Sarawak Kelabit Highlands is an isolated region located in the northernmost part of Sarawak bordering Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is a series of beautiful mountain valleys lying slightly over 1000m above sea level, flanking by jungle-covered peaks rising to more than 2400m.The highlands in one of the top vacation destinations preferred by avid nature seekers to Sarawak; attracted by its breath-taking scenery with invigorating chill air and the vibrant green of the surrounding.
The simplest and fastest way to get to Kelabit Highlands is by plane. The highlands are dotted with grass airstrip with only Bario have a modern tar-mac runaway. Bario is unofficially the capital of the highlands and the main gateway to the highlands.
There are 2 daily flights to and from Miri to Bario, which is the most popular entry point. Others are Ba'kelalan, Long Akah, Long Lellang, Long Banga, and Long Seridan. You can also take a flight from Marudi and also Lawaas to get to the highlands.These sectors are being serviced by MasWings using Twin Otter that can accommodate 19 passengers. As this is the only mean of transport that is fast and convenient for the local community, you need to make a booking which is available at Maswing website.
The other traveling option to get to Kelabit Highlands is by 4 wheel drive or truck using the logging tracks which are sometimes slippery and dangerous during the wet season. The route is from Lawas to Ba'kelalan.
Getting around the highlands itself is mainly by foot...trekking to the various longhouse and also by longboat to get to lowlands. As the trails are unmarked and unfamiliar to outsider...it is highly recommended that you engage a guide with experience of the area.
There are two types of guide, the licensed one and the local without a license. Most of the licensed one is attached to the travel agent in Miri which could be quite expensive for budget travelers. You can also make an arrangement with the local homestay and lodge owners to provide you with a guide
There are various types of activities await visitors to Kelabit Highland; jungle trekking being the most popular. The trails range from lazy strolls lasting for a couple of hours to tough treks which last for several days.Among the most popular trails that could be done in a day are;
Bario-Pa'Umor trails took a lazy stroll of 3 hours while enjoying the scenery and observed the various flora and fauna along the trail....and back to Bario if you taking up accommodation there...at the same time.
Pa'Umor-Pa'Umor Salt Springs took about 1 to 2 hours to depend on your pace. This salt spring provided the local with cooking mountain salts that have been processed from the spring water. The site is located in a dense forest so it is highly recommended that you engage a guide for this venture.Others are the Pa'Umor-Pa'Umor Monolith,Bario-Pa'lungan and Bario-Ulong Palang
The Multi-day trek should only be attempt with an experienced guide as these unmarked trails have many branches leading to different settlement and villages.The major trekking treks at Kelabit highlands among them are;
The Bario Loop is the most popular. Your journey started at Bario with overnight stops at Long Dano, Pa Dilih, Ramudu, Pa Berang and back to Bario. Trekking through the dense jungle, stream crossing and the opportunity to view ancient Kelabit megaliths and rock craving.
Ba' Kelalan Trek took about 2 to 3 days trekking through the beautiful countryside and the return journey to Bario also took the same time.
Kalimantan Loop took you to Kalimantan in Indonesia so if you want to attempt this trek it's highly recommended that you take along your passport and well prepared with foods and camping equipment.
Batu Lawi Trek and Mount Murud Trek are only attempted with an experienced guide and porter, fully equipped with mountaineering equipment.Others trek are the Pa'Ukat Trek and Pa'lungan Trek. Trekking all these places provides you the opportunity to learn some jungle survivor skills besides enjoying the wildlife of Bario.
Though most of the accommodations are concentrated around Bario itself; .you can also find clean comfortable room in other settlement, Ba'Kelalan, and Pa'Lungan among others.
These homestay and lodge are highly recommended;
Gem's Lodge owned by Jaman Riboh is located at Pa'Umur providing full board, half board, and room only.
Bariew Backpackers Lodge & Homestay is ever popular among visitors to Bario is strategically located at Bario town.
Bario Asal Longhouse located about ½ hour walk from the Bario own.
Taware which is owned by John Tarawe is located near the old Bario airstrip.
Batu Ritung is located at Pa'Lungan is owned by Rose Tangong offered a comfortable and clean room. Excellent source of local information.
Nancy & Harris Homestay have a varieties accommodation choices, double bedroom, triple bedroom, and also dorm style.
Jungle Blues Dream Longhouse, an Art Gallary cum Homestay owned by Stephen Baja is an art gallery cum homestay offered single, double occupancy. It's a 45-minute walk from Bario Airport.
Mustapha lodge aka Sri Kenangan has 10 rooms which can accommodate 20 peoples at one time.
Laban Longhouse has 15 rooms which can accommodate up to 36 people at any one time is located at Bario.
Bala Homestay is located at Pa'umur settlement and it's a family-owned homestay.
Ngimat Ayu Homestay is 50 minutes walk from Bario Airport..at Ulung Palang has 4 rooms.Besides, provide accommodation for visitors to the Kelabit Highland, they also provide a guide for jungle trekking.
The warm and friendly local Kelabit community are the predominating settlers of this highlands together with other ethnic groups collectively called the Orang Ulu.
The Kelabit Highlands is an excellent site to spend your nature vacation in Sarawak; enjoying the natural attraction and experienced the culture and lifestyle of the Orang Ulu, one of the ethnic groups in Sarawak.