Start: Kuching Finish: Sandakan
Physical rating: Leisurely / Moderate
Tour code: WOHS
Group size: 4 - 16
16 to 99
Extra tourhub saving: $90
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Wildlife, rainforests, and tropical beaches– make your way through the
wonders of Borneo led by renowned explorer, filmmaker, photographer, RCGS
Explorer-in-Residence, and Chapter Chair of the Explorers Club, George
Kourounis. Whether it’s swapping travel and expedition stories from across
the globe, learning about Kourounis’ work with National Geographic, or
providing tips and training on photography techniques this epic adventurer
will be there every step of the journey to share his expertise. Borneo is
home to some of the most diverse and beautiful wildlife in the whole of South
East Asia. Starting with a visit to majestic Mt Kinabalu, we then continue to
one of the trip highlights - the pristine Danum Valley. A nature lover's
paradise, whose beauty and animals are equaled only by Sarawak and the World
Heritage Mulu National Park with its immense cave system and the oldest
rainforest in the world. We come face to face with orangutans at the Sepilok
sanctuary, stay at a bamboo longhouse in Sabah on a tea plantation, and
finish the trip in the historic port town of Sandakan.
The capital of Sarawak, Kuching, is a vibrant riverside city full of different ethnic groups who have migrated from the surrounding forests. With a great museum and a well preserved colonial centre there is much to do in this fascinating cultural hot spot. You are free to arrive anytime this afternoon. There will be a group briefing this evening at 6pm with your tour leader after which we can have dinner at the hawkers stalls on the waterfront.Hotel Lime Tree or similar
Our first foray into Borneo’s amazing nature as we head to nearby Bako National Park famous for its Proboscis monkeys. This is where the rainforest meets the sea and the only way to get to the park is by boat (after a 1hr drive out of the city). It has abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Despite being the smallest National Park in Sarawak, Bako contains almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo. Please note that as Bako NP is only accessible by boat, our time there is often dictated by tides and weather conditions. Our leader will inform us of the details the previous day. We return to Kuching for the night.Hotel Lime Tree or similar
We leave the city behind and fly to Mulu National park (schedules for this flight often vary). After checking-in at the Park HQ, we will be introduced to the park guides and head through the forest to Deer Cave. Some of the caves have been mapped by occasional expeditions; they have their own ecosystems with plants and animals living in the cave chambers.Deer Cave, the largest cave passage in the world, is home to millions of bats and swifts that live side by side on the roof of the cave. The cave floor has a raised platform, though that is no escape from the smell of the 'guano' – the excrement from millions of birds and bats. Close-by is Lang's Cave, which though much smaller, has some excellent stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations. The forest around the caves is spectacular and there is plenty of time to examine it closely. The walk to Deer Cave is 3kms (each way) along boardwalks and there are wooden steps leading to different viewing platforms inside the show caves. We will arrive at Deer Cave in time for dusk which is when the bats leave the comfort of the cave to feed on insects (as long as it is not raining). This is a sight to behold with the bats leaving the cave in a long line snaking across the sky for quite some time. Dependent on the timings of the day we may visit the caves tomorrow instead. Please note that due to flight schedules there isn’t much time for lunch between the time we arrive at Mulu NP and the time we depart for the caves. You should buy something at the airport to have later.Mulu National Park Garden Cottages or similar
Today is a day for exploring this stunning park with a local guide. In the morning we visit two of the 'show caves' including Clearwater where a picnic (not included) lunch can be had in the gorgeous riverside location. The park has some incredible statistics; It has over 3,500 plant species, 8,000 different types of fungi and 170 species of orchid. Over 100 new plant species were discovered between 1960 and 1973, and many are still being added. There are 262 species of bird, almost 300 species of butterflies and many reptiles and mammals.Members of the Penan tribe live within the park. They are a small population of nomadic forest dwellers who live as hunter-gatherers. There has been fierce international opposition to the Malaysian government who tried to settle them in permanent longhouses and indeed the Penan themselves have also resisted. In 1994 they were granted an area of the forest where they could continue their traditional lifestyle. Although you are unlikely to meet these elusive people, you occasionally see their fishing shelters or areas in the forest where they have recently visited.This afternoon simply relax in the park and listen to the weird and wonderful creatures that call it home or explore self-guided trails within the park.Those with a head for heights can try the optional canopy walkway. This 480-metre skywalk takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors may be able to see macaque monkeys, hornbills, flying lizards, squirrels and a variety of rainforest birds. However, time slots to do the canopy walk can be limited and may subject to availability during busy periods.In the evening there is an optional night walk or we can try the local Mulu 'firewater', Tuak.Mulu National Park Garden Cottages or similar
We aim to catch the morning flight out of Mulu and on to Kota Kinabalu via Miri though delays are not uncommon. Depending on what time we fly out of Mulu there may be some time to walk along self-guided trails or at the visitor’s centre. Known as KK to the locals, the capital of Sabah is a now a modern multi-cultural city. The evening is free to relax, explore the bustling Filipino markets or enjoy a sundowner on the waterfront.Hotel Dreamtel or similar
Today you are free to enjoy some of the many activities Kota Kinabalu has to offer. A popular option is to visit one of the tropical islands in the marine park, a 15 minute boat journey from the city and offering excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you can never be bored whether you are relaxing on the white sand, snorkelling or just swimming in the warm South China Sea. There is some good birdwatching opportunities in the wetlands not far from KK as well as a cultural village in Mari Mari for an insight into the different cultures of Sabah. Your tour leader can help organise any of these options.Hotel Dreamtel or similar
Transfer about 2 hours and explore World Heritage Site; Mount Kinabalu National Park, home to the highest mountain in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu at 4,095m. This impressive peak of huge granite walls can be viewed from the Crocker mountain range which we pass over, with panoramic views of the countryside and soaring hills. The lower mountain slopes are covered in thick vegetation and it is well known for its diverse botanical and biological species. En route, we stop at Nabalu market where villagers come to sell their produce and handicraft. It’s possible to walk through the plantation on your own if you want this afternoon. Tea, medicinal herbs, fruit and vegetables are just some of the things produced locally. From the plantation, the sunrise with a view of Mount Kinabalu is often spectacular. If we are lucky it may be possible to view the spectacular rafflesia in flower nearby or en route to the plantation.Sabah Tea Gardens Longhouse
We visit the tea factory before we leave the plantation behind and continue our journey to Eastern Sabah. Our destination is Sepilok, a well-known destination for its Orang-utan Sanctuary. The journey time is about 5 hours and we will make a stop at the Labuk Bay Proboscis monkey sanctuary. Here you can get an up close look at this extraordinary animal which is only found in Borneo. We continue on to our lodge in Sepilok. This evening, as dusk approaches we will head to the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre. The centre can have fantastic bird watching opportunities (though luck does play a role) as hornbills and the Borneo bristlehead are often seen and there is an array of displays which highlights the island’s diverse flora. Orang-utans can also be spotted during the fruiting season and there is an impressive canopy walkway as well as some easy walking trails.Sepilok Jungle Resort
Up early we return to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for some more bird and wildlife viewing before returning to our lodge for breakfast. We then visit Sepilok Orang-utan Centre, the largest orang-utan sanctuary in the world. Here rehabilitated orphans and captured orang-utans are cared for until they are ready to be released into the wild. We get the opportunity to see these incredible relations of ours close-up and learn about the very real threats to their continued existence. You will have the chance to visit both morning and afternoon feedings. There is also an orang-utan nursery where youngsters are trained in climbing skills with the aim of reintroduction to the wild. We will have the chance to view the youngsters from a special viewing platform that sits behind one-way glass so as not to disturb or influence them. There is the option of visiting the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre which works with rescuing and rehabilitating captured bears as well as research and providing education to the community.Sepilok Jungle Resort
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning we journey (2-3 hours) to the Kinabatangan River, stopping at the bizarre Gomantong caves along the way.The caves are a major source of the swiftlet bird nests that are a Chinese delicacy. Every day, when in season, workers climb large ladders up to 400 feet up to the roof of the caves to collect the valuable nests. It is also a good place for bird watching and spotting wild Orang-utans.Our river lodge is located on the mighty Kinabatangan River, the 3rd longest river in Borneo. The area is home to an astonishing array of wildlife including ten species of primates, four of which are endemic to Borneo. It has one of the highest concentrations of proboscis monkeys and orang-utans in Malaysian Borneo. Other wildlife includes Bornean gibbon, long tailed macaques, sun bears, and barking deer. The Asian pygmy elephant and clouded leopard also inhabit this area, but sightings can be rare. There are also over 200 species of birds including hornbills, eagles, herons, kingfishers, oriental darters, night jars, flowerpeckers and spider hunters. Later this afternoon we take our first river cruise.Nature Lodge Kinabatangan or similar
We are up with the animals for a dawn wildlife cruise followed by a trek. In the afternoon, we will once again take a river cruise to spot wildlife and if we are lucky a crocodile or two.Nature Lodge Kinabatangan or similar
We drive to Lahad Datu approximately 2-3 hours where we change vehicles and drive off road into Danum Valley conservation area (approx. 3 hours), the largest protected lowland dipterocarp forest in Borneo. It is one of the last remaining pockets of primary lowland rainforest in Asia. Danum Valley is at the forefront of tropical rainforest research, and home to many rare and endangered species of mammals and birds – it is a real privilege to spend 2 nights here in the comforts of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.Danum Valley is probably the very best place in Malaysia to see wild orang-utans in their pristine habitat. Apart from orang-utans, it has just about the complete range of Bornean wildlife and great trails. After settling in, there is an afternoon jungle nature trek to try and spot the elusive orang-utan, and after dinner a night drive is possible to spot many of the shy and retiring creatures of the forest. We will spend our time here with very experienced guides who accompany us on all our walks. One night drive and one night walk is included during our stay.Borneo Rainforest Lodge
We will spend a full day with our very experienced guides. We will have an opportunity to explore the trails, the canopy walkway and waterfalls whilst searching for wildlife in this remarkable place. The trek to a look out point over the Danum Valley takes approximately 1.5 hours each way. Danum is home to over 275 bird species, 110 species of mammals including orang-utans, five species of deer, giant flying squirrels, gibbons, bearded wild boars, flying frogs and the Asian elephant. Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Today we will journey to Sandakan (approx. 5-6 hours). En-route we stop at Sandakan War Memorial. Sandakan was once a huge logging centre (it first exported wood in the late 1880s to supply the building of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing) and is home to many Chinese and Filipinos. The waterfront is a good place to take an evening walk and the roof top restaurant at the Nak hotel is a great place to sip a cocktail or two.Sabah Hotel or similar
The trip ends this morning after breakfast. There will be 1 group departure transfer offered to the airport for those who are able to join, please advise Exodus 1 month before departure. Otherwise, private transfers to the airport can be arranged with Exodus before your trip commences also.
14 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners.
All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners are included.You should allow about
CAD 175- 265 /USD 140-210/GBP 100-150 for food not included. If you fancy a
few drinks then you may want to bring a little more as beer and other
alcoholic drinks are expensive and you should expect to pay western
prices.Malaysia is renowned for its culinary excellence however food can
often be relatively unexciting and limited in the lodges and for hotel
breakfasts. Meals will be more varied for everyone in cities and seafood is
widely available on the coast. In the bigger hotels and cities the full range
of Western and local foods are available. We also suggest you take snack food
with you, as it is not freely available. Most meals will be basic based
around rice and noodles although most accommodation does offer a western
breakfast of beans, toast and eggs. You can generally avoid the spicier food
if you wish.Vegetarians will find the food choice limited but are well
catered for. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary
requests. Please note that in Borneo the availability of certain products is
minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free, please be prepared
for this and you may need to bring these from home.
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