Please call free – 0800 707 6229 - for Huge Extra Savings on Intrepid Best of Borneo Tour
Imagine a place that is spiritual and wild, colourful and mysterious, and full of tantalising secrets - this is beautiful Borneo. From the steamy jungles of Mulu National Park and the secluded beaches of Turtle Island, to the graceful orangutans at Sepilok and small villages nestled in the shadow of Mt Kinabalu, Borneo is a true gem of South East Asia. Experience captivating sunsets, be welcomed on homestays, travel along scenic trails, laze on tropical beaches and see an abundance of wildlife - this is a tour to remember forever.
- See the Orangutans at the Semenggoh Sanctuary.
- Discover the colourful history of the Iban people and spend the night in a traditional longhouse with a local family.
- Explore one of the world's largest cave networks and witness a sunset hunting exodus if millions of bats.
- Follow in the infamous footsteps of tribal warriors on a trek through wild, dense jungle on the Headhunters' Trail.
- Experience next-level vistas from the top of Mt Kinabalu climb.
- Witness nature at its most beautiful with a night on Turtle Island, watching mother turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
- 17 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners
- Included Activities
Day 1: Kuching
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, which you can find details about at the hotel’s reception. In any free time before the meeting, check out this cosmopolitan city rich in architecture, where the waterfront houses a wealth of curious shops and local vegetable, spice and fish markets.
Day 2: Bako National Park
Travel to the fishing village of Kampung Bako, then a local boat up the coast to Bako National Park, the oldest national park in Sarawak. The many jungle trails in Bako offer an insight into the island's botanical diversity. Weather permitting, you’ll take a leader-led walk to the beautiful beach at Telok Pandan Kecil (5 kilometres, approximately 3 hours return). The trail climbs through the forest before emerging onto an open plateau covered in scrub, from where curious pitcher plants can sometimes be seen. It can be a hot, but always rewarding hike.
Day 3: Kuching
After an optional, invigorating morning hike, farewell the jungle and return to Bako Village by boat (it may be necessary to depart the park earlier or later subject to weather conditions). Then travel by private minivan back to Kuching (approximately 1 hour). Later you will transfer to the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary – a government-funded rehabilitation centre set in lush surrounds – on the way. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned.
Day 4: Mulu National Park
Fly to Mulu via Miri, sending your large bag on to Limbang and packing a day bag with the essentials for the next four days. When you arrive in Mulu, head into the heart of one of the most spectacular national parks in Asia – Gunung Mulu National Park. Transfer the short distance to Mulu HQ (2 kilometres) where you’ll stay for the next 2 nights. Your leader will go through some of the options for your free time here. You can take to the some of the self-guided trails around the park, or to the treetops on the world’s longest tree based canopy walkway.
Day 5: Mulu National Park
Today you have a free morning to explore or have a sleep in. Spend the afternoon strolling the walkways of this 180-million-year-old rainforest, and then catch the sunset flight of the bats at Deer Cave. The World Heritage-listed park has absolutely spectacular limestone geology, with enormous caves, vast cave networks, rock pinnacles, cliffs and gorges. In fact, its system of caves is the largest known in the world, formed when surface water worked its way through the rock, carving gigantic passages through the bedrock.
Day 6: Mulu National Park
Leave Park HQ behind and head into the jungle. Take boats for around 30 minutes downriver to the amazing Clearwater and Wind caves, which contain Asia’s longest underwater river. The Clearwater cave system runs for 107 kilometres, 75 of which have been explored.
Afterwards, take a longboat downriver before disembarking to hike through undisturbed jungle to Camp 5, nestled at the end of Melinau Gorge (approximately 8.5 kilometres).
Day 7: Headhunters Trail/Longhouse
Today you’ll tackle the infamous Headhunters' trail. Located in an isolated area of the Bornean jungle, this 11.3 kilometre (approximately 5 hour) trail takes its name from its historical role as the route taken by warring parties between the Tutoh and Limbang rivers. The trek is through dense jungle along a well-defined, mainly flat track, although the way can be muddy during the rainy season. You'll also have to cross some streams by rope bridges, wooden walkways, logs or by getting your feet wet as you wade through. You’ll be surrounded by stunningly diverse flora, massive bird-filled trees, and the magical sounds of the forest – a hornbill flapping its wings, the cries of monkeys, and the pulse of cicadas and crickets.
Day 8: Labuan Island
Farewell your hosts and depart the longhouse to travel by private vehicle to Limbang (approx. one hour). From here, catch a ferry to Labuan Island (approx. 2-2.5 hours) where you’ll have a free afternoon and evening at a beach resort. Relax and recover after yesterday’s trek, chilling out with a cold drink and a good book. Maybe head to Layang-layang beach for a swim and the sunset.
Day 9: Kota Kinabalu
Labuan was occupied by Japanese forces during WWII and this morning you’ll have time to visit the Labuan War Memorial, where British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Malay and local soldiers are buried. Take some free time to wonder around town then catch the afternoon ferry to Kota Kinabalu (approx. 2.5 to 3 hours), the capital of Sabah and a modern metropolis that rebounded from multiple bombings during WWII.
Day 10: Kota Kinabalu
Spend a free day in Kota Kinabalu. You could visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village, or perhaps explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, excellent for swimming and snorkelling. There are plenty of ferries heading out and each island has a different vibe, many with small hikes and some with restaurants and resorts on them.
Day 11: Dusun Village
Today you will travel by minivan to a Dusun village, nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of imposing Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea (approximately 2 hours). The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their way of life and spend a night in a village.
Day 12: Mt Kinabalu National Park
This morning say goodbye to your new friends from the village and travel into the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park (approximately 1 hour). Take some time to enjoy the surroundings and prepare for the climb. There are nature trails through the lowland tropical forest and a Botanic Garden to explore.
Day 13: Mt Kinabalu National Park
Rise early the next day to begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, uphill all the way, and you’ll need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. You will cover 6 kilometres on the first day (approximately 4-6 hours) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 metres) for the night.
Day 14: Mt Kinabalu - Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 metres). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is incredible - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, the temperature can change very quickly up on the mountain, so bring clothes for all weather conditions. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 2-4 hours and, due to the altitude, can be hard going even for the fit.
Day 15: Poring Hot Springs
Poring Hot Springs is an ideal place to kick back for a day to recuperate after the Mountain climb. There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves - with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or there's a visit the enchanting butterfly farm.
Day 16: Kinabatangan River
Today, journey by private bus into the steamy rainforest to Bilit, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Take a short boat tide to the comfortable jungle lodge where you’ll spend the night. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife. In the early evening as the sun sets, head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan, proboscis monkeys and, if you’re lucky, spot some pygmy elephants.
Day 17: Sandakan
Today take an early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast, say goodbye to the Jungle Lodge and hit the road in a private minivan to the coastal city of Sandakan (approximately 3 hours). Along the way there’s the option to stop at the Gomantong caves (additional entrance fee).
Day 18: Turtle Island
This morning, leave your large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approximately 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the afternoon, there's time for swimming, snorkelling or some quality time lazing about on the beach of this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire. In the evening, be touched by the sight of giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight, and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean.
Day 19: Sepilok
After breakfast, return to the mainland (approximately 1 hours), collect your bags, and continue by minibus to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (approximately 45 minutes). The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day.
Day 20: Kota Kinabalu
In the morning get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped. We then transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour).
Day 21: Kota Kinabalu
Your Sabah adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu longer, then there are some additional activities that your leader can assist with booking. It’s best to pre book these activities with your leader on Day 1. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or an optional fun, interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live.
- Bako National Park
- Kuching - Semengohh Orangutan Sanctuary
- Mulu National Park
- Mulu NP - Deer & Lang Caves
- Mulu NP - Wind & Clearwater Caves
- Mulu NP - Guided trek along Headhunters' Trails
- Mulu NP - Longboat ride along the Melinau & Terikan Rivers
- Dusun Village - Guided village walk
- Dusun Village - Cultural performance
- Mt Kinabalu climb
- Kinabatangan River - Night jungle walk
- Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
- Kinabatangan River - Dawn wildlife cruise
- Turtle Island - National Park
- Sepilok - Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- Sandakan - War Memorial
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don't include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment's notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
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