Imagine stepping into a world painted in emerald hues, where towering giants loom above and sunlight dances like fairies on the forest floor. This is Danum Valley, Borneo's crown jewel, and I was lucky enough to spend four magical days immersed in its breathtaking beauty.

Here’s how my trip went and what you can expect on your visit to Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC):

Wildlife in Danum Valley

It was not long upon arrival that we came across our first wildlife sighting: a helmeted hornbill flying above the field centre, a rare sight signalling the many wonders of the wild we would be encountering over the next few days. 

You don’t have to go far to see them. Just by sitting on our front porch, we would often see sambar deer and a colourful spectrum of varying butterflies wandering by. It truly is a wildlife wonderland at Danum Valley Field Centre. 

My favourite sighting had to be the Bornean orangutan we saw on our last day. We had just returned from our final trek and were about to start packing up when our guide got wind of an orangutan sighting just a few minutes away. Hopping into a 4x4 car, we hurried off to the site, quickly – but quietly – making our way through the forest to catch a sight of this stunning creature.

Our guide had told us on our first day that there was an 80 to 90 per cent chance of spotting orangutan in Danum Valley Field Centre, but I was hesitant to believe it, not wanting to get my hopes up. But watching it as it climbed up a tree and rested on the branches below, I was filled with joy and contentment.  

Nature Trails of Danum Valley Field Centre

Each day was a treasure chest overflowing with wonder. There are several trails in and around Danum Valley Field Centre, each offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the pristine primary rainforest. Sunlight dapples through the canopy, painting vibrant patterns on the ancient ferns. Curious eyes peer from the foliage, birds chirp greetings from unseen branches, and the air pulses with the rhythm of a living, breathing world. 

Guided treks into the forest became expeditions into uncharted realms, leading us to beaches along Segama River that invite us to take a dip in the crystal-clear streams. Rainforest beaches are new to me – I never knew there was such a thing, but there really is no limit to how the natural world astounds you. 

It felt like we were in another world when trailing through the forest. Some trees within the Danum Valley Conservation Area are thousands of years old, with vines the size of my wrist! It was on these trails that we saw wildlife, birds, insects, and fruits – all unique to Borneo tropical rainforest and all foreign to the city girl in me. 

Morning treks were particularly enjoyable as there would be gibbons singing in the background as we made our way through. We came across elephant poop several times as well, but alas, we were not able to spot one for ourselves. Maybe next time.

Sunrise Hike at Bukit Atur

The observation tower is very thoughtfully designed, with benches and tables fitted in and positioned facing east so people can rest and unwind while waiting for the sun to penetrate the horizon. It’s also a great spot for a picnic! 

Watching the sunrise at Bukit Atur is a moment forever etched in my memory. As the first rays of dawn touched the valley, I felt a profound sense of awe. It is in moments like these – with the world stretched before me, a vast emerald ocean pulsating with life – that I feel less foreign, less of a city girl, as if the rainforest is embracing me in its intricate tapestry. 

Night Walks and Night Safari Drives

As dusk settles at Danum Valley, the rainforest transforms into a wonderland of shadows. Night walks with our guide offered glimpses of the nocturnal world come to life. It was on these nighttime jaunts that we would spot a diverse variety of frogs, vipers, and insects. 

The sights and sounds of the night were like a lullaby, carrying us back to our beds and lulling us to sleep, our hearts at ease and minds abuzz with curiosity for the following day. 

Danum Valley Field Centre has also recently launched night safari drives! After a long day of trekking through the forest, it almost felt luxurious to be able to sit, relax, and enjoy the cool night breeze while our eyes looked for flickers amidst the rays of our guide’s flashlight. 


There are four types of accommodation you can choose from at Danum Valley Field Centre:

Chalet Deluxe Resthouse
  • Twin Bed
  • Attached Bathroom with Heated Shower
  • Air Conditioned
  • Pillow, Blanket, Towel, Soap & Tissue
  • Refrigerator
  • Cupboard
  • Sofa
  • Working Table
  • Twin Bed
  • Attached Bathroom with Heated Shower
  • Air Conditioned
  • Pillow, Blanket, Towel, Soap & Tissue
  • Cupboard
  • Working Table
Standard Resthouse Dormitory
  • Twin Bed
  • Attached Bathroom with Heated Shower
  • Ceiling Fan
  • Pillow, Blanket, Towel, Soap & Tissue
  • Working Table
  • Dormitory Bunk Beds (48 Male; 48 Female)
  • Common Bathroom
  • Wall Fan
  • Pillow, Blanket & Tow

Accommodations are basic but thoughtfully designed to maximise your wildlife wonderland experience. I had a thoroughly comfortable stay in one of the Chalets. It was heavenly to be able to come back to a hot shower after a full day of sweating in the tropic heat.

My favourite part, however, was the front porch! The railings are low and wide enough to sit on, and I found myself lounging there several times a day, watching birds, monkeys, and deer pass by my room.


Our meals were always something we looked forward to at Danum Valley Field Centre. The Dining Hall provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet spreads consisting of local cuisine, with each day offering something new on the menu.

As a vegetarian, it can sometimes be challenging to find nutritious meals on trips like these, with vegetarian options usually being more of an afterthought than a proper meal. But that was definitely not the case at Danum Valley Field Centre!  The vegetarian options provided were hearty and satisfying, leaving me wanting more each time.

Complimentary coffee and tea are available all day at the dining hall. Rainy afternoons were spent largely at the dining hall, sitting at the veranda with a cup of hot coffee, watching as long-tailed macaques swung through trees around me. 

How to Get There

There are four flights heading to Lahad Datu from Kota Kinabalu daily – I recommend taking the earliest flight at 7:00 a.m. to make time for the drive ahead.

Alternatively, you can consider taking a bus from Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, or Tawau to Lahad Datu. 

From Lahad Datu, Danum Valley Field Centre is about 80km away, taking about 2 hours to arrive. It is recommended that you take a 4x4 vehicle to the centre as the road can get bumpy at certain spots. 

What to Wear in Danum Valley


It truly is an authentic rainforest experience at Danum Valley Field Centre. The right attire is vital to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time. Some things I recommend bringing are:

  • Raincoat
  • Cap/Hat
  • Good Trekking Shoes or Boots
  • Socks
  • Leech Socks (available for sale)
  • Comfortable T-shirts (long sleeves and quick-dry recommended)
  • Outdoor Pants (long, quick-dry and earthy colours recommended)
  • Dry Bags (to keep your things dry)
  • Swimwear

Pro-tip: Adidas kampung!

Before leaving Lahad Datu on our first day, our driver had stopped by a local sundry shop so that we could buy Adidas kampung, RM15 pairs of shoes made entirely of rubber and with cleated bottoms – perfect for trekking through tropical rainforests. I have slipped one too many times in hiking boots to know that none work better than these. And no matter how wet they get, they are sure to dry in time for your next trek! 

On your way to your Danum Valley adventure, be sure to ask your driver to stop by so you can buy yourself a pair! 

Final Thoughts

My four days at Danum Valley Field Centre were not just an adventure, but also a reminder that the greatest treasures are often found not in exotic destinations, but in the quiet moments of connection with the natural world.

So, if you're seeking an escape, an adventure that will touch your soul, look no further than Danum Valley Field Centre. Pack your sense of wonder, your curiosity, and your love for the wild, and prepare to be swept away by the 130-million-year-old rainforest.


3D2N Danum Valley Field Centre - Nature Lover Experience (Budget)
4D3N Danum Valley Field Centre - Nature Lover Experience (Budget)
5D4N Jewels of Danum Valley Combo