Last Modified: 10 Aug 2014
Best of Borneo
Trip code: TMSXC
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
With its warm people, rustic villages, amazing wildlife, stunning landscapes and some of the most exotic flora on the planet, Borneo is a true adventure destination. Join us as we trek through the magnificent rainforests of Mulu National Park, watch sunrise from a mountain peak, soak in revitalising hot springs, witness the release of baby green turtles and meet the majestic orangutans of Sepilok. There's also plenty of opportunity to be immersed in some of the island's rich cultures, staying in an Iban longhouse and spending the night in a Dusun village at the foot of Mt Kinabalu - so bring good hiking boots and a thirst for adventure to discover the very best of Borneo.
Please note in 2015 the trip duration will be 21 days. The new 2015 itinerary will be available online on the 1st of October 2014
Table of Contents
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Kuching
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Kuching, meaning 'cat' in Malay, is arguably the most pleasant city in Malaysian Borneo. It was home to the infamous White Raja of Sarawak whose mysterious rule in this remote corner of the world sparked the imagination of many people who dreamt of becoming royalty. Rich in architecture, the waterfront houses a wealth of curio shops and local vegetable, spice and fish markets.
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 acclimatising 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:
- Kuching - Sarawak Cultural Village - MYR60
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Bako National Park
Transfer via minivan to the fishing village of Kampung Bako (approx 1 hr).
Take a local boat up the coast to Bako National Park.
Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak and features rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Millions of years of erosion have created a coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays. Wave erosion at the base of the cliffs has carved many of the rocky headlands into fantastically shaped sea arches and sea-stacks with coloured patterns formed by iron deposits.
There are many jungle trails to traverse in Bako, each offering an insight into the island's botanical diversity. Weather permitting, your leader will take you on walk to the beautiful beach at Telok Pandan Kecil (5 km, approx 3 hrs return). For those looking for a longer (or shorter) hike you are free to explore as many of the 18 different trails as you like. Whatever you plan, check with the ranger for the best time to spy the proboscis monkeys coming to feed from the beach mangroves. Wild pigs also grace this abundant island.
Check with your leader to see if the park is conducting a night walk, a rare chance to experience the jungle in a different light.
- Bako National Park
- Bako NP - Night Walk
Dormitory (1 nt)
Day 3 Kuching
Hit the trails early before meeting up with our local driver.
Return to Bako Village by boat (it may be necessary to depart the park earlier or later subject to weather conditions).
Travel in a private minivan to Kuching via the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary.
Explore the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary, a government-funded rehabilitation centre set in lush surrounds. Head into the jungle via a walkway to watch the orangutan feed - a truly remarkable sight.
Return to the hotel where you can freshen up from the heat and head out to one of the many Chinese-influenced hawker markets for dinner and experience the range of local seafood.
- Semengohh Orangutan Sanctuary
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Iban Longhouse
Today we take a flight to Miri where we will be sending our large bags to Limbang and packing a day bag for the next 4 nights.
We drive 1-2 hours to Niah National park. Niah NP is where the oldest human remains in South East Asia have been unearthed dating back 40,000 years. There is a small museum that we can visit before starting the 3.5 KM walk through the rainforest to an Iban longhouse.
Meet the local community and participate in a traditional Iban welcome before we're billeted out into different homes in the longhouse. This is a very traditional and authentic experience and the sleeping and bathing arrangements are very basic.
In the afternoon there is the chance to visit Niah caves a short walk from our longhouse where you can still see some ancient cave drawings and wonder through these vast bat filled caves.
- Niah National Park
- Cultural Show
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 5-7 Mulu National Park
Today we say goodbye to our hosts and make the short walk back to Niah National park head Quarters (3.5KM) and travel back to Miri airport to make the short flight to Mulu. The maximum luggage allowance for both flights is 15kg, and Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Head into the heart of one of the most spectacular national parks in Asia - Gunung Mulu National Park. Spend the afternoon strolling the walkways and catching the sunset flight of the bats at Deer Cave. This spectacular cave is home to millions of bats and at dusk they emerge for their nightly feeding, looking like a black plume of smoke moving across the sky.
Stay in the park headquarters which has its own restaurant and information centre. Accommodation is multishare rooms with private bathrooms.
Set out to explore the amazing Wind and Clearwater Caves, which contain Asia's longest underground river.
Take a longboat downriver before disembarking to hike through the jungle to Camp 5 (approx 8.5 km). During dry season we may need to push the boats over sections of the river so it is advisable to wear shoes that can get wet or strap on sandals.
At Camp 5 you will sleep on mats on raised open air platforms in a mixed gender dormitory with shared bathroom facilities and cold water showers. Bedding is not provided so bring your own sleeping sheet and a warm layer for cool nights.
- Mulu NP - Guided walk to Deer and Lang Caves
- Mulu NP - Guided walk through Wind and Clearwater Caves
Cabin (multishare) (2 nts), Dormitory (1 nt)
Day 8 Headhunters' Trail/Limbang
Set off to tackle the infamous Headhunters' trail. Located in an isolated area of the Borneo jungles this 11.3 km trail (approx 5 hrs) takes its name from its historical role as the route taken by warring parties between the Tutoh and Limbang rivers. The trek is through dense jungle along a well-defined, mainly flat track, although the way can be muddy during the rainy season. You'll also have to cross some streams by bridges, logs or getting your feet wet wading through. Stop midway for lunch before continuing on to the Terikan River. Today is a long, challenging but rewarding day.
Take a longboat to Medamit (approx 4 hrs).
Transfer by minivan to the town of Limbang (approx 1 hr).
- Mulu NP - Guided trek along Headhunters' Trails
- Mulu NP - Longboat ride along the Melinau & Terikan Rivers
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Survivor Island
This morning we take the ferry across to Labuan (2hours) where we will change to a smaller boat for the short hop back onto the mainland
We take minibuses to Kuala Penyu where we will get lunch before taking one more short boat journey to our secluded rustic hideaway on Survivor Island.
Pulau Tiga played host to the first ever series of Survivor - an American television program that was filmed on the island in 2000. The island is full of mud volcanoes, jungle walking tracks and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and amazing snorkelling opportunities. The waters surrounding the island are home to over 132 species of fish, as well as sea turtles, while the island's wildlife consists of proboscis and macaque monkeys, flying foxes, bats and monitor lizards. Keep an eye out for the hornbills overhead on their flight for the day's food. It's the ideal place to snorkel, swim or just relax on the beach.
Take a walk through the jungle to visit one of the mud volcano pools where you can wallow in the mud like buffaloes, then walk back to the beach for a swim in the sea.
- Guided walk to Mud Volcano
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Kota Kinabalu
We have a free morning to relax, snorkel or walk some self guided trails. In the afternoon we depart from Survivor Island to Kula Penyu and drive to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 2.5 hours)
Sabah's historic capital, Kota Kinabalu has interesting museums to explore and the surrounding beaches and islands are perfect for swimming or snorkelling.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
- Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum - MYR15
- Kota Kinabalu - Monosopiad Cultural Village - MYR75
- Boat trip to Tunku Abdul National Marine Park - MYR70
- Tunku Abdul Marine Park - Scuba diving - MYR280
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Dusun Village
Travel by minivan to a Dusun village near the base of Mt Kinabalu (approx 1.5 hrs).
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 traditional way of life. The location for our homestay is a village nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea.
We stay in multishare accommodation. Facilities are basic with shared bathroom and cold water only. Generally our groups will stay in simple rooms outside of the families house rather than inside the family home.
Experience some local Dusun food with a cooking lesson at our homestay.
Please note the river swim activity is dependant on the weather.
- Dusun Village - Cultural Show
- Dusun - Rubber tapping/rice pounding
- Dusun - River Swim
- Taginambur Homestay Cooking lesson
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 13-14 Mt Kinabalu
Say goodbye to our village friends and travel to the headquarters of Kinabalu National Park (approx 1 hour).
You will have some free time to prepare for the climb up Mt Kinabalu and to enjoy the surroundings of this World Heritage site. There are some beautiful nature trails you can follow through the lowland tropical forest or stop by the Botanic Garden - this 5-acre garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Otherwise, feel free to just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. 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 relax before the climb. Breakfast is provided.
Rise early the next day, recheck our day packs and begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, being uphill all the way, and you 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 is deceptively cold.
However, there's absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment - this is an area which boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. We cover 6 km on the first day (approx 4-6 hrs) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 m) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you're ready for the final climb in the morning.
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
Dormitory (2 nts)
Days 15-16 Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 m). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is stupendous - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, don't underestimate the cold - bring warm clothes.
The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes between 2 and 4 hours. Even if you are very fit you may find this section of the climb difficult because of the altitude. This can make you feel quite nauseous and short of breath. The trail is marked by a white rope that's also useful to help you up some of the steep sections. 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 breakfast, then descend the mountain (approx 3-6 hrs) and enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom.
Once everyone is down from the mountain we continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approx 1 hour).
Poring Hot Springs was developed by the Japanese during World War II and now warm sulphur water is piped into several open-air Japanese style baths. The hot springs are said to have curative properties for the skin and, if nothing else, they're soothing after a Mt Kinabalu climb. You will have free time on day 6 to soak your muscles in these hot springs.
Soak your weary limbs in the famous outdoor thermal pools - sheer bliss!
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 visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You may also choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools.
Stay in a very basic and well-located guesthouse opposite the Poring Hot Springs reserve. Your guesthouse is the ideal setting to explore the waterfalls, sulphur pools and trails that abound within the reserve.
- Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR5
- Poring Hot Springs - Orchid Conservation Centre - MYR10
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 17 Kinabatangan River
Journey by private bus to, Bilet a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approx 5 hrs).
We travel by boat for 5 -10 minutes to the lodge. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife.
In the early evening we will head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan and proboscis monkey’s and if you are lucky you might spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening we take a night walk in search of the western Tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire.
We will be staying in a comfortable jungle lodge on a twin share basis with private bathrooms.
- Kinabatangan - Sunset wildlife boat trip
- Kinabatangan - Night jungle walk
Jungle Lodge (1 nt)
Day 18 Sandakan
We take another early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast we will make a visit to the Gomantong caves The caves are renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are 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.
We then travel towards Sandakan approximately 2.5 hours
The busy city of Sandakan has a strong Cantonese influence which is evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine.
We have free time here to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city.
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.
- Sukau - Gomantong Caves
- Dawn Wildlife Cruise
- Sandakan - War Memorial - Free
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 19 Turtle Island
This morning we will leave our large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approx 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 lazing about on this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire.
In the evening, we hope to witness the heartwarming display of a mother turtle laying her eggs 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 twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies.
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.
- Turtle Island - National Park
Chalet (1 nt)
Day 20 Sepilok Orangutan Reserve
After breakfast we return to the mainland (approx 1 hour) and walk back to the hotel to collect our big bags before continuing on to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre by mini bus (approx 45 mins).
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adapt to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. We're not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that we follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. There's also a short film about the orangutan rehabilitation process to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre.
Visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. This is a wonderful new center taking care of rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages. Borneo Sun Bear Conservation center is giving a better life to these bears by caring for them with the hope of reintroducing them back into the wild. They are doing great work at promoting Sun Bear conservation in Borneo through animal welfare, conservation, rehabilitation, research and education - to put a stop to these cruel practices. There is plenty of time for an optional visit to see these very cute bears!
Visit 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. The sanctuary is a protected forest reserve inhabited by several groups of wild proboscis monkeys.
Explore the Rainforest Discovery Centre, located five minutes walk from our guesthouse. The centre has been established for environmental education and is situated within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. You can experience forest life high in the canopy - the 147 m long, 28 m high canopy walkway enables spectacular views of beautiful rainforest giants like the mengaris tree. There are also 250 species of bird to look out for.
Our guesthouse is located about 20 minutes walk from the rehabilitation centre - it's a great place to relax or return to the reserve for the second feeding of the day.
- Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR100
- Bornean Sun Bear Centre - MYR30
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Kota Kinabalu
Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu. The maximum luggage allowance for this flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Relax by the pool or explore the surrounding islands on foot or by boat.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Guesthouse (1 nt)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Sabah Adventure (TMSC)
- Wild Sarawak (TMSW)
- Sabah Adventure (TMSC)
- Wild Sarawak (TMSW)
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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
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 comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
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.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
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.
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.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
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 departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
GOVERNMENT TRAVEL WARNINGS FOR EASTERN SABAH
Please be aware that a number of government travel warnings for different countries have been upgraded for parts of Eastern Sabah. Intrepid currently follows the advice of DFAT so we will continue to operate our Sabah trips as normal. However, we ask that you familiarise yourself with your own government’s travel warning and check with your travel insurance company that you are adequately covered for your travel to Eastern Sabah.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers on our tours, however it is recognised that all travel insurers have potentially different levels of cover and exclusions depending on where they are purchased, the nationality/residency of the purchaser and the type of trips and destination being travelled to.
If you find you are unable to travel to Eastern Sabah as you are not covered by travel insurance, please contact your sales consultant as soon as possible to advise if you wish to transfer to a different tour.
However, should you wish to continue with Travel to Eastern Sabah despite your government’s travel warning and without valid travel insurance, you will be asked to sign a Travel Insurance Waiver form at the Welcome Meeting on Day 1, which declares that you have read and understood your government’s travel advice and understand the personal risks of travelling to an area your Government warns against travelling to.
INTERNAL FLIGHT - LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE
The maximum luggage allowance for the internal flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Please provide passport details at the time of booking. If we have not received these details at least a month before the departure date of your tour, there is a risk the internal flight cannot be booked, and permission to climb Mt Kinabalu may be denied.
The month-long Ramadan Festival will be in progress from the 28th of June 2014. 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.
CHINESE NEW YEAR:
An important 15-day festival for the Malaysian Chinese, based on the lunar calendar in January or February. In 2014, the Year of the Horse is scheduled to be held from 29 January. 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.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note some of the multishare/dormitory accommodation can be mixed gender.
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.
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 and meet the group the following day when they descend. Please ensure you advise your booking agent ASAP if you wish to opt out of the climb.
There is no additional cost associated with this alternative except for any activities you choose to do which are 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.
Maximum of 12 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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
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 Bako National Park
Day 4 Homestay
Day 5-7 Mulu National Park
Day 12 Homestay
Day 13 -14 Mt Kinabalu
Day 19 Turtle Island
Hotel (6 nts), Guesthouse (5 nts), Dormitory (4 nts), Homestay (2 nts), Cabin (multishare) (2 nts), Jungle Lodge (1 nt), Chalet (1 nt)
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.
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.
15 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Taxi, Plane, 4x4, Longtail boat, Van, Ferry, Bus, Boat
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.
The Lime Tree Hotel
317 Jalan Abell
Phone: 0011 6082414600
Joining point description
The Lime tree hotel is in a great location right in the city center, close to China town and less than a 10 minute walk to the Riverside waterfront. There is plenty of restaurants, cafes and shopping centers all within walking distance. The hotel offers a cafe, rooftop lounge, 24 hour reception and all rooms have private bathrooms, TV's and Internet access.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Seaside Travellers Inn
Km 20 Papar Highway Kinarut
Finish point description
This peaceful Seaside Travellers Inn in located in the town on Kinarut, approximately 20km from Kota Kinabalu. The resort has clean, comfortable twin share rooms with private facilities, air-conditioning and TV. There is a restaurant and pool at the hotel.
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer is available - please enquire at time of booking.
From the Seaside Travellers Inn a taxi to the airport should take approximately 30 minutes and cost around MYR50, please note a 50% surcharge applies between 12:00 - 06:00.
Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later in the day or evening, luggage storage can be arranged.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
The above nationalities do not need visas to visit Malaysia as a tourist for up to three months. Other nationalities should check with their Malaysian embassy or consulate.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
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, the jungle camp 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 is 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.
Please note due to space and weight limitations on transport we will be leaving our main piece of luggage in Miri. You will need to bring a small to medium backpack (30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) which will be your main pack for Mulu National Park (including trek to Camp 5) and the Headhunters trail. In this you will need to carry a change of clothes, torch/flashlight, toiletries, warm clothes and any other essentials.
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
We recommend you bring a sleep sheet, towel, torch and suitable shoes for river crossings on this trip. You may also want to have a waterproof bag for your camera and personal belongings for the trekking and boat rides.
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.
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
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.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in Kuching.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
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.
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 group 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.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
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.
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
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.
Carbon Offset C02-e 735.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.