Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Pandaw Plans New River Cruises in Borneo’s Sarawak


Pandaw River Cruises in July will initiate a new expedition cruise on the Rajang River in Sarawak, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. The Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia, traveling some 450 miles across Borneo from Sarawak into Indonesian Kalimantan. The Rajang presents a jungle experience that traverses the second largest island in the world after Greenland. The land is peopled by the Iban, who practiced headhunting into the 1950s.

On July 1, the new 60-passenger Orient Pandaw will start a series of eight-night cruises from Sibu to the Pelagus Rapids and beyond up the Baleh River. Shore excursions include a visit to Iban longhouses, boat trips up tributary rivers, a walk about the vestiges of the colonial Brooke Raja that ruled Sarawak for 100 years, tours of pepper farms and fruit plantations, and a trip to weaving workshops. Jungle treks, for all levels of walker, are among the highlights of this cruise. The Orient Pandaw, an up-market replica of a colonial river steamer, started its maiden voyage on Sept. 29 from Saigon on the Mekong River. It has 30 staterooms on two decks. There’s also a restaurant, bar, café, spa and a sun deck. It is the fifth vessel to join the Pandaw fleet of river boats. Main deck cabins are $2,248 per person; upper deck is $2,495 per person. Rates include shore excursions, all meals including snacks, an open bar (for locally manufactured spirits), evening entertainment, transfers in Sibu and port charges.

Pandaw recommends that guests add on a two-night stay in Kuching, which is easily reached from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Brunei. Pandaw, which specializes in small-ship cruising to exotic destinations, has been in operation since 1995. Its vessels ply the rivers of Southeast Asia including the Irrawaddy and Mekong rivers. The U.K.-based company is owned by Paul Strachen. Pandaw River Cruises raised more than $500,000 in Burmese aid following the recent cyclone disaster. For more information, call 800-798-4223 or visit www.pandaw.com.