Wildlife of Borneo Adventure
COST: We organise this expedition on a bespoke tour basis. We can set up this itinerary for private groups up to 16 people. The cost depends upon the group size. Please email us for a quote.
DURATION: 14 days / 13 nights.
START POINT: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.
END POINT: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
DATES: To fit your preference. We recommend January – April, as these months are usually the driest times of the year.
Discover Borneo’s most spectacular animals, plants, scenery and traditional life.
Getting there:Many international flights from destinations connect to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Several low cost airline (such as Air Asia or Malaysia Airlines) connect Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Purchase a one-way flight to Kuching for the start of this trip, and a one-way flight back from Kota Kinabalu at the end.
We meet in Kuching, Sarawak at 9.00 am. As a group, we can decide to visit any of the following: the beautiful Kuching orchid garden, the Sarawak State Museum (for natural history) or the historic Fort Margherita (named after the wife of Sarawak’s last ‘White Rajah’). After lunch we drive to the Sarawak Cultural Centre to learn about how the different tribes found throughout Sarawak and Borneo, before returning to the city for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in a hotel in Kuching centre.
After breakfast, we transfer to the docks (approx 1 hour driving) and alight boats for an enjoyable trip around the coast to the Bako National Park, set on a peninsula and accessible only from the water. We spend the day exploring Bako National Park to see mangrove and heath forests, home to orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, proboscis monkeys, macaques, bearded pigs and a wide range of bird life. Before sunset, we return to Kuching, to dine at a local restaurant and overnight in a hotel in Kuching centre.
This morning, we drive to Batang Ai Reservoir (approx 4 hours driving time). Along the way, we can visit a traditional Sarawak market (often with a spectacular range of exotic rainforest fruit and local cuisine). At Batang Ai Reservoir, we transfer into motorised dug out canoes to journey across the lake and up the river systems to the remote Iban tribal homelands. Along the way, we spot Iban longhouses and pass through primary rainforest that offers the chance to see wild orangutans (or their nests), and a plethora of birdlife. The journey in the canoe takes approximately 2 hours. Dinner and overnight in Nanga Sumpa lodge (an eco-friendly tourist lodge built close to an Iban village, but with excellent Western-style accommodation).
After breakfast, we visit a traditional Iban longhouse and have the opportunity to meet and speak to Iban people, to learn about their culture and the longhouse way of life. Depending upon group preferences, we can undertake a rainforest trek (or if this is not desired, transfer to the canoes for a river trip). Lunch is served as a traditional Iban BBQ close to the beautiful Enseluai Waterfall. We can swim and relax in the splash pool close to the falls, where tiny fish nibble at our toes like a natural pedicure. We then return to Nanga Sumpa lodge for dinner. Overnight in the Nanga Sumpa lodge. A night walk can be arranged to observe rainforest creatures by torchlight.
Today we return from Nanga Sumpa to Batang Ai Reservoir via the dugout canoes, and then drive back to Kuching. We can stop to visit a population of orchids and carnivorous pitcher plant (including the fanged pitcher plant, Nepenthes bicalcarata), as well as several other species (N. ampullaria, N. gracillis, N. mirabilis and N. rafflesiana). Back in Kuching, we can undertake an optional cruise along the Kuching River to see the city highlights, and we can visit a really special local restaurant on the opposite riverbank, or a local seafood market to savour Malaysian seafood cuisine. Overnight at a hotel in Kuching.
Early transfer to Kuching airport to catch a flight from Kuching to Sandakan. We transfer from Sandakan airport to a resort on the banks of the Kinabatang River. Dinner and overnight at the Kinabatang resort hotel.
Today we undertake a series of cruises in little boats along the Kinabatangan River. This river is a magnet for wildlife and offers chances of seeing the endemic pygmy elephant, as well crocodiles, macaques, many other primates, several species of hornbills and a plethora of other birdlife. Each cruise lasts approximately 60 minutes and is timed to maximise the broadest possible range of wildlife sighting opportunities. Dinner and overnight at the Kinabatang resort hotel.
Transfer to visit Gomantong Cave to see the vast cave system, many bats, swiftlets (whose nests are used to make birds’ nest soup) and, if we are lucky, wild red leaf monkeys (red langurs) and wild orangutans. After lunch, we transfer to Labuak Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to see wild proboscis monkeys at feeding platforms, silver leaf monkeys (silver langurs) and (often) oriental pied hornbills. Transfer to a hotel near Sepilok. Dinner in a local restaurant.
Optional early morning start to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre to spot local bird life. At 11.00 am we transfer to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to watch a short educational video about the work undertaken at Sepilok, then we follow wooden boardwalks to observe a feeding platform. Orangutans (in the process of being rehabilitated for release into the wild) usually climb down from the trees to feed at the platforms. Often multiple orangutans may be observed. After lunch, we visit the Sun Bears Centre to observe sun bears rescued from captivity. After dinner, we have the option to return to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for bird watching and exploring the tree top canopy walkways as the sun sets. Often, we sight giant flying squirrels around sunset! Overnight in a hotel near Sepilok. Dinner in a local restaurant.
Promo video for this expedition
Early morning transfer by boat to a beautiful coral island called Selingan (known as Turtle Island). Selingan has nice, sandy beaches, with coral and marine life offshore. The Philippine megapode and 1 m long Asian water monitor lizards are frequent sights within the open forests on Selingan. On arrival, we have an information briefing and video presentation, followed by dinner. Late at night we (hopefully) watch green and hawksbill sea turtles laying eggs on the island’s beaches. We may also witness a release of hatchlings into the sea. Note: turtles cannot be guaranteed – landings happen throughout the year, although the best time to see them is July to October (during which time, often a dozen or more turtles come ashore). Overnight in accommodation on Selingan and dinner in the island’s restaurant.
Early morning, we return from Selingan Island to our vehicles and transfer to Poring Springs (approx 6 hour drive). We can stop at lowland pitcher plant (Nepenthes) sites along the way to see the spectacular species: N. rafflesiana ‘giant form’ and the rare N. macrovulgaris, as well as N. ampullaria, N. gracillis and N. mirabilis. When we reach Poring Springs, we visit reserves to see giant Rafflesia keithii flowers (a rare, parasitic rainforest bloom that can have flowers up to 60 cm across – flowers cannot be guaranteed, but are frequently open). Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at Kundasang.
Early morning walk along the mossy cloudforest trails within the Kinabalu National Park to see orchids and birdlife. We can visit the world famous Kinabalu botanic gardens and the Kundasang exotic fruit market (highly recommended to try an amazing range of exotic, weird and wonderful fruit. Depending upon the season, we often see and can taste dragon fruit, snake fruit, rambutan, mangosteen, durian and many others)!
For anyone interested, we can also visit the Kundasang War Memorial Gardens (which often have outstanding displays of pitcher plants and orchids, often with flowering Paphiopedilum rothschildianum). We can also visit birding trails.
In the afternoon, we drive to Kota Kinabalu and check into a hotel in the city centre. A highly recommended dining option is to visit the city’s famous seafood market on the docks to try local seafood including crab, squid, assorted shellfish and delicious fish (definitely a culinary highlight and an evening to remember).
After breakfast, we drive to Klias Peat Swamp Preserve (approx 4 hours) to walk along trails through peat swamp forest to see wildlife, orchids and pitcher plants. After lunch, we transfer to the Klias River to undertake an afternoon cruise for a final chance to see wild proboscis monkeys and macaques in the trees. We then have dinner in a restaurant by the river, and after the sun has set, we return to the boats for a cruise to see fire-flies in the trees. The fire flies are famous having synchronised displays (so that individual trees light up like Christmas trees). The extent of the firefly activity varies, but usually is quite impressive. Overnight at a local hotel near to beautiful beaches.
Relax during the morning on the beaches, departing late-morning to return to Kota Kinabalu for late afternoon / evening flights. END OF TOUR.
An add on trip to one of Malaysia’s beautiful tropical islands is strongly recommended (contact us for details).