Travel to Borneo and leave urban life behind. Head into Borneo’s lush jungles, down scenic rivers and through the vibrant villages of beautiful Borneo. On the way, soak up stunning mountain vistas, meet local indigenous people, relax in hot springs and have an encounter with some pretty special orangutans. 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. An arrival airport transfer is included. If you have any free time, perhaps 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 Mt Kinabalu
Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you’ll head for the hills and travel towards the unspoilt wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park. You will stop off en route at a local home at Dusun Village. The Dusun people are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you’ll sample the local foods with a home cooked lunch get some insight into what it’s like to live in a rural village. Later you can stretch your legs and soak up the mountain scenery with a stroll through Kinabalu National Park. The Mountain Botanic Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Late in the afternoon you travel by private bus to Sabah Tea Plantation. Tonight you will stay amongst the grounds of a lush tea garden.
Day 3 Kinabatangan River
After breakfast you will take a tour of the tea factory itself, ending in a sampling some of the delicious varieties. From there, head to Kinabatangan River in private mini van. 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 river 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 you’ll head back to the lodge to enjoy dinner.
Day 4 Kinabatangan River
Enjoy a morning cruise down the river, searching for more birds and wildlife. Keep an eye out for Proboscis Monkey, Borneo Gibbon, Long Tail Macaques and Pig Tail Macaques. The nearby oxbow lakes await in the afternoon. Season depending, you can trek there to visit them. If not, you can trek up to a birdwatching tower overlooking the river and visit a Merabu tree. In the evening you get your last chance to take as many photos as you can on a final river cruise. 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, which are harvested for bird’s nest soup. Travelling to Sandakan, a journey of 2.5 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 POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. The Cantonese influence is palpable in the lively harbour-side market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine.
Day 6 Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary/Sandakan
This morning take a private transfer to the Sepliok Orangutan Sanctuary. 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 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. Also included is a new nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. to see more of Borneo’s creatures there’s the option to visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. 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 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.
Day 8 Manukan Island
Enjoy a snorkelling trip today or an optional scuba dive trip from Manukan Island is also on offer. 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 gorgeous corner of the world.
Day 9 Kota Kinabalu
Head back to Kota Kinabalu today by boat and minivan. You will then travel by private bus to 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. The trip there should take less than an hour. This is a rare opportunity to see what the culture and lifestyle was like here in a bygone era. Return to your hotel in Kota Kinabalu later on. Perhaps head out for a final meal with your group.
Day 10 Kota Kinabalu
Images courtesy of IntrepidTravel Group