Borneo Wildlife Adventure - Borneo
The rainforest is legendary for its flora and fauna. On this trip we take you into the heart of the Sabah jungle to get up close to the creatures that inhabit it. Amongst the wealth of insects we hope to find Orangutan, Pygmy Elephant and Proboscis Monkeys. We will see a range of habitats including the deep forest, the rocky reaches of the jungle peaks and the river arteries that snake though the trees.
We spend time walking amongst the jungle, relaxing in the Lupa Masa eco-camp, winding through the forest on a river cruise, visiting the Rainforest Discovery Center at Sepilok and searching out marine life off the beautiful coastline.
This trip can either be run as a private trip or a group tour. In our group trips, teams generally teams comprise of around six to ten people and we have our own western and local Malay guides in-country. This is because we have our own company based in Kuching called Adventure Alternative Borneo, and we work with them to create great trips which are well staffed and fun. Right from the point of booking you will be able to contact our staff in UK and in Borneo to discuss everything and ask all the questions!
We have been running trips to Borneo for many years and our trips are designed with unique adventure in mind. The state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo is densely populated with wildlife and is a trekker's paradise. Primates such as orangutans, gibbons, tarsiers, long-tailed and pigtailed macaques, along with porcupines, bears, civet cats, marbled cats, and wild pigs roam freely. Hornbills, pheasants and partridges can also be seen, as well as the renowned Rafflesia, the world's largest flower. Mt Kinabalu National Park consists mostly of dipterocarps forest with a small percentage of montane forest.
We spend two nights in Lupa Masa eco-camp, near Poring Hot Springs, nestled into the jungle, surrounded by clear rivers and waterfalls. Here we can hopefully see some of the amazing wildlife of Borneo such as the slow loris, western tarsier or the Rajah Brook Birdwing butterfly, and numerous other animals and creatures, all in their natural habitats. If we are lucky the world's largest flower, the Rafflesia will be in bloom.
We then proceed to Sepilok where we visit the infamous Sepliok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for one night. It is then into the boats for three exhilarating days exploring a new 80,000 hectare wildlife and wetlands reserve that has boat only access. We will spend two nights in simple yet friendly home stays and the trip finally finishes in fantastic comfort of a rainforest resort. Before we reach the resort we will visit a new school project within an oil palm plantation where we get the opportunity to hand deliver much needed materials that we will have already purchased en-route. At the end there is the opportunity to round off the trip with some R&R at a number of great beach resorts.
Flights are into Kota Kinabalu and we provide all the logistics for the expedition under the expert guidance of our UK guide and the local people who will help throughout the trip. Perhaps one of the most unique occasions will be a chance to spend a night in a jungle village and experiencing the remarkable food and hospitality of these gentle people.
We are passionate about responsible tourism and every aspect of your trip, from transport and accommodation to staff policies, and how we behave on the trek will reflect this. Adventure Alternative was winner of the Responsible Tourism Award in 2009 in the Best Personal Contribution category. In addition, we are member of the Tourism Concern Ethical Tour Operators Group.
We have our own guide in Borneo who can be trusted to not only give you a fascinating and fun insight into the various locations where we visit but also ensure that you are safe and well looked after. We also use various local guides who speak excellent English and who provide specific care in certain areas, such as in the jungle.
Dates and Itinerary
|12th May - 24th May|
|15th June - 27th June|
|21st September - 3rd October|
|1||Arrive Kuala Lumpur and transfer to connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah. Meet leader at airport and transfer to B&B.|
|2||Today is our chance for a look at Kota Kinabalu city and time for any last minute shopping for supplies. We will have a slow, flexible and relaxed schedule as we may be feeling a bit jet-lagged.|
|3||Transfer by road to Poring Hot Springs. Here we will spend time surrounded by primary forest, rivers and waterfalls – spectacular and very relaxing. Explore and look for monkeys, hornbills and other rare birds. Poring is a biological hot spot in Sabah for butterflies, moths and literally thousands of bizarre forest creatures, big and small. There is a good chance that nearby the giant Rafflesia will be in bloom! Our base for the coming nights is the Lupa Masa eco camp sitting gently amongst the forest.|
|4||We will start with a short introduction to the diverse flora and fauna that we can expect to see in the area. We then trek for around one hour to a private 30m waterfall, try out the nearby hot-springs and canopy walkway or simply relax and soak up the sights and sounds of the rainforest. At night we will head down to the river and watch the fire-flies dance in their search for a partner. We will also take a night hike surrounded by the chorus of the rainforest at night.|
|5||A long day of travel as we make the journey East, across Sabah to our comfortable accommodation near Sepilok. After checking in, we will head to the Rainforest Discovery Center where there is time to climb the impressive canopy walkway and look for the giant flying squirrels, hornbills and orang-utans as the day cools down.|
|6||We head first to the sun bear centre at Sepilok and follow this with the morning feeding of the rehabilitating orang-utans. It is then time to head to the Sandakan jetty where our 3 day boat based adventure begins. A two hour journey through the mangrove and nipa palm forests of the bay brings us to the mouth of the mighty Kinabatanagan and our small village home stay. After a meet and greet we will head back out onto the river for a wildlife safari. We hope to spot the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Orang-utan, the endemic Proboscis Monkey and rare bird species such as the Storm's Stork and Oriental Darter to name but a few.|
|7||Dawn river cruise to lovely ox-bow lake as the morning river mist slowly lifts. After breakfast we say goodbye to our host family and continue through the 80,000 hectare wetlands sanctuary. Our route will take us briefly out to the Sulu Sea before we head upriver to our next village and different tribe. This is a trip that the original Chinese traders made in the 13th century and little has changed as we step back through time. Note that is there is particularly bad weather on the coast we may not be able to get out into the Sulu Sea and will instead go further up the inland rivers and stay another night at the same village.|
|8||On a smaller tributary we can paddle in silence as a new day begins, this is an absolute thrill as any number of animals can be spotted including one very big male orang-utan! Lunch will be taken with the pupils and teachers, and then we make the short transfer to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. After our long adventure this is a very welcome luxury finish as we settle into our twin share riverside lodges. Tabin is home to all the main Borneo mammal species including approximately 30 rhinos! With over 300 bird species it is a bird watching heaven and there are an array of activities to pass the time including dawn and night safaris, a trip to the strange mud volcano and various treks that will lead to cooling waterfalls.|
|9||Another full day to explore the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and search out the native wildlife.|
|10||We have a full morning in the reserve and then after lunch a short road transfer to the small town of Lahad Datu; quite a shock after our time in the wilderness. From here it is a 50 minute flight back to Kota Kinabalu then on to the coastal beach lodge close to Kota Kinabalu. We have the evening free to settle into our new surroundings and relax after the day’s travelling.|
|11||A full day spent exploring the superb marine environment near to our lodge. We will set off from the Kota Kinabalu jetty equipped with snorkels for those who would like to get up close with the local wildlife. Native species include Seahorses, ghostpipefish, frogfish, stargazers, mandarin fish, moray eels, lionfish, and many crustacean species. If we are lucky we may also spot feeding sea turtles. There are Kayaks for rent that allow us to quietly nose around the shores as a group and we can hire a knowledgeable local guide to help us get the most out of what we are seeing. For qualified divers there is also an optional extra of you privately booking diving trips with the local registered dive operators to explore more of the outer reefs and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Here we can see a further wealth of marine life including gorgonian fans, table corals, barrel sponges and staghorn corals. The conditions are also favourable for giant trevally and large schools of batfish, and occasional visits from eagle rays, blacktip reef sharks and whalesharks through March and April.|
|12||Today we have a relaxed and flexible programme based around the coast and Kota Kinabalu. We can spend time in town looking for souvenirs, more time exploring the coastline and islands or just idly wandering along the coast enjoying the beauty and simplicity of life here.|
|13||International flight home|
Borneo Wildlife Adventure cost: £1,395.00
- Accommodation throughout expedition
- Jeep or coach transport throughout expedition
- Park fees, camping fees and park rescue fees
- Park certified guides and assistant guides/company reps
- Expedition administrator (Tom Hewitt)
- Meals throughout expedition - fresh food, 3 meals per day (excluding lunches and dinners in Kota Kinabalu)
- UK administration and organisation of your trip
- A proportion of your trip cost will go directly to Moving Mountains to help cover the costs of our projects in Borneo, which includes our tree planting project in the Sarawak jungle.
- International Flights to Kota Kinabalu
- Lunches and Dinners in Kota Kinabalu
- Personal Travel Insurance
- Personal Spending Money
Cost of Add-Ons and Some Optional Extras
Rainforest World Music Festival: £100.00
Add the Rainforest World Jazz Festival on to the end of the May trip or the Rainforest World Music Festival on to the end of the June trip. An incredible experience of world and indigenous music brought together at the Cultural Village in the heart of the Sarawak Jungle Prices do not include return flights from Kata Kinabalu to Kuching, and are a per day figure. The Jazz Festival is two days (10th & 11th May) and the Music Festival is three days (28th, 29th & 30th June)
Not all about money
Our prices are competitive and good value, and we offer quality, service, security and an ethical stance on tourism in a developing country. We don’t want to be so expensive to run fewer trips and have our staff idle, but on the other hand we believe that running cheap trips that promote the practise of skimming budgets would result in local staff getting next to nothing, which is something we cannot consider.
Travel Insurance - you will need travel insurance for this trip. Normal holiday travel insurance is adequate as long as it covers trekking and rafting grades 1-3. We advise you to get this insurance early on, so that if you have to make a late cancellation for some reason then you will get all your money back.
Company Insurance - we have full tour operators liability insurance which covers public liability and employers liability.
Financial Insolvency - we have full financial bonding in place which is both a requirement of membership of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AiTO) and also of the European Travel Directive.
You can find out more information about taking out an insurance policy here.
Adventure Alternative shares it's profit margin with our local company in Borneo, Adventure Alternative Borneo, which provides training and development opportunities for local people and communities. The profit share scheme ensures that our local company can run a good company and provide proper wages and training, which is an unusual thing to find in a tourist company in a developing country.
Every place you visit also has a share in the profit, and we always make sure that we bring clients to the same places over many years so that they can develop and compete against the bigger corporate places.
Places which are supported by Moving Mountains where you stay, for example the homestays in Sabah, also share in the profits. This is a highly successful way of using tourism to fund some of our developmental work.
This trip has been entirely thought out in terms of the local people and the impact upon them, and the benefit they can gain from having visitors. It’s not just a tourist trail, it really is an unusual adventure and one that we hope will help to transform the lives of these remarkable people. In that respect the trip falls within all the categories of the FairTrade Volunteering trademark, even if you are not actually volunteering to do some work in the jungle; the visit is still about making a positive impact on the people who live there. You can find more information about the benefits of your trip here and local benefits in Borneo here.
Our local provider is Adventure Alternative Borneo. Adventure Alternative Borneo complies with UK tourism standards.
Where we do use providers such as hostel and guesthouse owners and homestays these are people our Adventure Alternative Borneo staff have known for years, and spent time with to build up the trust between both parties. More information about Local Providers can be found on this page.
Type of Terrain
The rainforest is actually a very clean and pure place to visit. The canopy offers excellent shade from the intense sun and traps moisture however it can be very humid and you will need to continually drink water. We travel using trails which have been the jungle arteries for the local native residents for thousands of years. It is unlikely that we will be off the beaten track with a machete. Sometimes the paths can be muddy and slippery, there are logs to clamber over, and the terrain is up and down, but movement is never fast.
We will carry little, and there will be lots of stops for drinking and cooling off in the streams. Travel in the jungle is up and down, a lot of hills and often not much to see except the canopy above you and the impenetrable forest around you. Stand still for a moment and the animals will easily be seen and heard. The trails are wide enough for one person and it is important to stick together.
Kota Kinabalu and Sepilok
Accommodation is in small, family run guest houses. This are very comfortable with dormitory style, twin or double rooms, showers and western-style toilets.
Lupa Masa Jungle Lodge
Accommodation at Lupa Masa is basic but comfortable; nights are spent in stretcher-type hammocks in traditional “sulaps”, or for an even more unique adventure you can take an expedition hammock and guide and spend the night sleeping in the jungle under the forest canopy. In the bathrooms there are bucket showers, or an option which many guests prefer is to shower in one of the beautiful waterfalls or streams surrounding the lodge. Toilets are squat toilets, which you pour water into to flush.
Jungle longhouses and homestays
These are normally wooden structures built on stilts in a village area, with a large open space inside for laying out sleeping mats. They are comfortable and dry and perfectly safe, but it is very much communal. There will be a toilet nearby and water.
It is an attractive sea side lodge on the South China Sea. There is a white sandy beach, and spectacular sunsets make it an ideal base to start our trip. The food is excellent, and a small bar makes for a great atmosphere. All rooms are twinned and have attached bathrooms and fans.
You will need to be reasonably fit and any regular hill walker will find this expedition within his or her capabilities. A training programme should include regular hill walking with a small pack of around 10kgs, and regular visits to the gym or the swimming pool for the final two months before departure.
Adventure Alternative Support
Adventure Alternative supplies excellent guides and where appropriate local porters, plus of course all the villagers who will be supporting you. Our leader has a lot experience of travelling in Borneo and will manage the situations and help teach you any skills which you may not already have, but in the village there will be no better support or teacher than the local people.
- Strong, waterproof duffle bag or rucksack for your main gear
- Waterproof day sack of about 30 -40 litres for carrying your daily needs
- Variety of waterproof/zip lock bags - for dirty clothes, sleeping bag and things to keep dry
- Full length closed cell sleeping mat/therm-a-rest
- Sleeping liner or lightweight sleeping bag (1 season)
- Lightweight trekking boots with ankle support, and a sole that does not bend too easily
- Waterproof windbreaker and trousers, preferably breathable
- Base Layer (top & bottoms) for sleeping and Mt Kinabalu
- Pair of lycra style cycling shorts to wear whilst trekking (keeps leeches out!)
- Trekking clothes - lightweight trousers and shorts, shirts and T-shirts, jumper or midlayer fleece, underwear and several pairs of hiking socks, trainers or sandals
- Warm hat, lightweight and mid-weight gloves for Kinabalu
- Clothing for travel, dining in restaurants, and the heat and humidity of the coast
- Sun hat, sun lotion, SPF lip screen and sunglasses
- Swimming costume and small trek towel
- Sarongs x 2 (Kota Kinabalu – ideal style and cheaper)
- 2 x Water bottles and/or camelback (take a protective cover for the mouthpiece) and water purification tablets (iodine-based is fine)
- Head torch with spare batteries
- Camera with spare batteries
- Personal wash kit – include a nail brush, moisturising cream, a small towel, tweezers, soap, nail clippers and wet wipes
- Personal first aid – include aspirin, Nurofen, plasters, Germolene, Immodium, strepsils and prescription medicines for possible gastric problems
- Passport, insurance papers, spending money, air tickets, reading books, diary, pen
Additional Kit Info
Notes: Travel very light and compact in the jungle. In addition to the information below, this page will provide you with extra kit tips for trekking in the jungle.
The cycling shorts help to keep the leeches out and there are other leech deterrent products on the market including leech proof socks which you may find useful. Mosquito nets will be provided throughout the expedition and you may prefer to wait until reaching Kota Kinabalu before buying Sarongs, they are a better style and much cheaper.
Sandals are useful for camp but if you don't bring them with you then you'll be able to pick up a pair of local Adidas Kampung shoes on arrival.
Note that anything delicate, absorbant or electronic is likely to suffer from the damp atmosphere, all such items should be housed in a good quality waterproof stuff sack or pouch. Ruptable maunfacturers include Sea to Summit, Ortlieb and Overboard.
There are many brands/types of water purification bottles and you can get them in good outdoor/travel shops and online shops. The Aquapure Traveller Bottle or something similar works very well in Borneo.
Clothing should be lightweight cotton or synthetic (bear in mind that cotton is slow drying, a synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon will be much quicker drying) though no matter how quick drying your clothes are you should expect them to be damp at best throughout your time in the jungle!
- We offer small scale, authentic expeditions, which can also be tailormade.
- We employ fully salaried local staff within a local subsidary company to ensure that revenue is retained in the host nation.
- All our guides and staff are professionally trained and have years of proven experience.
- We have built up partnerships with local guides and drivers which are mutually beneficial and exist on a fair and open basis so that the host country and its people may fully benefit from tourism without being exploited.
- We are continually improving our quality service year on year.
- We are passionate about responsible tourism and our company supports sustainable development worldwide in a real way.
- Adventure Alternative underwrites the charity Moving Mountains.
- Financial security is guaranteed as we are AITO bonded.
- We are members of Interhealth which gives you access to pre-trip health information and on-site assistance by phone in the event of an emergency.
- Adventure Alternative financially supports the tree-planting project funded by Moving Mountains Trust, who are currently providing over £10,000 per year to the forest enrichment programme in the area where the Penan live.