Itinerary

Day 1

Depart

Depart aboard your independent flight. (Meals Aloft)

Day 2

International Dateline

Cross the International Dateline and “lose” a day en route. It is important to note that, depending on your point of origin and flight of choice, your flight to Kota Kinabalu could be may take one or two full days. (Meals Aloft) 

Day 3

Kota Kinabalu

Arrive in Kota Kinabalu to begin your Borneo tour and overnight at Hyatt Regency. Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinanbalu – called KK by the locals – sits on the South China Sea overlooking clusters of coral islands. The balance of the day is at your leisure. (Meals Aloft)

Day 4

Likas Wetlands Bird Sanctuary / Mount Kinabalu National Park

After breakfast, we head out for a morning tour of the Likas Wetlands Bird Sanctuary. Formerly known as the Likas Mangrove, this sanctuary is the only remnant of a once extensive mangrove forest. Nine species of mangroves grow in this urban wetland, where more than 85 species have been recorded. Likas is an important feeding and breeding ground for many migratory birds. Among the species we can expect to find are breeding colonies of purple herons, rufous night herons and black-crowned night herons. The mangrove canopy plays host to white collard kingfishers, stork-billed kingfishers and spotted doves. Drive over the ridges of the Crocker Range, through padi (rice) fields and Dusun villages, to the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest mountain. By the time we reach Kundasang we are at an elevation of 5,000 feet. After checking into Hill Lodge we visit the Education Centre and Botanic Garden with its extensive collection of native plants including over 1,000 species of orchids, 26 species of flowering rhododendrons, nine species of carnivorous pitcher plants and many more. Mount Kinabalu National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to 12 climatic zones with varied flora and fauna to match. (B,L,D)

 borneo travel long tailed </p />
<p>macaque

 

Day 5

Mount Kinabalu National Park

Begin our day with a nature walk through the cool montane forest, taking in some of the striking endemic Whitehead’s trogon and greater racket-tailed drongo among some of the other 300 species which have been recorded in the area. Head to Timpohon Gate, where we begin a moderate climb that takes us to approximately 7,000 feet on 13,301-foot Mount Kinabalu, the highest summit in Borneo. As we begin, giant tree ferns and hanging mosses give the forest a feeling of enchantment. Oak trees are dominant here; over 40 species of this family have been recorded. Mount Kinabalu is also known for its variety of wild orchids, with approximately 1,200 species found in the park. Also of particular interest are pitcher plants, which have adapted to the nitrogen-poor soil by supplementing their diet with nutrients from insects that are trapped and digested within the plant. Reaching higher elevations, we begin to enter the clouds, an ideal environment for luxuriant plant growth. Return to our resort and relax before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 6

Mount Kinabalu / Poring Hot Spring / Sepilok

After an early breakfast we depart for Poring Hot Springs, on Mount Kinabalu National Park’s eastern boundary. While Mount Kinabalu is best known for its montane forests, the Poring area is lowland rainforest. Explore the jungle trail that leads up to the treetop canopy walkway, where we have the opportunity to experience life in the rainforest canopy, over 150 feet in the air. From this unique vantage point, observe flying lizards, Prevost’s squirrels and red leaf monkeys. Keep your bird list handy to add many of the area’s species, including Asian fairy bluebird, Whitehead’s spider hunter and gold-whickered barbet. For those who wish, the natural hot springs offer a relaxing swim. Also evident in the reserve is perhaps one of the greatest wonders in the botanical world — the giant rafflesia. This parasitic plant is devoid of leaves, stems or roots, and the buds can take up to 18 months to mature. The rafflesia’s dramatic blooms last only a few days. If a rafflesia is in bloom, park rangers will put out signage to guide us to it. This afternoon we continue east to the Sepilok Forest Reserve. We overnight at the Sepilok Nature Resort. (B,L,D)

 borneo tour cave mulu national </p />
<p>park

 

Day 7

Sepilok Forest Reserve

Our Borneo expedition itinerary is set up so that we are first for the morning orangutan feeding. The Sepilok Forest Reserve has long been the site of a program where orangutans rescued from captivity are carefully reintroduced to the wild. Our experience observing these great apes face to face is unforgettable, and the photographic opportunities are excellent. Also pay a visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Founded in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide for the care, rehabilitation, and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally. The Rainforest Discovery Center evolved from a small center in 1996 into one of Malaysia’s most popular and important rainforest educational institutions. Explore the Sepilok rainforest from both above and below, enjoying the Center’s canopy walkway and forest trails. (B,L,D)

Day 8

Selingan (Turtle) Island

After breakfast, we set out by boat for Selingan (Turtle) Island. Selingan Island has been developed to house the headquarters for Turtle Island National Park – one of Southeast Asia’s most important breeding grounds for green and hawksbill turtles. The park is made up of three islands — Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakungan Kecil and Pulau Gulisan, and Selingan offers beautiful white-sand beaches and clear waters for snorkeling. Spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling or bird-watching on the beach. Our accommodations at the Selingan Island Chalets are basic but comfortable, and allow us to witness the arrival of the turtles at night as they come ashore to lay eggs. Our evening is spent watching the green turtles with a park ranger, who may invite you to help in his work as they transfer eggs to a hatchery or release young turtle hatchlings into the sea. (B,L,D)

 borneo travel mt kinabalu

 

Day 9

Sandakan / Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

As we continue our Borneo adventure, travel back across the bay to Sandakan, a thriving port city. Visit the local market, a hive of activity, before taking a boat to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the highest concentration of orangutans in Malaysia. And, while there is no guarantee we will see them, the sanctuary is also home to the rare Borneo rhinoceros, a subspecies of the endangered Sumatran rhino. Take a boat cruise in search of nocturnal wildlife after dinner. Our home for three nights is the award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge. (B,L,D)

 borneo tour proboscis monkey

 

Days 10 & 11

Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

Set out by boat on the Kinabatangan River early this morning in search of fascinating wildlife such as Borneo’s most unusual resident, the proboscis monkey. Most groups of proboscis monkeys include a dominant male, and a harem of several females and their young. The dominant male is noted by his enormous pendulous nose, long white tail and husky stature. His odd nose is a matter of sexual dimorphism, and the females seem to find it attractive. Bachelor groups consist of all males and an encounter with a harem results in an incredible commotion as the dominant male defends his family. On our excursion, we pass through a narrow branch of the Kinabatangan, entering an oxbow lake as we try to spot proboscis monkeys. Thick patches of hyacinths are found along the shore, and small frogs and dragonflies rest on the floating vegetation. Macaques and leaf monkeys stir in the trees, while higher in the canopy a large nest of foliage may reveal the whereabouts of wild orangutans.

On a short nature walk near our lodge, look for signs of the endangered Borneo pygmy elephant, most concentrated in this region of Borneo. Other animals we might encounter include silver and red leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques, and an array of butterflies and other insects. Set out by boat for a longer journey up the Mennangul River, giving us more time and opportunities to see the wildlife of this area. The Menanggul River is considered one of the best wildlife viewing rivers in Borneo, a mix of fig, orchid and rattan entwined riverine forest with freshwater swamps. Chinese egrets are common, as are oriental darters that surface, skip along the water and take flight. Along the river’s edge stork-billed and rufous-backed kingfishers perch, waiting for their next catch. Mammals we may encounter in this area include small-clawed otters and wild pigs. As the sun sets listen for proboscis monkeys. We have the opportunity to observe their fascinating and often amusing habits. Rivers are very important to the proboscis monkey, as every night they sleep in trees adjacent to the river. So our evening boat excursions are the ideal time to spot these creatures as they return to the water’s edge — a spectacular end to any naturalist’s day! We may take a walk on the trails behind the lodge or a boat excursion to search for noctural wildlife. Pay a privileged and private visit to Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program (HUTAN) to search for their wild orangutans and learn about the “man of the forest” from the dedicated researches. How long the visit lasts will depend on how easily the orangutans are found. Since they are wild, this cannot be predicted. Very few people are allowed into HUTAN on a yearly basis. Only a dozen guests per day can have access to the area, so our Borneo tour group will divide and visit on separate days. (B,L,D Daily)

 borneo travel chinese egret

 

Day 12

Gomatong Cave / Danum Valley

Our Borneo tour itinerary takes us from the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to Gomantong Caves. A short walk through the forest brings us to the cave entrance. The caves are home to bats, crabs and swiftlets, the nests of which are harvested for bird’s-nest soup, a local delicacy. Continue toward Lahad Datu, a small town in southeastern Sabah. Following lunch we continue into the remote interior of Sabah. Spend four nights at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, located on the Danum River in the heart of the reserve. The Danum Valley is regarded as the best wildlife viewing in Borneo and is the last track of virgin rainforest in Malaysia. A night safari is an extraordinary opportunity to discover the sights and sounds emanating deep from within the rainforest. (B,L,D)

Day 13

Danum Valley

We familiarize ourselves with the surrounding trail systems on a morning nature walk, led by expert local naturalists. Red leaf monkeys and pied and rhinoceros hornbills are commonly seen in this area. Though harder to spot, Borneo pygmy elephants are also found in the Danum Valley, along with other rare species such as sun bear and clouded leopard. We may catch a glimpse of them if we are very lucky. This afternoon, hike to the top of a nearby ridge where an ancient burial site is located and stop at a waterfall for a refreshing dip. Watch the trees for Draco flying lizards, seen as they glide from tree to tree, and hornbills foraging in the canopy. (B,L,D)

 borneo nature tour giant rafflesia

 

Day 14

Danum Valley

Take a short hike to the canopy walkway. The walkway offers an excellent vantage point for studying birds and mammals from an elevated position and to experience species that inhabit only the forest canopy. Over 220 species of birds have been recorded in the Danum Valley, including the colorful Baird’s trogon, great argus pheasant and Borneon bristlehead. There have also been orangutan sightings from the walkway! As night falls, the haunting symphony of the Emperor cicada fills the air. Take a drive to spotlight for nocturnal animals. We may encounter the Western tarsier, a tiny prosimian with enormous eyes that enable it to see well in the dark. (B,L,D)

Day 15

Danum Valley

The bubbling sound of the Borneon gibbon carries on the morning air, beckoning visitors to explore the wonders of the forest. Early morning and late afternoon nature walks are the perfect opportunity to observe wildlife at these peak activity times. As our naturalist guides lead us through the forest we may encounter mouse deer, red leaf monkey, bearded pig and a host of birdlife. (B,L,D)

 borneo tour golden moth orchids

 

Day 16

Danum Valley / Kota Kinabalu

After breakfast drive to Lahad Datu for our flight to Kota Kinabalu. Check into the Hotel Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and enjoy time to relax and reflect on our Borneo adventure before our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Day 17

Kota Kinabalu / U.S.

Transfer to the airport for independent flights home. Re-crossing the Date Line, you typically “gain” a day on your return to the U.S., arriving back on the same day. (B, Meals Aloft)