Trip Details


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.

Trip Highlights

    • Observe orangutans and Malayan sun bears up close at conservation centers in Sepilok.
    • 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 with a renowned botanist.
    • 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 (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Kinabatangan River

Watch the sun rise during an early morning river safari cruise. Then join researchers at Red Ape Encounters, an organization that works to preserve orangutans in their natural habitat, and track these great apes in the wild. Back at the lodge, head out on dusk and nocturnal river safaris.
Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort (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. 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 reserve’s many nature trails on guided hikes and on your own. Search for rare species including the pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, Bornean gibbon, and maroon langur, and examine exotic flora with renowned botanist Anthony Lamb. Bird life is equally diverse, with some 275 recorded species. 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)
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 — Danum Valley Conservation Area/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.

About Adventures

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.


  • Sep 21 - Oct 01, 2015 (waitlist only)
  • Oct 04 - 14, 2015
  • Oct 24 - Nov 03, 2015
  • Mar 13 - 23, 2016
  • Mar 27 - Apr 06, 2016
  • Apr 15 - 25, 2016
  • Sep 18 - 28, 2016
  • Oct 02 - 12, 2016
  • Oct 16 - 26, 2016
  • Oct 30 - Nov 09, 2016

Trip Cost





Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,300 in 2015 and $1,500 in 2016. International airfare to Sandakan and return from Kota Kinabalu is not included in the adventure cost.


See special terms and conditions for this adventure.

Activity Level

Easy to Moderate

We will hike 1 to 2 hours per day (1 to 2 miles) on uneven trails over moderate grades at low elevations. Participants always have the option to rest a day. Some long transfers of up to 3.5 hours will be required. We will stay in ideally located lodges and resorts that combine comfort, ideal locations, and local charm.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

Contact Us: 1-888-689-2557

Call to speak with an Adventure specialist about this trip.