Most of us have caught our first sighting of animals in captivity. Yet, while zoos can provide land-locked individuals amazing opportunities to see them in the flesh, nothing can replace the wonder of encountering the exact same species in their very own habitat.
For those looking to get their jungle fix, the tropical rainforests of Borneo, Malaysia, the oldest in the world, are perhaps the best places to start. The island's extraordindary biodiversity can be found in a myriad of spots that offer unforgettable wildlife experiences. From the murky waters of the Kinabatangan River, to the protected areas of the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, the Rainforest Discovery Centre, and the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, there are numerous opportunities to get within sniffing distance of strange, wonderful creatures.
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A word of warning, though. Borneo's wildlife encounter ain't for the faint-hearted. Leave your safari OOTDs at home: this definitely isn't one of those glamping situations. It will be hot. It will be humid. And, you will be attacked by a swarm of insects determined to bite your flesh off. But, if you're all about leaving your inhibitions at home, experiencing unspoilt nature up close, and getting up close and personal with some of the most amazing animals in the planet, then this trip might be for you. Consider yourself forewarned.
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Photographs by Riccardo Bragato and the author