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Here You Are

Lahad Datu | Tabin Wildlife Reserve | Madai Caves | Tingkayu & Baturong

 

 

Lahad Datu is basically a planters’ town, surrounded by miles of cocoa and oil palm plantations. It is also the gateway to the virgin rainforests of the renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east and Madai Caves further south. A settlement is said to have existed here as early as the 15th century as excavations have unearthed potteries confirming contact with the imperial dynasties of China. Just east of Lahad Datu, lies the village of Tunku, which achieved notoriety as the base of Illanum pirates and slave traders in the 19th century. In August 2000, Eco-Challenge Sabah 2000, the world’s toughest adventure race, covered areas like Silam, Danum Valley and Madai. Hundred of international media and professional support teams from all over the world converged at Lahad Datu, the gateway to pristine rainforests wonders that has wowed many a celebrity and royalty. One may drive to Lahad Datu, it’s a leisurely 6-hour drive or take a 40-minute flight from Kota Kinabalu. From Sandakan, it takes about 2 ˝ hours by road.

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            The Tabin Wildlife Reserve occupies a large part of the peninsula forming the northern arm of Darvel Bay. Large mammals such as the endangered rhinoceros, elephant and wild oxes still roam about freely here. Tabin has several intriguing mud volcanoes that provide mineral salts for the wild animals. Efforts are being made to provide some basic facilities for visitors at these popular look-out spots.

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             Madai Caves is another important place for birds’ nests. The village at the entrance of the largest cave comes alive twice a year when the Idahan community comes to harvest the birds’ nests from various parts of the caves. It is a special communal event, almost like a festival. The harvesting is a dramatic event with the men risking their lives to prise precious nests from the cave roof. Nowadays, the harvesters are hired. The Idahans have held their rights to the Madai Caves for over 20 generations.In August 2000, after offering special sacrifices and prayers, the Idahans gave permission for the teams of the world’s toughest endurance race, the Eco-Challenge Sabah 2000, to enter the Caves, climb the rattan-ladders and do the flying fox from its summit, down to the jungle below.

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 Tingkayu & Baturong. On the east of the road linking Lahad Datu with Semporna and Tawau, are several stark while limestone outcrops. Recent discoveries have led archaeologists to believe that cavemen lived in this region as early as 20,000 years ago around the shores of Lake Tingkayu. When the lake drained dry, they moved to the limestone massif of Baturong and eventually shifted further east to the Madai Caves.

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