AT A GLANCE
Selamat datang! Welcome to Borneo! A once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits you! The island of Borneo, in southeast Asia, is the third largest island in the world, and is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.Almost three quarters of the island is Indonesian territory, with the rest divided between Malaysia and Brunei. A little more than half of the island is in the Northern Hemisphere including Brunei and the Malaysian portion, while the Indonesian portion spans both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This Nature Travel Expeditions trip visits the eastern side of the island, and therefore takes place entirely in the Malaysian portion of Borneo.
Borneo island is a region that is very rich in biodiversity. It has about 15,000 species of flowering plants (including Rafflesia, the largest flowering plant in the world) along with 3,000 species of trees, 440 species of freshwater fish, 221 species of terrestrial mammals and 420 species of resident birds (including about 60 endemic and range-restricted species).
Borneo covers an area of 743,330 square kilometres (287,000 sq mi) with many different biomes. The WWF has classified the island into seven distinct ecoregions, including montane and lowland rainforests, as well as peat swamp forests.
Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world. It is at the centre of the evolution and distribution of many endemic species of plants and animals of Borneo. It is an important refuge for many endemic forest species, including the Bornean Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Bornean Clouded Leopard, the Hose’s Civet and the Dayak Fruit Bat.
From unique wildlife to untouched jungle, few attractions can match the natural drama of Borneo. With breathtaking natural attractions, friendly people and great food, Borneo is a favourite for everyone who visits it. On this Nature Travel Expeditions tour we will explore the best areas of the east of Borneo in search of some incredible wildlife, including Selingan Turtle Island, Sepilok, Sukau, Tabin and Danum Valley, staying in top-notch locations along the way such as Borneo Rainforest Lodge and a recently recognized National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World – Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
From unique wildlife to untouched jungle, few attractions can match the natural drama of Borneo. With breathtaking natural attractions, friendly people and great food, Borneo is a favourite for everyone who visits it. We will explore the best areas of the east of Borneo in search of our target birds including Kinabalu Park, Poring, Sepilok, Sukau, Tabin and Danum Valley. We will be staying in top-notch locations along the way such as Borneo Rainforest Lodge and a recently recognized National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World – Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Get ready for a birding trip of a lifetime!
Pre Tour Day: Arrival in Borneo
You will arrive at Sandakan Airport from your various departure points from all over the world.
Sandakan is is the capital of the Sandakan District in Sabah. Sabah is a state of Malaysia located on the northeastern portion of the island of Borneo. Sandakan is one of the main ports for oil, tobacco, coffee, sago, and timber exports. Other economic activities include fishing, ship building, eco-tourism, and manufacturing. Among the tourist attractions in Sandakan are the Sandakan Heritage Museum, Sandakan Cultural Festival and Sandakan War Memorial.
Upon arrival at Sandakan airport, you will be met by your local driver and transferred to the Four Points Hotel for your overnight stay. Excitement awaits!
ITINERARY – BORNEO WILDLIFE TOUR
Selingan Turtle Island
You will be picked up from the hotel and transferred to a local jetty for a one hour boat ride via the Sulu Sea to Selingan Island, one of the 10 so-called Turtle Islands about 3 kilometres off the coast of Borneo. Here you will be free at leisure to explore the island, swim and snorkel for the whole day.After dinner, we will wait for the signal from the Park Ranger before proceeding to watch a Green Turtle lay eggs on the beach, transplanting of eggs to hatchery and release of baby
turtles to the sea. The turtle conservation program in Sabah is the oldest in the world and with the most detailed statistics and research.
We will overnight on Selingan Island.
Note on Camera Use at Selingan Island:
For any camera (phone, digital or still camera) for personal use are chargeable at RM10.00 PER UNIT for conservation permit purposes. Please note that FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO TAKING IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
For the comfort and convenience of our guests, it is recommended to travel light by preparing an overnight bag, per person before arriving in Selingan Island & Sukau Rainforest Lodge. A complimentary storage is provided for any extra luggage.
Please be advised that our trip to Selingan Island involves boat journey via the Sulu Sea. In the event of adverse weather condition during or before the boat journey, the company has the absolute discretion to cancel or postpone the trip if it is deemed that the journey will jeopardize the safety of our passengers. In the event of cancellation, a replacement tour will be offered. The company will not be liable for any compensation.
Orangutan & Sun Bear Centres & Sukau Rainforest
This morning we will return to Sandakan by boat.
Then we will transfer to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The sanctuary, opened in 1964, is located within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve which covers an area of 4,294 ha (10,610 acres), much of which is virgin rainforest. We will watch a video show about the plight of the orangutans and the rehabilitation efforts ongoing at the centre. We will enjoy a short walk through the rainforest on wooden boardwalks and witness the feeding of the orangutans at 10 am. We then continue to the newly completed enclosed nursery area for young orangutans.
Thereafter we will visit the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn about conservation of the world’s smallest bear. The Sun Bear is also known as the “honey bear”, which refers to its appetite for honeycombs and honey. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Note on Camera Use at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre:
For any camera with zoom lens from 100 to 400mm, video camera or other video recording equipment for personal use are chargeable at RM10.00 per unit. For any camera (fixed-lens – 400mm and above) or any film-making equipment are chargeable at RM1,000.00 per unit. Mode of payment is cash only.
After lunch, we will transfer to Sandakan jetty for a 2½ hour boat journey to the multi award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge along Sabah’s longest river, the Kinabatangan, with the opportunity to view some fantastic birds and wildlife. We will take a river cruise using a quiet electric motor in search of wildlife and birds. Kinabatangan is known for its remarkable wildlife and varied habitats, such as limestone caves at Gomantong hill, dryland dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, freshwater swamp forest, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.
Thereafter we will enjoy dinner by candle light overlooking the riverbank, followed by a slide presentation and interpretation by a local knowledgeable naturalist guide.
Stay overnight at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge. The lodge is built on stilts using Borneo hardwood species and is completely self-sufficient in water (harvesting rainwater) and solar energy for hot water heating.
Please bring along swimwear, binocular, camera, sun block lotion, personal toiletries, drinking water bottle, insect repellent, torchlight, hat, walking shoes & raincoat.
We will take a dawn river cruise up the Kinabatangan River to Kelenanap oxbow lake to view more birds and wildlife. These boat trips are simply amazing, allowing us to get very close to both birds and mammals. Some good mammals can also be found along the river and these include Maroon and Silvered Langur, Long-tailed and Pig-tailed Macaque, and the highly endangered Bornean Orangutan. Other smaller mammals include Hairy-nosed Otter, Asian Small-clawed Otter, Smooth-coated Otter, Malay Civet, Common Palm Civet and Moonrat.
After breakfast, proceed for an educational tour along the lodge’s Hornbill Boardwalk with our in-house naturalist. We could see several species of these strange birds, including Rhinoceros, Helmeted, Wrinkled, Wreathed, White-crowned and Oriental Pied Hornbill. We could see some fantastic other birds like Bornean Bristlehead, Black-and-Yellow Broadbill, Oriental Bay Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Great-billed Heron, Blue-headed, Blue-winged, Hooded and Black-crowned Pitta, Crested Fireback, Lesser Adjutant, Scarlet-rumped and Red-naped Trogon, to name just a few.
After lunch, join our in house Orang Utan Talk activity. In the afternoon, we proceed for another river cruise for more wildlife. We have a great chance to see 10 primate species, including Proboscis Monkeys and Muller’s Gibbon, as well as other mammals like Bornean Pygmy Elephant and Bearded Pig.
We will again overnight at the fantastic Sukau Rainforest Lodge.
We will enjoy an early morning river cruise along the Menanggol River by silent electric motor in search of even more wildlife. The area is inhabited by ten species of primates, four of which are endemic to Borneo. It has the highest concentration of Proboscis Monkeys and orangutans in Malaysia. Other animals we will search for include Asian Elephant (Bornean Pygmy subspecies) and Sumatran Rhinoceros. Carnivores we might be lucky enough to see include Bornean Clouded Leopard (subspecies of the Sunda Clouded Leopard), Leopard Cat, Marbled Cat and Flat-headed Cat.
After lunch, we will proceed to the vicinity of the Gomantong Caves. We will traverse deep into the forest along a trail in search of the ‘man of the jungle’, the Bornean Orangutan. Bornean Orangutan populations have declined by more than 50% over the past 60 years, and the species’ habitat has been reduced by at least 55% over the past 20 years. The Bornean Orangutan differs in appearance from the Sumatran Orangutan, with a broader face and shorter beard and also slightly darker in colour. Amazingly, orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans!
At dusk we will visit the Gomantong Caves themselves. Hundreds of thousands of bats (mostly Wrinkle-lipped Free-tailed Bats) and swiftlets of four different species make their home in the limestone caves, and at night their mass exodus from the caves is a spectacular sight. There is the added spectacle of seeing a number of raptors that may include several Bat Hawks, Peregrine Falcon, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Rufous-bellied Eagle coming in for an easy meal.
We will also try to find some nocturnal animals. These include two nocturnal primates, namely Horsfield’s Tarsier and Bornean Slow Loris. Hoofed mammals which are mainly active at night include wild cattle or Banteng, Bearded Pig and four species of deer.
We will return to Sukau Rainforest Lodge for, sadly, our last overnight stay here.
Sukau to Tabin
After breakfast, we will drive for about 3 hours, past many Oil Palm plantations, to the town of Lahad Datu before travelling another 90 minutes to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve comprises a rectangular area of approximately 122,539 hectares in the centre of the Dent Peninsula, northeast of Lahad Datu town. Created in 1984, Tabin has been declared a Wildlife Reserve primarily on account of the large number of animals inhabiting its forests, some of which are highly endangered.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Lipad mud volcano. Trek to the elevated bare area of the mud volcano that is known to be frequented by wildlife and birds. Borneo Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Banteng are all found within the reserve, along with nine species of primate, as well as three species of cats all of which are on the protected wildlife list.
Some top target birds to look out for include Blue-eared and Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pied Fantail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Storm’s Stork, Bornean Bristlehead, Blue-headed, Blue-banded, Bornean Banded and Black-crowned Pitta, Dusky Munia, Black-throated and Bornean Wren-babbler, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Rufous-tailed Shama, Brown Fulvetta, White-bellied Erpornis, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Rufous Piculet, Thick-billed, Long-billed and Grey-breasted Spiderhunter, Fiery Minivet, Green Iora, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Orange-bellied and Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, and many others.
After dinner, we will enjoy a CD or slide presentation on Tabin’s natural wonders, followed by a night safari to look out for nocturnal wildlife and birds. We will stay overnight at the Tabin Wildlife Resort.
Note: Due to poor internet connection, it is not possible for credit card transactions at the Tabin Wildlife Resort. All payments to be made in cash. Charging of credit card is only possible at the resort’s office in Lahad Datu.
We have a full day to enjoy in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve today. We will go on an early morning bird walk to discover some of Tabin’s rich collection of almost 300 bird species. We will look for Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Purple-throated and Plain Sunbird, Black-naped Monarch, Buff-rumped and Buff-necked Woodpecker, Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Black-bellied and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Ashy Tailorbird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Stork-billed and Black- backed Kingfisher, Rhinoceros, Helmeted, Wrinkled, Wreathed and White-crowned Hornbill, White-fronted Falconet, Crested Fireback, raptors and various others species.
After breakfast, we will visit a birdwatching tower and trek through the lush green jungle to visit Lipad’s Waterfall. We could take a dip in the natural pool, or explore the surrounding vegetation or just relax. It’s up to you! We will return to our base at the resort in the afternoon.
In the evening, we will go on a dusk drive to find wildlife and birds within the reserve. These exciting drives often produce Leopard Cat, Sunda Flying Lemur, Asian Palm, Small-toothed Palm and Malay Civet, and both Red Giant and Black Giant Flying Squirrel. Buffy Fish Owl and Brown Wood Owl are also often seen on these nocturnal excursions, while even the rare and elusive Bornean Clouded Leopard occasionally appears! We will once again stay overnight at the Tabin Wildlife Resort.
Tabin to Danum Valley
This morning we will again drive through Lahad Datu town and continue westwards into the Danum Valley. The Danum Valley Conservation Area is a 438 square kilometres tract of relatively undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest, with the forest canopy reaching a height of over 70 metres in some places! The area holds unique status in the sense that before it became a conservation area there were no human settlements within the area, meaning that hunting, logging and other human interference was non-existent, making the area almost unique. There have been proposals to nominate the site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Danum has an extensive diversity of tropical flora and fauna, including such species as the rare Sumatran Rhinoceros, Bornean Orangutan, gibbons, mouse deer, and over 270 bird species. The rich insect fauna has been one of the main areas of research in which the Danum Valley Field Centre has been active, and the land snail fauna is also considered one of the richest in the world, with at least 61 species recorded from a 1-km-plot.
The most spectacular of Danum’s birds are surely the hornbills, and the raucous trumpeting of Rhinoceros Hornbills should become a familiar sound. We will also target Helmeted, Bushy-crested, Wreathed and Asian Black Hornbills.
The valley also has one of the largest populations of Bornean Orangutans in Borneo and we should see these magnificent apes in their forest kingdom, a truly thrilling sight. Other regularly seen primates include Southern Pig-tailed Macaque, Maroon Langur and Muller’s Gibbon.
In the evening we will watch a slide show and explore a nearby nature trail leading to a fantastic canopy walkway. If weather permits we could go spotlighting to view some of the nocturnal animals.
We will overnight at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Set amidst some beautiful scenery, the stunning Borneo Rainforest Lodge has a charmingly rustic feel about it, with a proud focus on sustainability.
Note : Please bring along swim wear, sun block lotion, personal toiletries, drinking water bottle, insect repellent, torchlight, hat, binoculars, leech sock, walking shoes & raincoat.
We will spend the whole day exploring the forests of the Danum Valley for birds and mammals, leading up to an escarpment with ancient burial coffins. We will also trek to a waterfall for a refreshing dip in some rock pools.
Birds we will look for include Bornean Bristlehead, Great Argus, Blue-rumped Parrot, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots, Crested Honey Buzzard, Plaintive Cuckoo, Raffle’s Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Brown-backed Needletail, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Whiskered Treeswift, Fiery Minivet, Black Magpie, Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, Large-billed Flycatchers, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Buffy Fish Owl, Brown Wood Owl, Barred Eagle-Owl, White-fronted Falconet, Crested Wood Partridge, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, and many others.
Many mammals inhabit Danum Valley and some of the species that we could see during our time here are Greater and Lesser Oriental Chevrotain, Sambar Deer, Thomas’s and Red Giant Flying Squirrels, Common Giant Squirrel, Black Flying Squirrel, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Common Palm, Masked Palm, Banded Palm and Malay Civet, Binturong, Leopard Cat and Malay Weasel.
We will return to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, we will explore more trails, looking for some more mammals, birds and other interesting fauna and flora. We will again stay overnight at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.
Danum to Kota Kinabalu
You will be free at leisure until check-out. Or we could organise an optional excursion to see something interesting or other species we may have missed.
We will drive back (3 hours) to Lahad Datu and fly from Lahad Datu Airport (Recommended flight MH3023, ETD 1730hrs) to Kota Kinabalu International Airport (1 hour). It will then be a short drive to the Promenade Hotel, for dinner and our last night together as a group.
Depending on your arrival time, there might be time to explore the city of Kota Kinabalu; or your could explore tomorrow before your flight home.
Kota Kinabalu is the state capital of the Sabah province of Malaysia. It is a major tourist destination and a popular gateway for travellers visiting Sabah and the rest of Borneo. There are many tourist attractions in and around the city, including the beautiful Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, often called the “Floating Mosque” due to it being partially surrounded by a man-made lagoon. Kota Kinabalu is also one of the major industrial and commercial centres of East Malaysia, and one of the fastest growing cities in southeast Asia.
Kota Kinabalu is named after the mythical Mount Kinabalu (4,095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level), which is situated about 50 kilometres (30 miles) northeast of the city.
Departure from Borneo
After breakfast in the hotel, you will be transferred to the Kota Kinabalu International Aiport for your homeward flight after an unforgettable Borneo wildlife experience.
Do you have a quick question about this Borneo Wildlife Tour? Speak to a specialist at