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.

Trip Highlights

    • Stay at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, and glide along jungle waterways in an electric boat.
    • 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.

Itinerary - 11 Days

Day 1 — Sandakan, Malaysia/Sepilok

Arrive in the bustling city of Sandakan on Malaysian Borneo’s eastern coast. Head inland to our lodge, located just beyond the borders of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.
Sepilok Nature Resort (D)

Day 2 — Sepilok

Venture into the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve to visit the orangutan rehabilitation center, where we’ll join scientists to observe the morning feeding, learn about onsite projects, and visit the nursery. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then head to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for an afternoon of jungle trekking. At dusk, weave through the rain forest canopy along an elevated walkway, seeking out wildlife amid the treetops. (1-2 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Sepilok Nature Resort (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Sepilok/Kinabatangan River

After breakfast, 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 Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, 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)
Sukau Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Kinabatangan River

Watch the sun rise during an early morning river safari cruise. Return to the lodge and set out on a jungle walk to search for wildlife, followed by a dusk river cruise.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 5 — 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 6 — Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Take an early morning nature walk, 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, walk the lodge grounds in search of nocturnal fauna. (1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours)
Tabin Wildlife Resort (B,L,D)

Days 7, 8, & 9 — 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 local 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 especially 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 a light breakfast with a stunning view. Stretch your legs on a moderately challenging hike to a nearby waterfall; 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 7: 1–2 miles hiking, 2 hours; Day 8: 1–2 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Borneo Rainforest Lodge (B,L,D)

Days 10 & 11 — Danum Valley Conservation Area/Kota Kinabalu

Rise early for one last wildlife walk through the forest. Then depart for Lahad Datu, where we catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival, transfer to our downtown hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner. Depart for home the following day. (Day 10: 1-2 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu (B,L,D; B)

National Geographic Active Expeditions 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 17 - 27, 2018
  • Oct 01 - 11, 2018
  • Oct 15 - 25, 2018
  • Mar 11 - 21, 2019
  • Apr 01 - 11, 2019
  • Sep 16 - 26, 2019
  • Oct 07 - 17, 2019
  • Oct 21 - 31, 2019

Trip Cost





Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,300 in 2018 and $1,500 in 2019. Airfare to Sandakan and return from Kota Kinabalu is not included in the expedition cost.


See special terms and conditions for this expedition.

Featured Expedition Moment

Activity Level


This is primarily a wildlife viewing trip. We will hike 1–2 hours per day (1–2 miles) on uneven trails over moderate grades at low elevations in hot and humid conditions.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.

What To Expect

Accommodation Style

We will stay one night in a comfortable hotel, seven nights in lodges, and two nights in a National Geographic Unique Lodge.

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