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Wildlife Locations

10 recommended locations:

Bako National Park

Bako offers an intoxicating mix of coastal scenery, teeming rainforest and abundant wildlife. It is one of the best places in Borneo to see proboscis monkey, which are regularly encountered, often right beside the raised boardwalk. With such a variety of habitats, the park’s flora is correspondingly rich and diverse.

  • Where: Sarawak State
  • Ideal for viewing: long-tailed macaque, mouse deer, proboscis monkey, silvered langur, slow loris

Danum Valley

Danum Valley is arguably Borneo’s premier wildlife location and boasts all ten of Sabah’s primate species. Early morning is the best time to enjoy the canopy walkway through the surrounding lowland rainforest and view the stunning birdlife. It also offers maybe the best chance to see orangutan in the wild.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Asian elephant, Malayan sun bear, banteng, Sumatran rhino, orangutan
  • Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Wildlife photography, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Wildlife Art Safaris, Orangutan watching, Birdwatching

Deramakot Forest Reserve

Covering an area of 55,500 heactares in the state of Sabah, the Deramakot Forest Reserve is one of the finest wildlife areas in Borneo. The reserve is home to over 250 species of bird and 75% of Sabah’s mammals, including marbled cat, Bornean pygmy elephant and Sunda clouded leopard.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Sunda clouded leopard, binturong, marbled cat, buffy fish owl, Bornean pygmy elephant

Gomantong Caves & Forest Reserve

Sabah’s largest cave system is set in the heartland of a beautiful rainforest reserve, an impressive sight and home to many thousands of bats and cave swiftlets. Bat hawks linger nearby to prey on the bats as they leave their roost, and macaques, langurs and orangutans are regularly seen in the surrounding forest.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Asian fairy bluebird, cave swiftlet, crested serpent eagle, forest macaque, orangutan
  • Excellent for: Orangutan watching

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park in remote northeastern Sarawak, has an exceptional level of biological diversity with over 3,500 species of plants recorded in the park, including highly specialized orchids. Its 300 kilometres of caves provide a spectacular sight and home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats.

  • Where: Sarawak State
  • Ideal for viewing: bearded pig, Bornean tarsier, Malayan sun bear, rhinoceros hornbill, wrinkle-lipped bat

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park is dominated by the peak of Mount Kinabalu, and is probably one of the most important biological sites in the world. It harbours a remarkable botanical diversity with as many as 6,000 species of flora and fauna, over 600 species of butterflies, 320 species of birds and 100 species of mammal.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Bornean ferret badger, oriental small-clawed otter, rhinoceros hornbill, serpent eagle, sun bear
  • Excellent for: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Birdwatching

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

The Kinabatangan River snakes through Sabah’s lowlands for 560kms to reach the Sulu Sea. Along its length, a river safari will reveal a mosaic of riparian forest, oxbow lakes, nipah swamp and mangroves which supports a wide variety of mammal and birdlife who have grown surprisingly tolerant of human presence.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Wallace’s hawk eagle, orangutan, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino
  • Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, River safaris, Orangutan watching, Birdwatching

Sepilok Forest Reserve & Orangutan Sanctuary

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is renowned for its work in rehabilitating orphaned orangutans, However, set in primary lowland rainforest, the reserve has much more to offer. The forest boardwalks make exploring easy, the birdwatching is superb and there is a tremendous variety of snakes and frogs to see.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: Bornean pygmy elephant, mouse deer, orangutan, slow loris, western tarsier
  • Excellent for: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Orangutan watching

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

This reserve occupies more than 122,500 hectares of a peninsula, surrounded by oil-palm plantations. The lowland forest contains many animals, some of which are highly endangered, as well as over 250 bird species. The mineral-rich mud volcanoes attract wildlife and there are many trails to explore.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: clouded leopard, orangutan, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino
  • Excellent for: Orangutan watching, Birdwatching

Turtle Islands Marine Park

The tiny island of Selingan in the Sulu sea becomes a major turtle breeding site when large numbers of green-turtles (and to a lesser extent hawksbills) come ashore. If you stay overnight, you can watch them excavating their nests and laying a clutch of eggs, and see hatchlings being released into the sea.

  • Where: Sabah State
  • Ideal for viewing: flying fox, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, collared kingfisher, brown-throated sunbird

View trips to these locations

Wildlife trips

Borneo is one of the world’s great biodiversity hotspots. The area boasts a remarkable diversity of habitat that supports an intriguing array of species including; frogs that ‘fly’, fish that ‘walk’, monkeys that ‘dive’, plants that eat insects, lizards, snakes and, of course, orangutans and many other mammals.

6 recommended trips. Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.

Borneo’s Rare Mammals

A dedicated small group mammal watching holiday to Borneo’s rainforests in pursuit of the region's rarest mammal species, including the iconic Bornean orangutan, Asian elephant, the secretive Malay sun bear and the majestic Sunda clouded leopard, alongside a fabulous variety of reptiles, amphibians and birds.

  • When to go: Apr-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,995 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Sarawak: Walk on the Wild Side

This itinerary includes Bako National Park, where a network of trails allows you to explore the forest at dawn and dusk to view its proboscis monkeys and varied birdlife. The highlight, however, is a three-day jungle trek in search of wild orangutan, and a visit to a traditional Iban longhouse.

  • When to go: Apr-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,595 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Sabah Wildlife Special

Travel to Borneo on a two-week trip that visits the best places to see Sabah’s wildlife. Enjoy boat trips to discover the extraordinary wildlife of Kinabatangan, including proboscis monkey, orangutan, Asian elephant and Sumatran rhino, and four nights at one of our favourite lodges in the Danum Valley.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,975 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Sabah & Sarawak Adventure

Search for the wildlife of the interiors amongst the dense jungle and remote rivers of Sabah & Sarawak. Designed to introduce you to the area's top eco-destinations, highlights include a visit to a headhunter tribe, watching orangutans in Sepilok, and Tabin Reserve, home to some of Borneo’s unique species.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Rainforests & Rivers

Join this small group tour with acclaimed photographer Nick Garbutt to explore Borneo's stunning landscapes and spectacular forests. Sabah’s premier wildlife locations are home to a tremendous array of wildlife from the fabled orangutan and the improbable proboscis monkey to hornbills and singing tree frogs.

  • When to go: Apr-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 19 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,195 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

When to go

Sabah is a year round destination, though its rainfall is often higher in December and January. The best time for Sarawak, however, is from March to August and October to November.


  • Dry season

    Mar to Sep: While Borneo’s tropical rainforests receive rainfall year-round, March to September are the drier months
  • Green season

    Oct to Feb: The wet season brings more rainfall, but higher river levels allow for closer encounters with wildlife

Wildlife events

  • Apr to Oct: Green turtles come ashore to lay eggs

Where to stay