Get a better look at Borneo’s wonderful wilderness in Sabah

Plunge into a realm full of verdant forests, rambling rivers and endangered wildlife on a trip through Sabah, Borneo’s jungle dreamland. Full of exotic beasts, ancient traditions, tribal villages, wide-eyed orangutans and scruffy sun bears, Sabah is the kind of destination where adventure is hard to miss. Trek through an evergreen plot of Borneo as you climb Mt Kinabalu, learn more about animal rehabilitation at forest sanctuaries and swap stories with village locals – it’s the forest adventure of a lifetime.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Finish
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Country
Malaysia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, Wildlife
Code
TMSS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • 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'

  • Spend two nights on the Kinabatangan river in a Jungle Lodge and search for wildlife on 3 boat cruises in this rich and unique ecosystem

  • Visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to see all of Borneos furry creatures.

  • Experience a night in a traditional longhouse amongst the Sabah Tea Plantations

  • 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

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, longhouse, 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.

  • This itinerary is very similar to our "Sabah Adventure" trip (trip code TMSC) however this trip does not visit Turtle Island. If you prefer to visit Turtle Island please check out the Sabah Adventure trip. Instead this trip spends extra time along the Kinabatangan River with more wildlife cruises, stays in a traditional longhouse and includes a visit to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Itinerary

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 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR117
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tanak Nabalu - Orchard and Hill trek
  • Tanak Nabalu - Cultural Show
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 'Itinerary Disclaimer' section in the trip notes.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu National Park
Optional Activities
  • Kundasang - War Memorial - MYR10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
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.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu climb
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Rise around 2 am 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 Sabah Tea Plantation where we will stay in traditional longhouses for the night.
Accommodation
  • Longhouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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.
Accommodation
  • Jungle Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
  • Kinabatangan River - Night jungle walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Wake up in the lodge to lovely morning views of the Kinabatangan. Today’s adventures put you back along this winding river as you embark on a morning and an afternoon boat cruise to to spot more of the region’s chattering wildlife. There’ll be time to take a proper trek through the jungle to the shores of the nearby Oxbow Lake, a body of water that stretches on itself in a horseshoe shape.
Accommodation
  • Jungle Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
  • Kinabatangan River - Dawn Wildlife Cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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. If you aren’t lucky enough to spot any of these playful primates while here, don’t worry! You will stop off at 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. Tonight’s overnight stay in the lush forests of Sepilok puts you next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre – listen for their calls as the sun dips behind the horizon.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sepilok - Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
Optional Activities
  • Sukau - Gomantong Caves - MYR30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today’s adventures gets you up, close and personal with some of Sabah’s exciting wildlife as you visit rehabilitation centres for orangutans and the Bornean sun bear. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre stretches over 43 square kilometres of protected jungle and serves as home to around 80 of these animals – along with the occasional rhino, elephant, gibbon and more. This sanctuary serves as an excellent place to learn more about the orangutan’s plight without interfering with the rehabilitation process, covering such topics as the damage that deforestation, the illegal pet trade and poaching has on their population. A subsequent journey to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre gets you closer to the smallest bear in the world. These fuzzy beasts, characterised by the golden ring of hair that sits under their neck, remain under threat from deforestation and poaching much in the same way that the orangutan does. Wander along a series of viewing platforms to try and spot bears as they climb up trees for food. Keep an eye out for their unusually long tongue, which they use to slurp honey out of beehives. As the evening rolls in, consider taking a guided night walk through Sepilok for more chances to spot orangutans playing in the forest. Otherwise, a journey to the Rainforest Discovery Centre grants a better insight to the environmental education practices of Sabah.
Accommodation
  • Resort (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Sepilok - Bornean Sun Bear Centre
Optional Activities
  • Sepilok - Rainforest Discovery Centre - MYR15
  • Sepilok - Night walk - MYR50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning 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. We then 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 an optional final group meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Sandakan - War Memorial - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR180
  • Kota Kinabalu - Cooking Lesson - MYR230
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul Marine Park Scuba diving 3 dives - MYR380
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park Snorkeling Trip from Jesselton Jetty - MYR117
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mountain biking day trip (min 2 passengers)) - MYR300
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

10 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners

Transport

Private Mini van, Longtail boat, Plane

Accommodation

Homestay (1 night), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (2 nights), Jungle Lodge (2 nights), Resort (2 nights), Longhouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Tanak Nabalu - Orchard and Hill trek
  • Tanak Nabalu - Cultural Show
  • Mt Kinabalu National Park
  • Mt Kinabalu climb
  • Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
  • Kinabatangan River - Night jungle walk
  • Kinabatangan River - Dawn Wildlife Cruise
  • Sepilok - Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
  • Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Sepilok - Bornean Sun Bear Centre

Dates & availability

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Important notes

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 contact your booking agent if you would like to book a single supplement. Please note a single supplement is not available on the following nights: Day 2 Homestay, Day 3 & 4 Mt Kinabalu.

We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information on travelling in Eastern Sabah before your departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. Further information can be found in our "Safety" section of the Essential Trip Information. We also have links to prominent government travel advisories and any updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/travel-alerts

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.