Danum Valley by Herman (October 2006)

Short: The Danum Valley Virgin Forest Reserve is located within the Yayasan Sabah Concession Area, some 80 km from Lahad Datu. The Danum Valley Research Centre was set up in 1986.


Discover Sabah's Pristine Rainforest in Comfort...

The Danum Valley Virgin Forest Reserve is located on the edge of the 438 sq km Danum Valley Conservation Area, the largest remaining area of undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest in Sabah. The nearest major town is Lahad Datu on Sabah’s South East coast, approximately 2 hours drive (81km) away.

Research efforts in Danum have revealed a tremendous variety of plants and a full range of Sabah’s lowland fauna, including such rare and endangered species as the Sumatran rhino, banteng (tembadau), Pigmy elephant, clouded leopard, orang utan and proboscis monkey. More than 120 mammals including 10 species of primates, 40 species of fishes, over 300 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and a profusion of butterflies are found here.

Dipterocarp trees dominate the forest, with the canopy reaching a height of over 70 metres in places. 90% of the Conservation Area is classified as lowland dipterocarp forest with the remaining 10% being low canopy, sub-montane forest mainly on Mt. Danum in the heart of the Conservation Area.

A research centre, the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVRC), was set up in 1986 for the purposes of research, education, training and wilderness recreation.


DVFC has become internationally renowned as a tropical research facility. A long-term multidisciplinary programme was initiated in 1984 as a collaborative venture between the Danum Valley Management Committee and the UK’s international Academy of Science, the Royal Society. The main aims of the programme are:
  • To gain scientific understanding of the ecological process and evolutionary mechanisms that maintain tropical rainforest
  • To provide training opportunities for Malaysians in ecology, forestry and related sciences
  • To assess the impact of logging and provide information which may contribute to improve forest management

DVFC provides research laboratories, as well as a computer room, mini library, solar drying room and other facilities and can accommodate up to 20 resident scientists at any one time.


As one of the main objectives of DVFC, emphasis is placed on training and capacity building, both in-house and in providing a venue for external groups. The Centre is capable of hosting courses and seminars for up to 100 participants, and includes amongst its facilities an air-conditioned, well-equipped conference room and a multi-purpose hall.

Groups using the Centre have included local government and non-government agencies and various overseas organisations. DVFC is also an ideal location for tertiary education, catering for industrial placements and tropical field trips by local and foreign undergraduate and post-graduate students. Although particularly suited to the needs of biologist and foresters, group of all kinds will appreciate the peaceful, natural surroundings.

Environmental Education (EE)

As part of the formal and informal EE carried out at DVFC, visitors can participate in challenging and stimulating outdoor and indoor activities, meet local and overseas scientists carrying out research at the Centre and learn first hand about important forest management initiatives.

The Danum Valley Conservation Area is an ideal location for nature and adventure tourism, with jungle trekking, wildlife photography and bird watching particularly popular, and its many interesting places as well as the richness of its fauna and flora.

Some Highlights

The Tembaling Waterfalls are the nearest waterfalls from DVFC and take about 1 to 2 hours to reach along a trail where one can witness Danum's abundant flora and fauna.

One of the more spectacular waterfalls and pools found in Danum Valley is the Sungai Purut Waterfall situated on the way to Gunung Danum. This waterfall is about 20 m in height with 7-tiered pools. It takes about 4 hours of jungle trekking from the Field Centre to reach the pool. Visitors can either choose to camp overnight or do a day trip.

Burial caves have a special place in the myths and legends of the Orang Sungai in Borneo as they believe in the combining of powerful hills and water spirits. In Danum Valley, three burial sites have been discovered, two near the Field Centre and one below the cliff overlooking Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Gunung Danum or Mt. Danum, at 1093m, is the highest peak in the Danum Valley Conservation Area. Trekkers preferring a leisurely hike should take the 3 days 2 nights’ trip. However, hard core trekkers take only about 4 hours to reach Gunung Danum. An international event, the Eco-Challenge 2000, that took place in Danum Valley Conservation Area, proved this feat was possible.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is an exclusive eco-tourism facility located in the Danum Valley, situated a 40-minute drive away from the Danum Valley Field Centre. BRL offers visitors an opportunity to experience and enjoy some of Borneo’s last remaining tropical lowland rainforest in all its natural splendour, in grand style.

Other interesting places are the nearby Rafflesia Hill where Rafflesias are found; the Rhino Pool where an elusive Sumtran rhinoceros was once sighted; Gunung Nicola another peaks within the vicinity and over 50km of marked trails in the conservation area. Visitors must hire a guide from the Centre whenever they go for jungle trekking to avoid getting lost in the forest.

How to Get to Danum Valley & Accommodation

Fly from KK to Lahad Datu; from there it is by van or tour bus over well maintained logging roads. Since access is restricted and permits are necessary the trip has to be organised through a tour agency. Special permits / written approval might be needed for the stay at the Danum Valley Field Centre


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Note: while every care has been taken in compiling the above information the Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, its authors and associates cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracy, omission or alteration that may occur. Please contact us or the respective authors for further details and confirmation of facts and figures. © The Flying Dusun Sdn Bhd, 2005-2006; all rights reserved; reproduction in whole or in part without written permission strictly prohibited. 


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