Borneo Bird Festival 2011 Sabah

Borneo Bird Festival 2011 in Sabah Borneo. This is the third year the event is being held at the Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC) in Sepilok, Sandakan and you can be assured that there will be an interesting line up of events and activities for everyone. As I attended last years Bird Festival in Sabah, I noticed that the event brought many people from near and afar to Sandakan. While the festival was targeted towards promoting birdwatching in general, it was also open to the public where they could come and experience and participate in some of the activities here. While for the birdwatchers, many came from across the border and even from overseas. This amazing even is co-organized by SabahTourism Board, Sabah Forestry Department and Borneo Bird Club Sabah

Cede Prudente (r), Datuk Masidi Manjun (in white) and other VIPs

The 2010 Borneo Bird Festival held last year at RDC was officiated by Sabah's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment - YB Datuk Masidi Manjun. Together with Sabah's Forestry Department and the Borneo Bird Club, the event saw speeches by each representative before officiating the official Bird Race and opening of the event.

The RDC in Sepilok is one of the many nature and eco-friendly places where it is opened to the public in Sandakan. Situated just near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, it caters to all things nature and flora here. A beautifully manicured landscape awaits the curious while a discovery center housed in a building showcases the flora and fauna of Sabah Borneo. Apart from this, there is a lake where one can rent paddle boats, a flora trail and the much talked about steel canopy walk which is currently the longest in the world.

 RDC Lake, Sepilok

 Entrance to the steel sky walkway in Sabah

What would you get at this festival? For starters, there are a number of booths dedicated towards Birding or simply Birdwatching. Displays on bird photographs and information are located in a few booths. Nikon has a booth there showcasing some of the birding equipment like Digiscopes and Binoculars. Books and other related items are also being sold there. WWF Malaysia was also seen there last year creating awareness for the endangered fauna. 

Spectator reading about birds in Borneo at one of the booths

Bird related items for sale at North Borneo Safari Booth 

 Books on wildlife and birds by Cede Prudente on sale at RDC
A lady looks through a Nikon Digiscope

While most of the booths are located in the main area of the festival, there are also registration booths for those wanting to take part in some of the Birding Activities. There is the popular Bird Race where groups of birders will go around the RDC and spot as many birds as they can. There is also the Guided Bird Walk at Dusk here where you see different birds. For the more serious hobbyist, there are a number of talks held in the main halls where speakers from around the world are invited to share some of their experience and knowledge about birding. This years speakers come from the USA, UK, Hong Kong and of course, Malaysia.

 RDC birding trail sign
Bird Race participants walking around the RDC

Birdwatching Tower at the Steel Canopy Walk in RDC

A bird spotted by me at the RDC

 A birdwatcher with equipment walking around the RDC

Another bird spotted by me at the RDC, Sandakan

A mother doing sand art with her kids

While most of the activities were catered more towards birdwatching, there was kids activities for those who came with children. Face painting, tattoos, bird art and also sand painting was set up at one of the covered areas here. I must have seen about 20-30 kids who were happily taking part in these events. Food and drinks was also available while a popular ice cream brand was one of the sponsors here.

Kids activities at RDC Sabah

Keruing Cafe at RDC Sandakan

Inside the Keruing Cafe, a cozy open air place

The Keruing Cafe which serves local food is located at the entrance to the Steel Canopy Walk and is one of the popular places to meet up. You get one of the best views here while there is a chance to spot some of the rare Borneon Birds from the balcony. Below the cafe lies an air conditioned room where known artist display their art of birds and also sell books.

A Nikon Digiscope attached to a DSLR body

One of the birders compact cameras attached to a 500mm lens

600mm lens for Bird Watching
Tee from Nikon giving a talk about Bird Watching

Nikon Digiscoping System being explained at RDC

Jason Azahari Reyes and Tee during the Nikon talk

A flying fox seen at the RDC Sabah

For those who would like to simply visit this place for the weekend, you will be surprised on how much of nature you will be exposed to. Imagine bringing the kids for a family getaway to Sandakan, here you will have the chance to visit the RDC, Sepilok, Kinabatangan, Gomantong Caves and also Turtle Island to name a few of the unique places.

Previous Article about the 2010 Borneo Bird Festival in Sabah

Hot to go to RDC Sepilok:
  • Located just out of Sandakan town, RDC Sepilok is about 23 kilometers from town. Getting to RDC Sepilok is fairly simple as it takes about 30-40 minutes by car or van. (Self drive or tour company)
  • There is a public bus service from Labuk Bus Company that departs from the Sandakan Town Council at RM2.10 (US$0.60) one way but the bus stops at the junction of the main road. You then need to walk in about 1.5km.
  • Taxi service from Sandakan is available with a return trip costing about RM100.00 (US$29). Do negotiate with your taxi about the prices.
  • Getting to Sepilok from Kota Kinabalu (KK) is also possible. A bus ride would take about 7-8 hours from KK to Sandakan and would cost around RM30-50 (US$9-$15) one way.
  • Better option is to fly to Sandakan as there are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Airasia offers some cheap tickets if you book early. Malaysia Airlines also has some decent ticket prices if you want to compare.
Getting to the RDC via car or bus:
  1. Drive along Jalan Labuk from Sandakan Town
  2. Turn left at the Mile 14 roundabout (with a large Orangutan statue)
  3. Drive along until you see the large, pictorial RDC sign and turn right
  4. Drive for about 500m to the RDC car park
  5. There is a public bus service from Labuk Bus Company that departs from the Sandakan Town Council at RM2.10 (US$0.60) one way but the bus stops at the junction of the main road. You then need to walk in about 2km or thumb a ride.
Opening Hours for the RDC:
  • Daily 9am - 6pm
  • Birders start as early as 7am
What to bring on normal days;
You should bring mosquito or insect repellent, a poncho or umbrella in case it rains as the walkways are not covered. Bring some snacks and bottled water as well. A pair of binoculars are worth bringing if you want to see birds. Wear proper shoes here as some of the walkways can be slippery. You may want to bring some snacks if you have kids as there is no food available there except for a kiosk that sells drinks and some local snacks.

Map to Rainforest Discovery Center, courtesy of RDC

For further details on this event, you can contact:
North Borneo Safari
Lot 4, 1st Floor,
Block 22, Bandar Indah,
Mile 4, 90000 Sandakan,
Sabah, Malaysia.
Telephone: +6089 235525
Fax: +6089 235526

Read my other Sabah articles on:

Follow Malaysia Asia on Facebook for more information, pictures and links about Malaysia and Southeast Asia. If you are interested in learning about Birdwatching  or attending this event, you can get in touch with the relevant people mentioned above. This is one of the excellent family activities that you can do in Sabah and a great way to expose your children to nature. This three day event will take place from the 14th till the 16th October 2011 and is the 3rd Borneo Bird Festival 2011 in Sabah.