu, at 13,500 ft the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Despite its height, the mountain makes for a challenging but eminently achievable climb. No special skills or equipment are needed, and the views from the top are worth the effort. The round trip takes two days, with an overnight stay in a lodge part of the way up. The mountain dominates the surrounding landscape of Kinabalu National Park, home to some of the richest flora in the world. As you climb the mountain, you pass through a variety of ecosystems, ranging from tropical forest at the bottom to cool alpine meadows at the top.

Further afield, the creatures the island is most famous for are the so called 'men of the jungle', or orang-utans. These apes can be seen at the Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary, located in an area of virgin equatorial rainforest. Sadly, this is one of only a few places remaining on Earth where this endangered species can be viewed. Borneo's rainforests also contain a stunning biodiversity of other plant and animal life, and the forest itself is some of the most ancient on the planet, far older than the equatorial forests of the Amazon or the Congo.

For marine wildlife, the island of Lankayan has some of the best dive sites in the region, and Selingan Island is a favourite nesting place for giant turtles that travel hundreds of miles to lay their eggs on the same beach they were hatched on years before. Altogether, it would be difficult to overstate the attraction of Borneo for anyone with a passion for the natural world

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