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Explore Borneo's spectacular landscapes and forests on this photographic tour and discover a tremendous array of wildlife from the fabled orangutan and the improbable proboscis monkey to hornbills and singing tree frogs.

Accompanied by acclaimed prize-winning photographer Nick Garbutt, you will watch and photograph wildlife and landscapes in Sabah’s premier wildlife locations, which offer a window onto nature at its most beautiful and bizarre.

Walk the verdant, tropical rainforest of Kinabalu National Park and visit Sepilok to observe orangutans feeding before travelling the Kinabatangan River with the chance to see Bornean pygmy elephants. The highlight of the tour is undoubtedly Danum Valley, where on day and night walks you will encounter some of Borneo’s most exuberant inhabitants. Daily sessions with Nick will enable you to pose questions you've always wanted to ask in situ and hone your photography talents.

You may wish to read Nick's blog from a previous tour.

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrive Kota Kinabalu

    Arrive Kota Kinabalu and transfer to our hotel.  Spend the afternoon relaxing, with dinner at the hotel or a local restaurant. 

    Accommodation: Jesselton Hotel, 1-night

  3. Days 3-4 : Kinabalu Park

    We set off for Kinabalu Park, a journey of around two hours by road. On our first day here, we may visit the Poring area to see if the spectacular Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, is in bloom. The forest around the Park headquarters has some well-maintained trails, offering ample opportunities to explore and photograph. After dark, several species of stick insects can be spotted on foliage close to paths and if you look closely you may also see the beautiful, endemic Kinabalu forest gecko.

    Accommodation: Nepenthes Villas, 2-nights

  4. Day 5: Sepilok Forest Reserve

    After a morning trail walk in Kinabalu Park, we set off after lunch for the drive to Sepilok Reserve (approximately four hours).  Tonight we may go on a night walk or visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

    Accommodation: Sepilok Nature Resort, 2-nights

  5. Day 6: Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

    Early this morning we can experience the spectacular canopy walkway at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, enjoying the extra dimension of viewing the forest from a tree top vantage point. After breakfast we visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in time for the morning feeding session, followed by an afternon visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. In the evening, we return to the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

  6. Days 7-9 : Lower Kinabatangan River

    After another early morning up in the canopy walkway, there is a second visit to see the orangutans or sunbears, and in the afternoon we take a boat ride along the Kinabatangan River to our first lodge.

    During our stay here, we enjoy early morning and afternoon boat trips along the main river, offering the best chance of seeing herds of Bornean pygmy elephants, as well as orangutans. This is also probably the best place to see proboscis monkeys. Passing under overhangs and skirting fallen trees, peering into the tangled vegetation at the margins, we may see water monitors basking on half-submerged tree trunks. 

    Accommodation: Abai Lodge, 3-nights

  7. Days 10-11 : Middle Kinabatangan River

    After an early morning boat trip on the river, we transfer by boat further upstream to Bilot, where we can enjoy afternoon boat trips on the main river, side channels and ox-bow lakes. Short forest walks, some after dark, are also possible from our lodge.

    Accommodation: Bilit Rainforest Lodge, 2-nights

  8. Day 12: Danum Valley

    After an early morning boat trip on the river, we drive to Gomantong Caves, home to bats and cave swiftlets, before continuing to Lahad Datu and Danum Valley. Our lodge is situated some 80 kilometres off the main road from Lahad Datu, on the banks of the Danum River, facing a huge swathe of pristine forest. Within the vicinity of the lodge a network of well-laid out trails allows easy access to the valley with ample opportunity to discover and photograph some of the forest’s amazing biodiversity.

    Accommodation: Borneo Rainforest Lodge, 6-nights

  9. Days 13-17 : Danum Valley photography workshops

    We have five days to fully explore this area. The canopy walkway is a perfect spot in the early morning to enjoy a tree-top view of the forest and spot various hornbills, barbets and broadbills. After dark, night walks and vehicle safaris offer a window into the secretive world of the valley's nocturnal creatures, such as mouse deer, giant flying squirrel, slow loris, western tarsier and the Bornean horned frog.

  10. Day 18: Transfer to Lahad Datu and 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.

  11. Day 19: Arrive UK

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 19 days from £7,195 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 17 days from £6,295 pp
  • Single supplement: From £1,245
  • Group size: 10
  • Departures:
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Return domestic flights between Kota Kinabalu and Lahad Datu
    • 16 nights hotel/lodge accommodation
    • All meals (except in Kota Kinabalu)
    • All transfers
    • National park and conservation area fees
    • Daily excursions in parks and reserves
    • Local guides
    • Tips
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Photography

Expert leader

Nick Garbutt

Photo of Nick Garbutt

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.

Featured locations:

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

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

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

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

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
Featured accommodation:

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

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.

Sepilok Nature Resort

This simple lodge, situated close to the Sepilok Forest Reserve entrance, is extremely comfortable and convenient for visiting the nearby Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. It offers spacious accommodation in air-conditioned chalets, set in beautiful tropical gardens and connected by boardwalks to the main building.