Onwards and upwards
This is part two of a three part article highlighting the Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge, an adventure event that relives history, culture and stewardship of nature initiated by the people living in the Maligan and Kelabit highlands.
Participants in this event will experience jungle walk across the old world Borneo forest, villages and historical sites where ancestors of the people in the highlands of Borneo used as migratory routes since thousands of years ago.
On the fourth day, the hike becomes steeper as the destination is Church Camp located at 2,100m above sea level. Orchids and nepenthes are spotted along the paths and one would have to climb roots and cross belian planks installed by villagers before reaching the plank walk. It is along this trail that you become attuned to the markings made on roots and trees and learn to read the signs and markers to follow in the right direction.
The plank walk was built by the community in the 90s to make the journey to Church Camp easier. It has degraded and the only way to Church Camp is around the plank walk or at some areas, on the newly places metal plank walk provided by Forest Department Sarawak.
Participants will pass the junction to Bario as they make their way to the end of the plank walk to a fork in the trail – take a left to descend to Church Camp or climb Batu Linanit just in front and then descend to Church Camp.
The calm and isolation of Church Camp is hauntingly beautiful. Mist would thicken and dissipate just as quickly and the temperature is about 17 degree Celsius in the day. By nightfall, temperature drops and it can get to 11 degree Celsius. Headlamps are especially useful in Church Camp as toilets are situated in a designated area from the houses.
To experience a most breath-taking view of the night sky, walk towards the church, turn off your headlamps and torch lights, be enveloped in darkness and look up. When the sky is clear, it is just you and the star studded skies. Your naked eyes are all you need to view constellations and the Milky Way galaxy.
Descending Church Camp to Long Belaban in Bario takes place on day five. The initial journey retraces steps along the plank walk to the Bario junction. From there on, it will be a leisurely walk along the ridge and a gradual descent through different forests – montane, moss, heath and riverine.
Moving from forest to forest, this trail feeds your senses as you take in the sights, scents, sounds, tastes and touch. An example of sensory feed at the moss forest includes a particular scent that is fresh, deep and mildly bitter as compared to the scent of freshly cut grass.
The ground under your feet feels hollow and soft like walking on thick, luxurious carpet. The trees surrounding the area are covered with moss, some completely blanketed and are soft and wet to the touch, and roots woven into the intricate forest makes it all very ethereal.
The route to Long Belaban passes through patches of forest fruit trees. When in season, the sweet scent of ripened forest fruits fills the air tinged with hints of bamboo. As Long Belaban doesn’t home a shelter, participants will set to sleep in temporary camping style tents under the stars. Long Belaban is next to the river where participants can cool off and refresh themselves. A carved stone (Batu Narit) sits about 20 minutes’ walk to the shelter.
Click here for Part One: Challenge yourself and register for the Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge
Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (FORMADAT) is a transboundary, grassroots initiative in the Heart of Borneo (HoB) highlands that was established in October 2004 by the elders and representatives of communities from the Highlands in Malaysia (Bario, Ba Kelalan, Long Semadoh, Ulu Padas) and Indonesia (Krayan and Krayan Selatan).
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia) was established in Malaysia in 1972. It currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental conservation and protection work, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. The national conservation organization also undertakes environmental education and advocacy work to achieve its conservation goals. Its mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the nation’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. For latest news and media resources, visit http://www.wwf.org.my/media_and_information/media_centre/
For further information:
Alicia Ng, Senior Community Engagement & Education Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +60 82 247 420 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zora Chan, Senior Communications Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +60 82 247 420 Email: email@example.com
Rumaizah Mohammad Abu Bakar, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603 7450 3773 Email: RBakar@wwf.org.my