Eco Challenge II gives rare opportunity to see megaliths

Villagers and visitors pose in front of a megalith in Long Semadoh called Batuh Inarit.

KUCHING: The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge II will give participants the rare opportunity to see megaliths rarely found elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Registration for the ecotourism event by communities living in the highlands is open until the end of this month.

A press release yesterday said the highlands of Sarawak, Sabah and North Kalimantan are dotted with ancient stone monuments or megaliths, with over 40 sites and about 100 earth-made effigies.

Event director and Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples in the Highlands of Borneo (Formadat) Sarawak deputy chairman John Tarawe said the first Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge took place in 2015 and the trekking route was from Ba Kelalan to Mount Murud Church Camp, and ended in Bario.

He said this time around, the Eco Challenge routes are expanded to the highlands in Long Pa Sia, Sabah and Krayan, Indonesia.

“This event is special because it is the only cross-boundary event to be held in the highlands, deep in the Heart of Borneo. Furthermore, this year’s event reflects the spirit of Formadat’s slogan ‘Perurum, Selawe, Meruked’, which means unity,” he said.

“We are brothers and sisters divided by regional and international borders. We share a common heritage and land as the Lun Dayeh, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, and Saban people. I hope this biennial ecotourism event will bring us together to work, protect our remaining forests, enhance security along the borders and our home within the highlands area.”

He said the event is also a good platform for highland communities to share their knowledge and experience with others. The Heart of Borneo Highlands Eco Challenge II will run from July 20-29.

It aims to promote conservation in the highlands and preserving its history, nature and culture.

The challenge offers six trails to cater to different interests.

For hardcore jungle trekkers, the 10-day, nine-night Heart of Borneo trail is recommended as the adventure starts with a journey to Sipitang, Sabah and ends in Bario after crossing neighbouring highlands of Long Semadoh, Ba Kelalan, Sarawak and Long Bawan, Kalimantan on foot and four-wheel-drive vehicle.

This is the longest trail and ends in Bario on the first day of Pesta Nukenen Bario Food and Cultural Festival.

Those pressed for time can opt for shorter trails such as the five-day, four-night Jungle Exploration trail.

For more information, visit www.formadat.com, look for hobecochallenge on Facebook, or email ecochallenge@formadat.com.

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