Sarawak multi activity vacations
“There are so many benefits to traveling by bike in Sarawak, but the most important is the luxury of taking your time. You go through communities and eat in places that most visitors miss, meet local people who have very little contact with tourists. That’s our primary focus on these tours, opening up the culture.” JC Chua of our specialist operator Paradesa Borneo is a pioneer of cycling vacations in Sarawak, having realised the untapped potential of showcasing the natural landscapes here through adventurous activities. “People are often surprised at just how many activities we can offer here – it is literally something different every day. And cultural experiences too, not just wildlife – you might be sharing a tribal dinner with the family in their longhouse, and the next day having a picnic by a waterfall, the next stopping for lunch at a little-known noodle cafe we’ve discovered. It’s amazing getting to meet the different tribes of Sarawak and learning their cultural differences.”
A typical multi activity vacation in Sarawak sees you trekking, paddling and pedalling through the countryside around the capital, Kuching. You’ll head into the Highlands, explore Kubah National Park and finally arrive at a gorgeous beach resort on the South China Sea to relax at the end. You’ll get around mostly by bike, slowing things down to a pleasant pace and allowing for a much more culturally immersive experience. Over the course of a week, you might be kayaking down a river to find a hidden waterfall, watching as orangutans swing down from the trees for their lunch at a rehabilitation center, sharing a homecooked meal with a Dayak family in their longhouse while you learn of head hunter legends, or trekking through the rainforest and discovering the history of the White Rajahs.
You’ll get underway in Kuching, where the easy-going 12km of the city’s Heritage Trail allows for ample time to get used to your bike. Afterwards, you’ll venture into the countryside, riding along peaceful back roads and passing through kampongs (villages) surrounded by rice paddies, pepper farms and plantations. You’ll cycle over suspension bridges, push your bike across jungle streams and onto traditional ferries, ride through limestone karst landscapes and along idyllic coastal stretches backed with mangrove swamp.
Out of the saddle, activities include hiking up to a homestay that affords stunning lake and mountain views, or up a wooden staircase on Mount Singai to a major Christian pilgrimage site. In Kubah National Park, you’ll follow trails by night with a guide, headed out to the nocturnally noisy frog pond, before returning to sleep in a jungle cabin.
If you'd like to chat about Sarawak or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Making a differenceSemenggoh Nature Reserve Park is sure to be one of the big highlights of any vacation in Sarawak, as you watch powerful orangutans swinging down from their trees to snack on fruits. Visits here contribute valuable funds for rehabilitation and conservation of these endangered apes. You’ll meet other rescued animals such as sun bears, civet cats, barking deer and even crocodiles at the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kubah National Park. Guides will lead you on treks along tropical forest trails and will explain why protecting these landscapes is so vital, while pointing out everything from hornbills to carnivorous pitcher plants.
It’s not only conservation efforts that benefit from this slow-paced trip, visiting remote rural locations. Even small expenditure on meals or guides can have significant effects on communities that typically see little to no income from tourism. You might stay over in a traditional Dayak longhouse and enjoy learning how to make meals with bamboo cut from the jungle, or how to harvest and process pepper, or hear stories of head hunter lore. JC Chua emphasises the ways in which multiactivity tours boost engagement with local communities: “With homestays you don’t just share meals and a rice wine with the people. They will also be the ones leading you on the longhouse tour, or to the waterfall where we cook bamboo chicken for lunch, taking you on boat trips, guiding your kayaking or your national park trekking. Every day we’re putting money into these communities and bringing travelers closer to local people, even if it’s just pausing to buy some fruit from a stall.”
PracticalitiesThese are tailor made vacations, meaning that you can travel at any time of year. Sarawak is always warm, but avoid November to February which is peak monsoon season and can see some rural areas affected by flooding.
You’ll use a pleasing variety of accommodations, from hotels to hostels, homestays to luxurious resorts, your luggage being driven ahead of you. When staying in a village home or longhouse, note that conditions will be comfortable but on the basic side. You’ll have a mosquito net and you may be able to charge device batteries using the village’s hydro or solar power.
Much of your time will be spent riding a mountain bike. The terrain is nothing too challenging and for the most part you’ll be on quiet roads. If you’re reasonably active, and not a stranger to the odd long ride, expect no difficulties.
The minimum age for these trips is 12. There are some longish (60km or so) rides involved, and three-hour hikes. You know your kids best, however, and if they’re younger but you’re confident they could manage it then it’s always worth asking.
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