Explore Borneo’s enthralling habitats on our specially-designed wildlife photography tour. Not only are there endless opportunities to photograph wildlife, but also to learn with tuition from our acclaimed experts.
This small group workshop is accompanied by award-winning wildlife photographers Nick Garbutt and Alex Hyde, with extended stays at some Borneo’s best wildlife locations, providing ample time to photograph wildlife and hone your skills. During the workshop, under the guidance of Nick and Alex, you can look to improve rainforest and macro photograph techniques. Bornean pygmy elephant, orangutan, keeled pit viper and Wallace’s flying frog are just some of the subjects to be enjoyed.
Day1: Depart UK
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Kota Kinabalu via Kuala Lumpur.
Day2: Arrive Kota Kinabalu
Arrive Kota Kinabalu and transfer to our hotel. Spend the afternoon relaxing, with dinner at a local restaurant in town.
Accommodation: Jesselton Hotel, 1-night
Days3-5: Lower Kinabatangan River
We fly from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan on the east side of Sabah, and then transfer by boat along the coast and up the Kinabatangan River to our first lodge.
Our base for the next three nights is the Kinabatangan Wetland Resort, a relatively new and very comfortable property located well away from other lodges in the area. This will give us access to the quieter corners of the Lower Kinabatangan system where there is a good chance of encountering Bornean pygmy elephants, as well as proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques and perhaps orangutans.
We make the short journey by boat further upstream to Abai. There is a noticable change in habitat as nipah palm and mangrove forest gives way to more established riverine forest. The species we have a good chance of encountering are largely similar to those seen previously, with Bornean pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys and other primates being spotted regularly.
During our two days at Abai, we will further explore the main river, side channels and ox-bow lakes located just off the main waterways. These have the potential for further excellent wildlife sightings, especially of primates. The riverside vegetation is also a good place to look for snakes; juvenile reticulated pythons, mangrove snakes and keeled pit vipers often coil up in dense clumps overhanging the water.
Abai also has a network of raised boardwalks at the rear of the lodge. Walks along these regularly provide good encounters with primates during the day and sightings can also be very productive after dark, when a variety of nocturnal species may also be seen and, hopefully, photographed.
Accommodation: Abai Lodge, 2-nights
Day8: Transfer to Tabin Wildlife Reserve
After breakfast we leave Abai and transfer by boat up-river to Sukau and then continue by road to Gomantong Caves, the largest cave network in Sabah, renowned for huge numbers of bats and cave swiflets.
We then continue by road to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Much of Tabin’s forest was selectively logged in the 1960s, but these secondary forests, which surround our lodge, now support a tremendous diversity of wildlife, including several primates including Bornean gibbons and red leaf monkeys.
We have a full day in Tabin and will be able to concentrate our efforts on trying to photograph the Bornean gibbons that often come close to the lodge, as well as, hopefully, the wealth of invertebrate life in the vicinity that is sure to provide plenty of inspiration to those keen on macro photography. There will, of course, be options for night excursions, both on foot or by vehicle. Night drives are the best time to look for species such as leopard cat, Malay civet, palm civet and even Sunda clouded leopard.
Day10: Transfer to Danum Valley
After an early morning excursion in Tabin we return to Lahad Datu and then continue to the Danum Valley Conservation Area, one of the world’s great rainforest locations. There can only be a few places that rival this in terms of splendour and biodiversity. There are huge buttress-root trees over 80 metres high, hornbills flying overhead, gibbons calling and orangutans enjoying fruiting trees. Our base is Borneo Rainforest Lodge, located on the banks of the Danum River. It is a beautiful property with a lovely relaxed atmosphere that provides a very comfortable place to stay, and keep refreshed, in the hot steamy rainforest.
We have six days to fully explore this wonderful area. Within the vicinity of the lodge there is a network of accessible and well maintained trails that follow the course of the river and forest interior. This network allows easy access to most of the valley and provides ample opportunity for discovering and photographing some of the forest’s amazing flora and fauna.
Early mornings are perhaps the best time to enjoy the extra dimension offered by the canopy walkway. Here a treetop view of the forest provides a spectacular alternative perspective. Various hornbills, barbets and broadbills may be seen, as well as the enigmatic and endemic Bornean bristlehead. Primates too are often sighted, including orangutans and red leaf monkeys.
After dark, night walks and vehicle rides offer a window into the secretive world of the forest’s nocturnal creatures – greater mouse deer, giant flying squirrels and colugo may be seen. There is also a reasonable chance of seeing both slow loris and western tarsier. Frogs too are common. If we are lucky we may find a Wallace’s flying frog, while the resonant honk of the Bornean horned frog is always a feature, although tracking one down is a tough proposition.
Day17: Transfer to Lahad Datu & depart
At the end of our time in Danum Valley, we transfer by road back to Lahad Datu to catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu and onward overnight connection to the UK.
Day18: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 18 daysfrom £9,595 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 16 daysfrom £8,745 pp
Group size: 10
Included in the price/package:
Domestic flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan
1 night hotel in Kota Kinabalu
5 nights lodge in Kinabatangan
2 nights lodge in Tabin Wildlife Reserve
7 nights lodge in Danum Valley
Photographic tuition from Nick Garbutt & Alex Hyde
An award-winning photographer and author, with a background in zoology, Nick has forged a career by combining these skills with leading tours and lecturing.
Nick has written and photographed several critically acclaimed books, including: ‘100 Animals to See Before They Die’, ‘Mammals of Madagascar: A Complete Guide’, ‘Wild Borneo’, and ‘Chameleons’. He is a regular contributor to international magazines such as National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Africa Geographic and Geographical.
Nick has twice been a winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. In 2000, he won the prestigious Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife. His photographs appear widely in books, calendars and other publications worldwide. He is a Special Lecturer on the MSc course in the Wildlife Photography and Imaging at Nottingham University, where he studied.
Often working with moving creatures smaller than a grain of rice, Alex has established himself as an expert in macro photography.
By understanding the behaviour of his subjects, he is able to capture intimate portraits of spiders, insects and other invertebrates in their natural habitats. Although his photography takes him all around the world, the Austrian Alps are a particularly special place for Alex and he returns annually to these favoured haunts to photograph the incredible insect and plant life.
An experienced tutor, Alex regularly delivers workshops and seminars on macro photography and has taught at venues such as the University of Nottingham and the Wild Photo photography festival in London. Alex supplies major international agencies and his photographs appear worldwide in newspapers, books and magazines including The Times, The Daily Telegraph, BBC Wildlife and New Scientist.
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.
Excellent for: Wildlife festivals, Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, River safaris, Orangutan watching, Birdwatching
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
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.
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: Photography tours with Nick Garbutt, Orangutan watching, Birdwatching
The remarkable Borneo Rainforest Lodge lies in pristine jungle in the heart of Sabah’s Danum Valley. Considering the remoteness of its location, this unique, award-winning property offers an extremely high standard of accommodation in a wonderful setting, blending in with the surrounding rainforest.
Tabin Wildlife Resort is ideal for viewing rare and endemic birds, attracted to the abundance of food plants. Accommodation consists of 20 timber bungalows with private balcony, ten of which overlook the Lipad River, the others situated higher up the hillside, all linked by boardwalks.to the central complex.