Check out brilliant Borneo's mountains and rainforest.

You and Borneo meet in Kota Kinabalu – we think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Orangutans! In Sepilok! And elephants – maybe! – along the Kinabatangan River! Get hot and sweaty climbing up Mt Kinabalu, then hot and wet-ty soaking in the Poring Hot Springs on the way down. Try not to indulge in too much ikan panggang (stingray – a local delicacy) because at the end of this trip we’re taking you on a two-day hike to the top of South East Asia.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Finish
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Destination
Malaysia
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
TMYS
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Travel solo, together

You're never alone when travelling solo with Intrepid

Why you'll love this trip

  • This is one of only two places in the world you can see wild orangutans – meet these friendly fellas swinging around, climbing up trees and just generally living their jungle life in the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

  • Good mountains are hard to climb, but you’ll be a conqueror of epic Mt Kinabalu

  • Monkeys, primates, simians everywhere! Well, here’s hoping as you cruise past the wildlife-filled banks of the Kinabatangan River

Is this trip right for you?

  • You’ll get the chance to stay in variety of accommodation on this trip, a mixture of guesthouses, homestays, hostels, hotel and eco camp. It can be basic, but it’s always comfortable.

  • A single supplement is only available on the hotel nights in Kota Kinabalu on this trip. All other nights will be based on twin or dormitory accommodation.

  • The Mt Kinabalu trek is definitely challenging, including an altitude of more than 2800 metres and an early morning summit in the dark. We recommend a good level of fitness to be able to enjoy this unforgettable climb.

Itinerary

Kick things off in KK, Kota Kinabalu. The locals finally settled on a name meaning ‘City of the Revered Place of the Dead’. Earlier choices were Deasoka (below the coconut tree), Singgah Mata (pleasing to the eye) and Api-Api (fire!). You’ve got the whole day free to explore this capital of Sabah state (depending on when you get here of course) before you join up with your crew at a 6 pm welcome meeting tonight (make sure you’ve got all your important docs and deets on you). Take some time to explore this balmy city between the jungle and the South China Sea and perhaps visit the Sabah Museum and the State Mosque. Why not escape the hustle and bustle of Kota Kinabalu and take a walk up Signal Hill, which offers great views over the city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR180
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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.
This morning you’ll head over to the airport for a flight to Sandakan (40 minutes). When you touch down, you’ll hop on a private minibus and head to Sandakan 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 2400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, just 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped. You then continue on for a drive through the steamy rainforest to your homestay for the night (approximately 2 hours). This afternoon you’ll have the option to visit Batu Tulug burial caves, where more than a 100 wooden coffins (estimated at 250 years old) were discovered in the limestone hill. Speculate about who they belonged to and just how they got them up there while you admire their beautiful carvings. If you’re still feeling active then maybe challenge the locals to a game of volleyball or a football match. You’ll spend the night in a family homestay and enjoy a local meal cooked by your hosts followed by a cultural performance. 

Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kinabatangan - Cultural Show
  • Sandakan - War Memorial
Optional Activities
  • Batu Tulug Caves - MYR15
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Notes: The homestay has twin share rooms with beds, mosquito nets and towels provided. Bathroom facilities are shared with Asia squat toilets and cold water bucket showers. The homestay is located in a Muslim community, so we ask that you bring a pair of long pants or long skirt, to cover your knees and keep your shoulders covered to be respectful towards your hosts.

Please note a luggage limit applies to all internal flights on this trip which is 15 kgs. Any excess luggage will need to be paid to the airline direct. Intrepid will not cover the cost of excess luggage.
After breakfast you will say goodbye to your hosts and make the short journey by minivan and boat to an eco-lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 40 minutes). The lodge is right in the heart of a nature lover's wilderness paradise. This morning there’s loads of stuff planned to keep you busy. Kick things off with a walk through the jungle to work on your wildlife spotting skills, then head over to a community based reforestation project. One of the very few uncool things about Borneo is that half of the world’s timber comes from here. In 1975, 73.7 per cent of the country was covered in rainforest, now it’s only 50.5 per cent. You can do your part to put the trees back where they belong by getting your hands dirty and planting some yourself. Later, get to know the local cuisine with an included cooking lesson. In the early evening as the sun sets, climb aboard a boat to get down with the local wildlife on a dusk cruise up the river. Keep an eye out for wild orangutans, Proboscis monkeys and maybe even pygmy elephants if you’re the lucky one. Tonight you’ll snuggle down for a sleepover in an authentic community-run eco camp bush hut (pillow fights optional).

Accommodation
  • Jungle eco camp (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
  • Kinabatangan River - Morning River Cruise
  • Kinabatangan River - Cooking lesson
Optional Activities
  • Kinabatangan River - tree planting - MYR50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Please note the eco-lodge bush hut is located right in the heart of the jungle so facilities are basic. You will sleep inside A frame wooden huts, on raised platforms, with open air bathrooms on the ground floor, with Asian style bucket showers and a western style toilet. There are communal washrooms.
Wake up early if you want to check out more of the jungle creatures with the option to do another river cruise this morning – just tell your leader if you're all about your wildlife. Later in the morning, you will leave your jungle eco-lodge and drive in a private minivan to Sepilok (approximately 2 hours). From there you’ll swing by the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and meet the world’s cutest red heads. These distant relatives will tug on your heartstrings and then spend half an hour picking their noses. Watch them eating bananas while hanging upside down like it ain’t no thang. Feel immensely jealous. If you thought things couldn’t get any cuter then you'd be wrong – you’ll also check out the nursery where young orangutans learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. You’ll spend the night in dorm rooms at a jungle lodge in Sepilok. If you want, there’s the option to take a night wildlife walk this evening.

Accommodation
  • Jungle Resort (dormitory room) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sepilok - Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Optional Activities
  • Kinabatangan River - boat cruise - MYR50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, what to do is up to you! You're pretty close to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Here you can feel like your red-headed mates from yesterday by getting high up into the trees. The RDC has a 147-metre long, 28-metre high canopy walkway with downright spectacular views of the giant rainforest trees. Look out for all the birds overhead, and maybe even a few flying squirrels. There’s also the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey (them funny fellas with the big noses) Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding – an experience that can only be found right here in Borneo. If you can’t get enough wildlife there’s also the chance to see more of Borneo’s creatures at the newly opened Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here they’ve rescued mistreated Sun Bears and hope to rehabilitate and reintroduce them into the wild. You'll spend another night in the dorm rooms at the jungle lodge in Sepilok.
Accommodation
  • Jungle Resort (dormitory room) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Sepilok - Rainforest Discovery Centre - MYR15
  • Sepilok - Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre - MYR32
  • Sepilok - Night walk - MYR50
  • Sepilok - Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR100
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning travel via Kudasang by minibus into the unspoilt wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park (approximately 5 hours total). Take some time to hang out, enjoy the surroundings and do your stretches for the climb. There are some beautiful nature trails you can follow through the lowland tropical forest and a Botanic Garden to explore – 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. It’s home to 4500 species of plants, 289 species of birds and 290 of butterfly. Numbers can be boring, but that’s pretty cool. Otherwise, just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler climate. Before you depart your leader will give a safety briefing about the climb and answer any questions you might just have thought of. 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.

Accommodation
  • Hostel (dormitory) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu National Park - Lower trails guided walk - MYR100
  • Kundasang - War Memorial - MYR10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
We consider the Mt Kinabalu trek to be a huge highlight of the trip 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 no other activities will be included and you will be without a leader for the time the group is on the mountain. For more information on the trekking alternative please see the 'Itinerary Disclaimer' section in the Essential Trip Information section.
Rise early the next day to begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu, South East Asia’s highest point at 4,095 metres (13435 feet) (compared to Everest’s 8,848 metres) and you’ll remember – sometimes for the effort, mostly for the scenery – every single step. For real, this is not an easy walk – it’s 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 affect anyone, regardless of 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, a hat, a head torch (for the final part of the climb), waterproof jacket, good walking shoes or boots and extra socks! The top of the mountain can be deceptively cold. Pack a light overnight bag for the climb as you’ll stay overnight on the mountain. 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 1000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. You’ll cover 6 kilometres on the first day (approximately 4-6 hours) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272m/10734ft) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, and additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Make sure to get some shut-eye early as you’ll be getting up at 2 am to hit the trails again, making for the peak.
Accommodation
  • Mountain Rest House (dormitory) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Kinabalu - 2 day climb
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The Mount Kinabalu climb requires a very good level of fitness, and we recommend that you build up your walking stamina before departure. We strongly recommend you increase your aerobic fitness at least 3 months prior to your trip. The final section involves climbing steep exposed rock - if the weather is wet or your tour leader feels your fitness is not sufficient you will not be allowed to summit.
Rise around 2 am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095m/13435 ft). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. And yes, 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. 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 section up to the summit consists of man-made wooden steps, sections where climbers need to hold onto a rope with both hands and a path through a boulder field. The new trail is about 400 metres longer than the old route. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). After witnessing the epic 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). 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.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (dormitory) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Poring Hot Springs is an ideal place to kick back for a day to recuperate after the mountain climb. Maybe soothe your peak-weary limbs in warm sulphur water pools, believed to have healing properties for the skin. Otherwise 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 tropical garden to visit. 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! Spend another night here in the hot springs complex.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (dormitory) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR5
  • Poring Hot Springs - Orchid Conservation Centre - MYR15
  • Poring Hot Springs - Butterfly Farm - MYR5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drag yourself away from the Hot Springs and drive around 2.5 hours back to Kota Kinabalu. The afternoon's free for you to check out some optional activities – if you’re feeling all cultural then maybe take an interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. If you are after something even more active, like a scuba diving trip to nearby islands or a day of mountain biking, then maybe stay on a couple of days longer in KK. This evening it'll be time to say bye to all your new mates – maybe do it over one final delicious optional dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul Marine Park Scuba diving 3 dives - MYR380
  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park - Snorkeling Trip - MYR117
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village - MYR180
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mountain biking day trip (min 2 passengers)) - MYR280
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
That's all folks, your Sabah adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time after you check out.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Boat, Private vehicle, Plane

Accommodation

Jungle resort (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hostel (4 nights), Hotel (2 night), Eco Camp (1 night)

Included activities

  • Kinabatangan - Cultural Show
  • Sandakan - War Memorial
  • Kinabatangan River - Sunset wildlife boat trip
  • Kinabatangan River - Morning River Cruise
  • Kinabatangan River - Cooking lesson
  • Sepilok - Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Mt Kinabalu - 2 day climb

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is bookable on this trip, subject to availability, and includes hotel accommodation in Kota Kinabalu on Day 1 & Day 10 only.
2. The maximum luggage allowance on the internal flight flight is 15kg. Any additional baggage will be at your own expense, payable to the airline directly.
3. Please provide passport details at time of booking at at least 35 days prior to your trip in order for us to book your internal flight and Mt Kinabalu climbing permits.
4. 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.

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.

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.

View Essential Trip Information