Waterfall at Tabin

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Covering an area twice the size of Singapore, come to Tabin for mud volcanoes, jungle trekking, an orangutan release centre, and the chance to spot over 300 types of exotic bird – from the bronzed drongo to the blue-crowned hanging parrot.

Imagine waking up in a timber chalet with huge windows and a private veranda looking out onto the rainforest, where the trees conceal wild elephants, orangutans, clouded leopards, and all manner of exotic birds. This is the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. At 1,120 square kilometres, it’s the largest in Malaysia – and yet it’s home to just a single resort: the base for all excursions into the region.

Most of the reserve is secondary forest, which means that it has been regrown after logging, but you'll soon see how quickly nature has reclaimed its territory. One of the best places to spot some of the local wildlife at the Lipad mud volcano, just a 20-minute hike from the resort. Here, primates and hornbills feast in the branches of fig trees, elephants bathe in the mineral-rich mud, and observation towers offer chances to spot green imperial pigeons and thick-billed spiderhunters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a rare Bornean bristlehead, or the tracks of the Sunda clouded leopard – the largest predator in the reserve.

To really appreciate the range of fauna that calls Tabin home, you need to experience it at every time of day. Head out at the crack of dawn for a bird-watching walk and you might see bronzed drongos or blue-crowned hanging parrots. Trek to the Lipad Waterfall in the daytime and you can swim in ice-cold pools while watching for gibbons in the trees overhead. At dusk, head out with a guide in search of mouse deer, banteng, and civet cats – not to mention any number of spiders, snakes, frogs, and other weird and wonderful creatures who only venture out under cover of darkness.

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