Antarctica & Arctic
This adventure through the wilds of Sabah provides ample opportunities to spot the incredible endemic wildlife found on the island of Borneo
Destinations > Malaysia & Borneo > Borneo Wildlife Highlights
One nights simple homestay, 5 nights standard hotel, 2 nights simple hotel, 1 nights simple lodge accommodation; transportation by boat, flight, minibus; services of an Explore Worldwide tour leader, local English-speaking guides and rangers; 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners.
26 Jul; 9, 16 Aug; 6, 13 Sep; 18 Oct; 15 Nov; 24 Dec '20
Witness the excellent rehabilitation work being done at the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary, cruise along the Kinabatangan River and onto Oxbow lakes to spot wild proboscis monkeys and walk through the lush primary rainforests of the Danum Valley in search of the conservation area's rich wildlife. Along the way we stop in a homestay in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu, sample a natural fish spa and stay in a working scientific research centre.
Back to Malaysia & Borneo Tours
Experience spectacular wildlife in the rainforest
Visit spectacular Danum Valley
Enjoy wild orang-utan spotting
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Our trip starts in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Sabah region of Malaysia and Borneo's biggest city. KK (as it is affectionately known by the locals) is a cultural melting pot, with its inhabitants a mix of Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino, Indian and of course Malay. This blend of influences makes KK a foodie's dream, with fusion restaurants popping up all over town and street-food stalls serving up classics like Nasi Goreng (fried rice with spices) and satay alongside curries and kimchi. Tonight has been left free to explore the city's vibrant foodie scene.
We set off this morning to explore the sights of KK. Having been bombed extensively during World War II, KK's architecture is awash with modernity, occasionally interspersed with the remaining historical buildings, mosques and ramshackle markets. We first visit Tun Musthapha tower, and with being the tallest building in the city this skyscraper encapsulates the city's new and modern feel. Continuing on we get a feel for the cultural diversity of the city when visiting the beautiful Chinese temple of Puh Toh Tze followed by the impressive State Mosque. This much-photographed mosque features intricate examples of Islamic architecture with its gold motifs decorating its grand dome. We end at Signal Hill, where the observation platform offers great views over the city skyline. This afternoon has been left free to relax or to further explore the city, perhaps visiting the handicraft market. Alternatively there is an optional trip to the nearby Mari Mari village, a traditional settlement that celebrates and preserves the indigenous tribes of Borneo. (B)(L)
After a leisurely breakfast we leave the city limits and soon head into the Crocker Mountain Range, home to the highest mountain in South East Asia - Mount Kinabalu (4095m). En route we stop by the World War Two Memorial Park, which commemorates the thousands of Allied forces, including British and Australian that lost their lives at the hands of the Japanese empire. We then continue on to Desa Cattle Dairy Farm, located at the very foot of Mount Kinabalu. Covering some 199 hectares, the farm produces around 900,000 litres of milk each year from its Friesian cattle, quite an unexpected sight just 5 degrees from the equator! We take a short tour of the farm before getting to try some of the produce - the frozen yoghurt being a favourite for most. After lunch we continue our drive onto Himbaan Village, our rest stop for the night. The farm-stay here is set against the most dramatic of backdrops, where the summit of Mount Kinabalu is visible from its grounds. Here we spend time with the ethnic Dusan people, learning of their daily lives and trying our hand at picking pineapples at a local farm. We enjoy a traditional dinner shared with our hosts, concluded with an evening of ethnic music played on their bamboo instruments. Our accommodation here will be simple twin-share rooms with a shared western bathroom. Accommodation is no-frills, but clean and comfortable and offers a unique insight into the ways of life of the Dusan people. (B)(L)(D)
This morning we visit nearby Sungai Moroli Fish Spa. This community-run project is led by the enterprising villagers of the Luanti village. Legislation was passed to ban any fishing activities in the nearby Moroli River to preserve the environment and ecosystem of the area. The villagers were reliant on fishing as a livelihood, so had to look elsewhere for a source of income. The idea of the fish spa was born and now guests are welcomed to receive a unique spa experience including a dip in the river whilst the fish gently provide their natural treatment. Feeling refreshed we continue our journey east, and sticking with the spa theme we next visit Poring Hot Springs, an incredible collection of natural geothermal pools dotted throughout the forest. Here we can take a dip in the natural mineral-rich waters and spot monkeys and birds on the canopy walk that traverses the springs. From here we drive onto Sepilok, aiming to arrive in the late afternoon, where the remainder of the day is free. (B)(L)(D)
This morning we set off on foot to the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary. A highlight for many of Borneo's visitors, Sepilok is home to the largest of the three orang-utan rehabilitation centres in the world. Covering over 4,000 hectares of forest, the centre was established in 1964 to rehabilitate captured, injured or abandoned apes. So far about 100 'wild men of the forest' have been brought to the centre, and there has been a remarkable success rate with up to 75% having returned to the jungle. The animals are taught how to make nests and how to survive in their natural habitat. We plan to visit the centre in time for feeding when, along with the resident apes, females who normally live in the jungle, come to supplement their diet after the birth of their young. After lunch we will drive to Sukau, located along Sabah's longest river, the Kinabatangan. After some rest time we will set off for our first river cruise, hoping to spot some of the endemic wildlife dotted among Sukau's myriad waterways. For those feeling energetic, tonight we have the opportunity for a night walk in the jungle for a chance to spot nocturnal animals like the civet cat, tarsier, slow lloris as well as owls, frogs and a variety of insects. (B)(L)(D)
Waking to the distant calls of gibbons and hornbills, we rise for breakfast before joining a morning river cruise to Kelenanap Oxbow Lake. The Kinabatangan River area plays host to an incredible array of wildlife - a total of 10 primate species including proboscis monkeys, langur moneys, wild orang-utans, gibbons and macaques are all common sightings here. The area is also known for pygmy elephants, Malay sun bears, clouded leopards, crocodiles and the Sumatran rhino. Birdlife is just as prolific, with all eight species of hornbill present, not to mention kingfishers, ospreys, storks and eagles. We embark on another river cruise this afternoon where we hope to be able to spot some more of this varied wildlife from our boat with the help of our expert guide. After dinner this evening there will be the chance to go back out for a night cruise - an excellent opportunity to see the water lit up by fluorescent light, hoping to see the shine of a pair of eyes staring back at us. (B)(L)(D)
We head deeper into the rainforest today on our drive to the primary rainforests of the Danum Valley. We stop en route at Gomantong Caves, a large limestone cave complex with a huge inner chamber home to a number of bats and large a population of swifts. Twice a year under licence their nests are harvested for the much-revered Bird Nest's soup. After visiting the caves we continue on our drive, and on the route this morning we see many reminders of man's interference with nature. Much of the route to the conservation area has been de-forested and replaced with vast swathes of palm oil plantations. Malaysian Borneo and Indonesia account for over 90% of the world's production of palm oil, and the drive today gives first-hand experience of the problem it causes by displacing endemic and endangered wildlife and flora. The guide will add some extra insight into the palm-oil industry, a complex issue that isn't pleasant to witness, but is very much a reality in modern-day Borneo. Fortunately the Danum Valley has long been kept as a conservation area, meaning the rainforest here has remained entirely intact. The Danum Valley covers an area of 438 square kilometres of protected lowland primary rainforest. The majority of the conservation area comprises of Dipterocarp forest, with the canopy reaching heights of an astonishing 70 metres in places. A unique feature of the Danum Valley area is that historically there have been no human settlements here, allowing the flora and fauna to develop without impact from man. Our accommodation for the next two nights is the Danum Valley Field Centre, a working scientific research station offering basic but functional accommodation in the heart of the conservation area. Rooms are twin-share with en-suite facilities and fans for keeping cool. After checking in, we have a bit of time to relax before we set out on our first nature walk. (B)(L)(D)
Rising early this morning, we climb up to the observation deck to see the forest come alive at sunrise. With 360 degree views of the canopy below, we expect to see the morning mist rolling over the top of the trees whilst the chorus of waking birds echo through the forest. After breakfast we set off for a morning walk from our accommodation, hoping to spot some of the incredible wildlife found in the Danum Valley. Rare sightings of the clouded leopard and Sumatran rhino have been reported, along with the more common sightings of orang-utans, gibbons, sun bears, and pygmy elephants. The walks here are of an easy nature, estimated to take around 3 - 4 hours at a gentle pace with plenty of stops for water breaks and wildlife watching. The distances vary depending on the location of the wildlife. After a long lunch break back at the centre there is the chance for another afternoon walk, where we attempt to spot more animals and birds, as well as learn about the flora in the area such as the pitcher plant and giant Rafflesia flowers. In total more than 120 mammals (10 of which are primate)and over 300 species of birds can be found here. (B)(L)(D)
There is a final chance for another nature walk this morning before we leave our accommodation behind at lunch time and drive to Lahad Datu, the region's nearest city and provincial airport. We fly back to Kota Kinabalu, where the remainder of the day is free, perhaps to pick up souvenirs at the city's night market, or to get your last fix of the flavoursome Malaysian cuisine. (B)(L)
he trip ends in Kota Kinabalu this morning after breakfast. (B)
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