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We just saw elephants in the wild!

Borneo Wildlife Safari

Example 4 Day Tour staying at Sukau Rainforest Lodge
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Explore the jungles of Borneo from the incredible Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World. Cruise the Kinabatangan River, considered the best place to view wildlife in all of Southeast Asia. Spend each day with your expert naturalist guide in search of pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and rhinoceros hornbills.  If you're lucky, you may even spot an orangutan in the tree above the lodge!
Bornean pygmy elephants looking cute by the riverSepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation CenterFinally close enough to a rhinoceros hornbill to get a picture!Borneo's lowland dipterocarp forestWe just saw elephants in the wild!
  • Stay at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge
  • Witness Bornean pygmy elephants and orangutans in the wild!
  • Explore the most wildlife-rich region of Borneo
  • Cruise the Kinabatangan River with your expert naturalist guide
Places Visited
Trip Type:
  • Adventure Life Exclusive
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Sandakan | Travel by Boat to the Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Upon arrival at Sandakan Airport meet your friendly guide and captain. Get acquainted before making your way to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where you can learn about the plight of the orangutan and local conservation efforts. A short ten-minute stroll through the rainforest on wooden boardwalks takes you to the viewing platform where you can witness recovering orangutans devour local fruits and interact with one another. If the great apes are feeling particularly friendly, you may even get the chance to see them up close, so be sure to hang onto your belongings!

After lunch, head to the Sandakan jetty and embark on a 2½ hour speedboat journey up the Kinabatangan River to the multi award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World. Keep an eye out for wildlife during the journey! Cool down with a refreshing drink and cold towel upon arrival. After checking in, take a few moments to savor afternoon tea and then head out into the wild on your first river safari.

Every boat is equipped with eco-friendly outboard engines (used along the main river where the current is strong) and an electric motor (used during wildlife viewing in the small tributaries) in search of wildlife and birds. Your position on the river is perfect for photographing mammals, birds, and amphibians along the river bank.

Return to the lodge for a candlelight buffet dinner overlooking the mighty river. Be sure to try on the Malaysian sarong found in your room so you can dine in style! Dinner is followed by a slide show and interpretation by your in-house naturalist guide. Stay overnight at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

Day 2: Explore the Kinabatangan River

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Rise this morning to the sound of a traditional Bornean gong and prepare to catch the rainforest as it wakes up. After a light breakfast, embark on a morning river cruise in search of mammals and birds that are most active in the early morning hours. Keep your eye out for the shy Bornean pygmy elephant on your way to the Kelenanap Oxbow Lake. Return to the lodge and enjoy a full breakfast on the deck, taking time to immerse yourself in your wild surroundings.

After breakfast, continue on an educational walking tour along the lodge's Hornbill Boardwalk with your naturalist guide. If you're itching for more activity, the lodge has many optional activities such as a pampering foot spa treatment, Batik Painting for the family, or a refreshing plunge in the Dip Pool. Following afternoon tea, head out onto the river once again in search of rhinoceros hornbills, blue-eared kingfishers, and pig-tailed macaques. Breathe in the rainforest as you return at sunset from your river cruise. Enjoy a candlelight dinner and overnight at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

Day 3: Gomantong Caves

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Greet the rainforest early for another morning cruise along the Menanggol River. Your guide uses a silent electric motor to aid in your search for wildlife, however with the waking cacophony of the rainforest, your cruise is hardly silent! Return to the lodge for a full breakfast, then take time to relax or enjoy one of the optional activities.

After lunch, make a 17-mile overland journey to the Gomantong Caves. The caves are surrounded by primary rainforest rich in fruiting fig trees, which make them an ideal place to spot orangutans in the wild. Spend your time exploring the caves and surroundings until sunset, when you are overwhelmed by the exodus of over two million bats heading out for the night!  Also witness swiftlets entering the caves to nest and raptors (eagles) swooping in and preying on the bats - a Bornean wildlife experience like no other! Return to Sukau Rainforest Lodge for your overnight stay.

Day 4: Return to Sandakan

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After breakfast, return to Sandakan by boat. With luck catch another glimpse of the Bornean pygmy elephant on your way downriver! Upon arrival back in Sandakan, visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre which has an impressive collection of native Bornean plants and is home to countless birds. Climb up to the canopy walkway and watchtower before exploring the botanical gardens, home to various species of flora including orchids and the famed Bornean Nepenthes pitcher plants.

For those interested, proceed to the Sandakan Memorial Park, built to remember lost POWs during World War II. Return to the Sandakan airport for your evening flight.


Sukau Rainforest Lodge

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When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).
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