Discover Borneo on a wild family adventure.
Travel to Borneo on an 9-day family adventure and discover the curious wildlife and spectacular landscapes of the region. Learn how orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated back into the wild, swim among colourful fish, watch baby green turtles take wobbly steps towards the waterfront and relax on sandy beaches. Along the way you’ll make friends, try some delicious cuisine and forge some incredible memories. With all of the essentials included, and plenty of free time to explore at your own pace, you and your family will fall in love with the unique animals, lush ecosystem and sandy islands of Borneo.
Why you’ll love this trip
- Take a guided walk through the lush lower trails of Kinabalu National Park and witness Mt Kinabalu in all its glory at dawn.
- Stay overnight among the birds and beasts of the jungle, right next to an oxbow lake, at Kinabatangan Eco Camp.
- Visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and, if you’re lucky, watch baby orangutans learn to swing in a special enclosure.
- Enjoy a special opportunity to watch protected turtle hatchlings scatter across the beach to the water under the cover of night.
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city located between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived WWII bombings, KK (as it’s commonly known) has a charm unique to the frontier town. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm at your hotel. Here you will meet your leader and fellow family travellers. Following the meeting, perhaps head out with your fellow families to the waterfront market. Here you’ll find smoky stalls serving up grilled meat and fish and heaps of local delicacies. If you arrive with significant time before the welcome meeting, you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu which are excellent for swimming or snorkelling.
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information for each member of your family. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Head for the beautiful Kinabalu National Park. There’s plenty to see and do in this World Heritage-listed park. The walk in the park takes about one hour. From here we head to the Poring Hot Springs with a scenic canopy walk and a quick dip in the springs themselves, which the kids will love. The entrance to the hot pools themselves is optional as there are a few pools to choose from. Parents and older children may enjoy the hot pools while younger children will prefer the slide pool. You get to choose on the day.
Tonight you will spend the night in a reconstructed longhouse on the tea plantation. Rooms are twin/triple-share and have fans and shared bathrooms.
This morning we visit a Sabah Tea Factory and learn the process of tea leaves before saying goodbye to the mountain and heading into the jungle. Travel by private bus to Batu Puteh, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Your hosts for the night are the local community-run conservation organization KOPEL whose aim is to provide villagers with the means of making a sustainable living from the forest. KOPEL are responsible for a reforestation project in which the community are actively involved in growing seedlings and replanting back degraded forested areas. Arrive in the afternoon meet your hosts and learn a little more about KOPELs work, before jumping in a boat and heading upriver to your accommodation in the jungle (approximately 30 minutes). This afternoon, you’ll head out on a sunset cruise up the river in search of wildlife, including macaques, wild orangutan and proboscis monkeys. Be prepared for an adventure! Return to your jungle camp by an oxbow lake, freshen up for dinner and afterwards, let the cicadas sing you to sleep.
For some departures throughout the year we will only spend 1 night in the Eco Camp and 1 night in the Village in accommodation with attached bathrooms due to availability.
You’ll pack an overnight bag for the jungle camp and leave your main luggage at the KOPEL office. Stay in the jungle in a simple hut with basic facilities, including mosquito nets and cold bathing. You’ll be in deep jungle, so as not to disturb the wildlife, there is solar power electricity at the camp. A torch, insect repellent and rain jacket are essential for tonight. Boots and leech socks are available for rent for the jungle night walk.
Wake up to the sounds of the jungle ready for a busy day. After breakfast you’ll head upriver to the village where you take a walk around the village to learn more about the life of the local people. For lunch, it’s all hands-on deck as you partake in a fun traditional cooking class, eating the fruits of your labour for lunch! The afternoon is free to relax, enjoy some boardgames or keep spotting wildlife, before heading back on the boat for another trip on the river. After dinner tonight, you’ll don headtorches and head out into the jungle for a night walk in search of insects and nocturnal animals. See what happens to the jungle at night, and what creatures come out to play!
Say goodbye to the Eco Camp and take a drive to Sandakan via the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. These unique primates are not found elsewhere in the world! You will be in awe as they leapt from incredible heights to lower branches.
We arrive in Sandakan in the afternoon. You will notice the strong Cantonese influence, seen in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. Here there is free time to catch up on your essentials, like laundry and banking, as well as to explore the city. Otherwise, just spend some time relaxing by the pool!
Today is an exciting day and a favourite with the kids – here come the orangutans! It’s a 45-minute drive by minibus to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can see these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat a supplementary balanced diet of fruit, vegetables or milk, 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, but you are free to snap plenty of photographs. You will also have the privilege of viewing a 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 not to disturb the animals.
Heading back to Sandakan you will have the afternoon free.
Leave your large bags at the hotel and transfer to a nearby jetty, then board a speedboat bound for Turtle Island. Travel past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, arriving at Turtle Island Marine Park after about an hour. The rest of the day is free for you to soak up the island life. Relax on the beach and take a swim or perhaps hire some snorkelling gear and investigate the underwater world. Under the cover of darkness, watch as giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight. Witness the island researchers release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It’s a moving experience that is bound to be rewarding for you and your family, but please be aware that this is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles. Spend the night on this beautiful island – even though the accommodation is quite basic, this will be a memorable experience.
The accommodation on Turtle Island is very basic. Also, you will view the turtles as they come ashore which can be anytime during the night. This may mean quite a late night for the children, as at times they don’t come in until after 10 pm. Groups will wait in the dining hall until the rangers call us. We suggest you bring with you some games, cards, art supplies or other items to keep the children entertained. A head torch is advised to see the full experience.
Today you will transfer back to the mainland. Once back in Sandakan the group will have the opportunity to visit the War Memorial before heading to the airport and for your flight back to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). Keep in mind that the luggage allowance for this flight is only 15 kg, and any excess baggage may incur a further charge. Back at your hotel in Kota Kinabalu you will have time to relax before heading out for a last night optional dinner.
With no activities planned for today, you and your family are free to depart the accommodation at any time following check-out.