Orangutans look straight into your soul.
Willie Smits, conservationist, resident of Borneo
Endless deep green jungles, stunning mountains and one incredibly blue ocean. Trek Mount Kinabalu, explore the deep forests by canoe and spot wild orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Stay in a long house for an immersion in tribal life or journey inland to the spectacular bat caves and extraordinary rock formations of Mulu National Park. This is Borneo, a land for adventure-seekers.
When to go
The best time for wildlife viewing in Borneo is between March and October, when the least amount of rain falls.
Situated close to several great nature reserves, Kuching is Malaysia's most laid-back city. Chinese temples and Indian mosques share the streets with stalls selling plenty of different cuisines.
Semenggoh Wildlife Centre
A short drive from Kuching, this nature reserve is one of the best places in the world to see semi-wild orangutans.
Bako National Park
Also close to Kuching, Bako National Park is one of the best to see proboscis monkeys in the wild. Steep coastal cliffs offer sweeping vistas, while you can swim in jungle streams or from hidden beaches and hike along rainforest trails.
Mulu National Park
Gunung Mulu is one of the most spectacular parks in Asia, home to enormous caves like Clearwater, Wind, Lang’s and Deer Cave. There are jagged karst mountains, rugged gorges with crystal-clear rivers running through them and old-growth rainforests which support an incredible array of wildlife. Finally, there is the trek to the rock formations called the Pinnacles.
Like Mulu, Niah also has massive limestone caves, but unlike at Mulu, here are you allowed to walk around the caves at will, perhaps stumbling on prehistoric cave paintings or people harvesting bat guano and swiftlet nests.
Friendly people, good places to eat, the markets and spectacular sunsets are what will impress you in the compact town of Kota Kinabalu.
Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
Close to Kota Kinabalu, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is a good destination for snorkelling and to hike some of the lovely trails, perhaps spotting macaques and hornbills on your way to a beach. Between November to February, divers might sight whale sharks.
Turtle Island Marine Park
Almost every night of the year, green and hawksbill turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs. You can watch them in the process, or see park wardens release newly hatched turtles in to the sea.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
This is the world's most famous place to see orangutans and it is a great place to snap photos as they are being fed. Best yet, there is an outdoor nursery for baby orangutans.
Danum Valley Conservation Area
300+ Bird species, along with bearded pigs, flying squirrel, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants steal the show at this phenomenal conservation area. Visitors can spot wildlife on walks and night drives. Award-winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge, nestled in a magnificent setting alongside the Danum River is our place of choice to explore the reserve.
Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary & Sukau Rainforest Lodge
During boat rides and short treks at Kinabatangan you may see orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques and gibbons. There is also a great variety of birds and fish. Award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, set on the banks of the Kinabatangan River is our choice to stay at the sanctuary.
These massive caves are a prime harvesting area for swiftlet's nests, which are turned into soup, a local delicacy.
Towering more than 4 kilometers above sea level, Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalaya and New Guinea, is the setting for one of the most popular treks in South East Asia. Kinabalu's peak is one magical place to see the sunrise, but if you do not feel up for it, there are several fine walking trails in the rainforest at the base of the mountain.
Poring Hot Springs
A good place to soak your muscles after climbing Mount Kinabalu or doing a hike through the rainforest. On site are an orchid garden, a butterfly farm and a few walking trails. There is also a canopy walk offering unique views of the forest canopy and bird and plant life.
Smell a rafflesia
Well, you may want to hold your nose, but seeing these flowers is something else. They may be over 100 centimeters (39 in) in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kilograms!
Turtle Islands National Park is a great place to see female turtles come ashore almost every night and watch them lay their eggs above the high-water line. Park wardens also release newly-hatched turtles on a regular basis.
Visit an Iban longhouse
A typical Iban longhouse sits in a stunning location, such as a rise in a riverbend, may contain over 30 apartments and house as many as 150 people. Come and enjoy a communal dinner, a late evening with rice wine and raucous dancing and sleep out on mats communal-style. The next morning learn about the local lifestyle and culture, before continuing further into the forest or back down along the river.
Visit an orangutan
Coming eye to eye with these beautiful primates is an experience you will not soon forget. Whether you see them being fed in a semi-wild location such as Sepilok, or in their natural habitat, this will be a true highlight of your visit to Borneo.
See the sun rise above the jungle
A two-day trek will take you to the Roof of Borneo, 4095 metre high Mount Kinabalu. Once you see the sunrise you will realize your efforts were worth it!
Bathe in hot springs
Soak your tired muscles in the tubs and pools at Poring Hot Springs. On site are an orchid garden, a butterfly farm and a few walking trails. There is also a canopy walk offering unique views of the forest canopy and bird and plant life.
Eat a swifts's nest
In the enormous limestone caves at Gomantong and Niah you will see scaffolding leading up the cave walls, where intrepid workers harvest the nests of swiftlets. These are priced for their high nutritional value and exquisite flavor, served as bird's nest soup.
Snorkel a reef
The seas around Borneo offer some spectacular marine life. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, close to Kota Kinabalu, is a good destination for snorkelling. Remote Sipadan Island has stunning corals housing many colourful fish, along with barracuda, big amberjacks and sea turtles.
Hunt for heads
The Headhunters trail in beautiful Mulu National Park is not overly demanding but gives you a great chance to get to know the park intimately. The trail is named for the Kayan war parties that walked it in order to raid the peoples of the Limbang region.
Hike a stone forest
Also in Mulu National Park, the formidable 45m-high stone spires called the Pinnacles are reached via a challenging 4-5 hour climb. Not for the faint-of-heart, the trek leads through beautiful rainforest and offers stupendous views of the valley below.
Explore a river
Take a motorboat up a river in Borneo and chances are you will see a good array of the amazing wildlife, such as orangutan, proboscis monkey and hornbills. On occasion you may even see the rare Borneo Pygmy elephant come down to the beach.
See a proboscis
Pot bellies and incredible noses are what sets proboscis monkey aside from other primates. That and the weird noises they make - honks, squeaks, roars and snarls. Seeing them in troops of up to 20 individuals, as you might in Bako National Park, is quite the sight!
Stay at a jungle lodge
There is nothing quite like waking up to the calls of gibbons, followed by an early morning river cruise spotting wildlife along the way. Walk a boardwalk to see myriad birds in this birdwatcher’s paradise, or sit on a deck enjoying the tranquility of the rainforest. And to top it all off, enjoy a spa treatment in a peaceful rainforest ambiance.
Borneo Wildlife Discovery
Tour code: EBWD
Why we love this trip: a fabulous trip visiting all the wildlife hotspots in Borneo
Places visited: Kuching, Bako, Mulu, Kota Kinabalu, Labuk Bay, Sepilok, Danum Valley Conservation Area, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Gomatong Caves, Sandakan
Signature Experiences: smell a rafflesia, visit an Iban longhouse, visit an orangutan, eat a swifts's nest, snorkel a reef, explore a river, see a proboscis, stay at a jungle lodge
Length: 15 days
Accommodation: 13 nights hotel & lodges, 1 night long house
Included meals: 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners
Transport: van, boat, flight, on foot
Departures: Set small-group dates June through March; daily private departures
Customizable? Yes, price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $3910
Tour code: PWRT
Why we love this trip: a great overview of the marine and terrestrial wildlife of Borneo, along with some easy walks along rainforest trails.
Places visited: Kota Kinabalu, Kinabalu National Park, Kinabatangan, Gomantong Caves, Sandakan, Sepilok, Labuk Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park
Signature Experiences: smell a rafflesia, visit an orangutan, bathe in hot springs, eat a swifts's nest, snorkel a reef, explore a river, see a proboscis, stay at a jungle lodge
Length: 10 days
Accommodation: Chalet , Cottage, Hotel
Included meals: 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
Transport: Boat, Plane, Private vehicle
Departures: set small-group dates and daily private departures year-round
Customizable? Yes, price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $2710
Tour code: VBJT
Why we love this trip: this 2-week active discovery of Borneo's best parks has you trek through jungles, up mountains and through caves.
Places visited: Miri, Mulu NP, Headhunters Trail, Pinnacles (on 17-day version), Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Sepilok, Kinabatanagan, Gomontong Caves, Mt. Kinabalu
Signature Experiences: smell a rafflesia, visit an Iban longhouse, visit an orangutan, see the sun rise above the jungle, eat a swifts's nest, hunt for heads, hike a stone forest, explore a river, see a proboscis, stay at a jungle lodge
Length: 14 or 17 days
Accommodation: hotels, all with en suite facilities, long house, lodges and mountain huts
Included meals: 14-day version: all breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners;
17-day version: 16 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 12 dinners
Transport: on foot, boat, flight, van
Departures: set small-group dates between February and November
Customizable? we can tailor this for private groups - price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $3060 (14-day version) to $3790 (17-day version)