There are scores of music festivals held each year around the world—but not many of them take place in the middle of a Borneo rainforest and in the shadow of an 800-metre high mountain!
The Rainforest World Music Festival was created in 1998 and takes place every year on the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village, 35 kilometres from Kuching on the island of Borneo in Malaysia. From its humble origins which attracted a gathering of barely 300 people, this three-day festival now draws in excess of 18,000 visitors and performers from all over the world.
Unlike other music festivals, the RWMF doesn’t just feature world-famous performers but also hosts music workshops, jam sessions and cultural displays. The music itself ranges from local indigenous Dayak performers to well-known groups from Africa, Europe, Latin America and beyond, and it’s very much a barrier-free environment, where everyone is encouraged to mix with artists and attendees alike.
This trip not only includes all three days of the festival but takes in much of what Sarawak has to offer, from culture to wildlife, scenery to adventure activities. After the music festival, you have a unique opportunity to travel home with a local performer, who will demonstrate how a traditional sape—a three-to-five stringed lute instrument—is both made and played. You spend the night in his home, before moving on by boat to one of Borneo’s fantastic national parks.
You will trek through dense rainforest on route to waterfalls and remote beaches, wildlife watch and tour the state capital of Kuching, where you visit an orangutan sanctuary and enjoy dinner in a night market. You’ll explore some of Sarawak’s most exciting caves, before ending this unforgettable rainforest experience in Sabah, with time for a spot of diving, if you so desire.
If it’s just unrealistic to consider this trip this summer don’t worry: it’s an annual event, and definitely worth planning for, for summer 2019!
- Phone: 855.299.1211
- Length/Departs: 11 days/July 2018, July 2019
- Accommodation: Hotels, cabin, homestay
- Starting Price: from $1,997-$2,350
- Difficulty: Moderate; you must be fit for the jungle treks
- By Simon Vaughan, Senior Editor/Special Travel Advisor for Outpost Travel Media