Wild Borneo - Sarawak tribes, Mulu Park and Batang Ai
Wild Borneo is a small group adventure, trekking deep into the interior of Sarawak to visit the Penan Tribe, followed by a journey into the Mulu National Park by plane and boat to visit the caves and then the famous Mulu Pinnacles. This is an active holiday that explores some places off the beaten track, perfect for the adventurous person also keen to explore the tribal culture of the region.
Flying into a remote jungle airstrip, the trip begins with a four night stay in the Ulu Baram region with Borneo’s last nomadic tribe, the Penan. Exploring this pristine primary rainforest with Penan guides and staying in local homestays, you will be supporting a community based tourism initiative while benefitting from a genuine cultural experience. The surrounding forest is home to a network of meandering waterways and hidden waterfalls, which you can explore with the local villagers.
Then an unorthodox route into Mulu National Park, sailing through the Park’s river network and taking a short flight from a jungle airstrip called Marudi. This World Heritage Site is renowned for it’s extensive cave system and is home to some of the world’s largest cave passages. Nature enthusiast will enjoy discovering some of Borneo’s incredibly diverse flora and fauna on guided treks through the park, before viewing the spectacular daily bat exodus from Deer Cave at dusk. A highlight is the rewarding two night trek to Mulu’s distinctive limestone Pinnacles for panoramic views of these rare rock formations rising from the rainforest canopy.
After a brief respite in the cultural capital of Kuching, travel to Batang Ai for a chance to explore the Borneo rainforest on foot in search of the elusive orang-utan and stay in an Iban community homestay.
You need to be quite fit for this trip, the trekking element in the forest and especially going to the Mulu pinnacles is relatively demanding, mostly due to the effects of heat and humidity that will tax your body. After a few days your body will have acclimatised and in the villages there is plenty of opportunity to swim and cool down in the river and fresh pools. It is beneficial that you arrive on the trip healthy and in good physical shape, and ideally you will have done some training like swimming, cycling and gym exercises.
What types of terrain will we come across on the Wild Borneo Adventure?
The rainforest is a clean environment. the canopy offers excellent shade from the intense sun and traps moisture, however it can be very humid and a you will need to drink a lot of water. 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 slow, about 10 kms 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. 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.
The Pinnacles trek will involve a lot of climbing on the ascent day; the ascent will take you through the unique limestone forest, climbing ladders up some quite sharp and rocky surfaces to spectacular summit views of the pinnacle formations.
There is also quite a lot of travel on the rivers of Borneo in longboats.
Do I need any experience to join the Wild Borneo Adventure?
You do not need to have any previous experience for this expedition as our local 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, how to keep yourself clean and how to travel efficiently. During the Mulu Pinnacles trek, you will have a park certified guide who is very experienced in leading travellers on this trek. For any optional caving at Mulu National park, you will need experience in adventure caving to be allowed to join.
Why us for the Wild Borneo Adventure?
- We are the only organisation with the links with the Penan people because our partner charity Moving Mountains spent years donating to their tree planting programme.
- The Iban community centre was set up with our help and the local villagers have asked us to help them set up a sustainable tourism experience.
- We have our own company, offices and very experienced western and local staff based in Borneo.
- We are almost the only company visiting some of our more remote wildlife and trekking areas in both Sabah and Sarawak, and we try to avoid all the standard holiday routes.
- Adventure Alternative is built on a model of ethical business practices and responsible travel ethos. Our awards for 'Best Personal Contribution' in 2009 and 'Best for Poverty Reduction' highlight our commitment to these principles.
- These trips mostly cater to small groups with private dates, which allows us to offer a bespoke itinerary. So it is easy to add on additional places to visit or adjust the itinerary a bit to suit family preferences.
Kit and Packing List Information for Borneo
We are happy to provide you with a comprehensive jungle packing list for your Wild Borneo tour. In the meantime, please see our Jungle Kit List page for an overview of what to pack for the jungle.
Wild Borneo Itinerary
|1||Arrive Miri, Sarawak|
|2||Journey to the Ulu Baram by plane, boat and on foot. This is the interior of Sarawak where the Penan tribe lives.|
|3 - 5||Activities with the Penan Tribe. Exploring the forest, hunting, blowpipe making, cooking, making hammocks, skills for living in the jungle, music, visiting the sites of forest logging and seeing the areas of re-planting.|
|6||4x4 and longboat from the villages to a small airstrip at Marudi and short flight to Mulu National Park, followed by further boat ride to the centre.|
|7||Explore Mulu Caves|
|8 & 9||Trek to the Mulu Pinnacles|
|10||Fly from Mulu to the cultural city of Kuching. Accommodation in a local hotel and local sightseeing.|
|11-14||Travel to a local Iban community 3 hours from Kuching with wild orangutans and proboscis monkeys to see, and stay in a jungle chalet right next to a waterfall. This is a joint venture with the community and part of our commitment to the villagers to bring the benefits of sustainable tourism to their region.|
|15||Return to Kuching and depart or we can advise onward travel around Kuching or continue to Sabah, Borneo.|
Wild Borneo Cost £1815.00
- Local guides as specified in the Penan villages, Mulu National Park and Bako National Park
- Organisation and staffing from the local Penan people, covering all of their costs for guiding, translating and hosting visitors in their homes
- All accommodation including homestays and hostels in Mulu park
- Internal flights to Penan villages, Mulu and Kuching
- 4x4 & boat transport in the Penan area and onward to Mulu
- All National Park entry fees & permit
- Meals as stated in the itinerary
- International airfare to Borneo, (Miri start and Kuching departure)
- Personal travel insurance
- Vaccinations and medication required
- Personal expenses for soft/hard drinks, souvenirs, phone calls, laundry, tips, etc
- Optional activities including adventure caving at Mulu and Kuching attractions.
Our local provider is Adventure Alternative Borneo. 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.
Choose a scheduled date or contact us to set up private dates or a bespoke itinerary. The minimum deposit is £100.00 and the balance is due six weeks before travel.