Bario Highland located close to the Indonesian border in the north-eastern corner of Sarawak and dominated by Gunung Murud are the Kelabit Highlands, the highest inhabited area of Borneo. Lying at an altitude of about 3,500 feet above sea level, this is a Kelabit territory, one of the minority Orang Ulu tribes of Sarawak.
This land is also affectionately known as the ‘land of a hundred handshakes’ as this is how friendly locals will greet you as you wander around the community. The Kelabit, Murut, Lun Bawang, and Penan are people who live in longhouses at this remote plateau.
Wet paddy farming is the main source of food, supplemented by hunting and the cultivation of fruit and vegetables for local consumption. Hence, this place has incredible organic food such as the famous Bario rice and pineapple. One of their annual events is the internationally known Bario Food Festival also known as ‘Pesta Nukenen’, held in July each year. It should be notable that Bario rice is considered the best in the country and even export-grade too.
Bario proper is the gateway to the Kelabit highlands, thanks to its airport and a small network of roads leading to some of the nearby villages. About thirteen villages are located in & around Bario area and Kampung Bario Asal is the first. This is a must-visit longhouse where one can see the ancient timbers of the unique kitchen darkened by the constant smoke of generations of cooking fires.
Most of the area’s accommodation is found in and around Bario, and it is the main starting point for treks throughout the area. One can go kayaking or immerse in the historical tales of the monoliths that dot the area.
For the really adventurous; Bario is either the starting or the ending of the arduous 5/4N Bario-Ba’kelalan jungle trekking adventure.
It can only be reached by light aircraft or on foot, not by road or river. You have two options:
Daily flight departure from Miri to Bario via MASWings Twin Otter & about 45mins flight OR
By 4WD will take you on rugged logging road along the terrains from Miri to the Highlands & journey approximately 10-14hrs journey (depends on the road condition & weather).