The canvas rope creaks a little as it swings in the gentle breeze that’s wafting through the treetops. A bee trundles past on its way to a flower growing in the canopy. Far below, pathways on the forest floor weave through the tangled undergrowth, where occasional columns of trekkers walk by like ants.
Located 136 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu (approximately 3 hours’ drive), the Poring Canopy Walkway in Sabah is four rope bridges totalling 175 metres in length, suspended more than 40 metres up in the canopy of the jungle. This web of wooden planks, canvas netting and ropes is a swinging walkway that takes you into the upper reaches of the rainforest, for a perspective usually reserved for birds and monkeys.
“I suddenly have a new respect for orangutans”
We step out onto the walkway and it swings to the left, then the right. The world below is suddenly barrel rolling like a kaleidoscope of green in all directions. Step-by-step, we inch our way along the walkway over a wide-open valley, suspended in the air like we’re on a spider’s web. I suddenly have a new respect for Borneo’s orangutan, who swing so calmly and effortlessly from branch to branch up here like it’s a walk in the park.
At roughly the half-way point, we’re starting to get our sea legs and can begin to enjoy the view. The canopy walkway provides panoramic views of the jungle, peaking over the canopy to reveal a carpet of green that ripples with the contours of the land. With the afternoon sun getting low and glowing amber, it’s a unique and beautiful experience. Just so long as you don’t look down.
If the high life isn’t to your liking, there are plenty of other options in Poring to make your day. The main attraction here is the hot springs, which bubble up from natural vents in the landscape and collect in pools of warm sulphurous water that are said to have a number of restorative health benefits. Lots of local families come here to play, relax and spend the afternoon together in the sunshine.
Poring is also home to an orchid nursery and butterfly garden, where dozens of colourful species flit around the naturally growing flowers in search of nectar. At certain times of the year, you can even see the giant Rafflesia flower – the largest in the world. The pathways around the garden, springs and the canopy walkway are a mini-menagerie in their own right; just walking along the jungle tracks you’ll find a complex range of ecosystems and their inhabitants going about their business. Bright red hibiscus flowers droop lazily over footpaths dappled in sunshine, where sprouting clumps of trees and ferns are broken by freshwater streams.
“There are no crowds, ticket vendors or food sellers here; just the gentle murmur of jungle sounds and the tinkling of water on pebbles”
At the end of one track, you’ll find a natural waterfall, cascading over two levels into a stream that bubbles away into the valley below. This clearing in the jungle is a peaceful and shady spot to take a rest. We dip our feet into the clear water of the pools, where little fish come to nibble the dead skin from between our toes. There are no crowds, ticket vendors or food sellers here; just the gentle murmur of jungle sounds and the tinkling of water on pebbles; Borneo’s very own jungle symphony. A quick paddle across the pools and the path leads up a shaded ridge to a cave where bats are roosting.
With the daylight beginning to ebb away, the bats are starting to venture out in search of dinner, and so must we. We head back along the path, under the canopy walkways, through the hibiscus flowers and past the hot springs, to enjoy a meal of spicy noodles and warm jasmine tea in the company of some local cats. A great time to pause and reflect on a wonderful day in Poring.
After Poring, Panorama Destination journeyed to Sabah Tea. Click here to Travel With Us.