Hike untouched jungles in search of orangutans in the world’s oldest rainforest
If you crave something new—and lots of it—head to Borneo. It’s hard to top more than 1,200 species of orchids, the oldest rainforest in the world, and at least 44 species of endemic mammals (Bornean orangutans, clouded leopards, Asian pygmy elephants, the Sumatran rhinoceros, and the Bornean gibbon, to name a few). This trip is for adventurous MTS travelers—our 11-day journey includes treks through jungles and rainforest, as well as travel by boat and land vehicles. We’ll spend nights in remote eco-lodges, and have a chance to visit a local forest restoration project. We’ll soak up some sun at Borneo’s beautiful beaches, visit the remote Bajau Laut sea gypsy community and take canopy walks through untouched Danum Valley. Always on the lookout, of course, for the region’s most well-known resident—the endangered Bornean orangutan.
11 days of exploring rainforest by foot, boat, and vehicle.
- Watch the sunrise over Danum Valley as the clouds part and the forest comes to life
- Experience an untouched primary rainforest and its wildlife (including orangutans)—by day and night
- Observe animals by boat as they come to cool off and sip the Kinabatangan River at dusk
- Visit the fascinating Bajau Laut sea gypsy community who live their lives at sea in wooden huts on stilts
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Sandakan End Location: Kota KinabaluDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Sandakan, Sabah
Arrive in Sandakan, Sabah, a bustling city, situated on the Sulu Sea. Adjust to the humidity, buy supplies (if your forgot anything), and walk around a real working asia city. Sandakan is not “cleaned” up to make itself look pretty for tourists. It is a safe, dirty city that shows people what a true working city is like. At night group will have safety and cultural briefing to ensure a good experience in Borneo. First night accommodations will be at the Nak Hotel, located on the waterfront. The Nak Hotel is a boutique style hotel in the heart of the city with nice rooms and a beautiful rooftop restaurant.
Day 2 : Sepilok Forest Reserve
We will take private transport to Sepilok and check into the Paganakan Dii. After check in, we will walk to explore all their amazing facilities that are located in Sepilok Forest Reserve. We will watch the morning feeding at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, and then head to the Sun Bear Center to have a private tour with the coordinator of the project. After eating lunch back at the lodge, we will head to the Rainforest Discovery Center and search for wildlife and learn about the rainforest ecosystem. We will return back to the lodge in the evening for dinner and have some time to relax.
Day 3 : Kinabatangan River
Early wake up to take 4x4 transport to Kinabatangan River. The drive will take 4 hours to arrive at the boat launch. We will check into the Myne Resort for the next two nights. The Kinabatangan River (340 miles long) has the highest concentration of fauna in Borneo. A visit here will offer the opportunity to see some of the local residents, including orangutans, pygmy elephants, silver-leaf langurs, hornbills and proboscis monkeys. The group will have an early lunch and have time to go for a hike before heading out for a dusk river cruise to view the amazing wildlife that comes down to the river towards the end of the day. In the evening we will head for an evening walk to see more nocturnal wildlife.
Day 4 : Kinabatangan River
After early morning coffee and toast, we take a dawn river cruise for wildlife viewing as the sun rises. Return to the lodge for breakfast, then take a short drive to explore Gomantang Caves. We will take a short trek to the mouth of the cave and explore the giant cave opening, home to millions of bats and swiftlets. This is Borneo's largest bird nest harvesting site. The wildlife surrounding the cave is spectacular with orangutans and red leaf langurs commonly seen. We will return to the lodge for lunch and have time to relax in afternoon and escape from the hot sun. We will take a dusk river cruise to view more wildlife and increase our chances of seeing everything.
Day 5 : Kinabatangan - Danum Valley
This morning we proceed overland to the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley. The drive is approximately 4 hours. Danum Valley consists of 323 square miles of Class 1 Virgin Primary Rainforest. The group will spend the night at the BRL . Everyone will have time to explore the facility, birdwatch, and relax. After eating at the restaurant, the group will set out on a 1-2 hour night hike, exploring the forest and its nocturnal residents. The forest comes alive with night fall, and it is our trip leader's personal favorite time to experience the jungle. The BRL is a 5 star resort built beside the Danum River with private bungalows, beautiful views from each room, and a soaking tub on the lanai.
Day 6 : Danum Valley
We rise early today for a walk on the canopy walk before breakfast. For the remainder of the morning, explore the forest for birds and mammals. Enjoy the many treks and canopy walks that stretch out from the Lodge. Around noon, join your guide for a spectacular hike to a nearby waterfall, where we can take a refreshing dip in the rock pools. In the evening we will take a night safari and search for mammals that are hunting in the open areas along the roads.
Day 7 : Danum Valley
Spend the day exploring the amazing forest and searching for orangutans, gibbons and more. Your trip leader will take you on walks through the forest and we will swim in the Danum River.
Day 8 : Danum Valley - Pom Pom Island
After an early breakfast, we drive to Semporna (4 hours), your gateway to the beautiful islands off Borneo's east coast. We take a one hour speedboat ride from Semporna to Pom Pom Island, our home for the next two nights. Check in and enjoy lunch, then spend the rest of the day relaxing, snorkeling or diving on Pom Pom Island.
Day 9 : Pom Pom Island
We will spend the day exploring the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and visiting the traditional Bajau Laut sea gypsy villages and learning about their culture. The villages are built in the middle of the ocean, made of simple wooden huts on stilts. The fascinating Bajau Laut are one of the last nomadic sea farers in Southeast Asia. We will also be able to snorkel on pristine reefs and soak up some sun. In the afternoon, hopefully we will get to see the young turtles released into the sea from the beach.
Day 10 : Kota Kinabalu
We will check out and depart Pom Pom Island around 11:00 am and return to Semporna by speedboat. From there, we will transfer to Tawau Airport for our flight to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival in Kota Kinabalu, transfer to the Jesselton Hotel. Relax in the afternoon or explore the city. We will convene tonight for a festive farewell dinner.
Day 11 : Departure
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departure flights.
DATES: Best time to go: May, August Departures: May 9 - 19, 2015 Aug 15 - 25, 2015
$5,595 (9-12 members)
$1000 single supplement
$100 internal air
The Borneo Rainforest LodgeDanum Valley
The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is a 5 star resort with private bungalows, beautiful views from each room, and a soaking tub on the lanai.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Charlie grew up between Hawaii and California. He has had a passion for outdoor adventures, traveling, and nature his entire life. He is particularly fascinated by the ecology of tropical rainforests. Hawaii's lush jungles first caught his attention, Central America’s rainforests broadened his horizons and, finally, he found Borneo. Well-rounded in the ecology of the Bornean rainforest, he is experienced with species identification of mammals, birds, amphibians, and snakes. He has strong leadership abilities and is comfortable in any situation. He is certified in Wilderness First Aid and has a good understanding of wilderness survival. Charlie has lived in Borneo for the last three years, working with different local communities, and he spent nine months working with Mescot (www.mescot.org), a community-based forest restoration project in the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain. He then worked with NGOs doing humanitarian work with an indigenous group called the Penan. He speaks Bahasa Malay and has strong connections with people working to save this beautiful region. Charlie looks forward to meeting you and sharing this adventure with you.