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Tawau Hills Park

79 Reviews
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Tawau Hills Park

79 Reviews
Sorry, there are no tours or activities available to book online for the date(s) you selected. Please choose a different date.
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Ian G wrote a review Feb 2020
York, United Kingdom103 contributions25 helpful votes
Visited with family and friends for 2 nights. Organised by 1stopborneo and Shavez doing a top job of it. The park was fantastic, waking to the sounds of the gibbons and rhinoceros hornbills gets your day off to a magical start! Saw troops of red leaf monkeys at close range, 3 types of hornbills, loads of frogs on the night walks and 5 snakes in total during visit and just so many fascinating insects. Lots of easy walking trails and as someone who has visited jungles many times, I highly recommend visiting this gorgeous national park. Very close to Tawau and good accommodation within park, it is absolutely essential that every square inch of this park be protected for the future as so much of Borneo has tragically already been trashed by greedy palm oil companies.
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Date of experience: February 2020
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tuckathy wrote a review Dec 2019
Stillwater, Minnesota4 contributions
Our trip to Borneo in August 2019 was a Nature lover’s dream come true. Shavez Cheema and Chun Xing Wong were our intrepid guides and English-speaking interpreters for a memorable 5 days, during which they shared their vast knowledge of Borneo’s rich biodiversity, as well as its culture, history, and a peek at its future. They want to save what is left of Borneo’s incredible primary rainforest and natural habit and its plethora of creatures. Their significant role therein is founding a conscientious grassroots organization named 1StopBorneo, which utilizes revenue generated from experiential ecotourism they orchestrate to fund a myriad of conservation, education, research, and rescue programs that are making a difference.  Highlights of our time with 1StopBorneo were many, such as a rare siting of a pangolin, the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world. We spent a rustic homestay with home-cooked meals on the less accessible side of Mt Kinabalu, from which a memorable night hike led to sightings of numerous reptiles, amphibians and insects, such as a dozen or so stick insects. After we returned to Kinabalu, Shavez escorted us on a flight to Sabah, our destination was a magical place called Tawau Hills Park, where we met lovely fellow travelers, as well as a number of dedicated insect, plant and animal researchers. We knew we were in the right place to commune with nature. We would start each day after a short hike to an outside breakfast with a keen view of a hornbill nest, to witness the male bringing food to his mate who is barricaded in the nest with mud and whatnot to protect her chicks. If we watched closely, we could see him tenderly passing food to her through the slit that is a fit for the bill of a hornbill, a beautiful sight indeed. Night hikes there made us feel like little kids in a candy store, with so many choices to see of indigenous species such as mouse deer, giant river toad, colugo (we called them tree-lickers), and the last two feet of a reticulated python as it slid in the water under leaf cover. We had no need to go far for Shavez or Chun to point out countless stick insects, spiders, a purplish tarantula (species?), lizards and even sleeping birds all puffed out for camouflage and comfort. They also gave us tips to make our own spottings. One of the days we drove to Sabah Softwoods, a plantation with a heart that was doing something to help elephants, because their plantation lay between two protected elephant reserves. We planted a few trees in this corridor to enhance the elephant habitat, which made us feel good. We then went driving in search of pygmy elephants. It took a while, which made it all that much more rewarding when we came upon a herd of elephants about two dozen strong. It was heartwarming that they had habitat to do the things elephants do, mainly eating, shuffling and jostling like a big close family at Thanksgiving, a beautiful scene we were given time to witness until we had our fill. And before we left, we got to see up close a mother guide her baby off the road to disappear safely into the jungle. The time went too fast, but the memories will last forever. Shavez and Chun’s passion for educating their world about Borneo’s ecosystem and all its creatures great and small is beyond incredible. Through the course of our trip we had the pleasure of spending time with other 1StopBorneo volunteers, Natalie and Allister, and one look in all their eyes made us know we were spending our tourist dollars in the right place. The team at 1StopBorneo share a vision that gives reason to hope that future generations will be able to witness the wonder of present beautiful Borneo. It just might make you feel good inside to have an experience with an organization such as theirs, knowing you could be a part of making a difference for the better of all in one place worth seeing and contributing to saving, Borneo.
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Date of experience: August 2019
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Charlie wrote a review Nov 2019
1 contribution
I spent three days at the park conducting multiple nature walks with an extremely knowledgeable and friendly guide from 1 stop Borneo. He was able to pitch information at all levels including to the 2 biologists I had within my group I would highly recommend.
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Date of experience: November 2019
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Juliette G wrote a review Oct 2019
Amsterdam, The Netherlands22 contributions7 helpful votes
I came with my boyfriend to Tawau National Park for 4 days and this was such a wonderful trip. We were with 1StopBorneo, and this was really great. Shavez and Chun are so knowledgeable, it was so great to learn from them about the wildlife in Cambodia. We spend two nights at their base in Tawau national park and two nights in the mountain and it was perfect! The park is beautiful and not frequently visited so it was great to be off the beaten track. We saw lots of animals there including red leaf monkeys :) Thanks to the team for these amazing 4 days !!!
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Date of experience: October 2019
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Richard M wrote a review Oct 2019
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom4 contributions8 helpful votes
Most of the park we saw was quite similar to the area of Danum Valley we'd previously visited: primary dipterocarp forest with its beautiful high canopy and scrubby undergrowth. Also like Danum, it seems the ecosystem in Tawau is in great shape. However, unlike Danum, we hardly met any other tourists whilst we were at Tawau. We arranged our visit to the park with 1StopBorneo, a small, local wildlife NGO. These guys obviously love the natural world and seem to genuinely enjoy sharing their passion with you. Get in touch with them if you’re thinking of visiting. With the help of our guides we saw so much: mammals (at least four species of primates, as well as civets, squirrels, etc), birds (hornbills, birds of prey, a trogon, and loads more), snakes, frogs, insects, scorpions, fungi, arachnids… the list goes on and on. Don’t come expecting to see an orangutan (although there were a few old nests still visible in some of the trees), but Tawau Hills Park is still an amazing place that really deserves more recognition as an eco-tourism destination. One the practical side, the accommodation near the park entrance was great: a clean, air-conditioned (luxury!) twin room, with ample shared bathroom facilities. Meals were served at a small canteen nearby and the food was fairly typical of what we ate on most of our Borneo trip. There was always plenty of quantity and it was also good quality, but there was relatively little variety - generally rice, green veg and chicken (substitute the chicken for eggs/tofu/nothing if you're vegetarian). That said, there were different sweet treats each day at breakfast. The trails near to the park entrance were very well maintained, which lets you access plenty of terrain – we certainly could have spent longer in this area. However, as you go further away, the trails become less easy and so decent footwear is advised. You might also want to invest in some leech socks – the little bloodsuckers are one downside of the healthy ecosystem! For the second half of our trip, we hiked the trail to Mt Lucia and stayed at a lodge about 10km uphill for a couple of nights. It's certainly not an easy walk, with long steep stretches making it very hard going in places, especially in the heat and humidity. It took us well over 5 hours in the end, which is apparently about average. When we finally arrived, the outlook from the Mt Lucia lodge was spectacular. The clearing which was cut for the building provides the sort of long vistas which are so rare in the rainforest. A few large trees frame the view nicely, as well as providing a convenient perch for birds and from which we saw both squirrels and lizards flying. There’s another clearing slightly further up the hill (the “helipad”) which is also good for bird watching. The dorm rooms in the lodge were basic but clean. There was no electrical power other than some solar powered lights, but it’s several degrees cooler up at the lodge and so there’s really no need for fans or air-con (you might even want to take something warm to wear in the evenings). Just bring a power bank to recharge phone/camera/headtorch batteries. You’ll need to make arrangements for food and water whilst you’re up there… or do what we did and let 1StopBorneo sort it out for you! Our last day happened to coincide with the inaugural "Tropical Rainforest Sabah Run" which is basically a half marathon up and down the same trail we’d walked to the lodge. It looked like great fun (if you’re mad enough to like that sort of thing) but sadly having a couple of hundred runners pounding up and down the trail isn't exactly great for attracting wildlife! That said, we still were lucky enough to see a beautiful Bornean keeled pit viper on a tree right next to the track as we walked back down. We arrived in the park on a Tuesday and so we got to spend most of the week in an almost deserted forest (apart from the day of the run). However, we're told weekends and holidays can get pretty hectic near the park entrance, so if that's not your thing try and arrange your trip to avoid this (although I'm sure you'd be fine up at the Mt Lucia lodge).
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Date of experience: September 2019
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