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Poring Canopy Walkway, the highest in Sabah

Poring Canopy Walkway

Poring Canopy Walkway is not for those who have height phobia. The canopy is over 175 Meters long and 41-43 Meters in height, which is higher than a 8-floor building. I wonder if any 9-life cat can survive the fall. Next to Poring Hot Springs, the Canopy Walkway of Poring is the 2nd favorite activity of tourists.

entrance to Canopy Walkway of Poring
The entrance to Poring Canopy Walkway is about 835 Meters away from park entrance. It is open from 9am to 4pm daily.

Ticket inspection counter of Poring Canopy Walkway

Ticket inspection counter
Above: the Ticket Inspection and Registration Counter of Canopy Walk.
Please note this is NOT a ticketing counter. If you didn’t buy any ticket, you will have to turn back to buy it at park entrance, or you can buy the 2-in-1 entrance ticket (Canopy Walkway + Butterfly Garden) from Butterfly Farm about 20 Meters away.

signage of Canopy Walkway
The entrance fee of Canopy Walkway is RM3 (≈USD0.90) for Malaysian adult, RM5 (≈USD1.50) for foreigner. Add another RM5 (≈USD1.50) camera fee if you bring a camera with you. You can click the signboard picture above for all the fees and detail.

start of trail to Canopy Walkway
After the ticket inspection, you still need to walk 550 Meters on a gravel trail to go to the starting point of the Canopy Walkway.

nature trail under canopy
The walk to starting point will take about 30 minutes. Just relax and go slow. It will help if you wear comfortable hiking shoes and carry some water. You better bring your umbrella just in case it rains.

tree species label
Along the way, you will see many trees labeled with species tag. I’m not a botanist, so it’s meaningless to me.

trail to Canopy Walkway of Poring
The trail is ascending route but it’s not very steep. As I walk under the shade of dense canopy, I didn’t feel tired.

big canopy
Above: a tall tree with huge canopy

shelter hut for resting
After 350 Meters, there is a small shelter (named “Pondok Tagaut”, Pondok means Hut) for you to sit down and rest.

view of Canopy Walkway from the ground
There was nobody around. I walked quietly, suddenly I heard girls screaming above. I looked up and saw the canopy walkway. No kidding, it’s really high.

starting point of Poring Canopy Walkway

first tower of Canopy Walkway

Very soon I reached the tower (named “Pondok Manggas”) where the starting point located.

starting point
Above: the place where you start your first step
The canopy walkway is narrow and only can take 6-people load at a time.

Canopy Walkway of Poring
The canopy walkway is a suspension bridge constructed with ropes, steel cables and a series of aluminum ladders bolted together. Laced with polyester ropes, the open rungs of ladders are covered with walking plank. Netting enclosed both sides for additional security.

tree-top tower of Canopy Walkway
The bridge is connected between 3 super-big trees of Borneo rainforest such as Menggaris (species: Kompassia excelsa) and Seraya (Shorea sp). This is the first tree-top platform.

2nd platform of Poring Canopy Walkway
75% of rainforest animals spend their time on forest canopy. Some of them never come to ground, so canopy walkway is great for observing these animals. The tree platform is supposed to be a good spot for bird watching, but I didn’t see much, probably the birds are less active in late morning.

view from Canopy Walkway of Poring

tourists on Canopy Walkway
The walkway is an elastic structure, so it will bounce and swing when we walk on it. Some find this thrilling, while some think it’s scary.

view of canopy from top
Isn’t it exciting to see tree crowns at your eye-level?

look down from Canopy Walkway
Above: My heart skips a beat when I look down
This is what it looks like when you are over 40 Meters off the ground. That’s why people with height phobia, hypertension or heart problem are not advised to try this, though it’s a safe activity. It’s the worst nightmare for height phobia.

kid have fun on Canopy Walkway

However, I notice that kids enjoy canopy walkway more than adults. Most adults just walk carefully and busy imagining that they would fall.

family on the platform of Canopy Walkway

You may watch the 2-minute video below to get a feel of the experience:

Click Here for bigger video

Site Map of Poring Hot Springs
Site map of Poring Hot Springs
You may click the picture above to see bigger map.

More Photos

You may check out my photo album on Poring for more nice pictures:
Photo gallery of Poring

Other canopy walk in Sabah:
Skybridge of Maliau Basin (longest canopy walk)
Canopy Walk of Danum Valley (award-winning attraction)
Rainforest Discovery Center (best for bird-watching)

Other articles about Poring Hot Springs Park:

  1. Poring Hot Springs bath
  2. Gardens of Poring
  3. The Most Expensive Orchid in the world
  4. Accommodation at Poring
  5. Jackie, orangutan who owns a house
  6. Waterfalls of Poring
  7. Night walk in Poring rainforest

Photos taken in Poring, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

Turtle Sanctuary and Glamping at Libaran Island

Turtle

What a tourist couple did really touched me. I was buying cake in a bakery in Kota Kinabalu City. At the cashier counter, an Australian couple declined to use plastic bag to store their purchase. They explained to their children, “We shouldn’t use plastic bag because if it’s dumped into the sea, turtle would think it’s food and eat it, and that can kill it.” I’m so grateful that foreigners care about our turtles. On the other hand, I feel ashamed that Malaysians generate about 4,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste every day, and these contribute to plastic found on one-third of the coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region.

swimming turtle

Jellyfish is the food of sea turtle, and plastic bag is often mistaken as jellyfish by turtles

Therefore, I see hope when Libaran Island, which used to be a turtle grave, has become a turtle sanctuary and a new tourism attraction now. Before a turtle hatchery was established there in 2012, every turtle egg laid on Libaran would end up in the stomach of villagers and stray dogs on the island. After 5 years, this hatchery has saved more than 27,486 turtle eggs!

Releasing baby turtles to the wild

Releasing baby turtles to the wild

And Top 4 Reasons to visit Libaran Island? #Turtle #Glamping #Stargazing #Sunset

About Libaran Island

With a population of 450 people, Libaran (GPS: 6.120437, 118.030001, see Location Map) is a 450-acre (about 2 sq KM) island located 45 minutes away by boat from Sandakan, the second largest city of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Though Libaran is only 5 minutes away from the famous Turtle Islands Park (a.k.a. Selingan) of Sabah, unfortunately it is not inside the boundary of this protected park.

Beach of Libaran Island

Beach of Libaran Island during low tide

If turtle landed on the wrong island, that’s the end of their cycle of life when villagers collected their eggs. Luckily this is changed by Alex Yee, a business-minded conservationist, who creates Walai Penyu Conservation Park with a win-win model for the locals and turtles.

Beautiful mangrove tree

Beautiful mangrove tree in Libaran

Trip to Libaran Island

Turtle sighting in scuba diving is always a delightful experience. This gentle reptile swims gracefully and look really chill underwater. We can’t call a diving destination a top dive site if it has no turtle. Turtle is also the Guardian of Coral Triangle because it maintains the health of marine ecosystems. If turtles are safe, our tourism and environment will do well.

Group photo of divers with the friendly turtle

Group photo of divers with the friendly turtle. But we were not allowed to touch it or we would be banned for next dive.

What’s better than looking at the turtle up-close? Malaysia is home to four species of turtles, namely, Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles, all are endangered due to pollution and poaching. When Alex invited me to his Walai Penyu Resort on Libaran Island last month, I said YES x 100 without thinking.

boat to Libaran

Alex named his boat “Tora” to commemorate his dog

In a sunny afternoon, our boat to Libaran departed from the Sabah Parks jetty located at Sandakan Yacht Club. If you book a tour with Walai Penyu Resort, they will provide boat and land transfer (Walai = Stay Together and Penyu = Turtle in local language).

Red cliff face of Berhala Island

Stunning red cliffs of Berhala Island

On the way to Libaran, you would pass by Berhala Island, a very beautiful island with distinctive red cliffs. Sadly, its beach is covered by so many junk that it never becomes a tourist attraction. If the locals love their environment more, they would have a nice island for weekend outing now. Rubbish is like karma, we will pay for our wrongdoing.

Approaching Libaran Island

Approaching Libaran Island

The ocean was calm and we reached Libaran Island after 45 minutes of smooth ride. It’s a fairly densely vegetated flat island, without any high ground and tall building. Turtles love such pristine beach with little development. Too much noise and artificial light will drive mother turtle away.

corals in the sea

You can see the corals in crystal clear water

Though we were about 100 Metres away from shore, the water was only knee depth, and I could see the lush corals clearly. Our boat cruised slowly to avoid crushing the corals.

Nesting spots of sea turtles

Nesting spots of sea turtles

Finally we landed on the golden beach of Libaran, the cradle of turtles. Their staff already waited for us with wheelbarrow and transferred our bags to Walai Penyu Resort.

Landing track of sea turtle on the beach

Landing track of mother turtle on the beach

Apparently we are not the only visitors here. Tracks and traces of turtle landing are everywhere. We found nesting sites under the shrubs, on the beach and near the camp.

Glamping at Walai Penyu Resort

We check-in to our room. Actually it’s a glamping tent, which is larger than standard camp and spacious enough to fit in two beds and a desk. The camp is very clean and located on the beach.

Glamping ground of Libaran Island

Glamping ground of Walai Penyu Resort in Libaran Island

Glamping is becoming a trend for travellers who love to be close to nature but stay comfortable with adequate setup. In short, Glamping is a luxury version of Camping. I have done camping many times, glamping is new to me, and it definitely offers a more family-friendly and enjoyable stay than camping.

Glamping is where stunning nature meets modern luxury

Glamping is where stunning nature meets modern luxury

To minimise the impact to the environment, there are only 8 dome-shaped tents in Walai Penyu Resort to host up to 16 guests each day. Lighting is kept to minimum to avoid disturbing nesting turtles.

glamping on Libaran Island

Experience glamping on Libaran Island

Bathroom in Walai Penyu Resort

Bathroom in Walai Penyu Resort

The tents have side windows covered with mosquito net. You can unzip them for sea breeze or view. As our tents are very near to the beach, it’s quite windy and we could hear sea waves clearly.

Toilet and shower room on the island

Toilet and shower room on the island

The common toilet and bathroom have lot of open spaces that allow good ventilation, so the place is dry, clean and doesn’t smell.

Beautiful Libaran

Turtle usually comes after dusk. It’s still early, so I strolled around the island. With me were three lady editors (Alison, Carmen and San) for China social media. If you want to walk one around of this island, the walking distance is 6.5 KM, which takes about 1.5 hours.

Mangrove trees on Libaran

These mangrove trees can prevent beach erosion

Near our glamping site is a few patches of lush mangrove trees. Alex told us that at night we could find fireflies there. The entangled roots of these old mangrove trees are so fascinating, some looks like bonsai.

Little mangrove island

Little mangrove “island”

I asked Carmen to be my model. Being professional, she didn’t hesitate to climb up and down the tree for some perfect shots (the mangrove root is quite slippery). Of course the outcome is brilliant. Instagram is full of cliche photos on sandy beach, so we are happy to bag many special shots.

shallow sea

From Left: Alison, Carmen, San and Alex Yee

Due to low tide, the water was very shallow and tempting, so we walked in the sea water to feel the soft sand and warm water running through our toes.

girls pointing at Racket Island

You can walk to Racket Island during low tide

Less than 2 KM away is Racket Island, where you can find the “tomb” of turtles. You can walk to that island during low tide. But do return before high tide or you have to swim back to Libaran.

model on mangrove tree

Thanks Carmen for climbing up there for a great shot

The beach is long and litter-free. The cleanliness is not by accident. Alex divides the beach into dozens of 100-Metres lot, and pays villagers MYR100/month to keep their allocated slot clean.

This mangrove tree looks like bonsai

This mangrove tree looks like bonsai

Clean beach is not only for tourists, but good for the turtles too. By regularly removing driftwood, plastics and other washed-up trash from the beach, turtles don’t need to crawl over piles of debris to lay their eggs on the beach.

mineral bottle house

Alex spent 3.5 years to collect 3,500 mineral bottles to build this little house

Alex has been buying plastic bottles from these cleaners for 3.5 years. He showed us his masterpiece he created with these plastic.

Plastic House Cafe?

Plastic House Cafe?

It’s a 300 sq-ft plastic house which took 5 weeks to build from 3,500 one-litre plastic bottles. This house reminds me that Malaysia is the 8th largest producer of mismanaged plastic wastes. Guess that’s the message Alex tries to tell (and show) the world.

Fishermen return home after fishing

Fishermen return home after fishing

Then Alex went back to the camp to prepare other activities for us. We continued to explore other side of the island. There is a garrison on the island. I saw police and dogs patrolled on the beach, so I feel safe.

Peaceful dusk at Libaran

Peaceful dusk at Libaran

The sea view was ravishing. We forgot the time until dusk was approaching, and the cloud was like in fire. It’s the famous flaming sunset of Sabah. We chased for the sunset view and reached a peaceful fishing village on other end of the island. The friendly villagers smiled at us while busy preparing for the nightfall. This is just an ordinary fishing village, but looks so surreal under the sunset.

Fisherman walking to the sunset

Fisherman walking to the sunset

Inspiring Success Story

By the time we were back to our resort, yummy dinner was already served under a canopy. During meal time, Alex shared some stories about his conservation project on Libaran. It wasn’t a smooth sail. If I were him, I would had given up.

Dinner on Libaran Island

Dinner on Libaran Island

Turtles have existed for over 200 million years, but if nothing is done, human can wipe them out in 10 years. Unlike Ninja Turtle, the shell of turtles can’t protect them from human greed. Turtles are fully protected by wildlife act in Sabah and Sarawak only. In some states of Peninsular Malaysia, turtle eggs are sold openly and it’s legal to consume them.

Mangrove seedling

Mangrove seedling

However, without any enforcement on a remote island such as Libaran, the locals were eating the turtle eggs. I’m not saying that the villagers there are bad. Turtle eggs have been the main source of protein for islanders for many generations. Now for conservation, we have to take this away from these poor villagers, so it isn’t hard to understand why they are unhappy.

Variety of corals exposed during low tide

Variety of corals exposed during low tide

Besides stop eating turtle eggs, we must not harass turtles too. Let me tell you a real case. Rantau Abang in Terengganu used to the most popular nesting location of leatherback turtle. In 1950s, there were more than 10,000 nesting spots. Then tourists came and ride on their back and flipped them over for fun. The consequence is – almost 0 sighting of leatherback there for last 5 years.

windy on Libaran

Sometimes it’s a bit windy on Libaran

Libaran is blessed because they act soon enough to prevent the repeat of Rantau Abang tragedy there. In 2011, Sabah Wildlife Department sought collaboration with Alex to protect the turtles on Libaran, because the villagers collecting turtle eggs. However, it’s a hot potato, not cash cow, being handed over to Alex. The former village head didn’t support his conservation work and even tried to stop his team from collecting turtle eggs.

Lovely morning of Libaran Island

Lovely morning of Libaran Island

Deeply dismayed by many challenges and people issues, Alex thought about quitting in Nov 2015. His visit to Libaran in Feb 2016 was supposed to be a goodbye trip. Then a turtle laid 70 eggs in front of his tent. Alex saw this as a sign and decided to continue. Due to his perseverance, Alex has successfully established a new turtle stronghold on Libaran. It’s a victory in Sabah conservation.

Alison recording a time-lapsed video for sea tide

Alison recording a time-lapsed video for sea tide

Just a trivia. During World War II, about 2 or 3 British prisoners of war escaped the infamous dead march, and one of them was hiding on Libaran until he was rescued by US Navy after the war. Many years later, his son visited Libaran and found that the father of Alex’s employee is the one who rescued his dad.

Starry sky in the cloud

We still could see starry sky though that night was cloudy

Libaran is also a great place for stargazing, since they keep the light to minimal. I saw many stars in the sky, but it was covered by dense cloud shortly.

bedtime

Good Night!

Before we went to bed, Alex said, “Tonight it will be high tide. We have good chance to see turtle landing.” And he was right.

Turtle Landing!

Because of the comfortable sea breeze and sound of sea waves, I had a deep sleep until I heard Alex was talking on walkie-talkie around 3:20am. I waked up and saw him standing outside his tent. From his serious expression, I knew a turtle has landed. I followed behind him with a torchlight.

Hawksbill turtle

Hawksbill turtle landed on Libaran

There are a total of 401 turtle landing (75% Green Turtle, 25% Hawksbill Turtle) on Libaran between 2013 and 2017.

Turtle laying eggs on Libaran

Turtle laying eggs on Libaran Island

And yay!!! We saw a Hawksbill turtle about 200 Metres away from our campsite, and it laid eggs under a tree near to beach. We were so excited but we had to observe it quietly from a distance. If disturbed, mother turtle would abort the nesting and turn back to the sea. Sabah has the largest population of hawksbills in Malaysia.

turtle laying eggs

Mother turtles only come to land for laying eggs. They will dig a hole with their legs, lay eggs, then cover them with sand. To me it’s bizarre. Imagine human who lives on land, but give birth a baby in the sea.

Moving the turtle eggs to hatchery

Moving the turtle eggs to hatchery for better survival rate

This Hawksbill turtle laid 149 eggs that morning, breaking the 3-year-old highest record of 146 eggs! According to Alex, Libaran got one turtle landing every 3 days in average. They prefer to come during high tide, so they don’t need to crawl a long way to the beach.

Turtle Hatchery

After the mother turtle left, the trained staff collected the eggs carefully and moved them to the hatchery near to our camp. This measure can increase the survival rate of hatching up to 90 per cent.

Turtle Hatchery on Libaran Island

Turtle Hatchery on Libaran Island

Turtle eggs look like ping-pong ball, and are delicious treat for crabs, monitor lizards and birds. Therefore, we have to place a circular wire mesh enclosure around the nest, so these predators can’t dig the nest.

Each nest in hatchery is labelled

Each nest in hatchery is labelled with date, number of eggs and turtle species

The nest is also labelled with information such as date, number of eggs and turtle species. The eggs will hatch after 45 to 55 days. Do you know that temperature can set the sex of a hatching? Cooler temperatures lead to a male, while hotter sand leads to a female.

This 4-ha hatchery was setup in July 2012 by Alex Yee at the site chosen by Sabah Wildlife Department. It’s named as Taman Hadiah, which means Gift Garden. It hatches about 4,000 eggs every month in average (73% Green Turtle, 27% Hawksbill).

baby turtles

From 2013 until 2017, the hatchery had collected 20,022 Green turtle eggs and 7,464 Hawksbill turtle eggs. On 1 March 2018, they will celebrate the release of 30,000th turtle!

I’m happy to witness the release of a few dozens baby turtles that evening. They usually release them at night to avoid the predators. Once freed, the baby turtles will head to the moonlight and enter the sea.

Releasing baby turtles to the wild

Releasing baby turtles to the wild

Another amazing thing happens during the release, these baby turtles will register the magnetic signature of this beach as their “home point”. Even after 25 years, the female turtle can rely on Earth’s magnetic field to navigate back to her exact birthplace to lay eggs.

Baby turtle staying alive

Only 1 in 1,000 of baby turtles can make it to adulthood

There is one cruel fact I hope I don’t have to tell you. Only one in a thousand baby turtles will survive. So every egg counts.

By the way, if you see any sneaky fellow in Sandakan City that shows you Ok sign in the street, bash him because he is selling turtle eggs illegally (but double check in case he is really a friendly Sandakian).

Leaving Libaran Island

Leaving Libaran Island with happy faces

In Sabah, anyone caught in possession or consuming turtle eggs could be fined MYR50,000 or be jailed five years, or both, if convicted. That means you are as guilty as seller if you are buying turtle eggs.

Glamping tent of Walai Penyu Libaran

Walai Penyu Libaran is one of the few places in Sabah where you can experience glamping

However, due to weak enforcement, these sellers are still around and certainly enjoy good business. I hope the authority will also prosecute the buyers to the fullest extent by law. This will send a strong warning to buyers that buying turtle eggs is also a crime.

How to get there

A visit to this new turtle island is highly recommended to those who want to see the miracles of nature. Day trip and overnight tour are available. For more information or booking, please contact Walai Penyu Resort via the following channels:
Facebook: WalaiPenyuResort
Website: walaipenyuresort.com
E-mail: sales@trekkerslodge.com
Phone: +60 16-8310168 (cellphone), +60 88-260263 (office)

View of Libaran campsite after sunrise

View of our campsite after sunrise

At the end, I would like to compliment Alex Yee for his dedication in conservation. What he does far exceeds the scope of Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR). It’s a long term commitment, not a one-time beach clean-up or symbolically planting a few trees. I hope more visitors will visit Libaran to support the turtle conservation there. Please learn from the story of Rantau Abang and don’t be the generation that bully turtles.

Photos taken in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo