If Sarawak is Malaysian Borneo’s cultural heart, Sabah is its wild side – with deep, dark swathes of rainforest unmarred by development, and rich reserves of wildlife waiting to be discovered.
This itinerary focusses on Borneo’s natural wonders, from its famous flame-haired orangutans and big-nosed proboscis monkeys to its towering tropical trees and mind-boggling array of exotic plants.
Transport in detail
Transfers will be by private car and boat, with two internal flights (from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan [for Sepilok], and from Lahad Datu [for Danum Valley] to Kota Kinabalu)
Rainforests come in all shapes and sizes, and this trip will give you the chance to experience and learn about three very different forests
You’ll stay in comfortable accommodation throughout, including the spectacular Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley
What with six nights in the rainforest and two visits to wildlife sanctuaries, you’ll have the best possible chance of spotting rare animals
After all that adventure, you’ll have a few days to wind down with some relaxing beach time
Things to consider
Though you’ll certainly see plenty of wildlife on this itinerary, there’s no guaranteeing what!
There’s a fair bit of hiking involved in this trip, so you’ll need a moderate level of fitness
Even if you’re travelling in the “dry” season, always expect rain in a rainforest!
This trip focusses on Sabah, the heart of Malaysian Borneo’s wildlife, but we can easily extend your trip to include Sarawak: packed with indigenous culture, super street-food, and colonial history. In the end, it’s up to you.
We’ll get right out there and say it: Kota Kinabalu’s no beauty queen – but Sabah's biggest city has plenty of charm for those who look. A good place to start is the local markets. KK has garnered something of a reputation for its excellent street food, from curry crab to coconut jam on toast, and the treats on offer at the huge and colourful Filipino Market are seemingly endless. Once you’ve satisfied your cravings, there are all sorts of day trip opportunities on offer — including tea plantation visits, stand-up paddleboarding, countryside cycling, and some of the finest tropical islands in the whole of Southeast Asia.
Head to the top of Signal Hill for incredible views over the city
Check out the Sunday market and Chinese coffee shops along Gaya Street
Have dinner at the city’s huge and bustling Filipino Night Market
Sepilok is Malaysian Borneo’s conservation command centre, and its trio of sanctuaries are leading the way when it comes to preserving this island’s precious wildlife. You’ll visit all three of them and learn how they work together, watching rescued orangutans and sun bears on the road to recovery, and taking to the treetops on a canopy walk to spot monkeys and birds. Borneo has already lost half its rainforests – a third within the past three decades – and projects like these are all that stand between the remainder and extinction. It’s a sobering thought, but by supporting the amazing work being done here you get to see these incredible creatures – and be part of the solution.
Learn about the endangered Bornean sun bear at the conservation centre
Walk through the treetops on the Rainforest Discovery Centre’s canopy walkway
Meet orangutans in recovery at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre
The finer detail
- Breakfast every day
- Seven lunches: one at your lodge in Sepilok; one at your lodge on the Kinabatangan River; two at your lodge in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve; three at your lodge in Danum Valley
- Seven dinners: one at KK’s Filipino night market; two at your lodge on the Kinabatangan River; two at your lodge in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve; two at your lodge in Danum Valley
- Three half-day experiences: visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre; a plant walk at the Rainforest Discovery Centre; visit Sepilok’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- One evening experience: street food tour of KK’s Filipino night market
- Two night stay on the Kinabatangan River including wildlife spotting activities
- Two night stay in Tabin Wildlife Reserve including wildlife spotting and jungle activities
- Two night stay in Danum Valley including wildlife spotting and jungle activities
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All domestic transfers and transport
Logistics and journey times
Car transfer from Kota Kinabalu Airport to hotel (20 minutes)
Car transfer to Kota Kinabalu Airport (20 minutes)
Domestic flight to Sandakan (40 minutes)
Car transfer from Sandakan to Sepilok (25 minutes)
Car transfer to the Kinabatangan River (2.5 hours)
Car transfer to Lahad Datu (3 hours)
Car transfer on unsealed roads to Tabin Wildlife Reserve (1.5 hours)
Car transfer on unsealed roads to Lahad Datu (1.5 hours)
Car transfer on unsealed roads to Danum Valley (2.5 hours)
Car transfer on unsealed roads to Lahad Datu (2.5 hours)
Domestic flight to Kota Kinabalu (55 minutes)
Car transfer to beach (1 hour)
Car transfer to Kota Kinabalu Airport (1 hour)
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