- Depart the UK on an overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu.
- On arrival in Kota Kinabalu, we meet our local guide-leader and transfer a short distance to our hotel in the city. In the afternoon we enjoy some easy birdwatching at the local wetland centre, for an introduction to Sabah’s birds.
- Dinner is not included tonight – we have the option of eating street food at the many stalls along the seafront, or in one of the many restaurants.
- Accommodation: Jesselton Hotel, 1-night on bed and breakfast basis
- After breakfast we head to the Rafflesia Centre en route to the national park headquarters at the base of Gunung Kinabalu, the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spend the afternoon exploring the lower slopes and walking trails in Kinabalu National Park
- Accommodation: Hill Lodge, 3-nights on full board basis
- We have two full days to enjoy the distinctive birdlife of the mountain, which includes island thrush, friendly bush warbler, mountain black-eye in addition to endemic squirrels and tree shrews. We will keep an eye out for endemics such as chestnut-hooded laughing thrush, Bornean laughing thrush, chestnut-crested yuhina, Bornean flowerpecker, Bornean treepie, mountain barbet, the Whitehead’s trio of trogon, broadbill and spiderhunter.
- During our time at Kinabalu, we will also visit the Poring Hot Spring where sightings of blue-banded & banded pittas, chestnut-capped thrush, argus pheasant, Hose's and Whitehead's broadbills are possible.
- In the morning, we travel overland to Sepilok, near Sandakan, arriving in time to visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for feeding time. We will also spend some time at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
- Accommodation: Sepilok Nature Resort, 1-night on full board basis
- Today we board a fast launch for the trip across the bay and up the 560-kilometre long Kinabatangan River, the second longest river in Malaysia, We should see lowland wildlife in the estuary and in the corridor of forest that lines the riverbank as we go.
- We arrive at Abai in time to settle into the lodge before lunch, and then head out for for a boat trip, accompanied by one of the lodge’s naturalist guides, in search of orangutans, proboscis monkeys and birdlife. Return to the lodge after sunset for dinner and possibly a nightwalk.
- Accommodation: Abai Jungle Lodge, 1-night on full board basis
- Following an early morning boat excursion before dawn breaks, we take lunch back at the lodge, then continue by boat to our second riverside lodge near the village of Sukau, with plenty of opportunity to see wildlife – including possibly elephants – along the way. Once we have checked into our lodge, we head out in the afternoon for another excursion by boat with one of the lodge’s naturalist guides.
- Accommodation: Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, 2-nights on full board basis
- We take an early morning boat excursion with one of the lodge’s naturalist guides to see what activity there is along the riverbanks, before returning to the lodge for a boardwalk. Following lunch, we have some time to relax before heading out on a mid-afternoon excursion by boat, inevitably returning after dark.
- This morning we make the short journey by boat to the jetty at nearby Sukau, then board a vehicle to drive south to Lahad Datu, with a stop en route to visit Gomantong Cave and see its swifts, bats and cockroaches
- After lunch in Lahad Datu, we continue to our lodge deep in the Danum Valley, surrounded by pristine rainforest, and head out for our first rainforest walk to get the feel of the jungle.
- Accommodation: Borneo Rainforest Lodge, 3-nights on full board basis
- We have two full days to enjoy the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the Danum Valley. By exploring on foot and by vehicle we should see an excellent array of wildlife and birds. Birding should be particular fruitful here as the Danum Valley is one of Borneo’s best birdwatching locations. We should be able to spot all eight species of hornbill found in Borneo as well as crested fireback, Borneo bristlehead and much more.
- In addition to the birds, these two days will provide our best chances of seeing orangutans in the wild. Other mammals that can be seen include Bornean gibbons, western tarsier, red leaf monkey and red giant flying squirrels.
- The morning is free so we can enjoy our final taste of rainforest, followed by a transfer back to Lahad Datu to catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu, with an onward connection to London via Kuala Lumpur.
Day 14 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Guided activities
- All meals
A mix of national park accommodation, comfortable lodges in Sandakan and on the river, ending with a lovely high-end rainforest lodge in Danum Valley
All meals are included. Breakfasts and dinners are invariably at the hotel or lodge, as are lunches - with the occasional picnic and/or sit-down meal at one of the region’s typical restaurants.
From Kinablu National Park to riverine forest and Danum Valley’s rainforest, there are more than 50 endemic species to delight any birdwatcher, plus a wealth of residents and well over 200 migrants.
- Rhinocerous hornbill
- Blue-eared barbet
- Black-headed pitta
- Bornean treepie
Borneo’s rainforests hold a variety of mammals, although somey are hard to see due to the dense vegetation.
- Proboscis monkey
- Borneo pygmy elephant
Reptiles and amphibians
Around the water margins we can find several amphibian species.
- Water monitor
- Reticulated python
- Bornean horned frog
- Wallace's flying frog
Conservative estimates place the number of plant species in Borneo at 15,000 or more, i.e. as diverse as the entire continent of Africa – making it the highest plant diversity of any region on Earth.
- Pitcher plant
- Titan arum
We travel by fast motor launch with a roof on the Kinabatangan River; our excursions are in open boats with an outboard motor and a driver-guide.
The photographic opportunities on this trip are excellent, although low light levels in rainforest may present something of a challenge.
Some forest trails are steep in parts, as well as slippery underfoot - but we walk slowly. It can be very muddy.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Kota Kinabalu – London, plus domestic flights between Lahad Datu and Kota Kinabalu.
Minibus and/or four-wheel-drive vehicle with driver. Night drives in Danum Valley are by open-topped truck.
The allowance on MAS Wings domestic flights is strictly limited to 20 kilos of checked baggage plus five kilos of cabin baggage.
On this tour we sleep at 1,563 metres above sea level at Kinabalu National Park headquarters, although our walks there may take us a little higher.
It rains most months of the year, with November to February being the wettest time, and March to June generally the driest. The temperature remains fairly constant year round, averaging 25-35⁰ Celsius, cooling off if there are late afternoon thundershowers (which are still possible at this time of year).