Itinerary Highlights

  • Primates: Orangutans, Proboscis monkeys; Leaf monkeys, Gibbons, Lorises and Tarsiers
  • Birds including Hornbills, Malkohas, Broadbills & Kingfishers
  • Pygmy elephants, Sun bears, Giant flying squirrels and more
  • The psychedelic underwater world

What's Included

  • Flights
  • Accommodation Throughout
  • Transfers
10 nights from £2,875 per person

Shelley Phillips

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.

This easy-going itinerary showcases the diverse scenery to be enjoyed in Sabah, this including primeval rainforests; the slow, meandering Kinabatangan River and time exploring Kinabalu National Park for montane habitat.

Begin with a visit to Mt Kinabalu, where nature enthusiasts come to seek wildlife and flora of the cooler, montane region here. (And to get a little respite from the heat and humidity of the lowlands). As can be gathered from our profile on Mt Kinabalu, there is a high concentration of montane endemics here among its animals and plants, so exploring the area does give you exposure to a very different facet of Borneo's ecosystems.Continue to Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, an excellent introduction to some of Borneo's larger mammals and to rainforest conservation programmes being carried out. Here, visits to the truly inspirational Rainforest Conservation Centre; the Bornean Sun bear Conservation Centre and of course, the renowned Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, are all on the cards.

You then travel to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary on the lazy Kinabatangan River, where during day and night boat excursions, you can enjoy searching for resident wildlife in the riparian riverside forests and mangroves.  At the end of the trip, stay for two nights on delightful Gaya Island, where beaches are lovely and the colourful underwater world of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park beckons snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.

As with all our tailor-made sample trips, this itinerary can easily be altered to suit individual interests and special requirements.

 

Itinerary

Check in for your overnight international flight to Kota Kinabalu
On arrival into Kota Kinabalu off your international flight, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa to overnight, breakfast included. This luxury property is an ideal place in which to unwind and recoup after the long-haul flight journey from the UK to Borneo. Balance of the day to rest and recoup from the long-haul flight journey, or if you wish, to explore the local area.
Today you will explore rainforest habitat at Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This renowned biodiversity hotspot presents an exceptionally varied and exciting wildlife location. You’ll notice the drop in temperature after coming from Kota Kinabalu, and oftentimes much of the area is shrouded in mist. During your visit, stop by the Exhibition Hall before climbing up to the viewing point from where you take in spectacular vistas of the surroundings, as well as a view of Mount Kinabalu, which stands 13,435 ft. Located on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, the Kinabalu Park covers 754 square kilometers surrounding Mount Kinabalu, which at 4,095.2 meters, is the highest mountain on Borneo. The Park HQ is 88km from the city Kota Kinabalu, in Ranau District. The park is managed by Sabah Parks. This site has been identified by UNESCO as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia, as it contains representatives from at least half of all Borneo’s plant species and is very rich in species with elements from China, Australia, the Himalayas, Malaysia and pan-tropical floras. The area contains a variety of flora and accompanying complements of fauna, ranging across four climate zones; from rich lowland dipterocarp forest through the montane oak, rhododendron; to the coniferous forests; to alpine meadow plants, and to the stunted bushes of the summit zone. The park is appreciated for its selection of orchids and carnivorous plants, notably Pitcher plants (Nepenthes). The park's mammals (nearly 100 species) include a variety of squirrels and shrews - among those often seen are Borneo black-banded squirrel; Bornean mountain ground squirrel and Sunda shrew. Birders can seek attractive species such as Crimson-headed partridge (endemic); Bornean green magpie; Whitehead's trogon (also endemic albeit a difficult one to locate); Indigo flycatcher and the endemic Golden-naped barbet. You'll be exploring montane forest in the lower reaches of the park. Overnight stay at the simple, conveniently-located The Hill Lodge, all meals included.
Staying at   The Hill Lodge
This morning is yours to explore the area around Kinabalu at leisure, before you are taken to the airport for the 45-minute flight over to Sandakan. Tonight you will tour the Sepilok Forest Trails on a guided wildlife walk. Stay 2 nights at MY Nature Resort, all meals included. Situated 23 kilometres from Sandakan Town and not too far from the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, the Rainforest Discovery Centre’s main highlights are its 363m -long canopy walkway, exhibition hall, the Plant Discovery Garden; the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, environmental education programmes and a small lake with a suspension bridge. The RDC affords visitors a chance to learn about the ecosystem here, through its 'Nature Experience' programme which includes a guided walk to the Plant Discovery Garden, a Rainforest Walk and indoor/outdoor activities. The night walk - which is the focus this evening - is also highly regarded. Most visitors come to watch the Red Giant flying squirrels coming out around dusk from their daytime hideouts. (This you can do at 6pm; your guide will assist in arranging that you are at the right place in good time). As an Important Bird Area (IBA), the RDC tends to host the Borneo Bird Festival which attracts the participation of birders from all over the globe. If you are lucky, you can spot the likes of Wallace's hawk-eagle; Great argus pheasant; the rarely seen endemic Bornean Bristlehead, lovely Blue-headed pitta and Blue-banded kingfisher, among many other species.
Staying at   MY Nature Resort
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre houses orphaned Orangutans of all ages and rehabilitates them for release back into the wild. The Centre has a free-roaming area. Visitors can watch the young Orangutans’ feeding time in the mornings (you'll be able to witness the 10am feeding). Following your mid-morning visit with the Orangutans, you can observe the Sun bear at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which shares a common entrance with the Orangutan Centre. Classified as Vulnerable by IUCN, the Sun bear is the world’s smallest bear, and the Centre works to rehabilitate and care for Sun bears who have been orphaned or kept illegally as pets. During the balance of the day, you can visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which is a great way to gain an understanding of Borneo’s wonderful bio-diversity and endlessly fascinating wildlife.
Staying at   MY Nature Resort
Today you will transfer by boat to the beautifully-located, rustic Abai Jungle Lodge, built on stilts on the Kinabatangan River. (It is about an hour's boat ride from Sandakan; accessible only by boat and here, the only sounds you're likely to hear are created by the wildlife). Meal plan here will be full board. Abai Jungle Lodge has comfortable, simply-decorated rooms in chalets and food, including freshwater fish, shellfish and vegetables, are sourced locally. The lodge uses biodegradable toilet-paper, shampoo and shower gel, and funds are donated to the Abai Homestay Development Fund, which assists the resident community. After a relaxing lunch, explore the jungle trails behind the lodge, which lead to a raised viewing platform where you can seek a myriad rainforest-dwelling birds including impressive forest-dwelling Rhinoceros and Oriental pied hornbills (there are 8 species of Hornbill in the Kinabatangan floodplain including the Wrinkled hornbill, pictured here), along with other wildlife. In the afternoon, enjoy a wildlife-spotting cruise down the Kinabatangan River; the jungle on either side of the river is home to multiple primates, including Orangutans and you have a good chance of seeing Proboscis monkeys and perhaps Silvery langurs (leaf monkeys). This evening you can enjoy a guided night stroll in search of resident wildlife along the boardwalks here - lucky guests may encounter the likes of the diminutive Western tarsier, an adorable, arboreal primate.
Enjoy an early morning wildlife walk, followed by breakfast at the lodge and then a morning boat cruise to the Pitas Oxbow Lake where you have the chance to see more of the fascinating wildlife: look out for the distinctive Proboscis monkeys in particular. You may also see family groups of Bornean pygmy elephant, as this is an excellent site in which to seek these pachyderms. Birding is excellent, and as can be expected, herpetofauna (reptiles and frogs) is diverse. Spend the afternoon at leisure, or explore more of the area surrounding the lodge in search of wildlife and birds. In the later afternoon, enjoy another boat cruise in search of more wildlife.
Staying at   Abai Jungle Lodge
Breakfast at the lodge. (You may wish to make a last early morning wildlife guided walk in the area). Check out of the lodge and embark on the 1-hour boat transfer back to Sandakan. Enjoy lunch in the town before your domestic flight back to Kota Kinabalu. You will be met and transferred on arrival into Kota Kinabalu Airport to the jetty for the quick speedboat transfer to idyllic Gaya Island, where you stay for two nights at Gaya Island Resort, breakfast included.
Today you have a day at leisure to enjoy Gaya Island - go snorkelling or scuba diving if you wish, or relax by the beach. The vibrant underwater world at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park beckons snorkelling enthusiasts.
Staying at   Gaya Island Resort
Transfer to the airport for your homebound flight.

Shelley Phillips

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

10 nights from £2,875 per person

Shelley Phillips

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 international flights (Malaysian Airlines, economy class seating) * Domestic flight: Sandakan - Kota Kinabalu * Airport taxes * Transfers and transportation as per itinerary * Excursions and activities as outlined, with entry permits and guiding services * Accommodation as listed with meals as indicated.

Price Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Any meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Optional excursions
* Any transfers or activities not described in itinerary * Items of a personal nature (drinks, tips, phone calls, laundry, travel insurance)

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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