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Brunei is known for its pristine rainforests. Thanks to its income from oil, Brunei has been able to keep much of its rainforests – over 70% of its primary rainforests still remain which means the best rainforests in Borneo can be found in Brunei. No Brunei stopover is complete without a visit to this rainforest.
I am not a massive fan of natural attractions. Regular readers of this site may have noticed that I often ignore natural attractions and this is because I have little interest. I am a city slicker. I like my creature comforts and I don’t like getting all dirty and sweaty. When my friends suggested visiting a national park in Brunei, I can’t say I was excited at the prospect. We needed to do something though, and Brunei does not have many attractions so I agreed. I am so glad I did!
We did a 2 day overnight tour of the Ulu Temburong National Park and other rainforest areas. It was an amazing two days. Here is what we got up to…
We started the tour with a hotel pick up and then a speed boat ride to Bangar. This took about 45 minutes and was quite enjoyable as we sped past the stilt villages and then were surrounded by picturesque rainforest.
The three of us (myself and two mates) were told that we were the only ones on the tour today which was a bonus. We would have the rainforest lodge to ourselves!
We were met on arrival in Bangar by our guide and transferred to Bukit Patoi Forest Reserve. Here we were given some water before hiking up a mountain to a point 1602 metres above sea level.
I was a bit concerned when I realised we were hiking up a hill, especially to a point that high as I am not fit at all. Thankfully, it was a great, well laid out walk and we did it without any breaks in about an hour, faster than the 1.5 hours we were told it would take.
Along the way we did have some quick stops where our guide pointed out different insects, birds, plants and trees. We learned what we could eat, what would kill us and what to be weary of. Along with what trees, leaves etc could be used to make what. It was quite interesting and added to the walk which, although good, was nothing I haven’t done in a million places before.
At the top, we had great views over the surrounding rain forest. Just beautiful!
It was then an easy walk back down before heading onto our next stop…
A common thing to do in Borneo is to visit a longhouse. I had done this in Kuching, and I was interested to see what the Brunei equivalent was like.
The longhouse was, not surprisingly, quite modern. There are not many longhouses left in Brunei and this is meant to be the shortest at only 8 rooms. There is basically one long room along the front of the building that all families share. Each family then has their own door leading to their own living room, kitchen and bathroom. Upstairs are their bedrooms.
A man who lived in the longhouse talked to us about it. He loved living there and said he found it boring when he lived elsewhere while studying. They were Christian so he talked about their big Christmas celebrations. The place seemed nice, modern clean and like a nice place to live, although I do not think this style of living would suit me.
It was then onto our rainforest lodge where we would be spending the night. It was great!
The setting is just beautiful – right by the river and surrounded by rainforest. We could not believe we were so lucky as to have the place to ourselves. We had our own rooms (we had paid for bunk style accommodation) and the lodge had all modern conveniences such as wifi, air conditioning and hot water. We were definitely not roughing it.
We also had all our meals here over the two days which were fabulous. Every meal was fresh, tasted good and had ample food. Too much food really, I think they made every meal for ten people instead of three!
After some rest time, we headed across the river in a longboat to go on a jungle trek. This was one of my favourite parts of the two day adventure in the Brunei rainforest.
We walked along a creek bed for awhile, stopping regularly for the guide and her two helpers to show us different points of interest and again point out what we could and couldn’t eat and what things were used for. The three of them went out of their way to enhance our experience.
Eventually, we took off up one steep side of the creek bed and set off along a narrow precipice and into the rainforest. One of the helpers used a machete to break a path for us. It was awesome!
We came out about a kilometer upstream from our lodge. Here, we actually all jumped into the rapids in the river and floated back to our lodge in our life jackets! We were a bit alarmed initially, as we had no idea this was going to happen. We weren’t dressed for it and I was worried about my iPhone (I use it as my camera). Everything was good though and it was a very relaxing, cooling experience.
The trek was very pretty and I felt about the most away from the world than I ever have before. We were not walking on any treks – We were very much exploring the rainforest. I felt like I was on Survivor. I highly recommend this experience for anyone with even minimal fitness.
The next day, we spent the morning at Ulu Temburong National Park. We visited waterfalls and walked above the rainforest canopy. Read more about Borneo’s fabulous Ulu Temburong National Park. It was a great way to finish our rainforest adventure.
We spent the next couple of hours showering, packing up, eating and relaxing at the rainforest lodge before heading back to Bandar Seri Begawan.
It was an easy journey back in the car to the boat terminal and boat ride back to Bandar Seri Begawan where we were taken back to our hotel. I was sad to finish the tour.
Many operators do this trip or similar. We paid B$220 per person which included everything for the two days – I did not get money out once and they never tried to sell us any extras. I think this was excellent value.
My kids would be too young for this but I am sure older kids would love it – I can just imagine the year 7s that I teach having an awesome time here. In saying that, I think there would be no problem getting the itinerary modified to make it suitable for just about any age. It would be nice just spending time in the rainforest lodge and adjacent rainforest.
My friends and I loved this two day adventure. We had a great taste of the Brunei rainforest, felt a bit adventurous while still having all the comforts of home. The highlights were definitely the jungle trek and the rainforest canopy walk.
I highly recommend making the effort to see the Brunei rainforest on any trip to Brunei. If time is short, there is also a one day tour that does a subset of what is mentioned here.
You can also read about my time in the capital of Brunei in 5 great things to do in downtown Bandar Seri Begawan and my guide to the perfect Brunei stopover.
Have you ever had a rainforest adventure?