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Borneo: Rainforest and Reef Wilderness Adventure

Explore the incredible and unique jungle of Borneo and snorkel world-class reefs at Sipadan on this exciting expedition.

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Overview

  • Spend 3-days in the untouched Danum Valley, with the chance to see orangutans, red leaf langurs, Bornean gibbons, clouded leopards, civets, slow loris, pygmy elephants, and all 8 species of hornbill.
  • Our forest and sea itinerary includes a private tour of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre and time spent snorkeling the volcanic islands near Mataking.
  • Snorkel the world-class coral reefs at Sipadan, famous for large pelagics and abundant sea turtles.

Join us on an unforgettable adventure to explore the outstanding terrestrial and ocean wilderness of Malaysian Borneo. Often overlooked by nature travelers, Borneo offers one of the world's best combinations of forest and ocean wilderness. Its forests harbor exceptionally high levels of species diversity and endemism, including many rare and unique species, and, as part of the Coral Triangle region, its reefs are among the world's most diverse and spectacular.

Our itinerary begins in the jungle, with multiple excursions along the winding Kinabatangan River to look for proboscis monkeys, orangutans, hornbills, crocodiles, and other wildlife. We'll also visit the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated and released back in to the wild.

Next we’ll explore Danum Valley Conservation Area—43,800 hectares of protected lowland rainforest that is home to an astonishing variety of plants and wildlife, including more than 340 species of birds, 124 species of mammals, 72 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians and 200 species of plants per hectare. Rare and endangered species such as the Sumatran rhino, Borneo pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, orangutan, and proboscis monkey can all be seen here, plus much more.

We end our expedition with 3 days on Mataking Island to snorkel the world-class reefs of nearby Sipadan and Tun Sakaran Marine Park, located in one of the richest marine habitats in the world. These reefs are famous among divers and snorkelers for outstanding hard and soft corals, diverse fish and macro life, as well as large pelagic species and abundant sea turtles.

Trip Dates & Cost

2021: March 8–16. From $6,895 per person.* Group limit 10.

2022: January 24 – February 1. From $6,895 per person.* Group limit 10.

* Trip prices do not include international airfare. Limited single supplements are available for a fee of $895. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions. Note: An optional 4-day trip extension to Sipadan is available for $2,490 per person (single supplement: $700).

Photos
Naturalist

Razis Nasri, aka Atteh, is a gifted naturalist who has been leading trips in Borneo for the last 6+ years with a special focus on the rainforests of Danum Valley. Whether it’s a ukulele or camera in hand, Atteh has an exciting spirit about him that is easily contagious, as is his enthusiasm for Borneo’s wildlife, landscapes, and people.

Pete Oxford works in some of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a full-time professional photographer. His images have appeared in major magazines including National Geographic, Time, Outdoor Photographer, and Smithsonian, and have been featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Pete and his wife Reneé also lead expeditions to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse areas of our planet.

Lindsay Mosher is Oceanic Society's Blue Habits project manager. Lindsay has a diverse background with an M.A. in Conservation Biology from Miami University and B.A. in Journalism from Ithaca College. She is deeply passionate about ocean issues and has been working to advance global marine conservation for the past 5 years.

Itinerary

Day 1: Sandakan – Sepilok (D)
Welcome to Borneo! You will be met by your guide upon arrival and transfer to Sepilok Nature Resort (20 minutes). In the evening, your guide will give you a trip briefing, and then enjoy a welcome dinner. After dinner, head out for an optional night walk in the forest to search for nocturnal wildlife. Our lodging tonight is at Sepilok Nature Resort.

Day 2: Sepilok (B/L/D)
Early morning wake up for a dawn walk on the canopy walk for bird watching and searching for mammals. After breakfast, continue on to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where captive orangutans are reintroduced into the wild. You will be able to observe them at their feeding stations in the rainforest. Continue to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). This centre rescues captured sun bears and is involved in sun bear conservation, welfare rehabilitation and education. Over 30 sun bears live at the centre in the bear house and outdoor enclosures. After lunch, continue on to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where captive orangutans are reintroduced into the wild. You will be able to observe them at their feeding stations in the rainforest. At dusk we will visit the canopy walk at the Rainforest Discovery Center to watch red giant flying squirrels emerge from their nests. Return to the lodge for dinner. Our lodging tonight is at Sepilok Nature Resort.

Day 3: Sepilok - Kinabatangan River (B/L/D)
Have an easy morning until departing at 11:00 AM to Sandakan Yacht Club Jetty for the boat ride to Kinabatangan Wetland Resort. The 1.5 hour boat ride will take you across Sandakan Bay passing the historical Berhala Island and fishing villages. At about 1:30 PM, arrive at the lodge, check in and have lunch while you are briefed about the lodging and activities. In the afternoon, head out for an afternoon river cruise in search of proboscis monkeys, orangutans, langurs, birds and other wildlife. Return to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, depart for night walk. Our lodging tonight is at Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort.

Day 4: Kinabatangan River (B/L/D)
Early morning, take a second boat trip for birdwatching and viewing wildlife nearby. Stop in the local village after the cruise, and enjoy a traditional breakfast and learn about their community conservation project. You will have an opportunity to visit their forest restoration site and plant a tree that will contribute to restoring wildlife habitat. Return to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon head out for another boat trip for more wildlife viewing. In the evening, take an option night cruise or walk. Our lodging tonight is at Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort.

Day 5: Kinabatangan River – Danum Valley (B/L/D)
Depart from the lodge at 6:30 for a 1.5 hour journey up the Kinabatangan River and take in your last sightings of wildlife on the river. Upon arrival to Sukau, you will drive back to Lahad Datu (1.5 hours), take a short break, and then continue 2-2.5 hours into Danum Valley (15 minutes paved road, 2 hours dirt road). Danum Valley consists of over 438 square kilometers of class 1 virgin primary rainforest, with a huge diversity of flora and fauna. The conservation area is the best place in Borneo to see orangutans in the wild. Arrive at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge for lunch, and then proceed to check in. The lodge is Borneo’s premier 5-star jungle lodge, and is the only resort in the entire conservation area. Head out for a wildlife walk in the afternoon to search for orangutans, gibbons, hornbills, and more! In the evening, head out on a wildlife drive. Our lodging tonight is at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Days 6–8: Danum Valley (B/L/D)
Wake up for a dawn walk on the lodge’s canopy walk (1,500 feet long, with a maximum height of 100+ feet). Walk through the ancient trees, and spot wildlife and birds with your guide. Return for breakfast, before continuing on another walk to learn about rainforest ecology and find wildlife. Enjoy 3 full days exploring the forest and looking for wildlife within. Our lodging on these nights is at Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

Day 9: Danum Valley – Kota Kinabalu (B/L/D)
Wake up for an early morning trek. Depart back to Lahad Datu (2 hours) and then fly to Kota Kinabalu (50 minutes). Upon arrival, transfer to Marriott Hotel or connect for your flight home. [If participating in the post-trip extension to Sipadan, please see the itinerary for Day 9 and beyond below]

OPTIONAL POST-TRIP EXTENSION TO SIPADAN

Day 9: Danum Valley – Mataking Island
After a final morning exploring the forest, we will depart for Semporna and take a boat ride out to Mataking Island on the edge of the Sulu Sea. In the afternoon, our group will head out to go snorkeling in the pristine reefs surrounding Mataking Island. Our lodging tonight is at Mataking Island Reef Dive Resort.

Day 10: Sipadan
After breakfast, we will depart by boat for Sipadan. Sipadan is known as one of the greatest snorkel/ dive sites in the world, famous for large pelagic fish, sharks, and sea turtles. It was formed by living corals growing on top of an extinct volcanic cone that took thousands of years to develop. Sipadan is located in the Coral Triangle, the center of one of the richest marine habitats in the world. More than 3,000 species of fish and hundreds of coral species have been classified in this ecosystem. We will spend the day snorkeling the beautiful reefs here, and have lunch on an isolated island. In the late afternoon, we will return to Mataking. Our lodging tonight is at Mataking Island Reef Dive Resort.

Day 11: Tun Sakaran (Semporna Islands) Marine Park
After breakfast, we will depart for the island of Bohey Dulang, a beautiful volcanic island in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park. We will take a short hike up to see a stunning view of the surrounding islands and reefs (approximately, 1 mile round trip). From here, we will continue to the island of Kalapuan, where we will explore a Bajau Laut village, and visit a school to learn about the nomadic sea faring culture. The Bajau Laut still live a very traditional life, where their entire lives are connected to the sea. On the way back, we will stop at Timba Timba island to snorkel its pristine shallow reefs before returning to Mataking for lunch. While at Mataking, there may a chance to release baby sea turtles from a hatchery, and watch them start their long journeys out to sea. Our group will then enjoy a relaxing evening on the island. Our lodging tonight is at Mataking Island Reef Dive Resort.

Day 10: Mataking – Tawau – Fly Home
We will have the option to spend our last morning relaxing on the island, or snorkeling on the house reef. We will then depart for Tawau to catch our international flights back home.

Accommodations

We will stay in comfortable, double-occupancy rooms at unique hotels and resorts throughout our program, such as Sepilok Nature Resort, Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort, Borneo Rainforest Lodge, and Mataking Island Reef Dive Resort.

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