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The third largest island in the world, Borneo is stunning for its verdant jungles, dramatic coastlines, and incredible biodiversity. Land and sea teem with exotic endemic species; many of which are endangered. Spend 11 exhilarating days exploring Malaysian Borneo, on the island’s northeastern edge. Set out on day and night hikes, river safaris, and snorkeling excursions, looking for iconic orangutans, leopard cats, birds-of-paradise, and much more. Stay in jungle lodges nestled within wildlife reserves close to the action, including two nights on a small tropical isle surrounded by aquamarine waters and lush reef systems.
Observe orangutans and Malayan sun
bears up close at conservation centers
Set out on safari in the Tabin Wildlife
Reserve, home to nine primate species, three cat species and some 220 species of birds.
Spend three days in the primary rain forests of Danum Valley Conservation Area, hiking, walking through the canopy, and observing dazzling flora and fauna.
Snorkel the vibrant reefs of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, home to sea turtles, octopi, whale sharks, and more than 170 species of coral.
Itinerary - 11 Days
Day 1 — Sandakan, Malaysia
Arrive in the bustling city of Sandakan on Malaysian Borneo’s
eastern coast. Check into our hotel, perched on the edge of the
Sulu Sea, then gather for an orientation and welcome dinner. Sheraton Four Points Sandakan (D)
Day 2 — Sepilok/Kinabatangan River
Head to the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and visit the orangutan
rehabilitation center, where we join scientists to observe
the morning feeding. Then take a behind-the-scenes tour of the
nearby Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn about
Malayan sun bears. Continue to the Kinabatangan River, home to
one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. Settle into
our lodge and take a cruise at dusk to look for orangutans, pygmy
elephants, silvered langurs, hornbills, and proboscis monkeys. On
a night walk, see nocturnal fauna such as the slow loris, western
tarsiers, civets, and more. (1–2 miles hiking, 1–2 hours)
Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort or Sukau Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Kinabatangan River
Watch the sun rise during an early morning river safari cruise. Back on land, stop in a local village where we’ll be treated to a home-cooked breakfast and learn about the Orang Sungai’s culture. Return to the lodge and set out on a jungle walk to search for wildlife, followed by a dusk river cruise.
Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort or Sukau Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Head into the heart of the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, home to nine
primate species, three cat species, some 220 species of birds, and the rarely seen pygmy elephant and banteng. After lunch, set off in 4x4s to search for leopard cats, marbled cats, flying squirrels,
and binturongs (bearcats). Tabin Wildlife Resort (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Take an early morning 4x4 safari, then after breakfast, hike to the mud volcano, where salt-enriched mud bubbles up and attracts many different animals. Climb the observation tower for great views of the surrounding forest. Learn about Sumatran rhino conservation efforts during a special meeting with the executive director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance. In the evening, go on safari in search of nocturnal fauna. (1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours) Tabin Wildlife Resort (B,L,D)
Days 6, 7, & 8 — Danum Valley Conservation Area
Travel to the valley of the Danum River, known for its 169 square miles of virtually undisturbed primary rain forest. Spend three days exploring the many nature trails on your own or with a guide. Keep an eye out for rare species, including the pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, Bornean gibbon, and maroon langur. Bird life is equally diverse, with some 275 recorded species. Take a guided night hike when the forest is vibrant with wildlife. Watch a dazzling sunrise over the valley from atop an observation tower—and enjoy breakfast with a stunning view. Hike to a nearby waterfall and take a refreshing dip in the rock pools; go on a canopy walk in the treetops surrounding our lodge; venture out on night safaris to experience the forest when it is vibrant with wildlife. (Day 6: 1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours; Day 7: 1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours; Day 8: 1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours) Borneo Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D daily)
Day 9 — Danum Valley Conservation Area/Gaya Island
Rise early for one last wildlife walk through the forest. After lunch, depart for Lahad Datu and catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Take a ferry to Gaya Island and settle into your eco resort, a secluded island sanctuary only accessible by boat. Enjoy an evening relaxing in this stunning retreat nestled in the rain forest overlooking the aquamarine shallows of Malohom Bay. Gaya Island Resort (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Gaya Island
Set off on an excursion to Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park where we’ll snorkel along a colorful reef comprised of more than 170 different species of coral. Swim at several distinct sections of this underwater wonderland, home to sea turtles, an astonishing array of fish, and whale sharks (March – April). This afternoon, relax on the island’s white-sand beaches and enjoy sunset cocktails before our farewell dinner. Gaya Island Resort (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Kota Kinabalu
Return to Kota Kinabalu via ferry this morning and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. (B)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
This is primarily a wildlife viewing trip. We will hike 1 to 2 hours per day (1 to 2 miles) on uneven trails over moderate grades at low elevations. Some long transfers of up to 3.5 hours will be required.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
We will stay 3 nights in first-class hotels and 7 nights in lodges. On 2 of the nights in lodges, rooms do not have air conditioning but are equipped with fans.
Contact Us: 1-888-689-2557
Call to speak with an Adventure specialist about this trip.