Osa in a gobong canoe on the Kinabatangan River

Borneo 1920

Without returning home from their trip to the South Seas in 1919, Martin and Osa traveled to Borneo in February of 1920 to film wild animals. With few roads they traveled up river in gobangs (canoes) to reach the island’s interior. At the headwaters of North Borneo’s largest river, the Kinabatangan, they visited the Tenggara people, filming and photographing their centuries old customs.

The constant rain and thick jungle canopy was a difficult challenge for Martin and Osa, who had never attempted wildlife photography before. Along the coastal lowlands around the city of Sandakan they were able to film elephants, buffalo and other animals. The result of their efforts was the movie “Jungle Adventures,” which premiered in September 1921.

Leaving Sandakan in July they voyaged to Singapore, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and southern India, then continued west circumnavigating the globe. The Johnsons finally arrived home nearly two years after they had left.

North Borneo 1920 Photo Gallery: