Danum Valley is an amazing place to experience real untouched rain forest. So after figuring out how to get and stay there on a budget, you need to plan what to do at Danum Valley. All activities need to be booked at the main office in the field center.
Activities at Danum Valley
Different guided hikes
To make the most out of your trip we recommend doing all of the above. However you need to be lucky. We watched an amazing sunrise from the top of an observation tower while the next morning, it was cloudy and our friends did not see anything spectacular.
There are several hikes you can sign up for. Depending on your fitness you can choose length between 1-8km, but be careful the way through the jungle is hard and 5 km can be really challenging. You always have to find a ranger to accompany you into the forest. The ranger is paid per hour so the total price depends on how many people join the hike. If you want to see animals we recommend you to be part of a smaller group due to the high noise level of larger groups. The smaller the better. Being in a small group is more expensive because you share the cost of the ranger among fewer people but it is definitely worth it, because being part of a big group tends to scare the animals away. You can ask the rangers about everything. Most of them know a lot about the rain forest and the animals. They will also help to find the animals you would never see if you would go alone.
Don’t Forget Your Leach Socks
Leaches are a big issue for visitors to Danum Valley. They are beautiful but very annoying and hard to avoid. Please don’t go into the forest without leach socks. You can buy them at the field center or you bring some along. After the first people had leaches on them, I got terrified about also getting some. Even with leach socks you are not safe, they crawl up and over the leach socks if you are wearing shorts or up and over your pants.
One guy in our group even got them at place where you would never like to have a leach, but he was wearing shorts so they could crawl in. I was the only one who didn’t get any leaches biting me. So how did I do that? The best way to avoid them is to wear covering tight fitting clothes and leach socks on top of that. I wore leggings and a tight long sleeved shirt. The tight fitting clothes are good because it is less likely that you will touch vegetation with leaches when wearing leggings as opposed to wearing baggy pants. I also tried to spot the leaches on the path and avoid them. You can see the leaches getting activated as soon as somebody is passing by and sometimes they also jump. The best is to check each other once in a while and keep moving. Don’t squat down for pictures, this is how Roland got one jumping into his pants through the ass crack:) I told him, but he didn’t listen.
For the Night Drive you meet after dinner at the restaurant. Then the guides will drive you along the dirt roads which leads to Danum Valley and try to spot animals with a very strong light. We saw a mouse deer and 2 giant flying squirrels, that was pretty cool. Unfortunately we didn’t see much more. You really need to be lucky.
It was hard to get up so early in the morning but it was totally worth it. The rangers drive you to a little observation tower from where you can see the top of the trees and the sun is coming up. It felt like in a movie I think this was the best sunset I have ever seen, even more magical than at Bagan or the Great Wall of China.
During the night walk we saw really a lot of animals, because it was only the 2 of us and the guide. I was a little scared about all the leaches I couldn’t really see in the darkness and the noises of the rain forest can also by quite scary.
We were super lucky the see a Western Tarsier (upper picture). So cute. And did you know that there are crabs in the jungle? They live in little wholes in the trees. We had never even heard about a jungle crab before.
Also during the night hike my biggest nightmare became true. We saw a tarantula luckily it was too far away to take a good picture. Here are some more animals we saw in the darkness.