This October half-term, a team of 17 geographers from Tonbridge School jetted off to the jungle-clad island gem of Borneo, on a 12-day geography expedition like no other! Headed up by their fantastic expedition leader, Jonny Miller (pictured), the team prepared for the adventure of a lifetime…
The team flew into the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, and began their adventure exploring this vibrant coastal city. As soon as they’d settled in and acclimatised to their new surroundings, they hopped over to the East of the island to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, where they had the chance to spot these critically endangered creatures, and learn more about the fascinating conservation work being done to protect the species.
This was complemented by a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which works to educate its visitors on conservation issues and the environment. The team even took a walk through the rainforest canopy, giving them a whole new perspective on this jungle environment.
A cruise down the Kinabatangan River was next on the agenda, and the chance to visit the Corridor of Life, where the team stayed with a local village community and spending time learning about this important eco-tourism initiative. They explored their surroundings on wildlife walks, where they spotted a plethora of species, many of which can only be found in Borneo! Getting up close to the wildlife and environments in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, they learnt all about the importance of conservation and eco-tourism projects in protecting these rainforest environments and the species which call them home.
Moving on to a more mountainous environment, the team visited the Gomantong Caves, a huge limestone cavern which is home to hundreds of thousands of bats. Joined by a local naturalist, they discovered more about the formation and history of the caves, as well as the animals that live in and around them, before heading onwards to an impressive Sabah Tea Garden. They enjoyed a fascinating tour and learnt how the tea is grown and processed, discovering the important role this plays in Sabah’s economy and trade. They also had the chance to stay overnight in a traditional long house, which once housed ancient tribes of the area.
Adventure endured as the team began their challenging trek through the Kiau jungle. Their journey took them off the beaten track, their guides hacking through dense jungle and helping them to cross streams and rivers. They saw examples of the traps and jungle shelters created by the local Kiau people, as well as a whole host of incredible and unusual flora and fauna. A highlight of the trek was learning jungle survival skills from their local guides, and sleeping out in the wild in hammocks and shelters, handmade by the team from bamboo and pandanas grass.
The expedition culminated in an exciting and challenging ascent of Mt. Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, standing at 4,095m. Despite the wet weather, the team started climbing in the early hours, and made it to the top in time for sunrise. Elated and a little soggy, the team celebrated their achievement with some time to explore the capital and a final team dinner of delicious local cuisine.
A fantastic experience was had by all on this exciting and educational adventure in Borneo!
If you'd like to take your geographers on this adventure- get in touch!