EVERYTHING REVEALED ABOUT OUR VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES IN THE MALAYSIAN BORNEO
Lake view from the eco camp at Kopel, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
Malaysia was not in our schedule when we left for our world trip, however, it soon turned into our next stop after the Philippines when we discovered the very high charges to extend our visa for a third month in the Philippines. A combination of different factors (a cheap flight from Manila especially) convinced us to visit the Malaysian Borneo and its wilderness.
Want to know more about the Philippines and its visa requirements? Check out our travel tips HERE
Boat is the only way to move along Kinabatangan River to reach uncontaminated forest (Malaysian Borneo)
TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY?
After days of online research we got to the conclusion the few free volunteering experiences we found were not totally worth our time while many volunteering programs with wildlife (such as with orangutans or sun bears) were unbelievably expensive and rather touristy for us. So we opted for a two-weeks volunteering program with Kaya.org.
Crocodile sunbathing along Kinabatangan River during our volunteering experience (Malaysian Borneo)
Since the very beginning our contact in the UK, Tom, was extremely professional and interviewed us personally over the phone to make sure we were committed enough to volunteer and were a good match for the selected program. After paying a relatively high fee (as with many international agencies of this kind) Kaya then passed on to us all information about the program and made sure we knew where to go from Kota Kinabalu.
Since then, everything went really smoothly and Kaya followed up a couple of times to check if we were satisfied with the program, plus they took our feedbacks seriously and dealt professionally with us at all times.
Not sure how to make it happen? Have a look at our article on how to make it happen!
The fantastic team at Kopel, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
IT'S A WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL WORLD
As for our volunteering experience we are grateful to have met such wonderful people, committed to make the world (in this case, the Kinabatangan River) a better place. At Mescot, the organization where we volunteered, we had the pleasure of working alongside Martin, the manager, who organized our daily routine and made sure we were well looked after.
Every day we were assigned different tasks, such as clearing vines, tree planting, weeding planted trees, bagging new seedlings in the tree nursery, removal of Salvinia sludge from the lake… and even building a new storage room in the rainforest eco camp.
What should you pack for a one year trip around the world? Have a pick at our packing tips HERE
Before and After sweeping invasive salvinia weed, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
Accommodation was either at the dormitory in the main village in Kopel or at the eco camp, where we lived in an off-the-grid hut in the middle of the jungle along the river with the company of the local wildlife including monkeys, squirrels, civets, mouse deer, lots of insects, and much more. Mosquitoes and leeches were particularly ferocious but that was part of the experience too.
Peaceful location for the volunteers' dormitory in Kopel, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
Food was always on point – even portions too big with lots of variety and our beloved veggies and fruits! We couldn’t have asked for more!
How to stay safe on the road everywhere in the world - Read more HERE
Yummy food at Kopel during our volunteering experience, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
PEOPLE MAKE A PLACE
Plus people were all so welcoming, smiley and ready to help – we especially worked alongside the local guides of Mescot and all were well prepared and were doing a great job with the huge numbers of volunteers (who primarily came from foreign universities and high schools). We got very attached to Norsalleh, a deaf-mute guide who was incredibly communicative and such a kind person – he took us on a hike on top of the rainforest and on a night walk to spot wildlife, which was great.
READ MORE ABOUT OUR OTHER VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCES IN:
Carrying plants to planting locations for reforestation with Norsalleh, Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
Overall, we sincerely recommend Kayavolunteer.com and the awesome volunteering program at Mescot.org – we felt we made a small, yet important difference with this experience and we could not wait to see more wildlife coming back to the forests restored by Mescot along the magical Kinabatangan river.
Want to know more about our story and volunteering around the world? Read more about us HERE
Mystic swamp forest along Kinabatangan River (Malaysian Borneo)
We always keep our door open for new projects and ideas – we’ve been already volunteering and travelling in Nepal, Philippines, Malaysia, Tanzania and Uganda and are currently travelling in South America - stay tuned for more!
As our motto says: we travel, we learn, we grow.