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Exploring the dense jungle of Bako National Park

Borneo Wildlife Discoverer

Small Group Adventure - Example 15 Day Tour
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Join this 15-day Borneo Wildlife Discoverer small-group trip. Start your adventure in Bako National Park, home to the proboscis monkeys, where the rainforest meets the sea. Continue to Mulu National Park, featuring the world's largest cave passage at Deer Cave and Lang's Cave though much smaller, but has stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations. As you continue your trip in Mulu, explore the park's show caves, among them the Clearwater Cave. Take a morning flight out of Mulu and onto Kota Kinabalu, known as KK to the locals. Explore Mount Kinabalu National Park, home to the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary en route to Sepilok, then visit Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. Lastly, finish the trip in the historic port town of Sandakan.
Long tailed macaque in Bako National ParkSunset over the town of Kuching, Sarawak, MalaysiaDiscovering Bako National ParkKinabalu GeoParkWild Proboscis MonkeyExploring the dense jungle of Bako National Park
Highlights
  • Spot orangutans and proboscis monkeys
  • Visit Mulu National Park, home to the Deer Cave bat exodus
  • Enjoy a river cruise in Kinabatangan
  • Explore Mount Kinabalu National Park
Places Visited
  • Asia
  • Borneo
  • Malaysia
  • Sarawak
  • Bako National Park
  • Danum Valley Field Centre
  • Gomantong Cave
  • Kinabalu National Park
  • Kinabatangan
  • Kota Kinabalu
  • Kuching
  • Mulu
  • Mulu National Park
  • Sabah
  • Sandakan
  • Sepilok Nature Resort
Activity Level: Easy Active
Moderately active but not overly strenuous. This level includes activities like casual cycling, yoga, or excursions/activities that typically last 3-5 hours total each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive in Kuching

Kuching, the capital of the Sarawak state, is a vibrant riverside city full of different ethnic groups who migrated here from the surrounding forests. With a great museum and a well-preserved colonial center, there is much to do in this cultural hot spot.

You can arrive at any time. There is a group briefing at 6 pm with your tour leader, after which you can have dinner at the waterfront hawkers’ stalls.
 

Day 2: Day trip to Bako National Park to see Proboscis Monkeys

Enjoy your first foray into the amazing nature of Borneo as you head to nearby Bako National Park, home to proboscis monkeys. Here, the rainforest meets the sea and the only way to get to the park is by boat (after a one-hour drive out of the city). It has abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plants, secluded beaches, and trekking trails. Despite being the smallest national park in Sarawak, Bako contains almost every type of vegetation in Borneo. You return to Kuching for the night.

Please note, that tides and weather conditions often dictate your time at Bako. Your leader informs you of the details the previous day.

Day 3: Fly to Mulu National Park | Sunset Walk to Deer Cave for Bat Exodus

You leave the city and fly to Mulu National Park (schedules vary). After checking in at the park HQ, you meet the park guides and head through the forest to Deer Cave, the largest cave passage in the world and home to millions of bats and swifts. The floor has a raised platform, though that is no escape from the smell of guano (bird and bat excrement).

Nearby is Lang’s Cave which, though much smaller, has stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations. The surrounding forest is spectacular and there is plenty of time to examine it closely.

The walk to Deer Cave is 1.9 mi (3km) each way along boardwalks and there are wooden steps leading to different viewing platforms inside the show caves.

You arrive at Deer Cave in time for dusk, when the bats leave their home to feed on insects (as long as it is not raining). This is a sight to behold with the bats forming a long, snaking line across the sky for quite some time. Depending on the timings of the day, you may visit the caves tomorrow instead.

Due to flight schedules, there isn’t much time for lunch between your arrival at Mulu National Park and when you depart for the caves. You should buy something at the airport to have later.

Day 4: Full Day Exploring Mulu National Park

Today you explore Mulu with a local guide. In the morning, you visit two of the show caves, including Clearwater, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch (not included) in the gorgeous riverside location. The park has some incredible statistics: it has more than 3,500 plant species, 8,000 types of fungi, and 170 orchid species. There are also 262 bird species, almost 300 butterfly species, and many reptiles and mammals.

Members of the Penan people also live within the park. They are a small population of nomadic forest dwellers who live as hunter-gatherers. There has been fierce international opposition to the Malaysian government which tried to settle them in permanent longhouses and indeed the Penan themselves have resisted. In 1994, they were granted an area of the forest where they could continue their traditional lifestyle. Although you are unlikely to meet these elusive people, you occasionally see their fishing shelters or areas in the forest where they have recently visited.

This afternoon, relax in the park and listen to the weird and wonderful creatures that call it home or explore self-guided trails within the park.

Those with a head for heights can try the optional canopy walkway. This 1,575ft (480m) high skywalk takes approximately two hours to complete. Along the way, you may spot macaques, hornbills, flying lizards, squirrels, and a variety of rainforest birds. Time slots are subject to availability. In the evening, there is an optional night walk or you can try tuak, the Mulu firewater. These optional activities can be arranged in advance for an additional cost.

Day 5: Early Rise for Dawn Chorus in Mulu | Fly to Kota Kinabalu

Aim to catch the morning flight out of Mulu and onto Kota Kinabalu via Miri, though delays are not uncommon. Depending on what time you fly out of Mulu, there may be time to walk along self-guided trails or peruse the visitor center.

Known as KK to the locals, the capital of Sabah is a modern, multicultural city. The evening is free to relax, explore the busy Filipino markets, or enjoy a waterfront sundowner.

Day 6: Free Day | Optional Snorkeling and Island Trip | Wetland Birdwatching or Cultural Village

Today you are free to enjoy some of the many activities Kota Kinabalu has to offer for an additional cost. A popular option is to visit one of the tropical islands in the marine park, a 15-minute boat journey from the city and with excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. You can never be bored here, whether you are relaxing on the white sand, snorkeling, or swimming in the warm South China Sea.

There are good birdwatching opportunities in the wetlands not far from KK and a culturally interesting village in Mari Mari where you can learn about the different cultures of Sabah. Your tour leader can help organize any of these options for an additional cost.

Day 7: To Kinabalu National Park | Visit Sabah Tea Plantation

Today you transfer (about two hours) and explore Mount Kinabalu National Park. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and home to the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, which stands at (4,095m) tall. This impressive granite peak can be viewed from the Crocker mountain range, which you pass over, with panoramic views of the countryside and soaring hills. The lower mountain slopes are covered in thick vegetation and it is well known for its diverse botanical and biological species.

En route, stop at Nabalu market, where villagers sell their produce and handicrafts. It’s possible to walk through the plantation on your own if you want this afternoon. Tea, medicinal herbs, fruit, and vegetables are just some of the local produce. From the plantation, the sunrise with a view of Mount Kinabalu is often spectacular. If you’re lucky, you can see the spectacular rafflesia in flowers nearby or en route to the plantation.

Day 8: Visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary en route to Sepilok

Visit the tea factory before you leave the plantation behind and continue your journey to eastern Sabah. Your destination is Sepilok, home to a well-known orangutan rehabilitation center. The journey is about five hours and you stop at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to get an up-close look at this extraordinary animal only found in Borneo. You then continue to your lodge in Sepilok. This evening, as dusk approaches, you head to the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre, which has fantastic bird-watching opportunities (though luck does play a role) as hornbills and Borneo bristleheads are often seen. Orangutans are also spotted during the fruiting season and there is an impressive canopy walkway plus easy walking trails.

Day 9: Visit Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary | Optional Visit to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Up early, you return to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for more wildlife viewing before returning to your lodge for breakfast. You then visit Sepilok Orangutan Centre, the largest orangutan sanctuary in the world. Here rehabilitated orphans and captured orangutans are cared for until they are ready to be released into the wild. You can see these incredible relations close-ups and learn about the threats to their existence. You have the chance to visit both morning and afternoon feedings. There is also an orangutan nursery where youngsters are trained to climb with the aim of reintroduction to the wild. You have the chance to view the youngsters from a special viewing platform that sits behind one-way glass so as not to disturb or influence them.

There is the option of visiting the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which works to research, rescue, and rehabilitate captured bears and provide education to the community.

Day 10: Travel to Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary | Afternoon River Cruise

After breakfast, set off from Sepilok and transfer (approximately two to three hours) to the third-longest river in Borneo, Kinabatangan.

Nestled alongside the majestic Kinabatangan River, the lodge is situated in a region teeming with an impressive variety of wildlife, encompassing 10 primate species, four of which are exclusive to Borneo. Notably, this area boasts notable populations of proboscis monkeys and orangutans, making it one of the prime locations to encounter these iconic creatures in Malaysian Borneo. Additionally, residents here include Bornean gibbons, long-tailed macaques, sun bears, and barking deer. While sightings are infrequent, the Asian pygmy elephant and clouded leopard also call this region home. Moreover, with over 200 bird species, including hornbills, eagles, herons, kingfishers, oriental darters, nightjars, flowerpeckers, and spider hunters, the avian diversity here is astounding.

Later this afternoon, take the first river cruise.

Day 11: Wildlife cruises on Kinabatangan River and Forest Walks

You are up with the animals for a dawn wildlife cruise followed by a trek. In the afternoon, you once again take a river cruise to spot wildlife and, if you are lucky, a crocodile or two.

Day 12: To Danum Valley Conservation Centre | Jungle Walk and Nocturnal Safari

You drive to Lahad Datu (approximately two to three hours) where you change vehicles and drive off-road into the Danum Valley conservation area (approximately three hours), one of the last remaining pockets of primary lowland rainforest in Asia.

Danum Valley is at the forefront of tropical rainforest research, and home to many rare and endangered mammal and bird species – it is a real privilege to spend two nights here in the comforts of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Danum Valley is probably the best place in Malaysia to see wild orangutans in their pristine habitat. Apart from orangutans, it has just about the complete range of Bornean wildlife and great trails. After settling in, you take an afternoon jungle trek to search for the elusive orangutan. After dinner, you can take a night drive to spot many of the shy forest creatures. You spend your time here with very experienced guides who accompany you on all walks. One night drive and one night walk are included during your stay.

Day 13: Full-Day Guided Walk in Danum Valley

You spend a full day with your experienced guides. You can explore the trails, canopy walkways, and waterfalls searching for wildlife. The trek to a lookout point over the Danum Valley takes approximately 1hr 30min each way. Danum is home to more than 275 bird species, and 110 species of mammals including orangutans, five species of deer, giant flying squirrels, gibbons, bearded wild boars, flying frogs, and the Borneo pygmy elephant.

Day 14: Transfer to Sandakan

Today you journey to Sandakan (approximately five to six hours). En route, you stop at Sandakan War Memorial. Sandakan was once a huge logging center (it first exported wood in the late 1880s to supply the building of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing) and is home to many Chinese and Filipino people. The waterfront is the place for an evening walk and the rooftop restaurant at the Nak hotel is great for a cocktail or two.

Day 15: Sandakan | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Your Borneo adventure ends after breakfast. Depending on your flight, you may have time to enjoy the hotel pool or explore Sandakan more before beginning your return journey home.

Accommodations

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Borneo Rainforest Lodge - Reception
Borneo Rainforest Lodge - Main Lodge Dining
Borneo Rainforest Lodge - Lobby Area

Mulu National Park

LHouse
Rainforest Lodge Outside
Garden Bungalow Outside

The LimeTree Hotel

Cafe Sublime
LimeLight Rooftop Lounge
Citrus 1 Indoor Hall

Dreamtel Kota Kinabalu

Sabah Tea Garden

Sepilok Jungle Resort

Pool
Looby Area
Main Building

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan
Mango Garden Restaurant Kinabatangan
Chalet

Sabah Hotel

Lift Lobby
Pool
Swimming Pool

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$5,998 2-3 travelers

Notes

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Included
  • 14 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 14 Nights Accommodations
  • 1 Day Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Free group arrival and departure transfers available
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • RM10 per room per night mandatory Tourism Tax in Malaysia collected by cash upon check-in.
  • Optional Excursions - Please contact us for more information on optional excursions.
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Single accommodation (available on request)

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
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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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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