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13 days

Discovering the beauty of Borneo 13 days

For anyone who has ever dreamed of experiencing the raw, undiluted beauty of Borneo, this is the perfect opportunity to see its highlights. Visit once-feared headhunters in their longhouse dwellings, explore vast caves shrouded in dense tropical rainforests, spot endemic species on Mount Kinabalu, cruise the spectacularly biodiverse Kinabatangan River for sightings of rare animals and relax on a tropical island. This is the very best of Borneo.

Highlights

  • Explore Longhouse & meet the Bidayuh tribe and explore fantastic way of life
  • Experience Melu national park
  • Explore & see Borneo’s biodiversity

Tour Included

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English speaking Local Guide (for other languages supplements apply), private tours (except at Kinabatangan).
  • Transfers as mentioned by private air-conditioned Vehicle
  • Sepilok Orangutan and Sun bears activities on a Join in Basis
  • Kinabatangan transfers and activities based on Join In basis with In-house English-Speaking Nature Guide. River Cruises 2 x PM and 1 x AM on a join-in basis
  • Boat transfers to Gaya Island or Manukan on a join-in basis

Tour Excluded

  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and Domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance (must include helicopter evacuation for Malaysia)
  • Visa for Malaysia
  • All international and domestic air tickets
  • Camera/video entrance fees
  • Sabah marine park fee
  • Tourism tax 10MYR per room per night

Tour Plan

Download plan

Day 1: Welcome to Kuching

Upon arrival at the airport in Kuching, meet with the guide and driver and receive a private transfer to the hotel for check in.

14:00 Kuching is a veritable treasure trove of historical buildings, remarkable stories and diverse food. At 09:00 meet the guide and wander the streets of this quaint town learning about the recent history and sampling local food from a range of ethnic groups. Start the day with a traditional Sarawak laksa – a local favourite of noodles, fish, prawns or chicken in a spicy coconut broth. This is arguably the best laksa available in Kuching!

Continue with a visit to the engaging Sarawak Museum, which was established in 1891 and houses a range of cultural artefacts. Wander through the museum to get a good understanding of the collective history of Sarawak. (Note: as of 15th June 2020, the Sarawak Museum is closed until further notice. If not reopened at the time of travelling, it will be replaced by the Textile Museum, showcasing authentic textiles made by the main ethnic communities of Sarawak).

Head to the site of the State Mosque - a Mughal-style pink mosque with striking gold minarets. At various points on the heritage walk take the opportunity to stop and sample some regional delicacies from the street and kopitiams (small cafes). Discover the health benefits of Chinese tea with a stop at the oldest tea shop in Kuching, make an offering at a 175-year-old temple and walk streets that have remained virtually unchanged for 100 years where traditional craftsmen ply their trade. 

Overnight Kuching.

This morning at 08.00, meet with the guide at the hotel lobby and depart for the 45-minute transfer to Semenggoh Orangutan Wildlife Centre. Established in 1975 and just outside Kuching, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is home to many Orangutans. For over 20 years, the wardens here trained young Orangutans, who had been orphaned or rescued from captivity, how to survive in the wild.  It is now a centre for the study of Orangutan biology and behaviour and this is the primary reason that people visit this centre. However, the rangers also do work with other species including crocodiles and hornbills.

 At 09:00, arrive at Semenggoh for the first feeding of the day. Take a short 15-minute walk through the rainforest to the feeding platform where the rangers will put fruits out for the semi wild Orangutans who spend most of their time roaming the forest but frequently come back to the centre for a free meal.

At 10:30 leave for a scenic drive passing through rice fields, rubber, cocoa and pepper plantation, luxuriant tropical forest and river and mountain ranges to explore Annah Rais, a Bidayuh Tribe Longhouse home of over 80 families. Located in an isolated valley guarded by four mountains, a strategic position which helped the villagers ward off headhunting attacks in the past. Discover the old bamboo longhouse with the guide, learn about the Bidayuh culture and observe the leisure-pace lifestyle of the natives. Have a tea break with a family. Among the interesting relics, get to see the Cannon of Peace and several human skulls which are about 100 years old kept at the Head House called Baruk.

Enjoy a traditional Bidayuh lunch followed with a jungle walk to visit the village farm. Return to Kuching.

The estimated arrival time at the hotel is 15:00.

Overnight Kuching.

At 08:00, depart Kuching for a 45-minute drive to Bako Fishing Village.  Continue by motorised boat for a 30-minute cruise along the beautiful coast to reach Bako National Park. 

The oldest of Sarawak’s national parks, Bako offers the perfect introduction to Sarawak’s forests and wildlife. Bako is also home to 275 rare proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo. Observe the fabulous proboscis monkeys, silvered langurs, bearded pigs and monitor lizards. Despite its seemingly small size, Bako contains a wide range of vegetation – swamp forest, scrub-like padang vegetation, mangrove forest, dipterocarp forest, delicate cliff vegetation and beautiful sandy beaches.  

Explore the rainforest on a variety of walking trails from mighty 80-metre dipterocarps to dense mangrove forest.  For bird enthusiasts, Bako is the home to many species such as the rufous-backed kingfisher, stork-billed kingfisher, red-crowned barbet, white-bellied woodpecker and many more.  During low tide, observe the mudskippers and blue-fiddler crabs coming out from their hideout for feeding on the beaches.

Take a simple lunch at the park café before returning to Bako Village by boat and onward transfer to Kuching.

(Depending on the tides the boats will pull up at the jetty or onto the beach for arrival and departure)

Overnight Kuching.

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and morning at leisure before being transferred to the airport for a flight to the tropical paradise of Mulu. Arrive at Mulu Airport and meet with the guide and driver for a join in transfer to the hotel for the next two nights.

Depending on the arrival time, there are a variety of free options to undertake prior to meeting back up with the guide in the afternoon. These include a wander to the Tree Top Tower for views across the roof of the national park, a stroll along the boardwalk to Pukau Waterfall or taking the Nature Heritage Trail for 1.5km.

14.00  depart for Mulu National Park Headquarters, for a 3.5km elevated plank-walk to Lang Cave -the longest cave passage in the world (2,161 metres long) – which adjoins Deer Cave. Explore Lang Cave with its magnificent stalactites and stalagmites before proceeding to Deer Cave, where the biggest attraction is a colony of thousands of free-tailed bats. At dusk, witness an amazing spectacle of nature as thousands of these bats emerge from the cave in formation to forage for insects in the rainforest.

Experience night trekking through the jungle to the park headquarters. From luminescent fungi to blinking fireflies, the jungle comes alive at night time and this is a fabulous opportunity to view creatures not visible in daylight

17.00 Return to the hotel for dinner.

Please Note: If staying at Mulu Marriott check in will not be until 3pm and so upon arrival it may be necessary to go straight to Mulu National Park to start the day’s activities before having access to the room. Please be prepared with a packed day bag and walking attire for the day upon arrival.

Overnight in Mulu.

After breakfast, which is accompanied by the sound of the jungle’s morning chorus, take a 15-minute longboat ride up the Melanau River to experience two more of Mulu’s ‘must-see’ limestone caves: Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave. These form part of the Sarawak Chamber - the largest connected cave system in the world. If water levels are low, it’s also possible to get there along a beautiful 4km hike. Explore the “King’s Room” before proceeding to Clearwater Cave. Walk on plank walkways that were built on the sides of limestone cliffs leading to Clearwater Cave. Then, climb up steep steps that were carved into the side of the hill to get to the entrance of Clearwater Cave. Inside the cave, check out the details of its various features and limestone formations.

Return to Mulu HQ by boat and this afternoon take to the treetops on a canopy walkway.

The rest of the afternoon at leisure or head out on some of the self-guided walking trails in Mulu National park.

Return to the accommodation, dinner included.

Overnight in Mulu.

Please note: Children must be 6 years and above for Canopy Walkway.

Canopy Walkway timings: 7:00; 8:30; 10:00; 10:30; 13:00; 14:00

(Note: 7am and 8:30am is not available on Friday)

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the resort and relax until departing to the airport for a flight to Kota Kinabalu.

Upon arrival at the airport, meet with the local guide and be transferred to the hotel for the evening.

Today’s tour starts at 17:00. Meet the guide at the hotel and discover Kota Kinabalu’s rich history while strolling along its streets tasting delicious local food.

Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, is the capital city of Sabah. Strategically situated in the Northwest Coast of Borneo Island, this city has one of the most amazing views. With the South China Sea and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park on one side, and set against the backdrop of Mount Kinabalu, this beautiful ‘Nature Resort City’ stretches for miles along the coast.

Your walk starts at Gaya Street, known as Bond Street during the British colonial era, and established in 1902 it was considered the heart of Jesselton. All the major business activities were conducted there. As you stroll down the street observe the generations-old family businesses that are still thriving.

Pause for a few minutes at Keng Wan Hing, a traditional coffee shop. Famous for its delicious pineapple buns, also known as Polo Buns, and a cup of kopi, this ship is well frequented by locals.

The next stop is Kedai Kopi Yuit Cheong. Yuit Cheong is one of the oldest coffee shops in Kota Kinabalu established in 1896. This coffee shop is popular for its satay. Enjoy a Roti Kahwin or Roti kosong and taste a beef or chicken satay. We also recommend having a refreshing pandan coconut drink, it contains pandan leaf aroma and the smooth sweeten milky taste of its juice.

Continue your walk towards the seaside. Stop at Jalan Segama to taste the challenging ‘kings of fruits’ the durian, depending on the season, there are dozens of durian stalls. In case the fruit is not available, taste a treat of chocolate durian.

Having satisfied the taste buds, walk down to the waterfront bar area and enjoy the best sunset views the city Kota Kinabalu has to offer, with a cocktail in hand. After sunset and a drink, walk a short distance to taste the delicious butter prawns, a local favorite. 

Return to your hotel.

Overnight Kota Kinabalu

07:00 Today head out to the cooler climates of Kinabalu Park, home to between 5000-6000 species of plants and 430 different birds and mammals. An hour in the drive stops at a small Dusun town of Tamparuli for a short walk across a hanging bridge to the local square where you can pick up a quick snack. Continue a further hour up the mountain road to Mount Kinabalu National Park. Take a walk in the Botanical Gardens and learn about the vast array of flora found in this lush park. Admire views of Mt Kinabalu, Southeast Asia’s highest peak before lunch in the park.

After lunch, drive to Poring Hot Springs and take a walk around this beautiful compound which takes its name from the giant bamboo that surrounds it. See Japanese-style outdoor hot tubs which are filled from natural hot springs believed to possess therapeutic effects.

Continue to the nearby Kipungit Waterfall to admire this spectacular natural wonder. Alternatively, opt for a trek to the canopy walk, a suspension bridge that soars 40-metres above the forest floor. For thrill seekers, this swaying, man-made bridge is an ideal place to enjoy views of the rainforest, tree canopies and distant rolling hills.

Overnight in Poring Hot Springs

08:00 After breakfast, a short 30 min drive to Sabah Tea to take a fascinating guided tour of the tea factory and learn how raw tea leaves are processed and packed for export. (Please note the Tea Factory is closed on Sundays& Public Holidays).

Depart for a 3.5-hour drive to Sepilok to arrive early afternoon.

Check in at the hotel.

Today’s tour starts at 15:45. Meet your guide and drive and transfer to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. This is one of the best places to encounter Borneo’s unique and endemic monkey species. Also known by locals as the Orang Belanda, this monkey hilariously was nicknamed Belanda after the dutch colonisers at the time, who were said to bear an uncanny resemblance with their large noses and red cheeks. It primarily eats fruit and leaves, and lives in groups of up to 19 individuals.

As you wait at the feeding platform you have the opportunity to see a number of other species that come in to see what food has been offered to them that day. Amongst which you’ll likely see squirrels, silver leaf monkeys, and oriental pied hornbills. Note that the feeding time is at 16:30, so it is important to start the tour on time.

Having spotted enough bizarre and interesting creatures, return to the hotel in Sepilok.

Overnight in Sepilok

Today’s tour starts at 08:30. Have your luggage ready for the vehicle and depart for the Sun Bear Conservation Centre nearby. This centre aims to increase awareness of this endearing, but little-known bear species – named after the crescent shaped patch of fur on their chests that resembles the rising sun. From here walk to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in time for the morning feeding session at 10:00.

Note: Sun Bear & Orangutan activities are on a join in basis.

Depart to Sukau by land transfer (standard & superior option) or by boat (deluxe option). Join in basis.

On arrival take a river cruise using an electric motor in search of wildlife and birds.

Overnight at Sukau

Rise early in the morning at 06:30 along with the birds and other animals of the jungle for an unforgettable river cruise to Kelenanap Oxbow Lake, a crescent shaped lake that formed when the river’s meander became so wide that it cut itself off. The stillness of the lake and relative protection provides a haven for animals and plants making for an ecosystem that’s completely distinct from that of the active river.

Return to the resort for breakfast and spend the rest of the day is at leisure before heading out in the late afternoon to watch the river activities of many primate species that become active during this time. The afternoon is a particularly advantageous time to spot wildlife and the light is perfect for photography.

Overnight at Sukau

Sukau to Sandakan land (Join in Basis) : (110km) 2hrs Kota Kinabalu to Jesselton / Sutera Jetty : (8km) 20min Boat from Jesselton Pier to Gaya Island: 20 minutes Boat from Sutera Harbout Pier to Manuka Island: 20 minutes

After breakfast, return to Sandakan by land (standard & superior option) or boat (deluxe option). After lunch we will proceed to airport for the 1430hrs flight to Kota Kinabalu

Recommended Flight Schedule: AK6495  SDK BKI 15:00 15:50

On arrival transfer to the jetty to leave to Manukan (Standard option) or Gaya Island (Superior & Deluxe Option)

Leave by boat to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. Enjoy the tropical ambience of one of Sabah’s most idyllic islands. Covered in tropical forest, enjoy its hiking trails, marine life, crystal blue waters and the sound of nature.

Overnight at Manukan Island

Day at Leisure to enjoy the beach, swim in the clear blue waters. Take a snorkel and enjoy the marine life or simply relax by the pool.

Overnight at Gaya or Manukan Island

Boat from Gaya Island to Jesselton Pier: 20 minutes Boat from Manukan Island to Jesselton Pier: 20 minutes Transfer from Jesselton / Sutera Pier to Kota Kinabalu Airport (10km) 20minutes

Check out and Depart Pulau Gaya for a 20-minute boat transfer back to Kota Kinabalu.

Please Note: Departures earlier than 0900 will need Private Boat transfers

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