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Essential Borneo

11 Days | Orangutans, jungle adventures and an epic mountain climb in Borneo.

5 out of 5 based on 14 reviews submitted.
18 to 29s
EUR €1,905
View dates and book
This trip is for the 18 to 29 year olds

Travel across Borneo’s biodiverse Sabah region, immersing yourself in nature and learning about the island’s Indigenous cultures. From orangutan encounters and traditional village homestays to soaking in natural hot springs after summiting the mighty Mount Kinabalu in time for sunrise, this 11-day adventure through Borneo is anything but boring. Where else can you spot pygmy elephants on a riverbank one day and see proboscis monkeys the next (not to mention slow lorises, flying foxes and rescued sun bears)? Wildlife lovers, you are in for a treat on this unforgettable trip.

Trip overview

Map of Essential Borneo including Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
18 to 29s
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 18 - Max 29
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 34.63 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.
Bucket list destinations

Tick off all the popular spots and enjoy unique local experiences

Great value

Affordable trips with the freedom to choose how you spend your time

Responsible travel

You book, we donate to help support local communities

Why you'll love this trip
  • This is one of very few places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild – observe these gentle giants living their best jungle life in the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Keep your eyes on the shoreline and the forest canopy to spot troops of monkeys, abundant birdlife and – if you’re lucky – pygmy elephants as you cruise along the Kinabatangan River.
  • Tackle a challenging but scenic trail to reach the summit of the mighty Mt Kinabalu in time to catch a spectacular sunrise.
  • Spend a night at a family homestay in a village along the Kinabatangan River to experience what local life is really like.
  • Take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Bornean rainforest and spot tropical birds from your treehouse-style hut at a small community-run eco camp.

Is this trip right for you?
  • Check out our guide to trekking Mt Kinabalu:
  • You’ll get the chance to stay in a variety of accommodation on this trip, from guesthouses and homestays, to hostels, a hotel and an 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.


Map of Essential Borneo including Malaysia



8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners


Boat, Private vehicle, Plane


Jungle Lodge (3 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hostel (3 nights), Hotel (2 night), Eco Camp (1 night)

  • Kinabatangan - Cultural Show
  • Sandakan - War Memorial
  • Kinabatangan River - Afternoon Wildlife Cruise
  • Kinabatangan River - Morning River Cruise
  • Kinabatangan River - Cooking lesson
  • Sepilok - Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Mt Kinabalu - 2 Day Climb
Add on activities
  • Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum entrance fee - MYR15
  • Kinabatangan - Batu Tulug Caves - MYR15
  • Kinabatangan River - Tree Planting - MYR50
  • Kinabatangan River - Boat Cruise - MYR50
  • Sepilok - Night Walk at Rainforest Discovery Centre - MYR50
  • Sepilok - Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR120
  • Sepilok - Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre - MYR50
  • Kundasang - War Memorial - MYR15
  • Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR10
  • Poring Hot Springs - Orchid Conservation Centre - Free
  • Poring Hot Springs - Butterfly Farm - Free
  • Poring Hot Springs - Hot Springs (Open Bath Tub) - (3 hours) - MYR10
  • Poring Hot Springs - Rafflesia Blooming Observation - MYR30
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul Marine Park Scuba diving 3 dives - MYR400
  • Kota Kinabalu - Tunku Abdul National Marine Park - Snorkeling Trip - MYR260
  • Kota Kinabalu - Mari Mari Cultural Village (Entrance) - MYR100

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 & 9 where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
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.
5.Please note that a rapid antigen test is required for climbing Mt Kinabalu. This can easily be organized locally at a cost about 2 USD per test, or you may bring one from home.

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.

Read Essential Trip Information


5 out of 5 based on 14 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

Filter by rating

Victoria · Traveled October 2023
Review submitted 22 Oct 2023

Isabelle · Traveled September 2023
An excellent trip - could not recommend enough. Thank you to our guide Nus for making it so great!
Review submitted 13 Sep 2023

Ethan · Traveled July 2023
Brilliant experience and highly recommend. Great range of activities with great people and had the best time
Review submitted 15 Jul 2023

Emma · Traveled May 2023
This trip was INCREDIBLE! It was an absolute dream to see the orangutans and so many other animals. If you love animals and want a truly adventurous traveller trip (not for tourists) where you get to experience the Bornean jungle, local villages and the mountain then this is perfect! I absolutely loved it and would recommend to young people who want to see the real Borneo!
Review submitted 06 Jun 2023

Daniel · Traveled May 2023
For outdoors and wildlife lover, I can’t recommend this trip enough! The wildlife river cruises were incredible, and Mt Kinabalu and unforgettable challenge with fantastic views. Our group leader, Felix, was amazing throughout, and I was lucky to travel with a wonderful group of people who approach travel in the same way 😊
Review submitted 09 Jun 2023
Essential Borneo
EUR €1,905