Kawag Forest Reserve adjacent to the Danum Valley Conservancy in Sabah offers a mixture of pristine primary and secondary rainforest. Like many places in Borneo the area was once poached but the forest has regenerated well and is characterised by younger trees and denser undergrowth; it houses a rich variety of flora and fauna and in particular for birdwatchers. Mammals can be found, including pygmy elephant, gibbon, slow loris and western tarsier, mouse deer, long tailed macaque and banteng, and occasionally you might see orangutan and leopard cat.

It's location near the Danum Valley makes Lahad Datu the obvious place for starting and ending a visit there and we offer a 3D2N stay  after trips such as the Borneo Wildlife Tour. We also feature this excursion on our Borneo Bespoke page as many of our clients prefer to build their own holiday to Borneo with a variety of elements, for example wildlife viewing, island visit and maybe trekking or culture.

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Kawag Forest Reserve is officially the Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve near the boundary of Danum Valley Conservation Area, and it sits on a crystalline base which is 200 million years old. The lush rainforest and network of crystal clear streams and waterfalls with plenty of easy walking trails make it a perfect place for birdwatchers.

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The Kawag Nature Lodge is one and a half hours from Lahad Datu and has twenty rooms and a dining hall, an observation tower an a platform overlooking the Kawag river. With 24 hour electricity supply, ten of the rooms have air conditioning and there are hot and cold showers. The lodge is rated 4.5 on tripadvisor and ranks well for good food and wildlife guides. New management in 2020 have rectified some of the issues around room decor. The location on google maps shows how it sits almost halfway towards Danum Valley from Lahad Datu, which has an airport that is easily reached from KK or Sandakan with MASWings.

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The lodge is an alternative to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge or the Danum Valley Conservation Field Centre and would be the most economical of the three, but this area is very popular for wildlife enthusiasts so it has needed a new option for accommodation for some time. It is not trying to compete for the luxury of the BRL or the location and facilities of the Field Centre, but it does fill a gap for providing an excellent location to view particularly birdlife in a pristine part of rainforest.

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Things to bring:

Lightweight trekking clothes which dry quickly and a raincoat with a trekking pack and some waterproof bags for electrical and camera items. You will also want binoculars and lenses (400mm a good idea), a water bottle and hat plus insect repellant and sunscreen for the pack. Wear comfortable walking shoes and light socks, plus leech socks which can be knee length football socks for when you go on jungle walks. Sandals, swimwear and a quick dry towel for swimming in the waterfalls and rivers, toiletries and a basic first aid kit including rehydration salts, headache tablets, plasters and some first aid cream. For evenings take a torchlight or headlight. There are no ATMs so only cash is used. Also take your own power bank and electronics in waterproof bags.

Animal and bird sightings

Birds: Malaysian honeyguide, Paradise flycatcher (male & female), Bornean crested jay, Bornean magpie, Rufous woodpecker,Blue eared kingfisher, Scarlet minivet, Orange backed woodpecker, Rufous piculet, Blue head pitta (male), Black naped monarch, Rhinoceros hornbill, Bushy crested hornbill, Red bearded bee eater, Rufous collared kingfisher, Red & black broadbill, Pied hornbill, White crowned shama.

Mammals: Striped palm civet, Malayan porcupine, Bornean gibbon. Malay Civet and Bearded pigs habituated around the restaurant area.

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Bird sightings from the observation tower or during walks