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I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea, and Hong Kong, travelled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- from $6,082 PP
- 10 Nights
- Mar - Oct
- 12hrs from London / 21hrs from NYC
This 10-night adventure showcases Borneo at its best. Focusing solely on Malaysian Borneo’s eastern province of Sabah, you’ll follow a compact but comprehensive route through Sepilok, the teeming Kinabatangan River, and then spend two nights at a magical, unparalleled primary rainforest retreat in Danum Valley. Accommodation is of a very good standard throughout, and the trip concludes in style, kicking back at a boutique beach resort just off Sabah’s bouncing provincial capital Kota Kinabalu. This enthralling itinerary is the perfect first-time trip to Borneo, covering all its major highlights in comfort and style. After this visit, you may develop a taste for the jungle, coming back for a second trip to explore more of cultural Sarawak, or getting even deeper into the forest in Deramakot, Kawag, or the Imbak Canyon.
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At a Glance
- 10 nights in 4 or 5-star accommodation
- Daily breakfast in KK and Gaya Island
- Full-board meals in Sepilok, Kinabatangan, Danum Valley
- Private arrival and departure airport transfers
- Private Kinabalu National Park tour from Kota Kinabalu
- Shared transfers and wildlife activities Sepilok through to Danum Valley
- Domestic flights as described in economy class
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Kota Kinabalu: Arrival into Kota Kinabalu International Airport; afternoon walking tour
You’ll be met in the arrivals hall of Kota Kinabalu International Airport by a private guide & driver who will then transfer you to your nearby hotel. Once you’ve had time to freshen up your guide will take you on a short orientation tour of the city, pointing out the main sights and good places to eat, drink, and shop.
The provincial capital of Sabah, on the northeastern tip of Borneo, ‘KK’ is a historic and highly multicultural port city. Its influences range from colonial British to indigenous Malay, with a heavy dose of ‘Baju’ (sea-faring southeast Asian) and Chinese for good measure. A stay in the city provides eclectic shopping and dining, with nearby access to the underwater wonderland Tunkul Adbdul Marine Park and the jungles and soaring peak of Mount Kinabalu National Park.
Please speak to your consultant if you need any travel arrangements prior to arrival in KK – for instance, layovers in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.
Day 2 Kota Kinabalu: Day trip to Mount Kinabalu National Park
Settling down around the slopes of Mount Kinabalu, the expansive Kinabalu National Park is your best option for alluring nature within an easy day trip from Kota Kinabalu. As the park falls across several elevation ranges it boasts an incredible diversity of flora.
On this day trip, you’ll enjoy a magnificent 2-hour drive into the park, with several epic viewpoints of Mount Kinabalu along the way. Enjoy one of the introductory walking trails on which you can look out for pitcher plants and – if you’re lucky – Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. You’ll also visit the bubbling natural hot springs at Poring and enjoy the nearby canopy walk. A visit to the village of Kundasang is also included, where you’ll tour the local market and enjoy lunch in a nearby restaurant.
Day 3 Sepilok: Fly to Sepilok; Afternoon visit to the Rainforest Discovery Center
This morning you’ll be transferred back to KK Airport and then board a short flight across to Sandakan, over on the eastern coast of Sabah. At Sandakan, you’ll be met by a new guide and transferred to your lodge in nearby Sepilok.
In the afternoon you’ll be taken to visit the Rainforest Discovery Center which will serve as an ideal warm-up for your jungle adventures to come. The center offers a series of educational exhibits and galleries, a plant discovery garden, and a 363m canopy walkway from which you may be able to see red giant flying squirrels emerge from their nests.
Day 4 Kinabatangan River: Visit Sepilok Orangutan Centre, then wildlife cruise into the Kinabatangan
After breakfast, you’ll visit the world-famous Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Renowned throughout the world for its work caring for and releasing infant orang-utans, the center gives you a guaranteed sighting of baby apes as you arrive in time for the morning feeding time. Complete your visit with a call into the Sun Bear Rehabilitation Centre, located just next door, which continues the same care and protection work for Sabah’s threatened endemic bear species.
After your visit to Sepilok, you’ll be transferred to a jetty in nearby Sandakan, where you’ll board a speedboat into the lush, muddy waters of the Kinabatangan River. The Kinabatangan – Malaysian Borneo’s most renowned wildlife destination – snakes through the teeming jungles of inner Sabah. Staying at a comfortable riverfront lodge, you’ll take boat safaris up and down the river catching sight of proboscis monkeys, wild orangs, hornbills, pygmy elephants, and crocodiles.
Day 5 Kinabatangan River: Full day wildlife tours on the Kinabatangan
Today you’ll take morning and afternoon cruises along the Kinabatangan River, looking out for the abundant flora and fauna all along the water’s edge. You’ll also be taken for a short hike along the lodge’s boardwalk forest trail, and have the option of joining additional tours locally such as an after-dark night walk or cruise, or a side trip to the guano-filled Gomantong Caves, a short drive away.
Day 6 Danum Valley: Shared road transfer to Danum Valley; After dark jungle drive
After an early breakfast, you’ll join a shared road transfer out of the Kinabatangan area to the small coastal town of Lahad Datu. A change of vehicle in Lahad Datu then takes you back into the jungles of Danum Valley. All told your journey time will be around 4-5 hours today, arriving at the lodge in time for a late lunch.
Deep in the steamy jungles of eastern Sabah is the magical Danum Valley Conservation Area: a 438 sq km tract of millennia-old primary rainforest, home to a remarkable array of tropical flora and fauna which includes orang-utan, sun bears, clouded leopard, gibbons, proboscis monkey, and over 250 rare bird species. Better yet it is also home to one of the world’s greatest wildlife lodges – the Borneo Rainforest Lodge – where you can enjoy this extraordinary setting in supreme luxury.
In the afternoon you’ll join a reserve guide for an introduction to the lodge and then a visit to the Lodge’s incredible canopy walk: 1000ft of rope bridges, held up by 130 million-year-old ironwood trees, which takes you dancing through the forest roof offering unparalleled views of the teeming jungle below. Later in the evening, after dinner, you’ll join a night drive around the lodge looking for nocturnal animals such as deer, wild cats, civets, and snakes.
Day 7 Danum Valley: Morning and afternoon jungle activities
Wake early this morning for a magical hike up through a jungle ridge along the ‘Coffin Cliff Trail’, so-called as it leads to an ancient burial site for indigenous tribespeople. Along the way listen out for calls of gibbons and hornbills, and keen a keen eye for wild orang-utans swinging through the trees above. The trek leads to an incredible viewpoint back down to the lodge and across the spectacular primary rainforest.
The rest of the day is then free to arrange a further activity locally. Join another guided wildlife trail walk, or take on some tubing or rafting down the fast-running Danum River which sweeps past the lodge. A final night drive is included after dinner.
Day 8 Gaya Island: Fly to KK and transfer across to Gaya Island
You have the option of joining a final early morning trail walk before you check out and take a shared transfer back to Lahad Datu. From Lahad Datu you’ll take a short domestic flight back to Kota Kinabalu, where you’ll be met by a private transfer by road and then speedboat across to Gaya Island, lying around 15 minutes offshore.
Check in to your luxurious island resort, fronted by a totally pristine white sand beach, backed by densely forested hills, and surrounded by the magical waters of the protected Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The rest of the day is at leisure to settle in and relax.
Days 9-10 Gaya Island: Days at leisure on the beach
The island paradise of Pulau Gaya is a simply idyllic setting in which to unwind and reflect on your adventures. Accommodation is highly refined with great dining, leisure, and spa facilities at your fingertips. Should you be feeling active, sign up for diving and snorkeling adventures in the surrounding marine park, paddle-boarding, kayaking, or similar water sports, or hikes across the island’s dense jungle interior.
Day 11 Gaya Island: Departure day
Sadly your adventures in Borneo must come to an end. At the appropriate time, you’ll take a private speedboat transfer back across to Kota Kinabalu, then carry on to Kota Kinabalu International Airport in a private car. Your transfer will be timed to arrive at the airport in good time to check in for your onward flight. Please speak to your consultant should need any assistance with onward flights or travel arrangements.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Gratuities for local guides
- Visas if required
Let’s get started making this itinerary yours.
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