Written by Rafidah Binti Asmat who hails from Kampung Batu Puteh in Kinabatangan. Rafidah writes about things that you can see and do along the Kinabatangan and highlights Miso Walai, the homestay that her family has been a part of since April 2012.
As the second-longest river in Malaysia, spanning 560 kilometres through a diverse range of habitats, the Kinabatangan floodplain has some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo! Until twenty years ago, excessive deforestation ravaged the floodplain ecology. But since the late-90s, conservation efforts have been protecting the region. Community Ecotourism Co-operative (KOPEL) is one of Sabah’s oldest community-run ecotourism cooperatives and has become a model for sustainable tourism practices that empower the local community in Kinabatangan.
Run by locals, Miso Walai Village Homestay provides a unique and personal experience for visitors. Visitors stay with a local host family and are given the opportunity to experience their way of life, and learn about their indigenous and traditional cultures. Each homestay unit is unique. Some homes are large and modern by rural village standards, while other homes are rustic and traditional. All homes have bathrooms and separate rooms for visitors to stay in. One can learn how to cook traditional food, and take part in village sports and events, and farm activities. Visitors may even experience wildlife encounters walking back to their home!
Apart from the family homes, visitors can choose to stay at Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp. This simple and rustic accommodation runs on zero waste, energy and chemical, creating one of purest and immersive ways for tourists to travel.
Going on a river cruise is one of the most interesting things to along the Kinabatangan, offering unique insight into the outstanding mini rainforest and wildlife of Borneo. Visitors may be lucky enough to catch sight of some (or all!) of the following: orang-utans, sunbears, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, red and silver leaf monkeys, hornbills, crocodille and many more!
Apart from the wildlife, Kinabatangan is also home to one of the most important archaeological sites in Malaysia, the Agop Tulug limestone cliffs reaching as high as 39 meters and aged between 20 to 25 million years old. Agop Tulug comprises three main caves – Agop Suriba, Agop Lintanga and Agop Sawat. In each of these caves, unique wooden coffins carved with animal motives such as buffaloes and alligators can be found. Statistics show there are 125 timber coffins made from hardwood such as belian and merbau, dating back 700 to 900 years ago.