Primeval Rainforests, Endangered Orangutans, Snorkeling on a Tropical Island


Orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, sun bears—Borneo’s extraordinary wildlife is just as fascinating as its intact tropical ecosystems. At Sepilok Forest Reserve, we learn about the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans and endangered sun bears, and on the winding Kinabatangan River, we set out by boat at dawn and dusk in search of orangutans and pygmy elephants along the jungled banks. The stunning Danum Valley brings us an incredible diversity of unique animals in its towering treetop canopies, and night walks give us a chance to spot elusive nocturnal species, from wide-eyed tarsier to bioluminescent fungi. Journey’s end finds us on Borneo’s tranquil east coast, snorkeling from the beach at our waterfront chalets on Mataking Island.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Kota Kinabalu / Sepilok Forest Reserve

From Kota Kinabalu, we head to Sepilok Forest Reserve, founded to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans and today providing care for dozens of vulnerable species. We walk among free-roaming orangutan, cross a treetop canopy in time for sunset, and have a private visit to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, a sanctuary for the world’s smallest bears.

 View Lodging
Days 3-6
Kinabatangan Wetlands / Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Winding down the Kinabatangan River by boat at dawn and dusk, we look for baby-faced pygmy elephants and tree-dwelling creatures along the banks. Ten primate species inhabit the Kinabatangan area, most of them endemic to Borneo. In Tabin Wildlife Reserve, we meet with local scientists and a member of the Borneo Rhino Alliance to learn about conservation efforts for the endangered Sumatran rhino.

 View Lodging
Days 7-9
Danum Valley Conservation Area

The remote Danum Valley is one of the world’s most pristine rainforests, internationally recognized for its off-the-charts biodiversity. Rare mammal species here include the Sumatran rhino, clouded leopard, mousedeer, gibbon, and maroon-leaf langur. We set out on early morning canopy walks, watching the sun paint its colors over the jungle, hike to an ancient burial site, and enjoy night drives in search of flying squirrels and hunting mammals.

 View Lodging
Days 10-13
Mataking Island

We snorkel the coral reefs of Mataking, visit a traditional Bajau Laut sea gypsy village, and fly to Kota Kinabalu for overnight. Depart on Day 13.

 View Lodging



Walk among the free-roaming orangutans at Sepilok
Enjoy dawn and dusk rides on the wildlife-rich Kinabatangan River
Explore the Danum Valley’s world-famous primary rainforest
Meet with conservationists in Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Snorkel the reefs at Mataking Island


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $8795  
Arrive: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Depart: Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Lodging: 8 nights lodges, 2 nights beachfront chalet, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Easy nature walks and light hikes in a hot and humid climate, river excursions by speedboat and longboat, optional snorkeling