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Borneo: Birds & Natural History (14 days)

Orangutans: photo by K. MarshallBorneo is occupied by 3 countries, with the largest portion part of Indonesia (Kalimantan), followed by Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) and then Brunei. Borneo is renowned for its rainforests that are home to a myriad of rare and endangered wildlife and plant species, along with an array of cultural groups whose traditions are rich.

Photo by A. DavisFor nature lovers, recommendations are for 10 – 14 days in Sabah with visits to Sukau Rainforest Lodge, an eco-lodge that has won numerous international awards, Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley, Tabin wildlife Reserve, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and Mt. Kinabalu. Extensions for 1 – 2 days in Brunei, and 5 – 7 days in Sarawak can add cultural highlights to the journey. We will concentrate our journey on the Malaysian State of Sabah which contains the best-protected areas on the island. We explore the montane habitat of Mt Kinabalu and the wetland of the Kinabatangan River, with ample time in the vast tracts of lush lowland forest between including Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Sakau Lodge and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Accommodation is both atmospheric and comfortable.

2019 Departure Dates & Costs

Daily based on minimum 2 persons*
Tour Cost: $ 4,475 USD from Kota Kinabalu (includes domestic airfare)
Single supplement: $ 800 USD

November 16 - 27, 2019

* This tour can be modified to suit your interest, with daily departures, for shorter or longer time frames for 2 or more persons


Photo by A. DavisUpon your arrival in Kota Kinabalu, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the Rasa Ria beach hotel with 400 acres of private gardens.

Bird in hotel grounds prior to breakfast. Drive 2 hours overland (88 km) through paddy fields and Dusun villages over the ridges of the Crocker Range to the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu at 5,000 ft. Enjoy some local fruits along the way. Kinabalu Park World Heritage Site is home to various species of the flowering rhododendrons, carnivorous pitcher plants, orchids, oak trees and birds. Temperatures at the park is around 14 - 25 degrees Celsius. Take a guided walk on one of the trails in the cool surroundings to observe the montane forest. 2 nights at Fairy Garden Resort.

Morning birding, breakfast and continue birding activites at Kinabalu National Park.

Morning birding at Kinabalu. Breakfast and transfer to Sandakan. 2 nights Sepilok Nature Resort. Hidden amongst a veritable treasure trove of tropical plants and grasses, the quaint bungalows of the Sepilok Nature Resort are within walking distance of the world-famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Afternoon bird walk and a nocturnal walk.

Pick up at the resort and transfer to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. See a short video and walk 10 minutes to the feeding station for the 10am meal time. Return to Sepilok Nature Resort. Afternoon birding and evening nocturnal walk.

Morning bird walk, breakfast and depart to Sandakan jetty for an estimated 2 hours boat journey to Sukau Rainforest Lodge along Sabah’s longest river, Kinabatangan with opportunity to view birds and wildlife in virgin mangrove, wetland and rainforest habitats. Late afternoon take a two hours river cruise using electric motor in search of some of the 10 primate species including Proboscis monkeys as they settle down on treetops along the Kinabatangan River. Return for solar heated hot shower, candle light dinner. Nocturnal cruise. 3 nights at Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

Photo by A. DavisSukau Rainforest Lodge: The 20 rooms, multi international award winning lodge was built in 1995 in traditional Malaysian Architecture using several Borneo hardwood species. It is built on stilts with a lounge, gift shop, educational centre, Hornbill Boardwalk with two elephant passes, three open decks for wildlife viewing, an enclosed garden, a riverside Melapi restaurant, open sundeck, river jetty. Electricity is supplied by acoustic generator, and hot water by solar heaters. Twin bedded rooms with ceiling fans, mosquito netting, attached private bathroom with shower and toilet. River tours are conducted by boats powered with electric motors and four stroke outboard engines.

Birdlife is especially rich including eight species of hornbills, kingfishers, egrets, darters, owls, kites, eagles, broadbills, bulbuls, forktails, babblers, warblers, flycatchers, orioles, flowerpeckers, and many others.

Wake up to the calls of gibbons and hornbills. An early morning river cruise up the Kinabatangan River to the Kelenanap ox-bow lake for a short jungle walk (if weather permits) along the lake while searching for more wildlife. Activities may be altered due to weather and movement of wildlife. A night safari.

Depart for a 27 km journey to Gomantong caves. Trek 20 minutes through the rainforest to the cave entrance where bats, swiftlet and crabs among other wildlife dwell. Transfer to Lahad Datu for lunch. Then continue on to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. The last hour will be on a gravel road. Tabin is one of the largest wildlife reserves in Malaysia. Check-in and group briefing introducing us to Tabin Wildlife Resort and its wonderful facilities. Take a short afternoon trek to an area known as the mud volcano. This is known to be frequented by deer, wild boars, pygmy elephants and a great variety of birds. Walk up the observations tower and enjoy the afternoon canopy activity. In the evening enjoy a nocturnal drive.

Today we trek through the lush green jungle known for its rich diversity of plants and animal species to visit Lipad’s Waterfall. Return to Tabin base in the afternoon. At dusk a bird watching outing. After dinner a night drive in a different area of Tabin.

After breakfast, stroll to the nearby rock pool or riverside. Transfer to Lahad Datu and continue to Danum Valley through selectively logged forest, cocoa and soft-wood plantations before arriving at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge beside Danum River on the edge of 438 sq. km of undisturbed lowland rainforest. The Lodge is home to the full range of Sabah’s lowland fauna, including the rare Sumatran Rhinoceros, Elephants, Clouded Leopards, and Orang Utans. So far some 275 species of birds have been recorded in the area. Explore nature trail and nearby river. In the evening a slide show and if weather permits one can go spotlighting to view some of the nocturnal animals. 3 nights Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Early morning birdwalk before breakfast. Spend the whole day exploring the forest for birds and mammals, leading up to an escarpment with ancient burial coffins. Return to lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, walk through trails leading to canopy walkway. Overnight at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. A night drive.

Orangutan: photo by K. MarshallDay 12: BORNEO RAINFOREST LODGE (B,L,D)
Spend the whole day exploring the forest for birds and mammals. Overnight at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. A night drive.

Morning Trek in search of mammals and birds. Return to the Centre before departing for Lahad Datu. Take the late afternoon flight back to Kota Kinabalu. Arrive at Kota Kinabalu and transfer for overnight at Jesselton Hotel. Farewell dinner.

Transfer to the airport for the flight out.

Extensions to other areas of South East Asia can be handled on an individual basis.


“Catherine arranged a trip to Sabah, Borneo for my sister in law and I. Even though Catherine was was out of the country while we were organizing the trip, she arranged a fabulous trip and was able to recommend several alternatives that worked perfectly for us. We saw more wildlife than I would have thought possible and all of the guides were excellent, in particular, Adrian, our first guide who took us to Mount Kinabalu, and introduced us to many beautiful plants and birds. I’ve never seen so many stunning orchids! We particularly enjoyed the Orangutan rescue in Sepilok and the fabulous Sukau lodge on the river. We were blessed with seeing pygmie elephants, orangutans, gibbons, macaques, red and silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, large and small deer mouse, wild pigs, sunbears, hornbills and kingfishers and countless birds... There is nothing so magical as seeing wildlife in its natural habitat, thriving. It was a spectacular experience and everything went off without a hitch. The accommodations were great, the food excellent and the guides and drivers were great. Thanks Catherine for arranging a trip of a lifetime. Thanks!” Kay Dawkins

“Our trip to Borneo was wonderful. We greatly appreciated your tour arrangements to accommodate our special interests in the natural history of Borneo’s tropical rainforests. The arrangements were perfect and we never had a missed pickup or mixed up reservation. The guides were knowledgeable, courteous and patient and spoke very good English. The tour services and accommodations far exceeded our expectations and sights and scenery were overwhelming. It was indeed a once in a lifetime trip. We were fortunate to see many, many birds, fungi, flowers and animals - even the Bornean Pygmy Elephants made an appearance!” Diantha and Jack States

Photo by K. Marshall“Our trip to Sabah and Sarawak was a perfect blend of culture and nature. We were guided by the most knowledgeable people from the region and truly felt we saw and began to understand this most special area of Malaysia: the people, culture, plants, forests and extremely rich biodiversity.” J. Citrin and R. Culbert

“…couldn’t wait to tell you that at Sukau we met David Attenborough (aka God!) and after two days got up the courage to ask for his autograph – which he graciously provided. We were observing a mother and young Orang Utan interacting above the resort while, at the same time in the background, you can hear the quiet tones of Attenborough giving an interview for his latest TV thingy. Wow.” Peter Phillips

“What a trip! We had the very best time… the delights went on and on… the most wonderful was the reverence with which the Malaysians hold their natural wonders – and care for them. They were so impressive with their knowledge and appreciation for the wildlife, forests, butterflies, insects etc. It was fantastic. And the orang-utans were SO enjoyable.” N. Strauch and B. Dorr