If you’re going to Borneo, you might as well dive in at the deep end. That’s the philosophy behind this trip, which passes up Borneo’s better-known destinations in favour of the truly wild and remote.
Combining two very different jungle experiences, one with the Iban tribe in Sarawak and the other in the “Lost World” of Sabah’s Maliau Basin, it's all about getting away from civilisation and into some of the least explored places on Earth.
Transfers will be by private car and boat, with the exception of one internal flight from Sarawak to Sabah. This itinerary includes remote destinations, so be prepared for some lengthy journeys on bumpy roads. It’s the price you pay for spectacular wilderness!
You’ll get much deeper into Batang Ai National Park than most travellers, giving you a better chance of spotting orangutans in the wild
A multi-day trek through the Maliau Basin will take you to the edge of the explored world
This trip is easily extended with some relaxing beach time
Things to consider
This itinerary includes lots of challenging trekking: you’ll need to be able to hike for up to eight hours a day in humid conditions
Though you’re sure to see plenty of wildlife on your trip, there’s no guaranteeing what!
Due to the remoteness of the locations, this itinerary includes some fairly long and bumpy transfers
Even if you’re travelling in the “dry” season, always expect rain in a rainforest
Several nights of this trip are spent in very basic accommodation – think dormitories, no AC, and intermittent electricity!
Once an independent colonial kingdom governed by the White Rajahs of Sarawak, today Kuching is Malaysian Borneo’s most up-and-coming city. While you’re acclimatising to equatorial life, explore its fabulous street-food scene, admire its colonial architecture from the riverside boulevard, and perhaps check out the excellent Sarawak Museum for an insight into the island’s fascinating natural and indigenous heritage. Then, head into nearby Bako National Park for your first experience of the rainforest, following plank walks through mangroves and towering tropical trees until you reach the beach, where mud skippers and blue fiddler crabs come out to feed at low tide.
Explore the mangrove forests of Bako National Park
Have your first rainforest experience on an afternoon trek
Sample the amazing diversity of street food on offer at Kuching’s night markets
Now it’s time to get into the wilderness proper as you make the journey by car and boat into the heart of Batang Ai, the ancestral heartland of the Iban. The Iban were once fearsome headhunters, but today they’re better known for their warm hospitality — as you’ll discover as you spend a night in a longhouse, sharing rice wine and relaxing on the ruai (veranda). As well as its native culture, Batang Ai is home to the highest density of orangutans in central Borneo, meaning it’s your best chance to spot them in the wild. Even if you don’t, you’re sure to see all sorts of fascinating creatures as you trek through the forest, swim in waterfall pools, and enjoy a BBQ by the riverside.
Go for a scenic boat ride on Batang Ai Lake
Drink rice wine with the locals at an Iban tribal community
Hike through the jungle to swim in a waterfall pool
Go in search of orangutans, gibbons and hornbills on a rainforest trek
The finer detail
- Breakfast every day
- Eight lunches: one in the Bako Park Canteen; one on the way into Batang Ai; two in your Batang Ai jungle camp; one on the way to Maliau Basin; three packed lunches during your trekking in Maliau Basin
- Six dinners: one in your Batang Ai lodge; two in your Batang Ai jungle camp; one at the Maliau Basin Studies Centre; two at Ginseng Camp in the Maliau Basin
- One full-day experience: trek through the mangroves of Bako National Park;
- Two night stay at the Lubok Kasai jungle camp with the Iban community in Batang Ai with rainforest exploring & trekking
- Three night stay in the Maliau Basin with rainforest exploring & trekking in Sabah’s Lost World
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All domestic transfers and transport
Logistics and journey times
Car transfer from Kuching airport to hotel (30 minutes)
Car transfer to Batang Ai Lake (6 hours)
Boat transfer to lodge (1.5 hours)
Boat transfer to Enseluai waterfall (15 minutes)
Trek to Lubok Kasai jungle camp (2 hours)
Boat transfer to Batang Ai Lake (2 hours)
Car transfer to Kuching (6 hours)
Car transfer to Kuching Airport (30 minutes)
Domestic flight to Kota Kinabalu (1.5 hours)
Car transfer to hotel (20 minutes)
Car transfer to Maliau Basin Studies Centre (6 hours)
Car transfer to Agathis Camp (30 minute drive)
9km uphill trek to Ginseng Camp (6 hours)
11km trek to visit Maliau Falls (6 hours)
9km downhill trek to Agathis Camp (5 hours)
Car transfer to Kota Kinabalu (6 hours)
Car transfer to Kota Kinabalu Airport (20 minutes)
What's not included
- International flights
- Any necessary visas
- Any lunches or dinners unless stated
- Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
- Tipping and personal expenses
- Tourist taxes & any National Park fees