Wind: Slight breeze
Arriving in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, after departing Kakaban Island and Indonesia the previous day, we pulled alongside the wharf to begin our day’s activities. This morning we would split into two groups and either head to Mount Silam for a rainforest trek or to the Taliwas Forest and FACE foundation tour.
Driving for an hour to the Mt Silam rainforest our buses took us to an elevation of 460 metres where we would begin our hike. On the way up the mountain some guests were lucky to see a Long-tailed Macaque crossing the road as our buses neared the hike site. Meeting our guides we set off for a trek through the ultramafic montane forest of Mt Silam. The walk to the top was a genuine rain forest experience with tall Dipterocarp trees reaching to the sky and spreading their canopies across the forest. Epiphytes such as Basket Ferns were attached to the trees as well as the parasitic Orchids from a few genera. Carnivorous Pitcher plants were also seen through the hike as we manoeuvred up and down the rainforest trail to make our way to the very top of the mountain at 840 metres in height. Reaching the summit was our reward for the sweat we left behind on our climb.
Once we had traversed the trail back to the start we could climb the 30 metre tall “Stairway to Heaven”, a tower built in 2011 to allow for a great view out over Darvel Bay. It was then time to make our way back to the Silver Discoverer for a well earned lunch.
For those on the FACE tour, an hour and a half bus ride through Lahad Datu and out to Taliwas Forest brought us to the site where we would plant trees to help reforest Malaysia. The FACE foundation project which was established in 1992 tries to help and reforest Malaysia with native trees that have been lost due to deforestation for the purpose of Palm Oil plantations. Planting these trees gave great satisfaction knowing we were right at ground level pitching in for a very important project. We also had a walk around the Taliwas Recreational Forest which still has many of the Bornean animals present. Evidence of Pygmy Elephants and Orangutan were seen in droppings and Orangutan nests in trees. Knowing these animals were still here even if not seen gave us comfort that the native forests are still housing these precious species. Again it was time to head back to the ship for lunch and leave our berth at Lahad Datu to make our way to Sandakan.