Overview

BorneoCamp is a month long adventure which is part of our school expedition series. It's also the hardest one! So this trip tends to attract smaller groups who are ready for a great challenge and a unique chance to visit an indigenous tribe in the jungles of Sarawak and see how our charity is working with them to plant thousands of trees and provide advocacy against logging. Added to that, the trip includes a jungle survival course, a river safari, snorkelling on the tropical islands, climbing Mt Kinabalu, homestays in the Malay villages and rafting!

This trip directly supports our tree planting programme and will allow you to get your hands dirty collecting seeds, planting saplings and working at the nurseries deep in the forest, while living in the Penan villages and seeing how this amazing tribe lives.

Itinerary

BROAD ITINERARY

The trip is 30 days in total and criss-crosses Sabah and Sarawak using a variety of forms of transport including light aircraft, canoes, 4x4 and on foot! The itinerary follows the broad plan below, with plenty of time for travelling and spending time in each place to properly appreciate and enjoy the experience. You will first be in Sarawak to do a jungle course and spend time in the Penan area before travelling to Sabah to complete your Borneo adventure!

Volunteering & Culture: Tree planting, village stay and trek in the Penan area in Sarawak, jungle survival course - 11 days
Adventure: River journey in Sabah, and staying in our Lupa Masa jungle camp - 6 days
Expedition: Mt Kinabalu - 3 days
Coast: Rafting, island snorkelling and beaches, and visiting the Orangutan rehabiliation centres - 6 days
Rest days, flights and travel days - 4 days

DETAILED ITINERARY
DayElevationTravel TimeInfo
1-2Depart UK (usually on an overnight flight to Kuala Lumpur). Arrive in Kuala Lumpur the following day and transfer to a connecting flight to Kuching, in Borneo. Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, it is a charming city with a fascinating history surrounding it. Meet your Adventure Alternative leader at the airport and transfer to the guesthouse.
3We will spend this morning in Kuching getting to know the city, preparing for the project and buying any supplies. In the afternoon we will transfer to our jungle camp to continue our acclimatisation and start to get to know the jungles of Borneo. The camp also has it's own private beach and there will be time to swim. We will be based here for the next two nights.
4We will spend the full day at the jungle camp where we will have an introduction to Borneo and take part in a jungle course, to give us a good introduction to the wonderful rainforests of Borneo. Overnight at the jungle camp.
5We will leave the jungle camp after breakfast and travel to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre for the morning feeding of the Orangutans. Semenggoh was established to care for and rehabilitate wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned or were previously kept as illegal pets. We will then take an afternoon flight to Miri and transfer to our guesthouse for the night.
6-8Today we fly into the jungle in the interior of Borneo, to an airstrip near the village of Long Lellang. We will then begin our trek to the Penan villages which we will be staying in and where Moving Mountains works. This is a beautiful trek through one of the oldest rainforests on Earth. You will be guided by our Adventure Alternative leader and local Penan guides. We will travel self-sufficiently, using hammocks overnight en-route. Sleeping in hammocks under the canopy listening to the jungle around you at night is a fantastic, unforgettable experience. We will camp by rivers and streams overnight. Baths and showers will be in these rivers and streams and food will be similar to that in the villages; rice and lots of amazing jungle vegetables collected from the surrounding area. In the afternoon of day 8 we will arrive in the village of Long Kerong where we will be welcomed by our hosts. We will be staying here with the Penan people in their homes for the next four nights.
9-11In the morning we will have an introduction to the village. The Penan people are considered the jungle experts throughout much of Borneo and rely on the rainforest for their daily needs. Over the next few days we will spend time learning about the way of life of the Penan people and their native skills and knowledge such as the vast array of medicinal and edible plants in the forest, and of course how to make the infamous blow pipes and poison darts. We will also visit the tree nurseries and other work Moving Mountains Trust supports in this area. Our time here is planned for maximum flexibility, so that we can get the most out of this experience. We can have the opportunity to assist in the planting of saplings in the forest, take walks into the jungle to swim in nearby waterfalls and simply relax in a beautiful environment surrounded by nature. Food is simple, healthy and organic. Expect lots of rice and wonderful jungle vegetables such as jungle fern and wild ginger flower. Baths and showers are often taken in rivers and waterfalls, however some houses may have a room for washing, with bucket showers. Your hosts are incredibly friendly and welcoming and you will be very comfortable and well looked after. The Penan people make some of the best quality and beautifully designed rattan baskets and mats in Sarawak,and as a memento of your trip there is no better place to buy.
12After breakfast we will travel by long boats from Long Kerong to Long Sepigen. We will be welcomed by our hosts and have an introduction to the village.
13-14We will spend the next two days in Long Sepigen. Over these two days we will continue to learn about the life of the Penan people, we will spend time visiting the Moving Mountains tree nurseries and projects in the area and will also learn how to build bamboo rafts and test these in the river!
15After breakfast we will bid farewell to our hosts and begin the journey to Long Akah, from where we will fly back to Miri. We will leave Long Sepigen early and travel by long boats to the village of Long Suit. From Long Suit it is then about an hour and a half in 4 x 4s to Long Akah to catch our flight back to Miri. After landing in Miri we will fly to the coastal city of Sandakan in Sabah, on a connecting flight from Miri via Kota Kinabalu to begin the next stage of our adventure. After landing we will transfer to our guesthouse, near Sepilok where we can have a hot shower. We will spend the next two nights here so will have time to wash some clothes!
16After breakfast we will visit the famous Sepilok Organutan Rehabilitation Centre for the morning feeding of the Orangutans before heading to the Rainforest Discovery Centre nearby where we can climb the impressive canopy walkway.
17After breakfast we will travel to the jetty in Sandakan where we will take river boats to our homestay on the Kinabatangan river. Our journey takes us through the mangrove and nipa palm forests to the mouth of the Kinabatangan river and our homestay, in a village only accessible by boat. The local families are Muslim and have started a new homestay and tree planting program. Upon arrival you will meet your friendly host family before heading back out onto the river for a wildlife safari. We hope to spot the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Orangutan, the endemic Proboscis Monkey and rare bird species such as the Storm's Stork and Oriental Darter to name but a few.
18This morning we will take a dawn river cruise to a lovely ox-bow lake as the morning river mist slowly lifts. After breakfast we will spend some time visiting and taking part in the tree planting program. Overnight in the homestays.
19After 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. We will spend the next two nights at a river lodge in this village.
20Today we will spend our day at the river lodge and in the surrounding area.
21After breakfast we will transfer, by road to Poring Hot Springs. From Poring village it is a 30 minute walk through the forest to reach our jungle lodge, Lupa Masa, where we will stay for two nights. Our page on Lupa Masa can provide you with more information: http://goo.gl/xAIzK
22We will spend today at Lupa Masa surrounded by primary forest, rivers and waterfalls, which are spectacular and very relaxing! 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, and 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.
23After breakfast we will walk back from Lupa Masa to the road at Poring where our bus will take us up to the cool mountain air of Mesilau resort in the Kinabalu National Park. At 2,000m Mesilau is the start of the next day's trek up the mountain. If time, in the afternoon there will be a chance to watch a short video about the park and view some rare orchids and pitcher plants.
24-25The team will ascend the mountain by the Mesilau route. There is an excellent trail set in amazing countryside of montane forest, mountain streams and ridges. After 6-8 hours trekking we reach Laban Rata lodge at 3,200m. This will be a long and challenging day but with the local mountain guides to help we expect everyone to make it. Laban Rata provides dormitory accommodation with sheets and blankets, and a restaurant for dinner in the evening. From here there can be wonderful sunsets and fantastic views across Borneo and the South China Sea. Day 25 will see an early start at 2 a.m for our final climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4095m) for sunrise. The first hour is usually the hardest but with effort and perserverence the summit is obtainable. From the top with luck an unforgettable sunrise and views across Borneo. We will spend maybe one hour at the top before returning to Laban Rata for a welcome breakfast. From there it is 5-7 hours to the main park h.q and our hostel for the night.
26-28After breakfast we will transfer to a nearby beach for the next 3 nights. Here we can spend some time snorkeling and swimming in the crystal clear waters.
29We will be picked up after breakfast and taken to the start of the rafting (optional). This is a safe grade 1-2 river in a beautiful setting and will take approximately 2 hours. There will be time for swimming and at the end a buffet lunch. From here we will transfer to Kota Kinabalu, for our final night.
30Depart Kota Kinabalu. You can either depart back home, or we can provide any other optional add-on trips throughout Borneo.

Cost

School Expedition to Borneo - 'Borneocamp' cost £1,895.00

INCLUDES
  • Expedition guide
  • Organisation and staffing from our office and the local Penan people, covering all of their costs for guiding, translating and hosting visitors in their homes
  • All food and meals during the trip, which includes any food eaten in homes in the village, and any time spent collecting food on our behalf, and collective parties
  • All accommodation, as stated in the itinerary
  • Longboats in the Penan area and all other river transport
  • Internal flights from Kuching to Miri, from Miri to the jungle airstrip by small light aircraft & return, and from Miri to Sandakan
  • 4x4 transport in the Penan area and all other road transport
  • Jungle survival course
  • Entry to Sepilok and Semenggoh Wildlife Centres
  • UK and Borneo office backup and support.
EXCLUDES
  • International airfare to Borneo, via Kuala Lumpur
  • Vaccinations and anti-malarials required
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Fundraising total for the Moving Mountains tree planting project (min £250 pp)
  • Mt Kinabalu Climb (£200)
NOT ALL ABOUT MONEY

This trip works directly with the Penan people in Sarawak. We are also working with the Penan people through Moving Mountains Trust to protect and enrich their rainforest. This work is to assist the Penan communities in a process of long-term sustainable community development.

INSURANCE

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 and also of the European Travel Directive.

You can find out more information about taking out an insurance policy here

LOCAL PROVIDERS

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.

Fitness

You do not need to be super-fit for this trip, however the expedition element is moderately demanding with some long days of sustained walking with a backpack. The effects of heat and humidity will also further tax your body. You will enjoy the trip all the more if you are in good physical shape having exercised regularly and eaten nutritiously over at least the 6 months leading up to the trip.

You do need to be in good health as we will spend some time in locations that are many hours from professional medical care. Any pre-existing medical or dental conditions should be fully appraised by a doctor and their nature fully disclosed to your insurer and to ourselves.

TYPE OF TERRAIN

Rainforest:

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 a lot of water will need to be continually drunk. We travel using trails and the rivers which have been the jungle arteries for the local native residents for hundreds of years. It is very unlikely that you’ll be off the beaten track with a machete. Sometimes the paths can be muddy and slippery, and there are logs to clamber over, streams to cross and it is always up and down.

Movement in the jungle is generally very slow, about 10km maximum per day, and it is easy to feel exhausted after just a few hours. Keeping rehydrated is paramount and looking out for natural dangers such as thorns or tripping over moss-covered rocks. It is unlikely you will see much wildlife while on the move, except for birds but if you keep very still and quiet you will find the jungle is full of wildlife! Just a short while spent listening and watching carefully will yield some tremendous sights of indigenous mammals like the red leaf monkey. Moving through the jungle you will begin to see how a completely green and seemingly impenetrable terrain is actually filled with ‘signposts’ and guides; the lore of the jungle is what you have come to experience.

Crossing streams is an ideal time to have a quick cooling down in the water, get some liquid on board and take a rest, however some of the streams become minor cataracts after a heavy downpour. You should buy locally made jungle shoes to walk in, these are rubber and they have moulded studs for grip on the muddy ground, some also have holes in them for aeration.

Mt Kinabalu:

Mount Kinabalu is an oval-shaped granite dome which arose from volcanic and tectonic movements about 1.5 million years ago, which was followed by glacial erosion during the Ice Age, and this accounts for the smooth rock surface. The lower slopes are steep, but the path is well trodden with regular water stops and many wooden steps that meander ever upwards. There is no doubt that it seems never-ending, especially in the midday heat! As you trek through the vegetation zones, there are many view points to enjoy and lots of stops. A lot of people climb the mountain, so you are rarely alone, although you do feel very jealous of those coming down.

Above the hut at Laban Rata you pass onto the high plateau, from vegetation to rock, and the terrain is altogether different. It is utterly bare of plant life, just miles of granite and many peaks and spires. It is easy to walk across, except when it is raining. When the surface is wet you have to be very careful of slipping. When the cloud comes down it is very easy to get lost up on this plateau, so be very aware of the weather and stick close to your guides.

Coming down the mountain can be difficult too, with hundreds of steps to negotiate until your knees are complaining and your feet are sore. Again, it seems never-ending, but at least you are now passing people on their way up who are feeling jealous of you!

CAMPS USED

In Kuching, near Sepilok and Kota Kinabalu we stay in small, family run guest houses. This are very comfortable with dormitory style or twin rooms, showers and western-style toilets.

The jungle camp by the beach near Kuching is basic but comfortable. Nights are spent in simple jungle huts by the beach.

During our trek to the Penan area we will be using fly camps, and the expedition will be travelling self-sufficiently, using hammocks enroute. This is one of the great experiences of the trip; sleeping under the forest canopy listening to the jungle around. In the villages we will be staying in homestays with the local Penan people. In the villages the people live in homes built from the jungle. Life in the villages follows an ancient rhythm of hunting, foraging, gathering and socialising. The pace is slow and the priority is the community itself. The house are comfortable and we will receive a very warm and friendly welcome. Some houses have bucket showers, but on some occasions baths and showers are taken in rivers and streams. Most of the houses have long drop toilets. Our homestays in the Bilit and Abai villages in Sabah will be a similar style to the homestays in the Penan area.

Accommodation at Lupa Masa is basic but comfortable; nights are spent in stretcher-type hammocks in traditional “sulaps”. 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.

Accommodation on Mt Kinabalu is in the Mesilau Resort and Laban Rata Hut. Accomodation at Mesilau is very comfortable with showers and western style toilets. Laban Rata is a comfortable hut with dormitory style bedrooms, toilets and showers. Laban Rata is heated and provides a buffet dinner and breakfast.

On the beach accommodation is in dormitory style bedrooms and is basic but comfortable.

EXPERIENCE NEEDED

You do not need to have any previous experience for this expedition as our guides will show you everything you need to know. The Penan people will show you how to live off the jungle, how to make a plate out of a leaf, and how to travel efficiently.

Clearly this trip is quite challenging if you are expecting modern amenities, since there are none in the jungle, so the trip will require patience, teamwork and a willingness to work with Mother Nature! Sometimes the heat and humidity can be debilitating, and sap even the most positive of minds. Mental preparation and an open mind are essential!

It is important to point out that the challenge is a non-technical trek to climb Mt Kinabalu alongside the various other elements of the trip. 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 5-10kgs, 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.

In the Penan area the expedition is self-sufficient and the leader will have satellite communication and a group first aid/jungle repair kit but there is no doubt that this trip requires common sense and teamwork. Getting out of the area in the event of an accident or emergency will mean doing the same journey in, in order to get out. This means potentially carrying somebody to the 4x4, and then getting to the light aircraft as soon as possible.

On Mt Kinabalu we will have porters to help with the bags, and also any tents, food, stoves and fuel. You will have to carry some personal clothing plus water, camera and sundry items amounting to no more than about 8 kgs.

Kit List

  • Jungle kit
  • Rucksack with waterproof Liner (Max 10kg small plane allowance)
  • Dry bags to keep clothes etc in x 4
  • Sleeping bag Liner made of cotton or silk
  • Sleeping mat – basic foam type
  • Sleeping clothes, light and long sleeved (cotton)
  • Sweater (light weight fleece) – can be cold at night
  • Trekking clothes either lightweight long pants and shirt or t shirt and shorts, plus a change of clothes (Will be wet all the time, must be quick drying)
  • Astroturf or rubber studded football boots (Or buy a pair of rubber shoes in Borneo for approx £2)
  • Sandals
  • Leech socks x1 pair
  • Trekking socks x 3 pairs
  • Underwear – include a pair of tight cycling shorts
  • Head torch and spare torch
  • Sun Hat, sun glasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Penknife and small repair kit, tape, cable ties etc
  • Cutlery or spork
  • Mess tin which doubles as plate
  • Mug
  • Karabiner for hanging bags etc off the ground
  • Spare Water bottle, 1 litre capacity, nalgene type with wide mouth
  • AquaPure water treatment bottle (0.7 litre)
  • Swimming costume/shorts
  • Camera (waterproof type or waterproof bag) – spare battery/memory
  • Personal medications
  • Washing gear, toothpaste, soap (environmentally friendly variety), lightweight towel, toilet paper in plastic bag
  • First aid kit, sun cream, talc
  • Mozzie spray and anti-malaria tablets
  • Hammock
  • Main Bag (Not taken into jungle):
  • 100 litre duffle bag (20kg airplane allowance)
  • Clothes for use before and after the jungle (everything from the jungle will need washing or throwing away!)

Why Us

  • 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