Explore on two-wheels the heartlands of the legendary Dayaks, once feared head-hunters of Borneo. Navigate the remote interior riverways and ride the outback country lanes to discover how the native Dayaks history intertwined with the 100-year rule of the British colonial masters.
Cycle to the depths of Sarawak, along the banks of many rivers, hilly terrains and remote longhouses to experience villagers lives.
Have a first hand experience of how villagers live with homestays in longhouses and the warm hospitality that they display.
Visit historical forts built by the White Rajahs to defend against the feared Dayak head-hunters and learn about the colonial masters’ fascinating legacy.
Cycling The Headhunters Heartland - 7 Days / 6 Nights
Arrive in the charming old town of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. Meet the cycling guide in the late afternoon for a briefing on the adventure to cycle the Headhunters Heartland.
In the late afternoon, take the bikes on a heritage trail of the colonial masters, known was the ‘White Rajahs’. Explore the Main Bazaar of the picturesque old town, and stop at the Square Tower.
Cross the Sarawak River on a traditional ‘sampan’ and visit Fort Margherita that was built by Charles Brooke in 1879 and named after his bride. The fort was built to defend Sarawak from possible attacks. Visit the Museum of Brooke to learn more about the history of this edifice.
Enjoy a romantic dinner at sunset on the banks of the Sarawak River.
After breakfast, start the journey to explore the depths of Borneo.
Make the first stop at Serian market in the outpost of Pantu, a great place to find every kind of fruit imaginable. Next stop, visit the trading bazaar, Lachau and enjoy a village-style lunch.
Take a 2.5-hour traditional long boat ride to a remote longhouse of the Iban villages of Banting. Banting is an old rallying point of the Ibans who use the fertile lowlands for paddy farming. The rocky hill by the river was a primitive fort where the villagers found refuge in times of danger. The early Christian missionaries recognised the importance of the site and built the St. Paul’s Church in 1859.
Be welcomed to explore the the village, climb the hill to inspect the church, ask someone to explain the mysterious rock formations near the river, see people produce artistic handicrafts like mat-making and weaving, or wander off to the rice fields and vegetable gardens.
(Note: The river here is famous for its prawns — unfortunately, crocodiles like the tasty crustaceans quite as much as we humans do. Swimming in the river is NOT permitted!)
Overnight in Banting House
After a short boat transfer to a tiding outpost of Lingga. Have breakfast and begin the cycling adventure up the majestic Batang Lupar River, bypassing longhouse villages, farms and paddy fields.
Enjoy an easy 3.5-hour ride along the banks of the great river. A few hills in the distance enliven the landscape and make a couple of detours to have a look at particularly interesting longhouses.
Pedal into the capital of the Batang Lupar, Sri Aman (formerly known as Simanggang) in time for lunch. Visit Fort Alice and learn about its historical role during the colonial era.
Dinner and Overnight at Seri Simanggang Hotel
After breakfast at 09:00, cross the river and pedal overland to the next main township, Betong, on the Layar River. After a good stint of cycling, take a well- deserved stop at a good coffee shop followed by lunch in Betong!
Visit Fort Lily (1855), built to fortify this ‘outstation’. Lily has seen considerable action in the turbulent times when Iban chief Rentap challenged the Rajah; some of the cannon used in the skirmishes are preserved in the Betong District Office. From here cycle along winding road dotted with small scale pepper farms, rice fields and rubber plantations to reach the rustic old town of Debak. Make a quick van transfer to reach an authentic century-old longhouse and join the host for a tour of his farm enroute to a waterfall. Longhouse hospitality is from the heart, but the facilities tend to be fairly simple; be prepared to eat seated on the floor, and sleep on a mattress under a mosquito net.
Overnight at Ulu Bayor Longhouse
Today travel up country! After just over an hour in the van cycle away from the trunk road, southwards, towards the Kalimantan border. Numerous longhouses along the trail make the point: this is the Iban heartland. You’ll make a side excursion up the Lemanak River; where the terrain gets hilly. Pedal and pedal until you can literally go no further, and you’ll reach a man-made lake snuggled among the hills. This lake supplies hydro-electricity to most of Kuching and West Sarawak. You’ll embark on a lake craft that looks roughly like the ‘African Queen’ to cross the Hydro Lake to the Batang Ai Resort. Yes indeed, the cluster of longhouses bedded against the green slopes is a resort! Spend a leisurely afternoon and evening, recovering from the rigors of the trail.
Overnight at Batang Ai Resort
Depart Batang-Ai early in the morning by boat and make a 30-minute transfer to a small-town called Lunbo Antu. Start today’s 30km cycling trail on a country lane to a town called Engkillili. The terrain is slightly hilly with mountain and forest views along the way.
The trail is part gravel and part tarmac. Lunch will be taken at Engkillili. After lunch, pack up the bikes and head back to Kuching for early evening arrival.
Check into the hotel and freshen up for a final dinner together at the Topspot Food Center in Kuching. This is a place to find the best food in Sarawak, grunge-style.
Today transfer to Kuching airport for an onward flight.
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