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Danum Valley

Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA)

Danum Valley Conservation Area's Bird Checklist Click here!
Danum Valley Conseration Area's Google Map Click here!
Danum Valley Conservation Area's Pamphlet Click here!

Located in north-east Borneo in the state of Sabah, it is one of the most important conservation areas with an area of 438 km2 (169 sq miles).  Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) is nestled within Sabah Foundation’s (Yayasan Sabah) 100-year logging concession area, but the foundation retained it as a conservation area for the protection of flora and fauna; and for education and research.  It was gazetted in 1996 as a Forest Reserve and one of Sabah’s cultural heritage sites; it is also an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Malaysia (IBA code: MY24).  Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) was set up in 1986 for scientific research and education purposes.  In 1994, Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) was opened to cater for visitors and tourists.

This virgin forest is dominated by dipterocarp trees with varied terrain and altitude ranging from 150-1000 m asl. and the canopy reaching 70m.  It has one of the most diverse and abundant wildlife and bewildering flora.  It has recorded over 300 bird species and 120 mammals.

One can easily log 130 bird species in a week, the impressive list will probably include Blue-headed and Blue-banded Pittas, loads of Bulbuls and Broadbills.  If you’re lucky, you may see Giant Pitta and Crestless Fireback; or even the newly discovered Spectacled Flowerpecker!   No wonder it is named as the treasure trove for bird watching, jungle trekking plus wildlife viewing and nature study.



Birds in Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) and Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) are similar except the CrestlessFireback is only found in DVFC. In BRL, there is a short Danum trail behind the lodge (high chance to see Great Argus and Malaysian Rail-Babbler), Segama Trail and the canopy walkway (270m long and at 27m high may have good view of Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle and Bornean Birstlehead). In the DVFC area, the micro hotspot is the 2 km square grid across the Segama River. 

There are also the 6.4 km Rhino Ridge Trail (Blue-banded Pitta), the Elephant Ridge Trail (Great Argus dancing grounds), the Perwina Trail (Blue-banded Kingfisher near the stream) and the Sungai Palum Trail (look out for Chestnut-necklaced, Crested Partridge and Crestless Fireback at dawn).  At dusk, wait for the Bat Hawk to fly over the DVFC compound, or check out the Buffy Fish Owl at the badminton court.  Reddish Scops-Owl and Large Frogmouth are also sighted at the entrance track at night. There is also a tree platform a few kilometers north of the Field Centre to watch birds from the tree canopy.

In June 2009, a new flowerpecker was discovered by a UK biologist and tour guides near BRL canopy walkway. The Spectacled Flowerpecker has grey plumage, bright white arcs above and below the eye, a white throat extending as a broad white stripe down the centre of the belly, and white tufts at the breast sides. Their findings are published in the Oriental Bird Club's magazine, BirdingASIA. The new discovery further proves the value of conserving the habitat. 


How to Get There

Lahad Datu is the nearest airport to Danum Valley.  You can fly with Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Kota Kinabalu, then take MASWing to Lahad Datu; Pre- arrange airport transfer from Lahad Datu Domestic Airport with either DVFC or BRL is available.  The 97km journey takes about two hours. The first 15km is on sealed road, and the remaining 66km is on unsealed road.

If you drive your own vehicle, first obtain a gate pass from the Lahad Datu office. You will need to produce your pass at the checkpoint at KM 5.5 on the Main Line West Logging road. Follow this road to a major junction at KM 56.5, at the sign-post turn left to the Field Centre 10 km onwards. 

Accommodation and Other Facilities

Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL)
BRL offers various comfortable chalets with ceiling fans, as the management of the lodge promotes several green policies, including reducing energy consumption and waste.  The lodge also has nature and bird guides to help nature lovers and birders to explore the rich habitat.

Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC)

This centre is run by the Sabah Foundation and is open to both international and local researchers and serious birders, who must first apply in writing to the Research & Development Division, Yayasan Sabah Group, Tun Mustapha Tower, Kota Kinabalu or through the Regional Office in Lahad Datu. The facility has scientist’s quarter, dorm and rest house rooms, campsite, canteen and computer room with broadband. Electricity is available between 7:30-11:00pm.

Contacts for DVFC: 
Email: Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC)
Tel (general office): +60 (0)89 841101
Fax (general office): +60 (0)89 841102

DVFC (Lahad Datu Office):

Tel (general office): +60 (0)89 881 688
Fax (general office): +60 (0)89 881 392

 Contacts for Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd.: 

Email: Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL)
Tel (Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu's office): +60 (0)88 267 637
Fax (Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu's office): +60 (0)88 251 636 

Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd. (Lahad Datu Office):

Tel (general office): +60 (0)89 880 207
Fax (general office): +60 (0)89 885 051


Other Attractions

Mammals are always difficult to see, but Bornean Pygmy Elephants, Mouse-deer, Bornean Orangutan, Flying Squirrel, Primates, Civets, Flying Lemur (Colugo), Plain Pygmy Squirrel and Bearded Pig are frequently spotted.  Though the Sumatran Rhinoceros is present in Danum Valley, they remained elusive.

Other Attractions (with Adventurous Outdoor Activities)

Purut Waterfall
One of the spectacular waterfalls situated on the way to Mt. Danum. This waterfall is about 20m in height with 7- tiered pools. It takes about 4 hours of jungle trekking from the Field Centre, you can either camp overnight or make a day trip.
Tembaling Waterfall
The nearest waterfall which takes 1-2 hours walk from the Field Centre from the forest trail.

Burial Caves
Burial caves are part of the myths and legends of the Orang Sungai or 'river people' of Borneo. There are 3 burial sites, two near the Field Centre and one below the cliff overlooking Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL).

Mt. Danum
At 1,093m, the highest peak in Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA). Trekkers can choose 3 days 2 nights round trip or 4 hours hardcore trekking.

Rafflesia Hill
The parasitic, vile smell flower, Rafflesia can be found here.

Nearby Birding sites

Tabin Wildlife Reserve
The reserve is about 50 km northeast of Lahad Datu, in the centre of the Dent Peninsula in eastern Sabah.  The reserve was gazetted in 1984 for the protection of three mammals – Asian Elephants, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Banteng.  It is a huge rectangular 1,205 km2 logged forest with spots of undisturbed forest.   Access by road requires 4-wheel drive vehicle, visit permission should be sought in advance from the Sabah Wildlife Department headquarters at Kota Kinabalu or the district office in Lahad Datu. 

The area supports a variety of mammals and is a reservoir of biodiversity. Although it is mainly a dipterocarp forest, it has over 700 species of plants, 42 families and 220 species of birds have been recorded including all the 8 of Sabah’s Hornbill species; the much sought-after pittas, such as the Blue-headed Pitta, Black-and-crimson Pitta; and rarely seen species such as Storm’s Stork, and White-fronted Falconet, Great-billed Heron and Giant Pitta. Tabin Wildlife Resort is the exclusive rainforest resort located within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.



  • Borneo Nature Tours Sdn. Bhd. (2009) Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Website: Borneo Rainforest Lodge
  • Malaysian Nature Society. 2005. A Handbook of Important Bird Areas in Malaysia. (Compiled by Yeap Chin Aik, Anthony C. Sebastian and G.W.H. Davison). Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian nature Society. (MNS Conservation Publication No. 4)
  • Yayasan Sabah Foundation. Website: Yayasan Sabah Foundation 

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