Itinerary Highlights

  • Orangutans, Gibbons, Langurs and Macaques
  • Chance to seek Borneo's wonderful wild cats
  • Civets, Porcupines, Martens and Weasels
  • Pygmy elephants, Sun bears, Bantengs and Chevrotains
  • Myriad colourful rainforest birds
  • Pit-vipers, Draco 'flying' lizards and a plethora of wonderful 'herps'

What's Included

15 nights from £4,755 per person

Kristen Lanskail-Morris

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

For serious wildlife enthusiasts who wish to seek some of Southeast Asia's most enigmatic species and who don't mind some fairly basic accommodation thrown into the mix, this itinerary - or variations of it - is one to consider.

From Kota Kinabalu, a quick flight to Sandakan is followed by a 45min drive to Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, which provides a marvellous introduction to Sabah's wildlife. 

From Sepilok, drive to the remote Deramakot Forest Reserve where the bulk of this trip is spent. Here, you'll be taken on day and night activities (drives and walks) in search of this remarkable forest's wildlife. As it is your individual tour, you will have some freedom in setting the pace. As is indicated in the itinerary, this is an incredible wildlife hotspot which has earned quite a reputation particularly among the international mammal-watching community. Do note however that Deramakot's accommodation is basic, hence the emphasis on this itinerary being suited to serious wildlife enthusiasts only (in particular, mammal-watchers).

For the final part of the trip, drive to the Kinabatangan River via Gomantong Hill and its cave system, for a relaxed 3-night stay in one of the riverside lodges.



Check in for your overnight flight journey to Kota Kinabalu.
On arrival into Kota Kinabalu, you will be welcomed and transferred to Shangri-La Rasa Ria, an ideal place at which to recover from the long international flight journey.
You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport to check in for the flight to Sandakan. On arrival, you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to Sepilok (about 30min drive). Stay overnight at MY Nature Resort, all meals included. This afternoon, you'll have the chance to get to know the Orangutans at the rehabilitation here. At 6pm, you'll be taken to the Flying Squirrel platform, where you can witness the amazing Red giant flying squirrels (pictured) in action. After dinner, enjoy a night walk with your guide.
This morning, make a visit to the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre by Sepilok, where you'll get to know more about the smallest and most arboreal of all bears, and learn about the threats facing this species, as well as conservation measures in place. (Sun bears are declining due to extensive habitat loss and poaching for so-called medicinal uses). Then, drive about 4 hours to Deramakot Forest Reserve, where you will stay for 7 nights in an en-suite room at one of the simple chalets. All meals will be included during your stay here; supplies are generally brought in and also, locally sourced. Please do note that while rooms have air-conditioning and en-suite facilities, the establishment is still somewhat basic and suited only for ardent wildlife enthusiasts who value the wonderful experience of exploring a remote, wildlife-rich rainforest site, above western comforts.
Activities in Deramakot will be guided forest walks to seek diurnal and nocturnal wildlife as well as day and night drives. The reason we recommend a week-long stay in this wonderful place is because you'll be searching for rainforest wildlife, so habitat includes dense, humid secondary and primary rainforest. Even where population densities of certain species might be reasonably high, it doesn't mean they are necessarily that easily spotted - so staying for 7 nights maximises one's chances of seeing rarer 'megaticks'. Among the more frequently-seen mammals is the bizarre Sunda colugo (pictured here), sometimes called 'flying lemur'. It is one of the many life forms in the Bornean rainforests capable of gliding between trees - others which you'll be able to look for include Red giant and Thomas's flying squirrels and 'herps' like Paradise tree snake ('flying snake'), the 'Draco' ('flying') lizards and 'Flying' frogs.
Many mammal-watchers, when they think of the 55,000ha Deramakot Forest Reserve, dream about seeing the five cat species found in this locality. They include one the most sought-after of all Borneo's mammals, the ultra-elusive Sunda clouded leopard. Although it is extremely difficult to find, this cat - which is not actually a leopard, having long been removed from the genus 'Felis' and placed in a separate genus, 'Neofelis' - continues to be located albeit very rarely, by visitors who have enjoyed some cracking sightings of the beast. The smaller Marbled cat - which looks a bit like a smaller version of the leopard - is possibly even less frequently sighted than the Sunda clouded leopard, and it is also best tried for in Deramakot. Visitors do stand a far better chance of finding the small, strikingly marked Sunda leopard cat, the latter, pictured here, being seen quite often.
Another day in which to chalk up sightings of interesting rainforest-dependent mammals, wonderful birds; herps and invertebrates in Deramakot's rainforest. Larger mammals present include Bornean pygmy elephant, as well as Malay sun bear. Herbivores you may see include Banteng (Tembadau, a kind of wild 'ox'); Sambar deer and tiny Greater chevrotain (mouse deer), which is pictured here.
The carefully managed (and selectively logged) Deramakot Forest Reserve has gained popularity among the international mamma-watching community also for its large and truly fascinating selection of smaller carnivores (some are omnivorous). While these are mostly to be seen during night walks or drives (which can be fairly long in duration), some put in unexpected appearances in broad daylight from time to time. High up on visitors' wish lists is the weird Binturong or 'bear cat'. While they do tend to keep high up in the tree-tops, some visitors have witnessed them on the ground, too. The cluster of Civets present include the regularly-seen Malay civet; Striped (Small-toothed) and Common palm civets (pictured here), as well as the rarer and beautifully marked Banded palm civet and the poorly-known Otter civet. Some little-known and scarce mammals also occasionally sighted are the eccentric Sunda stink badger and critically endangered Sunda pangolin. Other possible sightings include Long-tailed porcupine and Yellow-throated marten.
Your 6th day in Deramakot will be spent in pursuit of more of the resident wildlife, during day and night excursions with your guide. Some species like the Bornean bearded pig, are found in reasonable numbers. Primates present include a healthy population of wild Orangutan; Bornean bearded (Muller's) gibbon (one of two 'lesser apes' found in Borneo; the Silvery leaf monkey (of which youngsters are orange); the Red leaf monkey (Maroon langur) and at night, Sunda slow loris and Western tarsier are often seen.
Your last day in Deramakot Forest Reserve will be spent catching up on species perhaps previously missed out on - and some final attempts at adding more of the elusive rainforest denizens to your lists. One of those more often found by guides is the Three-striped or Small-toothed palm civet, pictured. Birders visiting Deramakot are in for a wonderful time - feathered stars of this site include the likes of Bornean banded and Blue-headed pittas; Black-and-yellow and Black-and-red broadbills; Scarlet-rumped trogon, Red-bearded bee-eater; Banded kingfisher and many, many more avian gems.
After a final pre-dawn walk (if desired) and breakfast, depart from Deramakot and drive to the Kinabatangan River via the Gomantong Caves, for a 3-night stay at the relaxed Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, all meals included. The limestone caves in Gomantong Hill are visited for their large populations of 3 species of edible-nest swiftlets (Edible-nest; Black-nest and Mossy-nest swiftlets) as well as the Glossy swiftlet. The nests of the first 3 species are harvested for the delicacy 'Birds nest soup', and it is quite something observing the men carrying out this dangerous task as the cave ceilings can be as high up as 100m: to access the nests, bamboo and rope ladders are utilised. Harvesting the nests is carried out 3 or 4 times a year only by licensed collectors, and when nests are not in use. At all times, the caves are guarded by tribesmen. The surrounding rainforest is protected too. The other wildlife highlight here is the presence of millions of bats. You will be able to observe cave wildlife from the boardwalk in Black Cave, which is accessible. From Gomantong Hill, continue to Kinabatangan River, where activities will include boat excursions as well as guided walking excursions. One of the favourites here with visiting birders, is the Stork-billed kingfisher, pictured.
During your time at the Kinabatangan River Wildlife Reserve, you will be taken to explore the river and some of its tributaries, and the surrounding riparian forests, for resident wildlife. In the tributaries, diesel engines will be replaced by quieter electric motor usage, to cut out noise. Kinabatangan River brings to mind images of the unmistakable endemic Proboscis monkey, of which groups are often seen. There are also agile and acrobatic Muller's (Bornean) gibbons; Long-tailed and Pig-tailed macaques, and at night, Horsfield's (Western) tarsier and Sunda slow loris may be located by their eyeshine. Very lucky visitors have recorded sightings of the Flat-headed cat (Endangered) during night boat trips. Far more often seen is the Sunda leopard cat. This is also the area where many visitors encounter the Endangered Bornean pygmy elephant, either in the rank riverside growth or in the water. There is a chance to see Bearded pig. Birds abound, with the various resident Hornbills being regularly seen either feeding on fruit or flying overhead. (If you see the huge Helmeted hornbill, you've truly hit the jackpot as this spectacular species is unfortunately critically endangered - its relatives are far more plentiful.). Another endangered endemic best sought here is the Storm's stork. Needless to say, a range of colourful feathered gems await visitors, including Black and yellow broadbill and the Stork-billed kingfisher.
Enjoy guided wildlife boat excursions and walks in search of more of the mammals, birds and herps found along the lazy Kinabatangan River. One of the wonderful species to keep an eye open for is the Wrinkled hornbill, pictured here.
After a leisurely breakfast at the lodge, you will be transferred to Sandakan to check in for the 45-min flight to Kota Kinabalu. Connect with your international flights home.
Arrive back home after a wonderful trip!

Kristen Lanskail-Morris

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Pricing Information & Dates

15 nights from £4,755 per person

Kristen Lanskail-Morris

Travel Specialist

I'm here to tailor-make your perfect holiday. Give me a call and I'll use my expertise to create your personalised experience.

Price Includes

  • Return International Flights as per the itinerary
  • All airport taxes and security charges
  • Accommodation and meals as specified
  • Transfers as specified
  • Activities and excursions as specified
  • All entrace fees on sightseeing tours as specified
Return economy class airfare from London Heathrow (or selected other UK airports) to Kota Kinabalu with air taxes Domestic flights All transfers and 4WD transportation Services of experienced, knowledgeable guides and of drivers All excursions and activities as per itinerary Reserve permits and entry fees, and local guide fees Accommodation as per itinerary with meals as indicated

Price Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Any meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Optional excursions
Drinks, tips, items of a personal nature (travel insurance, phone calls, laundry) Any activities not mentioned in the itinerary Visa (if required)

Pricing Notes

Do let us know if you wish to upgrade flights; we will be pleased to quote accordingly. As with any of our itineraries,we are able to add tailor-made extensions if required.

Why Choose Us?

Passionate travel experts

  • We've been leading wildlife travel since our first South Africa tours over 25 years ago
  • Our Travel Specialists have lived in their specialist area for years
  • We work with local guides to immerse you deeper in our diverse range of experiences

Personal & tailor-made

  • You'll speak to your own expert who'll share their first-hand knowledge
  • We'll make your itinerary seamless with 24/7 emergency contact available
  • Your Travel Specialist will listen to ensure you have the best chance of seeing the wildlife you love

Responsible by nature

  • We take care to actively contribute to the conservation of environments we visit
  • For select countries, we make a charitable donation on your behalf when you make your booking
  • We've partnered with conservation experts and NGOs to curate responsible tours
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