Day 5 Sabah Road Trip Sandakan Kinabatangan Lahad Datu Kunak Semporna
Published: 04/04/2021
The Road 13 in Lahad Datu
Day 5 we drive from Sandakan to Semporna. This is a long ride and there are several options to visit along the way, so this ride can optionally be extended, driven in 2 days, more details about this later. Today we drive on wide two-lane roads with good asphalt. Along the route there are several small villages and towns with small cafes where you can stop for something to eat or drink. If you want to visit all points, you will have to take into account that you will regularly refuel and drive on unpaved roads. Not all roads are well marked on the TomTom maps, so keep in mind that sometimes you cannot rely on your navigation device. You will be warned about this with information points.

One of the points you can visit are the Gomantong Caves (RP4) located on Gomantong Hill. This is a system of caves with two primary chambers, the Black Cave and the White Cave. The huge 90-meter-high caves are home to multiple animal species, including swifts, but especially millions of bats and an incredible number of cockroaches and parasites that live in the guano deposits, making the whole look like a scene from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.

Hundreds of thousands of Wrinkle Lipped Free-tailed bats also live in the higher parts of the cave. Their nighttime exodus from the cave mouth is a popular spot for visitors.

What's less popular, at least for those seeking pristine rainforest beauty, is the thirty-foot stack of guano that has developed inside the cave. The gigantic pile of sh… has attracted millions of cockroaches and parasites.
There are so many cockroaches in the caves that you can see them crowding against the walls en masse, giving the cave a really creepy look. The cave is accessed by a wooden walkway that leads visitors down to the bat and cockroach infested wonderland. The question is: are you looking forward to it?

At RP7 you can stop for lunch in one of the local restaurants. After lunch we continue to Lahad Datuh, shortly after this town you can choose to turn right at RP10 and drive through the dirt road to Danum Valley Conservation Area. This is well worth a visit but it will extend the tour by approximately 130 kilometers so it is a good option to do the ride in 2 days and spend the night at the Danum Valley Camp Ground. TomTom users should be aware that the road to this place is not on the map.

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a 438 square kilometer stretch of relatively untouched tropical forest in Sabah, Malaysia. It has an extensive diversity of tropical flora and fauna, including such species as the rare Bornean orangutans, gibbons, mousetrapers, clouded leopards and more than 270 bird species. Activities on offer include jungle treks, river swimming, bird watching, nighttime jungle treks, and excursions to nearby logging sites and lumber mills.

The area has a unique status in that before it became a protected area, there were no human settlements in the area, meaning no hunting, logging and other human intervention, making the area almost unique. It is managed by Yayasan Sabah for training purposes in conservation, research, education and habitat restoration. Proposals have been made to nominate the site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The next shorter stop for a photo is at the Madai Cave (RP12), an integral part of the limestone hills in the Baturong Madai Forest Reserve. The cave is known as a source for swifts' nests used in bird's nest soup. Twice a year there is an event where licensed collectors risk their lives by climbing to the roof of these caves using only rattan ladders, ropes and bamboo sticks precariously tied together to collect the nests.

We are now coming to the end of the day and you can enjoy a nice evening at the beach at the Pantai Sarina Beach Recreation Center (RP14), this is a nice place to hang out, enjoy the beautiful view with a nice meal. Note TomTom does not know this route.
Here there is also the possibility for snorkeling or island hopping. They also offer diving activities with an experienced dive master. Not to mention, there is a camping area if you want to extend your stay.

After this break we drive to the end of this day and spend the night in one of the many hotels in Semporna. Optionally, you can spend the night at the Pantai Sarina Beach Recreation Center and start day 6 from there.
Kinabatangan River Bridge
Pantai Sarina Beach
Useful links:
Day 4 Sabah Road Trip Ranau Sandakan
Gomantong Cave
Danum Valley Conservation Area
Pantai Sarina Beach
Day 6 Sabah Road Trip Semporna Tawau

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René Plücken (MRA-Senior)
The images and text displayed here originate from the Wikipedia article "Sabah", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
About this region
Sabah (Malay pronunciation: [saˈbah]) is a state of Malaysia located on the northern portion of Borneo, in the region of East Malaysia. Sabah has land borders with the Malaysian state of Sarawak to the southwest and Indonesia's Kalimantan region to the south. The Federal Territory of Labuan is an island just off the Sabah coast. Sabah shares maritime borders with Vietnam to the west and the Philippines to the north and east. Kota Kinabalu is the state capital city, the economic centre of the state, and the seat of the Sabah state government. Other major towns in Sabah include Sandakan and Tawau. The 2015 census recorded a population of 3,543,500 in the state, and in 2019 it was estimated to have grown to over 3.9 million. Sabah has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. The state has long mountain ranges on the west side which forms part of the Crocker Range National Park. Kinabatangan River, the second longest river in Malaysia runs through Sabah, and Mount Kinabalu is the highest point of Sabah as well as of Malaysia. The earliest human settlement in Sabah can be traced back to 20,000–30,000 years ago along the Darvel Bay area at the Madai-Baturong caves. The state has had a trading relationship with China starting from the 14th century AD. Sabah came under the influence of the Bruneian Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries, while the eastern part of the territory was given to the Sultanate of Sulu because the Sultanate had helped the Bruneian empire in a battle and as such it was given to them as a gift between the 17th and 18th centuries. The state was subsequently acquired by the British-based North Borneo Chartered Company in the 19th century. During World War II, Sabah was occupied by the Japanese for three years. It became a British Crown Colony in 1946. On 31 August 1963, Sabah was granted Independent and self-government by the British. Following this, Sabah became one of the founding members of the Federation of Malaysia (established on 16 September 1963) alongside Sarawak, Singapore (expelled in 1965), and the Federation of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia or West Malaysia). The federation was opposed by neighbouring Indonesia, which led to the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation over three years along with the threats of annexation by the Philippines along with the Sultanate of Sulu, threats which continue to the present day.Sabah exhibits notable diversity in ethnicity, culture and language. The head of state is the Governor, also known as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, while the head of government is the Chief Minister. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and has one of the earliest state legislature systems in Malaysia. Sabah is divided into five administrative divisions and 27 districts. Malay is the official language of the state; and Islam is the state religion, but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the state. Sabah is known for its traditional musical instrument, the sompoton. Sabah has abundant natural resources, and its economy is strongly export-oriented. Its primary exports include oil, gas, timber and palm oil. The other major industries are agriculture and ecotourism.
Amount of visits (Sabah)
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Route collections
The route collections by MyRoute-app are collections of multiple routes that belong to each other and checked by MRA RouteXperts. All routes are identical for TomTom, Garmin and MyRoute-app Navigation.
View route collection The best Sabah Road Trip Borneo Malaysia
About this route collection
Based on the routes of “Rider Chris” from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, this 11-day Motorcycle Tour in Sabah Borneo is a passionate motorcyclist and loves to share his travel adventures with the community through his website and social media. The link to his website can be found in the first route.

This route collection was created with his permission.

Seen as one of the most beautiful provinces in Malaysia, Sabah is known for its scenic landscape with spectacular mountains, beautiful beaches, surreal sunsets, rich culture, friendliest people, winding roads, tall waterfalls, national parks and much more!

The roads in Malaysia are generally in good condition, but beware; there are also parts where the asphalt is poor and there can be potholes in the road surface. This can be dangerous, so caution is advised. During the rainy season (September-December) the roads can be slippery. Traffic in Malaysia drives on the left side of the road.

You can rent a motorcycle in Malaysia, but these are usually lighter models and often scooters. You can spend the night in hotels, B & Bs or campsites, which can easily be booked via the website in the review or via