Judi Dench fell for Borneo's rainforest and unique wildlife on her travels, documented by ITV's new series Wild Borneo Adventure. Here, we reveal exactly where she visited and stayed during her trip...
Dame Judi Dench swung into our screens last night in the first episode of her well-received two-part documentary for ITV, Judi Dench's Wild Borneo Adventure.
Watching the 84-year-old national treasure is uplifting, and Borneo is breathtaking on screen - but there's a serious message about conservation right at the core of the show: the precious orangutans, all of the rare and unusual wildlife we see and the magnificent rainforest they call home that needs protecting.
No doubt, Judi's journey will have inspired many of us to add South-East Asia's natural wonderland to their travel bucket list. In case that's you, here's where Judi visited and where she stayed, during her time in Borneo...
Episode one sees Dame Judi guided by the director of SEARRP, Dr Glen Reynolds, exploring the vast Danum Valley Conservation Area: a well-cared for, 483 sq km reserve of lowland dipterocarp forest.
It's home to over 120 mammal species, 72 types of reptile, and 340 species of bird. You can visit, and stay overnight, in Danum Valley's various lodges.
Judi's accommodation during filming in Danum Valley was the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.
The lodge was built with a sustainable design in mind. Made from recycled wood and locally-sourced materials, to ensure minimum wastage during building.
Expect a luxe experience once you're inside. Unbelievable views of the rainforest, mood lighting and traditional Malaysian cuisine.
Judi visited all along the Kinabatangan River in the northern parts of Sabah.
Mainly, filming took place at the Danau Girang Field Centre, a research facility run by Sabah Wildlife and also a department at Cardiff University in Wales.
The centre's purpose is to research how to slow down the loss of Asia's biodiversity.
After a long day of filming, Dame Judi stayed on the banks of the Kinabatangan River at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.
It's right in the heart of the rainforest, and offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in nature, and spot some of Borneo's classic wildlife.
Sukau is also rather luxe, but comfort doesn't come at the cost of sustainability. Sukau works with the local community to introduce and support a variety of green projects.
There's no shortage of natural magic in the rainforest.
For something a bit different, venture to Gomantong, a 300 ft tall complex cave system that splits into two entry points: the Black Cave and the White Cave.
Creepy crawlies (cockroaches) are everywhere - so watch your back! Of course, the caves will be home to countless bats, too. Orangutans live in the wildlife conservation area surrounding the cave.
Dame Judi's Wild Borneo Adventure also took her off the coast of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, to the glistening Gaya Island, a 15-minute boat ride away.
Part of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, Gaya is undoubtedly a dreamy island worth preserving, for the pristine beaches alone. It's a paradise for snorkellers, and is home to some of the world's most colourful marine animals.
During filming, Judi and team stayed at the Gaya Island Resort.
Since 1964, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre has been saving orphaned orangutans from deforestation, logging sites, being kept as pets, and even being hunted - and caring for wild orangutans in need of some love.
Now, it's maybe the world's best-known orangutan sanctuary, and worth the few pounds it costs to buy a ticket and watch the feeding. It's easy to visit from Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu.
Judi has made no secret of her love for orangutans, so this filming location, set amongst 43 sq km of lowland equatorial rainforest, seems a no-brainer.
The BSBCC is another of Borneo's famous and most crucial wildlife conservation and research projects - created in 2014 to protect the Malaysian sun bear, one of the world's most endangered bear species.
As of July 2019, BSBCC is home to 44 sun bears who had previously been captured, some likely for entertainment purposes. Now, they spend their days climbing in the Bornean sun, and foraging in the sanctuary's forests.
The centre is very close by to Sepilok's Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, so visiting both is essential.
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