Rivers and Rainforests of Borneo

Visiting: Kota Kinabalu, Kundasang, Kinabatangan River


Duration: 11 Nights

Physical rating: Moderate

Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Vegans, Meat, Please contact Brightwater with any specific dietary requirements

Tour code: BBOR

Tour operator: Brightwater Holidays

Group size: 6 - 25

Age range: 1-99

Tour operated in: English


Prices From: $5685

Tour Overview

The Malaysian island nation of Borneo offers a unique range of plants and animals in the pristine habitats of its rainforests and rivers. Our tour offers two opportunities to see flowering Rafflesia, a bizarre plant found only in south-east Asia that has no leaves, roots or stems and can weigh up to 10kg. We also come face to face with Orangutan, Borneo’s iconic ‘man of the forest’, and Sun Bears, the smallest and most arboreal of all bears, both endangered species that are the subject of rehabilitation and conservation schemes - there is an opportunity to adopt and support a Sun Bear should you wish. Our journey takes us from the capital Kota Kinabalu in the west to Sandakan in the east, travelling through mountainous terrain with volcanic hot springs, lush rainforests and fertile river systems. Boardwalks and canopy walkways provide easy access to natural habitats and the chance to see a wide range of plants, birds and animals. On the Kinabatangan River we offer no fewer than four river cruises, in the early morning, day time and at night, allowing the opportunity to see a vast range of wildlife. We also see colourful markets and Buddhist temples, giving an insight into the human aspect as well as the wildlife. Our tour ends in style with a couple of nights at a luxurious resort, where you may easily be tempted to extend your stay. In October 2022, our tour is led by Colin Crosbie who was the Head Gardener to Her Majesty The Queen Mother in Windsor prior to taking up the position of Curator at RHS Garden Wisley. His extensive horticultural knowledge and experience coupled with his good humour have established him as one of Brightwater’s most popular guides.

Highlights

  • iconTake a walk through the mangroves of the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands
  • iconSee Sun Bears as close quarters with a personal tour from the founder of the Conservation Centre
  • iconDay and night wildlife cruises on the Kinabatangan River
  • iconSpot Orangutan in the wild as well as at a rehabilitation centre
  • iconA chance to see huge Rafflesia flowers

Places You'll See

Itinerary

icon Day 1

We depart from London on our overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur to Borneo’s capital Kota Kinabalu.

icon Day 2

Accommodation Name: Jesselton Hotel, Kota Kinabalu

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

On arrival we are met by our local guide and transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to relax after our long flight, before enjoying a seafood dinner at a local restaurant.

icon Day 3

Accommodation Name: Jesselton Hotel, Kota Kinabalu

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

We depart for a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk that runs through the mangroves of the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands, a unique ecosystem where land meets sea. Our local guide will help us identify the many local birds, plants and animals. Later we explore some of the sights of the capital city, such as the Tun Mustapha (formerly the Sabah Foundation) building, the city Mosque, the Sabah Museum and the local handicraft market, before dinner at a local restaurant on the waterfront.

icon Day 4

Accommodation Name: Kinabalu Pine Resort

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We begin our exploration of the interior in the cooler climate of Mount Kinabalu National Park, home to around 6,000 plants species and 430 bird and mammal species. En route, we will stop at the small town of Tamparuli for a short walk across a hanging bridge to the local square. We continue a further hour or so up the mountain road to the park. Here we will take a walk in the botanical gardens and learn about the vast array of flora found in this lush park, and admire the views of Mt Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest peak (4095m/13455ft). On the way back to the hotel we will call in at Kundasang for an opportunity to browse among the street market.

icon Day 5

Accommodation Name: Kinabalu Pine Resort

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we begin with a visit to Sabah Tea Resort and take a fascinating guided tour of the tea factory and learn how raw tea leaves are processed and packed for export. We continue Poring Hot Springs where we enjoy a bird’s eye view of the tropical rainforest from the canopy walkway, which is suspended between tress at a height of 40m and offers an excellent opportunity to observe the wildlife which take refuge here from predators on the ground. There will also be an opportunity to bathe in the hot sulphur pools, renowned for their therapeutic properties. Later we proceed to the Rafflesia Garden, where we hope to see huge specimens of rafflesia in full bloom. This bizarre parasitic plant has no stems, leaves or roots, just an enormous five-petalled flower, the largest recorded specimen of which was 120cm/4ft in diameter. The first British person to see one was Joseph Arnold in an expedition of 1818, and it was named for Stamford Raffles, the leader of the expedition.

icon Day 6

Accommodation Name: Sepilok Nature Resort

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we begin our overland journey to Sepilok, where we check into our accommodation on arrival. In the afternoon we enjoy one of the highlights of our tour, a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, timed to coincide with the afternoon feeding session at 15:00. This is a wonderful opportunity to see these gentle, endearing but endangered apes at close quarters, in the centre which was set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans. Today around 25 young, orphaned orangutans are housed in the nurseries, in addition to those free in the reserve.

icon Day 7

Accommodation Name: Sepilok Nature Resort

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Another highlight today as we visit to the outstanding Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where we have the opportunity to observe these stunning animals at first hand. There are currently 36 bears housed at the centre, which have been rescued from poachers. We will also be offered the opportunity to adopt a bear to ensure the programme’s - and the animal’s - survival (this is entirely discretionary and at your own expense). We will also meet the founder of the Centre, Dr Wong Siew Te, who will give us a 45-minute private presentation on the Sun Bears before taking us on a personal tour around the facility. After lunch at a local restaurant on the edge of the rainforest we visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Aside from the Plant Discovery Walk, which features information about the medicinal and traditional use of herbs and leaves, there is a 347-metre-long and 87-metre-high canopy walkway. Nestled high amongst the rainforest tree line, this provides a great opportunity to spot some of the 250-300 bird species and, if we are lucky, maybe even a wild orangutan.

icon Day 8

Accommodation Name: Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Our overland journey continues to the intricate limestone system of the Gomantong Caves. A short walk takes us to the two main accessible caves, the Black and the White. Within these caves the ancient tradition of collecting solidified swiftlet saliva for ‘Birds Nest Soup’ is still carried out (the names of the caves refer to the colour of the nests), although under strict licensing and on sustainable terms. The area surrounding the caves is thick rainforest, where, on occasions, wild orangutans can be seen. This area is also home to around two million bats and the lurking, opportunistic bat hawk. Thereafter, we take a short boat crossing to the Bilit Rainforest Lodge, where we are welcomed with a drink and a short introductory briefing before lunch is served in the Restaurant. Later in the afternoon we will enjoy the first of our cruises along the Kinabatangan River to discover the wildlife that lives here. This includes the Proboscis Monkey, Hornbills and other rare bird species of Borneo; Gibbons and, if we are lucky, maybe even Pygmy Elephants.

icon Day 9

Accommodation Name: Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early alarm call and a light breakfast we depart on an early morning river cruise. This is always a rewarding time of day for spotting wildlife which stirs as soon as the sun rises on the river. We return to the lodge where a more substantial breakfast is available for those who wish it, followed by a leisurely morning and lunch. We then depart on an afternoon cruise on the river, another chance to spot primates and the other wildlife seen during the day. After dinner it is the turn of the night creatures, the nocturnal wildlife, as we depart on a night safari cruise on the gently flowing river. Remember also to look up at the clear night sky to see if you can identify some of the constellations.

icon Day 10

Accommodation Name: Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort and Spa

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we take a boat back to the jetty and continue overland to Sandakan, stopping en route with a visit to the Central Market. Here we will see a wide assortment of exotic produce and fresh seafood while the market is abuzz with different colours, sights and sounds. There will also be a photo opportunity at the unique stilt houses before we continue with a visit to the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple, located on a steep hilltop which affords magnificent views over Sandakan Bay and the town centre. We then stop at the nearby English Tea House for more spectacular views of Sandakan and lunch. In the afternoon we take an internal flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu and transfer to our beach resort hotel.

icon Day 11

Accommodation Name: Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort and Spa

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we visit Orchid De Villa, which has a collection of over 300 species of endemic orchids, and will enjoy a private talk from one of the staff. We then drive into the highlands for another opportunity to see the unique and remarkable Rafflesia flowers in their natural habitat, accompanied by one of the local Rangers.

icon Day 12

Meals: Breakfast

We have a leisurely day relaxing at our resort hotel before transferring to the airport for our overnight flight via Kula Lumpur back to London.

icon Day 13

Arrival is due in London this morning, when the group will disperse or make onward connections.

What's Included

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    Meals - as per the itinerary

  • icon
    Accommodation

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    Comfortable coach travel throughout

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    Entrance Fees

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    Drinks with Meals

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    All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

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    Services of a professional tour manager

Book with Confidence

  • icon
    Low Deposit

    Brightwater Holidays requires a deposit of 15% to secure a place on this tour, and the final balance is not due till 70 days before departure..

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    Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Brightwater Holidays allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform Brightwater Holidays, 25 days before departure.

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    Secure payments

    All payments to TourHub are deposited into an externally regulated Trust account.


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Dates & Availability

Instant Booking Available

Tuesday Oct 25, 2022

Nights

11

Available

25

$5684.93

Instant Booking Available

Wednesday Mar 22, 2023

Nights

11

Available

25

$5684.93

Instant Booking Available

Tuesday Oct 24, 2023

Nights

11

Available

25

$5823.76