Malaysian Borneo has long evoked imageries of wild discoveries in the Western countries. Borneo is in fact synonymous with adventure. The third largest island in the world, Borneo is stunning for its verdant jungles, with pockets of still untouched rainforest, longhouse-dwelling tribespeople, a reef-ringed coastline, and offshore islands. Land and sea teem with exotic endemic species, many of which are endangered; it is a veritable “adventure” destination. Despite having opened up greatly to visitors in the past few decades, Borneo remains a road less travelled, where new species continue to be discovered. However, the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak are now well equipped for visitors, offering an amazing variety of historic, cultural, and natural attractions and we will explore the best of them on this tour. This 13-days journey will bring you in the heart of Malaysian Borneo, discovering the unique and spectacular flora and fauna of the region, from orchids and hornbills to the elusive pygmy elephant and wild orangutans deep in the heart of the jungle. During this tour, you will have the rare chance of encountering wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and other creatures of the rainforest, visit hot springs and waterfalls, and get a better understanding of the local people by spending the night in a traditional village. A visit to a longhouse is often the highlight of a trip to Sarawak. From Kuching you will head to the longhouses of the Batang Ai region of Sarawak, including the Upper Delok River, Lalang River and Menyang River. These locations are special owing to the natural environment and stunning scenery. Clean rivers and jungle streams, refreshing waterfalls and undisturbed tracts of rainforest allow you to combine a range of outdoor activities with a visit or stay in an Iban longhouse. Our trip combines a longhouse visit with a unique upriver experience. It will offer you the chance to enjoy the rainforest in an upriver Borneo setting and also see how the Iban live on the fringes of the jungle. After 2 days spent with Iban community you will be transferred again to Kuching from where you will take flight to Mulu. Here you will have the opportunity to visit the Mullu Caves, one of the biggest cave systems in the world, measuring over 220km in length. After the visit at the caves, we will fly to Kota Kinabalu, and with a couple of hours drive you will be catapulted in local culture of the Kiulu, the valley of the mist… This is a unique and completely off the tourist radar experience, Kiulu Farmstay is situated at Kiulu River, worthwhile for any travelers interested in becoming immersed in the local life of the Sabahans. This beautiful farmstay is a community-based ecotourism project that acts as a catalyst for community development and capacity building. Mt. Kinabalu will be your next destination, exploring all the richness that Kinabalu Park and Poring hot springs have to offer including the Poring Hot Springs, one-of-a-kind fish foot spa. After one night in the chilled climate of the highest Sabah mountain you will head into your final destination, the Sepilok Nature Resort, where you will visit the neighbouring Orangutans rehabilitation centre where the majestic apes roam semi-wild. Learn about the plight of their forest habitat and see them up close as the rangers feed them. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Sun Bear Sanctuary which is home to world’s smallest bear. As the home of most of the island’s remaining orangutans, responsible Borneo holidays here could play an essential part in securing their future. From there we will further move into the jungle for 2 nights at wonderful eco-lodge in the forest. Here you can experience the best wildlife in Borneo as you go exploring for wildlife by river boat or overland, surely an experience of a lifetime. The ecolodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo’s most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo’s magnificent wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the rainforest and the cacophony of its inhabitants, its majestic birds, all 7 species of Borneo Primates including Borneo’s iconic Proboscis Monkey, Orangutans in their natural habitat as well as herds of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. The ecolodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst and at the same time, the delicate balance of true sustainability.
Registration can be requested for group travel or for self-travel. For group travel, registration is not binding. Upon reaching the minimum number of members necessary for the formation of the group, usually 4 or 6 people, you will be asked for confirmation of booking and payment of a deposit.
Day 1: Kuching
Arrive Kuching airport meet with our representative. Transfer and check into hotel. Rest or explore on your own the city.
Overnight in Kuching.
Day 2: Kuching-Batang Ai National Park
Kuching – Ulu Ai
Early morning pick up (around 8 am) from hotel in Kuching and transfer to Batang Ai reservoir (around 4,5 hrs). A visit to a longhouse is often the highlight of a trip to Sarawak, offering a glimpse into the lifestyle of the various tribes who have for generations lived in the remote interior of Borneo. While there are many areas in Sarawak where longhouses can be visited, Ulu Ai is one of the best. What makes Ulu Ai so special is the natural environment and stunning scenery. Clean rivers and jungle streams, refreshing waterfalls and undisturbed tracts of rainforest allow you to combine a range of outdoor activities with a longhouse visit. Along the way stop at Lachau Bazaar. There will be three stopovers along the route: I) Serian, a predominantly Dayak trading town, II) Chinese farm house to see how pepper and cocoa are grown and (III) at Lachau for lunch. The journey passes through scenic countryside of rice fields, rubber, cocoa, pepper and oil palm plantations, which intermingle with luxuriant tropical rainforest, rivers and mountain ranges. Stroll around the shops and the small native market and have an early lunch in a local coffee shop. Upon arrival at the river jetty, proceed by motorized longboat for about 45 minutes, crossing the Batang Ai Lake, passing through scenic views, rice fields, fish farms to reach the Longhouse. Proceed to the longhouse Nanga Sumpa for a warm welcome tour the longhouse, watch the natives at work such as making mats, baskets, handicrafts and mending fish nets. Join the natives in their daily chores, like feeding their livestock, washing clothes and so on. After dinner, socialize with the longhouse dwellers, witness cultural performances and presentation of gifts before retiring for the night at the IbAn lodge.
Overnight in Ulu Ai. (B/L/D)
Day 3: Batang Ai National Park
After breakfast hike the jungle trails along the river. Then continue upriver by longboat. Our destination is the scenic Enseluai waterfall. Along the way (if conditions are suitable) your boatman may stop to demonstrate fishing Iban-style using a jala or throw net. Arrive at the waterfall and have time to relax, swim and enjoy the rainforest surroundings. Enjoy a riverside BBQ lunch prepared by your Iban hosts. Return to the lodge. After dinner visit Nanga Sumpa longhouse. Relax on the ruai (common verandah), spend time with the Iban people and enjoy some local rice wine.
Overnight in Ulu Ai.(B/L/D)
DAY 4: TRANSFER TO MULU
Batang Ai National Park – Kuching- Mulu
After breakfast travel downriver to the Batang Ai Lake jetty and transfer by van/coach to Kuching airport for flight to Mulu. Arrive at Mulu airport and meet with our representative, then transfer to the hotel for check in.
Overnight in Mulu (B/D)
DAY 5: EXPLORING MULU CAVES
After breakfast, meet in the Park Headquarters to proceed on foot via the 3.8 km designated path for 45mins through the peat swamp forest to explore Lang Cave first. Lang Cave is considered the youngest of the 4 show-caves; therefore, it is smaller but produces some of the most spectacularly large limestone formations including the Jelly Fish-like stalactite. Next explore Deer Cave, the entrance of which can contain the size of St. Paul Cathedral 5 times over. Late afternoon, witness the bat’s flight (depending on the weather). Return to Park Headquarters then transfer back to the Hotel.
Overnight in Mulu (D)
DAY 6: EXPLORING CAVES OF THE WINDS
After breakfast at around 0830hrs, your guide would meet you and proceed with wooden open long boat up streams of Melinau River with stopover at Penan Settlement before exploring Caves of the Winds, the interior of which stimulates scenes from the Indiana Jones movie. From Cave of the Winds, proceed to Clearwater Cave, having the longest cave passage in South East Asia. Have picnic lunch by the crystal-clear pool in front of Clearwater Cave. Swim or relax (if time permitted) before returning to your accommodation via the same way. Free at own leisure.
Overnight in Mulu (B/L/D)
DAY 7: KOTA KINABALU- KIULU
Mulu – Kota Kinabalu- Kiulu
After breakfast, transfer to Mulu airport for and flight for Kota Kinabalu. Arrival in Kota Kinabalu and drive approximately 45 minutes to countryside with a short stop at Tamparuli Suspension Bridge and the nearby local market, passing the scenic view of the Kiulu Valley, the valley of the mist. After lunch you take a village walk which will offer you stunning landscapes of the scenic valley as you pass through local school, lush paddy fields, hanging bridge before returning back to the hotel. If time and weather permits, take a dip at the sensationally cooling Kiulu River. After dinner, you will have the opportunity to meet with local people and speak with them about the village history and folktales before sleeping.
Overnight in Kiulu (B/L/D).
DAY 8: KIULU
After breakfast, proceed with a jungle trek where you will experience picking local produce the local way. Make your way to the home of a villager to get your fill of delicious home-cooked lunch. If weather permits, take a refreshing dip in the river to beat the heat and thereafter, it will be at leisure. After dinner, spend some time with the locals.
Overnight in Kiulu (B/L/D).
DAY 9: KIULU-MT KINABALU
Kiulu – Mt Kinabalu
Drive 2 hours overland to the foothills of Mt. Kinabalu. We will make a short stop at Pekan Nabalu market to sample local fruits in season and to stretch our legs. You will later visit the Kundasang War Memorial Park to learn about Sabah’s history and for great photos with the majestic Mount Kinabalu (if weather permits). Thereafter, we proceed to the Education Centre and Mountain Garden in Kinabalu Park Headquarters. If weather permits, take a guided walk on one of the trails to explore the cool montane forest.
Overnight stay in Mt Kinabalu (L/D)
DAY 10: MT KINABALU-SEPILOK
Monte Kinabalu – Sepilok
After breakfast drive to Poring, east of Kinabalu Park HQ to walk amidst tropical lowland rainforests leading up to the treetop canopy walkways. Enjoy lunch, before visiting the Kipungit Waterfall, stopping for a soak here or in the rejuvenating hot sulphur public pools. If the weather permits, treat your foot to a delightful but very ticklish fish massage at the Moroli River in Luanti which will almost certainly leave you in giggles. After lunch, we head onwards by van for approximately 4 hours to Sepilok. Check in in the lodge for the overnight.
Overnight in Sepilok. (B/L/D)
DAY 11: ORANG UTAN REHABILITATION CENTRE
Pickup from accommodation in Sepilok, transfer to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. We proceed to watch a video show about the plight of the Orang Utans and the rehabilitation efforts ongoing at the Centre. Walk ten minutes through the rainforest on wooden boardwalks to witness the feeding of the orang utans at 1000hrs, and then we continue to the newly completed enclosed nursery area for young orang utans. Depart for an estimated 2 hours overland journey to Sukau. Take an afternoon river cruise in search of wildlife and birds using a boat with hybrid system of outboard and electric motor (depending on river current). Enjoy a scrumptious dinner overlooking the riverbank followed by slide presentation and interpretation by naturalist guide.
Overnight in Sukau. (B/L/D)
DAY 12: SUKAU
Take a 0600hrs morning river cruise up the Kinabatangan River to Kelenanap oxbow lake to view more birds and wildlife. After breakfast, proceed for an educational tour along the lodge’s Hornbill Boardwalk with our in-house naturalist. After lunch, join our in-house Orang Utan Talk activity. In the afternoon, we proceed for another river cruise for more wildlife.
Overnight in Sukau. (B/L/D)
DAY 13: SUKAU-SANDAKAN AIRPORT
After breakfast transfer to Sandakan airport for you return flight or continue to Lankayan island for extension.
All the itinerary has been designed in order to promote direct or indirect benefits for local communities, environment and cultural heritages.
The Ulu Ai Tourism Project – a partnership between tour operator and the local Iban community – offers an alternative to the usual ‘staged’ forms of cultural tourism found in Sarawak. It forges a sustainable partnership between hosts and visitors, whereby visitors experience the local lifestyle on the host’s own terms. Tours focus on society and environment, rather than on performances and demonstrations. The experience benefits hosts, visitors and local wildlife. Travellers to Ulu Ai stay as guests of the longhouse dwelling Iban people, who benefit economically by providing a range of tourism services. Local entrepreneurship and various community & conservation projects are supported by the project. Another unique and completely off the tourist radar experience, Kiulu Farmstay is situated at Kiulu River, worthwhile for any travelers interested in becoming immersed in the local life of the Sabahans. This beautiful farmstay is a community based ecotourism project that acts as a catalyst for community development and capacity building. Tucked away in a beautiful valley with a selection of community-based activities offered, this is one of the best options to have a glimpse into local life.
Some of the activities are orginize in cooperations with BEST Society, the only NGO set up by a tour and lodge operator in Malaysia. What began through working with the environment and communities in Sukau expanded into other areas in dire need of poverty alleviation or environmental intervention throughout Sabah including up north in the Kudat and Kota Marudu districts, Kota Kinabalu, Kundasang, Kampung Kiau and now the Kiulu area.
Travelling is safe throughout Borneo. We advise precautions be taken when travelling to the islands off Semporna that include the Sipadan Resorts, Pom Pom island and Mataking island. Although security has been bolstered at these locations, the recurring incidents in this area in 2014 casts sufficient doubt that compels us to advise our travelers to exercise extreme caution when visiting these areas and if you’re uncomfortable with the risks, to avoid these areas altogether.There has been no further incidences in the Semporna/Sipadan areas since July 2014 however we continue to remain vigilant and take precautions where necessary to ensure the safety of our guests. Sukau is approximately 2.5hrs each way inland from the sea and thus the significant distance forms a huge deterrent to any threats from the Philippines. Armed groups usually target the offshore island and coastal areas because it is easier for them to make a getaway across the Malaysian-Philippines border. There is a permanent military-police presence in Sukau village that is only 10 minutes by boat away from the lodge.
Malaysia, despite being a tourist destination, is a Muslim Country, therefore it is advised that you following carefully a code conduct which respects local culture to avoid any hassles or unwanted troubles along your journey. In particular, avoid to show affection in public places, such as hugging, kissing etc., as this behaviour is not appreciated by local people.
You are also advised to follow a certain dress code. The tropical days in Borneo are hot and humid, so we recommend lightweight cotton clothing. Casual wear is acceptable for most occasions in the city while tours to the interior, long trousers and t-shirts may be more appropriate. Let’s not forget thin towels, sun hats, sunscreen, insect repellent and leech socks. For most tours, bring along your swimming costumes, as there are chances to slake off the tropical heat with a dip at a river or waterfall. We highly recommend women to wear a sarong when bathing and dipping in rivers or waterfalls. Sarongs are easily obtained locally and are usually quite cheap. Please remember that all persons should dress modestly, especially female visitors. Moreover, we recommend you bring light rainwear such as raincoats, ponchos and waterproof jackets because there will be encounters with rain. If you are climbing Mount Kinabalu, you will need warm clothing.
Dengue Fever and Malaria are present in Borneo. Dengue Fever is a viral disease with flu like symptoms that is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite during the DAYTIME and in URBAN regions. There is no vaccine for dengue fever and prevention is based upon insect repellents, nets and insecticides. Malaria is transmitted by a type of NIGHT biting mosquito. Whilst cases of malaria do occur in rural and undeveloped areas of Borneo, risk of malaria is LOW in towns, cities and touristy areas. Nonetheless, it is advisable to apply insect repellent to all exposed areas of skin, avoiding eyes and mouth. Please avoid aftershave or perfumes. These smells can attract mosquitoes, especially during the evenings. When a leech has already gotten to you, do not panic! We strongly recommend that you DO NOT Pull, Burn or Squeeze the leech out. This will result in the leech vomiting harmful bacteria back into your system. Leeches fall out on their own once full.
Malaysian time zone is GMT/UTC +8.00, so chances of jet lag cannot be ignored. It is advised that you get onto Malaysian’s time zone as soon as you leave home and try to eat and sleep on local time. Also, if you reach Maleysia early in the day, try to stay awake – this will help the body’s internal clock to reset.
A conscious approach to travel requires a considerable capacity and willingness to adapt and adjust to the local environment and culture. If you wish to travel with us we request you to be open enough to experience local culture, religious and traditions without bias and pre-conceived ideas you might have before the departure and which belong to our Western cultural way of thinking. Exploring with fresh eyes, with patience and openness, you will be able to access the real essence of Asian cultural heritages through the places and people you are going to meet; if you are ready to do this effort you will really enjoy the beauty of a completely different cultural tradition, the extraordinary of the nature, the solemnity of temples, the holiness of the waters of countless rivers and oceans that flow through this magic land…
We selected beautiful and traditional heritages resorts with all the facilities throughout the tour. All the structures have been selected carefully according to criteria of social and environmental impacts. Whilst in Batang Ai and Kiulu we have selected community based accommodation like a homestay such as a traditional IBAN longhouse and community farm. In Sukau and Sepilok you will be hosted in beautiful eco-resorts as to experience the essence of Borneo’ Wildlife.
Private vehicles o mini-buses with AC according to the number of participants for all the itinerary from Kuching to Sandakan; a direct flight will connect you from Kuching to Mulu and from Mulu to Kotakinabalu. Boat ride for cruise in Batang Ai reservoir and in Sukau on Kinabatangan river.
The climate in Borneo is essentially tropical and can be visited by tourists throughout the year thanks to a pleasant climate during all the year. There is no especially good or bad season to visit; lowland areas are always hot and humid and rain is a real possibility every day, all year around. “Wet” season is considered fro October to February that can affect boat links to offshore islands and visibility for divers. However, high season is considered from July till Septemper.