Last Modified: 25 Apr 2016
Trip code: TMSC
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Explore a mystical land of incredible natural beauty and rare wildlife on this Sabah Adventure tour. With its collection of exotic animals, ancient traditions, hot springs, tribal villages, loveable orangutans and incredible views, Sabah has something for everyone. Experience the very best of this part of Borneo - climbing Mt Kinabalu, watching elusive sea turtles lay their eggs upon Turtle Beach and sharing laughs with local village hosts - every minute of this incredible adventure will stay with you for life.
Table of Contents
Is this trip right for you?
- The Mt Kinabalu trek is very challenging, including an altitude of more than 2,800 metres and an early morning to summit in the dark, so we recommend a good level of fitness to be able to enjoy this unforgettable climb.
- The maximum luggage allowance for the internal flight is 15kg. Excess luggage will incur extra fees to be paid to the airline. We recommend packing light anyway – it means less to carry!
- We recommend packing specific items for this trip so please take a look at the ‘what to take’ section of the trip notes.
- You will get to experience a wide range of accommodation types on this trip – some dormitory rooms in hostels, a homestay, guesthouses, jungle lodge and hotels. Some may be a little more basic than our standard hotels, but their unique location and close proximity to wildlife is what makes them special.
Why we love it
- Experience next-level vistas from the top of Mt Kinabalu climb on a two-day climb that will really get the heart pumping
- Visits the Orangutan sanctuary to spend some special time in the company of these 'men of the forest'
- Witness nature at its most beautiful with a night on Turtle island, watching mother turtles come ashore to lay their eggs
- Cruise down the Kinabatangan river and search for wildlife in this rich and unique ecosystem
- This trip is for all animal lovers - Borneo’s tropical rainforests and climate provide the ideal conditions for a wide variety of wildlife to thrive, much of it found nowhere else
Day 1 Kota Kinabalu
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. If you arrive early, you can immerse yourself in history of this intriguing city between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea at the Sabah State Museum. You can also visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village, or perhaps explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
- Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
- Kota Kinabalu - Monosopiad Cultural Village - MYR155
- Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR130
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Dusun Village
Today you will travel by minivan to a Dusun village, nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of imposing Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea (approximately 2 hours). The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their way of life and spend a night in traditional accommodation. Depending on the weather, you will then take a trek through the surrounding fruit and rubber plantations. Then your leader can point you in the direction of a local river for a great way to cool off. To ensure we do not disrupt the homestay community we split up our groups to stay in a couple of different family homes. All the homes are in waking distance from each other and you usually have a couple of group members with you at each home. Your leader will discuss the type of homestay experience with at your group meeting on Day 1. Homestays are a great way to experience local life and we are very fortunate to be able to offer this type of accommodation. Tonight you'll also get to watch a cultural performance in the village.
- Tanak Nabalu - Orchard and Hill trek
- Tanak Nabalu - Cultural Show
Homestay (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 3 Mt Kinabalu
This morning say goodbye to your new friends from the village and travel into the unspoilt wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park (approximately 1 hour). Take some time to enjoy the surroundings and prepare for the climb. There are nature trails through the lowland tropical forest and a Botanic Garden to explore. Otherwise, just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. Before you depart, your leader will provide a safety briefing about the climb and assist with any last minute questions. Stay overnight at the park's headquarters in dormitory accommodation with shared facilities. Nestled amongst the lowland forests, this is the perfect place to chill-out before the climb.
Notes: We consider the Mt Kinabalu trek to be a huge highlight of the trip. Porters are also available (at extra cost) and are recommended, but if you decide the trek is just not for you, we can provide alternative arrangements if advised at time of booking. Please note that if you decide not to climb the only meal included is breakfast. For more information on the trekking alternative please see the 'Important Notes' section in the trip notes.
- Kundasang - War Memorial - MYR10
Hostel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 4 Mt Kinabalu
Rise early the next day to begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, uphill all the way, and you’ll need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can also affect you, regardless of your fitness level, and it will certainly slow you down a fair bit (it's important that you educate yourself about the dangers of altitude sickness and its symptoms). Ensure you have warm layers, waterproof gloves, hat, head torch, waterproof jacket and good walking shoes/boots. The top of the mountain can be deceptively cold. However, there's absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment - this is an area that boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. You will cover 6 kilometres on the first day (approximately 4-6 hours) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 metres) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, and additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you're ready for the final climb in the morning.
Hostel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 5 Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 metres). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is incredible - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, the temperature can change very quickly up on the mountain, so bring clothes for all weather conditions. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 2-4 hours and, due to the altitude, can be hard going even for the fit. The first section from Laban Rata is along man made steps passing through vegetation. Once clear of the treeline you will be walking up a series of wooden steps all the way to the final check point at Sayat Sayat. The window for climbing the summit trail is quite narrow so Climbers need to reach Sayat Sayat check point by 6am to continue and must listen to the instructions of the mountain guide and leader - their decision is final when it comes to safety on the mountain. After Sayat Sayat there is a rope marking the trail all the way to the summit Peak. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). After witnessing the morning sunrise, return to Laban Rata for a well-earned breakfast, and then descend the mountain (approximately 3-6 hours) to enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom. Once everyone is down from the mountain you will continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approximately 1 hour). Tomorrow you will be able to soothe your mountain-weary limbs in pools developed by the Japanese during World War II, where warm sulphur water - believed to have healing properties for the skin - is piped into several open-air baths. Depending on the time of year it might be possible to see the Raffelsia flower nearby. Rafflesia’s are the world’s largest flower and can grow up to 1 metre in size! Tonight you will stay at a hostel located right inside the springs complex itself, with a light and airy lounge room for you to relax in. The hostel is on a twin share basis. Some rooms have bunk beds, multiple beds and the bathroom is shared, there are no double beds.
- Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR5
- Poring Hot Springs - Orchid Conservation Centre - MYR10
- Poring Hot Springs - Butterfly Farm - MYR5
- Poring Hot Springs - Lupa Masa Jungle Camp - MYR90
Hostel (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 6 Poring Hot Springs
Poring Hot Springs is an ideal place to kick back for a day to recuperate after the Mountain climb. There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves - with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or there's a visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You can choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools. There is a jungle camp located in primary rainforest about 30 minutes’ walk from the springs called Lupa Masa (which means forget time), and for those with more energy its possible to arrange a trek up here to bathe in a cool and refreshing river and take lunch. This must be arranged in advance through your group leader at the group meeting on Day 1.
Hostel (1 nt)
Day 7 Kinabatangan River
Today, journey by private bus into the steamy rainforest to Bilet, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Take a short boat tide to the comfortable jungle lodge where you’ll spend the night. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife. In the early evening as the sun sets, head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan, proboscis monkeys and, if you’re lucky, spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening take a night walk in search of the western Tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire. The lodge tonight is comfortable with private bathrooms.
- Kinabatangan River - Night jungle walk
- Kinabatangan - Sunset wildlife boat trip
Jungle Lodge (1 nt)
1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 8 Sandakan
Today take an early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast, say goodbye to the Jungle Lodge and hit the road in a private mini van to the coastal city of Sandakan (approximately 3 hours). Along the way there’s the option to stop at the Gomantong caves (additional entrance fee). The caves are renowned for their valuable swiftlet nests, which are edible and harvested for bird's nest soup. Birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves and collect the nests, and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors. The nests are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavour. This stop is also a great chance to spot orangutans swinging among the trees. Arrive in the busy city of Sandakan and see the strong Cantonese influence, evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. Here there is free time to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city. Maybe get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped.
- Sandakan - War Memorial - Free
- Sukau - Gomantong Caves - MYR30
- Sandakan - Agnes Keith House - MYR15
- St Micheals and All Angels Church - entrance free - Free
- Puu Jih Shih Chinese Temple - entrance free - Free
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Turtle Island
This morning, leave your large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approximately 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the afternoon, there's time for swimming, snorkelling or some quality time lazing about on the beach of this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire. In the evening, be touched by the sight of giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight, and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It's a moving experience that makes you think more than twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies. Beware that this is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles. You will spend the night on the island.
- Turtle Island - National Park
- Camera fee - MYR10
- Turtle Island - snorkel hire - MYR25
Chalet (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 10 Sepilok Orangutan Reserve
After breakfast, return to the mainland (approximately 2 hours), collect your bags, and continue by minibus to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (approximately 45 minutes). The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. Also included is a new nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as to not disturb the animals. To see more of Borneo’s creatures there’s the option to visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages are cared for, with hopes of rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. There’s also the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding - an experience that can only be found in Borneo. A five minutes walk from your guesthouse is the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which also has a 147-metre long, 28-metre high canopy walkway with spectacular views of rainforest giants. Your guesthouse is located about 10 minutes walk from the rehabilitation centre.
- Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- Sepilok - Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR100
- Sepilok - Rainforest Discovery Centre - MYR15
- Bornean Sun Bear Centre - MYR30
- Sepilok - Night walk - MYR50
Resort (1 nt)
Day 11 Kota Kinabalu
Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). You will stay in a centrally located hotel in Kota Kinabalu. The flight usually gets back in the afternoon, so the rest of the day is free for your own activities. Do some last minute shopping at the large shopping centres or take a wander down to the night market to pick up something more local. You’ll end this colourful Sabah Adventure with a final group meal.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Kota Kinabalu
Your Sabah adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu longer, then there are some additional activities that your leader can assist with booking. It’s best to pre book these activities with your leader on Day 1. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or an optional fun, interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live.
Please also remember Most Scuba Diving companies would recommend you don't fly for at least 24 hours after your last scuba dive.
- Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR155
- Kota Kinabalu - Cooking Lesson - MYR170
- Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul Marine Park Scuba diving 3 dives - MYR380
- Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR130
- Kota Kinabalu - Mountain biking day trip (min 2 passengers)) - MYR300
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
MT KINABALU ALTERNATIVE
If you do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu you can opt to stay the night at the base of the mountain in dormitory accommodation and meet the group the following day when they descend. Please ensure you advise your sales agent at time of booking if you wish to opt out of the climb. Please note due to limited availability there may be an additional charge to book this alternative accommodation. The additional charge will be confirmed to you upon your booking request being confirmed and will be collected locally by your leader on day one.
Please note any additional activities you choose to do during this time will be at your own expense and can be organised locally, Some include:
1. Guide hire - approx 100MYR - You can hire a guide and walk some of the many trails located at the base of the mountain.
2. Sabah Tea Plantation - approx 80MYR - Visit a tea plantation (approx 20 mins drive), cost only included transfers to and from the plantation www.sabahtea.net
3. Mt Kinabalu Garden - approx 15MYR entry fee - Free guided tour of the gardens
4. War Memorials - approx 40MYR - visit the surrounding war memorials, cost only includes transport.
Please provide passport details at the time of booking. If we have not received these details at least a 45 days before the departure date of your tour, there is a risk the internal flight (if included on your tour) cannot be booked, and we will not be able to request permits to climb Mt Kinabalu.
The Mt Kinabalu climb is quite challenging so the fitter you are the more enjoyable the experience will be. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest. Please note for those that do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu you are not obliged to, it is an option to have accommodation arranged and stay at the base of Kinabalu at Park Headquarters. Please advise your agent at the time of booking if you do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Please note due to limited availability there may be an additional charge to book this alternative accommodation. The additional charge will be confirmed to you upon your booking request being confirmed and will be collected locally by your leader on day one.
Tanak Nabalu - Orchard and Hill trek
Tanak Nabalu - Cultural Show
Mt Kinabalu climb
Kinabatangan River - Night jungle walk
Kinabatangan - Sunset wildlife boat trip
Dawn Wildlife Cruise
Turtle Island - National Park
Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
1. Please provide passport details at time of booking, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.
2. Strict luggage limits apply. See under the Important notes section of Trip Notes for more information.
3. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for further information.
Please note for various nationalities in particular Australian, UK, Irish, New Zealand and United States, different increased Government travel warnings are currently in place for Eastern Sabah. Please read the Safety section of your trip notes for further information.
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. Please note that on the following nights the supplement is not available:
Day 2 Homestay
Day 3 -4 Mt Kinabalu
Day 5-6 Poring Hot Springs
Day 9 Turtle Island
Day 10 Sepilok
Please note only days 1, 7, 8 and 11 are available for a single supplement. Due to past passengers feedback we still provide a single supplement for this trip even though only 4 out of 11 nights are available for a single room.
Chalet (1nt), Homestay (1nt), Hostel (4nt), Hotel (3nt), Jungle Lodge (1nt), Resort (1nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Please note some of the multishare/dormitory accommodation can be mixed gender.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
We recommend USD300.00 for meals not included.
The official currency of Malaysia is the Ringgit (MYR).
The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). ATM's are now readily available and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
GOVERNMENT TRAVEL WARNINGS FOR EASTERN SABAH
Please note for various nationalities in particular Australian, UK, Irish, New Zealand and United States, different increased Government travel warnings are currently in place for Eastern Sabah. We ask all of our travellers to familiarise themselves with their own Government Travel Advisories and to check that these Government warnings do not affect the level of coverage that is offered to them by their Travel Insurance provider. Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and your insurance must cover you for all activities and areas visited as part of this tour. Please contact your Travel Insurance provider to ensure you have adequate cover for travel to Eastern Sabah.
We ask all of our travellers to monitor their own Government travel advisories, some of these are listed below,
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
US Department of State
New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade
Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Intrepid. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. Intrepid makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources including The level of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) travel advisory. For any Intrepid Travel operated trip if this advisory is at Level 4 'Do Not Travel' then Intrepid will either cancel a trip or reroute the itinerary to avoid the areas concerned. We however also acknowledge that many of our travellers come from many different countries whose own Government travel warnings may differ to the Australian Government. We ask you to familiarise yourself with your relevant Government travel advisories at time of booking and continue to monitor these advisories prior to your trip.
Please take time to read the following important notes concerning Mt Kinabalu:
It will mainly be hot and humid, whilst the heights of Mt Kinabalu can be freezing. In the Rainy season (Nov –Apr) you can expect hours of rain. Please be prepared for such conditions and pack accordingly. If you commonly feel discomfort or suffer health issues when experiencing either freezing or extremely hot temperatures, consider if this trip is right for you. On rare occasions weather conditions may prevent us from reaching the summit of the mountain. In this situation, please respect the decision made by your guides and leader.
Mt. Kinabalu is a rewarding but difficult climb, please see below the advice given by the Sabah Parks regarding the climbing of Mt. Kinabalu: Travel together in your own group and stay with the mountain guide(s). You should not climb Mount Kinabalu if you have a history of suffering from the following conditions: Heart Disease, Hypertension, Chronic Asthma, Peptic Ulcer, Severe Anaemia, Diabetes, Epileptic fits, Arthritis, Palpitations, Hepatitis, Muscular Cramps, Obesity or any other sickness that may be triggered by severe cold, exertion and high altitude.
If you suffer from knee problems and intend to do the climb, please ensure you bring adequate support, i.e. a sports bandage. Please note that porter fees are not included for the climb.
Acclimatisation and altitude sickness:
Altitude sickness has the potential to affect all trekkers from 2500m and higher. We ascend slowly and give our bodies plenty of time to adjust to the smaller quantities of oxygen in the air. However it is important to be aware of the normal altitude symptoms that you may encounter BUT NOT worry about:
- Periods of sleeplessness
- Occasional loss of appetite
- Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude
- Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night
- Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally
- Blocked Nose
- Dry cough develops
- Mild headache
If you are feeling nauseous and dizzy be sure to let your group leader or local mountain guide know so that we can monitor your condition.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Dreamtel Hotel - Kota Kinabalu
5 Jalan Padang
Phone: +(60) 88240333
Joining point description
Centrally located in down-town Kota Kinabalu, rooms are equipped with private en suite, TV, AC, phone, in room safe, tea/coffee making facilities, the hotel also provides a restaurant, free wi-fi internet access & 24 hour front desk.
Joining point instructions
Intrepid offer a pre arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. Our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it.
At Kota Kinabalu Internal Airport If you have any problems and cannot locate our transfer representative on arrival (the driver is only able to wait for 1 hour past your scheduled arrival time) please go to the Airport Information counter (located on the same floor at arrivals) and ask them to call our transfer operator Vision Transport on +60 16 818 6890 or +60 138819883. If you flight is delayed or you have been put on a different flight number please call our local operator in advance to let them know.
If you want to take a taxi on arrival please go to the taxi service counter – here the rate is a set rate of 35 MYR and they will issue a voucher to use with the taxi’s parked outside. If you arrive between 10pm – 6am expect to pay a 50% surcharge
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 2pm
Dreamtel Hotel - Kota Kinabalu
5 Jalan Padang
Phone: +(60) 88240333
Finish point description
Centrally located in down-town Kota Kinabalu, rooms are equipped with private en suite, TV, AC, phone, in room safe, tea/coffee making facilities, the hotel also provides a restaurant, free wi-fi internet access & 24 hour front desk.
Finishing point instructions
If you have a transfer to the Kota Kinabalu Airport your transfer driver will collect you from your Guesthouse 3 hours before your flight time. If your transfer has not arrived within 15minutes of the scheduled pickup time please ask the hotel / guesthouse reception to call our transfer operator Vision Transport on their 24 hour number on +60 16 818 6890 or +60 13 8819 883. Your group leader will reconfirm this with you before departing
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Most nationalities do not need visas to visit Malaysia as a tourist for up to three months. Please check with your relevant Malaysian embassy or consulate.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
DAYPACK FOR OVERNIGHT TRIPS:
You need to bring your main piece of luggage as well as a small to medium backpack for overnight trips (30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) that include Mt Kinabalu and Turtle Island. In this you will need to carry a change of clothes, torch (and/or head torch for trekking), toiletries, warm clothes and any other essentials. While climbing Mt Kinabalu it’s important to note that temperatures can drop to below freezing, so make sure you pack several layers that can be added/removed as you ascend/descend. A water proof jacket, warm hat and water proof gloves are essential. While trekking, we leave our main piece of luggage at a central point and return following the trek.
We do not allow the use of video cameras when staying in the villages as it can be perceived by the local people as highly obtrusive.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
The maximum luggage allowance for the internal flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Malaysia is a liberal Muslim country, and many Malaysian women do not wear headscarves. However, Malaysia is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home, and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered when travelling in Borneo except when on the beach. Wearing skimpy clothing is considered disrespectful to local culture at many of the small local communities we visit.
Climate and seasonal information
The month-long Ramadan Festival will start on the 7th of June 2016. This is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at all popular tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you definitely need to expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month of Ramadan is a fantastic month to travel in Muslim countries as it offers a chance to witness this fascinating Islamic event and the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken, from 7th July 2016.
CHINESE NEW YEAR:
An important 15-day festival for the Malaysian Chinese, based on the lunar calendar in January or February. In 2016, the Year of the Monkey is scheduled to be held from 8th February. This can be a busy time and some transport delays, shop closures and reduced opening hours at some sites may be expected, but there are also many fabulous festivals and rituals to observe during this time, so it's a great time to travel. Although we make all reasonable efforts to avoid disruption a flexible approach from the traveller is appreciated.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip:
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
From June to October, Malaysia can experience air pollution from forest fires in Indonesia. Current recorded pollution readings in a number of states are higher than usual for this time of year. The persistent hot and dry weather conditions also causes dust to remain suspended in the air and accumulate, causing haze. Please be aware of this if you suffer from any medical conditions exasperated by air pollution.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
Birds Nest Soup
Birds Nest collection is an ancient tradition dating back to 500AD which is used to make Bird Nest Soup. Today birds nest collection is a regulated practice with locals requiring a Government Harvesting licence to climb to the roofs of caves to collect the birds nest. The first collection takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make another nest in which they lay their eggs. After the young have left the nest the 2nd collection is made. Care must be taken to assure that the nests are collected only after the young swiflets have abandoned these nests. Edible Birds nests are protected under the Birds Nest Ordinance and the Forest Enactment of 1968. There is heavy fines and penalties imposed on unlicensed collectors and Intrepid Travel asks our passengers to refrain from consuming Birds Nest soup to discourage unlicensed collection.
While travelling through Eastern Sabah, you will likely notice that much of the land is covered in palm oil plantations. Check out our Boeneo Destnation page for more information about this hot topic:
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Malaysia-Borneo include:
* HUTAN - Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program - studying the lives of orangutans and developing innovative solutions to preserve them. Support through The Intrepid Foundation will help HUTAN support the team of 12 research assistants and help ensure the future of these magnificent apes on our planet.
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