Explore the remote rivers and dense jungle of Sabah and Sarawak’s interiors in a search for its unique wildlife.
This suggested itinerary has been designed to introduce you to Borneo's top eco-destinations and visit different habitats on foot and by boat. Among the highlights are a visit to the Iban headhunter tribe of Batang Ai, the underground caves in Mulu National Park, and seeing orangutan in Sepilok Reserve and hornbills in Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
Day1: Depart UK
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Kuching via Kuala Lumpur.
Day2: Arrive Kuching
On arrival at Kuching you will be met and transferred to your hotel, and the rest of the day is free to explore the city.
Accommodation: Hilton Hotel, 1-night
Days3-4: Bako National Park
After breakfast it's a half-hour drive to Bako village, and then a 25-minute boat ride (depending on the tide) to the park. Your accommodation at Bako National Park is in the park chalets; they provide modest but adequate facilities, and the adjacent canteen, where all meals are taken, serves tasty Malaysian food.
Day5: Return to Kuching
Head back to Kuching today, and in the afternoon, visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. This orangutan rehabilitation centre trains orphaned or rescued orangutans how to survive in the wild; over 20 orangutans live in forest within the nature reserve and often return to the centre at feeding times. After a brief talk from the rangers, take a short walk along a trail to the feeding area to watch the orangutans come down from the trees for a free meal! Continue to Kuching for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Hilton Hotel, 1-night
Days6-7: Fly to Gunung Mulu
Transfer to the airport for a flight to Mulu. Located in the remote north-east of Sarawak state, Gunung Mulu National Park offers an exceptional level of biodiversity, as well as some of the largest caves in the world.
Accommodation: Royal Mulu Resort, 2-nights
Days8-9: Fly to Sandakan; visit Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
Fly to Sandakan (normally via Miri and Kota Kinabalu), and transfer to your accommodation. On your second day here you'll get to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.
Transfer to the jetty in Sandakan for a boat excursion that brings you to the pristine mangrove forests along the Kinabatangan River delta in search of proboscis monkeys, birds and reptiles. Lunch is provided en route. Continue by boat to Sukau and, after checking in to your accommodation, enjoy a river cruise up Kinabatangan River to Menanggul River in search of more wildlife.
Drive to Lahad Datu and continue on a gravel road for about two hours to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. This afternoon, take a guided visit to Lipad mud volcano and observation tower.
On the following full day in Tabin, enjoy an early morning birding walk, then trek to Lipad Waterfall. The afternoon is free to explore the jungle, bird watch or just relax and enjoy your time in the rainforest.
Accommodation: Tabin Wildlife Resort, 2-nights
Day14: Transfer to Lahad Datu & depart
After breakfast, there should be time for a last stroll and dip in the nearby rock pool or riverside where groups of macaques and other small mammals can sometimes be seen. It's then time to say goodbye to Tabin and return to Lahad Datu for an overnight flight back to the UK via Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
Day15: Arrive UK
Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 15 daysfrom £3,195 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 13 daysfrom £2,495 pp
Single supplement: From £780
When to go: Jan-Dec
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.
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
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.
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
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
Suggested accommodation options are shown below.
for further recommendations.
Accessible by boat or road transport, this lodge consists of timber-built chalets connected by walkways. There are various spots around the lodge for viewing the surrounding nature and wildlife, including a bird observation tower, and a jungle trail where red leaf monkey and wild orangutan are often seen.
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.