Have an essential Borneo experience on this ten-day adventure to its natural hotspots. Head into lush jungles, down scenic rivers and through the traditional villages of this beautiful region. On the way, soak up stunning mountain vistas, meet local villagers, relax on stunning beaches and have an encounter with some pretty special wildlife. There’s no doubt that this adventure in Borneo will find its way into your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories.
Day 1 Kota Kinabalu
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you have any free time beforehand, why not get out and explore this intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Modern-day ‘KK’ is a vibrant modern metropolis, having recovered from World War II bombings the Sabah State Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in its backstory.
Day 2 Dusun Village – Mt Kinabalu National Park – Kundasang
Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you’ll head for the hills and travel towards the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Mt Kinabalu National Park (approximately 3 hours). You will stop off en route at a local home in a Dusun Village. Sample the local foods with a home cooked lunch to get some insight into what its like to live in a rural village. Later you can stretch your legs and soak up the mountain scenery with a stroll through Mt Kinabalu National Park. There are many walking trails from which you can bird watch. The Mt Kinabalu Botanical Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Spend the night in a mountain lodge close by to the park in Kundasang.
Day 3 Kinabatangan River
After breakfast, head to Kinabatangan River in private minivan a trip of approximately 5 hours. Your jungle lodge, located beside the river, is ideal for taking in the lush surrounds. At 560 kilometres, the Kinabatangan River is the second longest in Malaysia. It’s also a protected forest reserve, containing some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. Later in the afternoon you will take a river cruise, hopefully spotting some of the more exotic local creatures. Wild elephants seldom reveal themselves, but crocodiles, macaques, wild orangutan, proboscis monkeys, hornbills and kingfishers are more easily seen. After this short adventure, head back to your lodge and enjoy dinner with the group.
Day 4 Kinabatangan River
You might wake to the call of a Bornean gibbon, or perhaps a hornbill. Enjoy an early morning cruise down the river, searching for more birds and wildlife. Keep an eye out for Long Tail Macaques and Pig Tail Macaques your expert leader can tell you the difference. Later that morning, take a walk to Bilit Village, home to the local Orang Sungei community. The Orang Sungei, which translates to River People, are one of Sabahs many indigenous communities and are very hospitable with a diverse cultural heritage. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon before another river cruise to see wildlife along the riverbank. This final river cruise will be your last chance to photograph or simply marvel at your surrounds. Spend one more night in your lovely accommodation right in the heart of the jungle.
Day 5 Sandakan
Travelling by private minivan, you will stop to visit the intricate Gomantong Caves. Renowned for their edible swiftlet nets, they are harvested for bird’s nest soup. Bird’s nest collection is an ancient tradition, though nowadays licences are required for it. Travelling to Sandakan, a journey of 3 hours, you will stop in at the Sandakan War Memorial. Here you will learn about the city’s past as you stand on the same ground of the former Japanese Prisoners Of War camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped. Arrive in Sandakan, which was once the capital of British North Borneo and traditionally has strong trading ties with Hong Kong. The Cantonese influence is obvious in the lively harbour-side market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine.
Day 6 Sepilok – Labuk Bay – Sandakan
This morning, take a private transfer to the Sepliok Orangutan Sanctuary (approximately 1 hour). The centre was set up to help reintroduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it’s essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. Also included is a new nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as to not disturb the animals. To see more of Borneos creatures, theres the option to visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here, rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages are cared for, with hopes of rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. You will also visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding an experience that can only be found in Borneo.
Day 7 Manukan Island
Transfer to Sandakan Airport today for a flight to Kota Kinabalu. A short boat ride (around 20 minutes) takes you to Manukan Island, just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. This is one of the larger islands found in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. The first of two days on this island will be free for you to explore the island at your leisure perhaps swimming or local activities. The 1.5-kilometre beach is lovely to stroll along at low tide.
Day 8 Manukan Island
Enjoy a snorkelling trip today, where an array of coral and brightly coloured marine life reveals itself, conditions depending. An optional scuba dive trip from Manukan Island is also on offer for those interested in a more immersive experience. If you are interested, let your leader know and it can be arranged. After snorkelling, the afternoon is yours to enjoy. Soak up the turquoise vistas for another few hours as you stroll or swim about in this stunning slice of paradise.
Day 9 Kota Kinabalu
Head back to Kota Kinabalu today by boat and minivan. This will take around 40 minutes. Optional activities include a visit the intriguing Mari Mari Cultural Village, nestled deep in the countryside. Here you will see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. Or a visit to the Sabah Museum to learn about Sabahs past or do some last-minute souvenir shopping at the Filipino market. Tonight, perhaps head out for a meal with your group to celebrate your Borneo adventure.
Day 10 Kota Kinabalu
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.