Primeval Rainforests, Endangered Orangutans, Snorkeling on a Tropical Island


Borneo holds some of Asia’s most intact tropical ecosystems and an incredible biodiversity of wildlife, with marvelous creatures including pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and orangutans—the multitude of extraordinary ecosystems and unique wildlife is unparalleled. At famed Sepilok Forest Reserve, we’ll watch the morning feeding of orphaned orangutans, and in the Kinabatangan Wetlands, we boat along a wildlife-rich river at dusk and dawn to search for rainforest species. Our adventures bring us into the colossal Gomantong Caves and into the treetop canopies of the Danum Valley, while night walks give us a chance to see nocturnal species from slow loris to bioluminescent fungi. Journey’s end finds us on Borneo’s east coast, celebrating our journey with snorkeling right from our oceanfront chalets overlooking the Celebes Sea.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Kota Kinabalu / Sepilok Forest Reserve

From Kota Kinabalu, we head to Sepilok Forest Reserve, originally set up to rehabilitate orphaned and injured orangutans and today providing medical care for dozens of other species. We watch the orangutans at the feeding station and learn about the conservation work being done, then set out for a sunset canopy walk high in the trees, perhaps seeing the giant flying squirrels that come out at dusk. The next day we have a private visit to the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Center, a sanctuary for the world’s smallest bear species.

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Days 3-6
Kinabatangan Wetlands / Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Journeying along the winding Kinabatangan River, we keep an eye out for pygmy elephants, silver leaf langurs, and other tree-dwelling rainforest animals. Ten primate species inhabit the Kinabatangan area, most of them found only in Borneo. In Tabin Wildlife Reserve, we take forest walks in search of flying squirrels, Asian palm civets, Malayan civets, and pig-tailed macaques. Tabin is one of Borneo’s best birding areas, home to sought-after species such as the rhinoceros hornbill. We also visit the limestone Gomantong caves and one of Tabin’s “mud volcanoes,” whose nutrient-rich soil attracts a vast array of species.

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Days 7-13
Danum Valley Conservation Area / Mataking Island

In the Danum Valley, we enjoy forest canopy walks and guided night hikes. Resident species include the Sumatran rhino, endemic spectacled flowerpecker, and Borneo’s beloved mouse deer. From our beach chalets at Mataking Island, the snorkeling is out of this world. Fly to Kota Kinabalu for overnight, and depart on Day 13.

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See Borneo’s famously exotic wildlife
Dawn and dusk rides on the Kinabatangan River
Explore the Danum Valley’s primary rainforest
Enjoy forest walks in Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Snorkel the reefs at Mataking Island
Meet with conservationists from the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center and Borneo Rhino Alliance


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $8495  
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, river excursions by speedboat and longboat, optional snorkeling