There is still plenty of nature in Borneo notwithstanding reports of habitat loss due to logging and oil palm plantation.
A vast portion of the world’s second largest Island (well… third, if you count Australia as an island) will remain protected and covered in pristine jungle if the initiative to conserve the area known as the Heart of Borneo succeeds.
Cruise into the Heart of Borneo
This is where you will be if you choose to take the brand new six-star luxury river cruise on the Rajang River — Malaysia’s longest river — starting July this year.
The cruise is called “Into the Heart of Borneo”, based on the title of a book by Redmon O’Hanlon.
O’Hanlon will be among 60 passengers on the cruise’s maiden voyage using a replica of an American paddle steamer, which will set sail from the town of Sibu on July 9.
It will sail up to the Baleh River, a tributory to the Rajang River, which recently shot to worldwide fame following the release of two pictures, purportedly those of the Borneo giant snake, the 100-feet Nabau.
The pictures show a serpentine figure swimming in the river. The photos later turned out to be a hoax. Good thing… now we can cruise in peace.
RV Orient Pandaw
The cruise, onboard the RV Orient Pandaw, is operated by Southeast Asia’s biggest cruise operator Irrawaddy Flotilla Company which has carved a name for itself in specialised river cruise excursion under its Pandaw cruise brand.
The New Straits Times newspaper quoted Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Gracie Geikie as describing the cruise as the first of its kind in Malaysia.
The Rajang River (in red marking)
“There’ll be stops along the river to enable the passengers to go hiking and visit longhouses and towns,” she said.
Rajang River into the Heart of Borneo
There will also be a stopover at Kampung Rajang, near Tanjung Manis at the river mouth, for a visit to the songket factory.
Another stop is Sarikei to visit a pineapple farm, for which the town is famous. Passengers can also choose to shoot the Pelagus rapids, the New Straits Times said.
Up to Baleh and back
The cruise, however, will not cover the whole of 640km Rajang. According to the cruise operator, “The Rajang is navigable on a ship of Pandaw’s size for at least 250km until the Pelagus Rapids.”
After the Pelagus rapids, the cruise heads upstream Rajang’s main tributary, the Baleh River.
The area along river is populated by the Ibans who were headhunters until in the 1950s.