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Trails of Borneo

Meet the loveable Orang-utans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre
Includes return economy airfares

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Escorted Journey
The great rainforests of Borneo present a multitude of exciting activities.

Highlights

Some of the highlights included are:

  • Climb Mt Kinabalu for sunrise
  • Explore rainforest trails
  • Marvel at indigenous wildlife
  • Meet the loveable Orang-utans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

Holiday Type

Active
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
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  • N
Wildlife & Nature
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y
  • Y

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What's included
  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners
  • All accommodation: Hotels & Lodges/Huts
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • National Park fees
Need to know
  • Minimum age 16
  • The group is usually between 4 and 16 in size.
  • A visa is not required for British nationals. If you are unsure of the requirements, please check with your nearest Malaysian embassy.
  • Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.
  • Malaria prophylaxis is essential, and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take.
  • Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited.
Your route
Exodus: Trails of Borneo Map Malaysia Asia Sepilok Sandakan Mount Kinabalu

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Miri

Arrive Miri

Miri is a busy and prosperous city, which has benefited from the oil industry off the coast of Sarawak. There is an interesting market and it is the central meeting point of tribes people from the interior, many of whom have migrated to the city. This is the starting point for an adventurous trip into the interior. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with dinner at a local restaurant. We'll also need to prepare our bags for the next three days in Mulu N.P as our main bags will be transported to Limbang.

Day 2
Fly to Mulu N.P.; jungle walks to Lang's Cave and Deer Cave

Fly to Mulu N.P.; jungle walks to Lang's Cave and Deer Cave

We fly to World Heritage-listed Mulu National Park. Situated deep in the rainforest and protected from logging, Mulu is an astounding natural environment in which to spend time. First we head through the spactacular forest to Deer Cave in time for dusk, to see the incredible display of resident bats at feeding time. The cave floor has a raised platform and there is no escaping the smell of the 'guano' - excrement from millions of birds and bats. Close by is Lang's Cave. Whilst much smaller, it has impressive stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations. The park has over 3,500 plant species, 8,000 different types of fungi and 170 species of orchid. Over 100 new plant species were discovered between 1960 and 1973, and many more are still being added. There are 262 bird species, almost 300 species of butterflies and many reptiles and mammals. The park contains Sarawak's second highest peak, Gunung Mulu, at 2,376m and the largest caves on Earth. 

Day 3
Morning canopywalkway, free afternoon for self guided trails or visit a local longhouse

Morning canopywalkway, free afternoon for self guided trails or visit a local longhouse

This morning we get the chance to experience the Canopy walkway. This 480-metre skywalk is the longest tropical canopy walkway in the world and takes approx 2 hours to complete. Along the way we may glimpse macaque monkeys, hornbills, flying lizards, squirrels and a variety of rainforest birds. The rest of the day is free to explore the park along self-guided trails, the Paku waterfall trail is highly recommended. There is also the option of visiting a Penan settlement to learn about how these forest dwellers and the chance to join a nightwalk to experience the nocturnal activity of this varied habitat.

Day 4
Boat to Clearwater and Wind caves, trek to camp 5 and the Melinau Gorge

Boat to Clearwater and Wind caves, trek to camp 5 and the Melinau Gorge

Leaving the park headquarters we take a boat up the Melinau River, stopping en route at Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave. Clearwater is the longest and most extensive cave system in South East Asia at 127km long. A clear underground river flows from the cave mouth into the Melinau River. The formations are huge and the small helictites (limestone branches) shaped by the wind are magnificent. Continuing up-river, occasionally having to pull the boat over the shallow parts, we arrive at Kuala Litut. From here we commence a level 8.8km walk up to Camp 5 and the Melinau Gorge where we will be staying tonight. Camp 5 is basic with minimal facilities.

Day 5
Trek the Headhunters Trail; boat and drive to Limbang

Trek the Headhunters Trail; boat and drive to Limbang

This morning sees us starting to trek the world-renowned Headhunters Trail. At 11.3km it follows the route taken by Kayan headhunting parties. In the past they would have walked this trail and then paddled downstream to launch raids against the people in the Limbang area, we will be following the same route but without the headhunters! It is a flat walk through primary rainforest with several rope bridge crossings. Depending on the season it can be muddy and you might encounter the odd leech. Once we reach Kuala Trekian we will take longboats down river for about 3 hours. We then switch to minivans for the short drive to Limbang and our hotel where we will be reunited with our large luggage.

Day 6
Morning public ferry to Labuan; visit the WWII cemetery, public ferry to Kota Kinabalu

Morning public ferry to Labuan; visit the WWII cemetery, public ferry to Kota Kinabalu

This morning we take the public ferry to Labuan, an important WWII site. There is an allied cemetery that we will visit to learn more about the plight of the soldiers during the Japanese invasion of Borneo. In the early afternoon we will board another public ferry to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival we will check in to our hotel and then have free time to explore the city, with its bustling Filipino markets. In the evening it is possible to enjoy a sunset drink on the waterfront.

Day 7
Fly to Sandakan, visit Sepilok Orang-utan Centre; Kinabatanagan River for sunset cruise

Fly to Sandakan, visit Sepilok Orang-utan Centre; Kinabatanagan River for sunset cruise

We take an early morning flight to Sandakan, hopefully seeing the summit of Mt Kinabalu from the plane. The main attraction here is the world famous Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary, 20km from the town. Set up in 1964, it is the largest orang-utan sanctuary in the world. We visit the orang-utans at feeding time and find out about the work of the centre and how the residents came to be living there. At the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre, we'll make the most of fantastic bird watching opportunities. Hornbills and the Borneo Bristlehead are often seen. An impressive canopy walkway offers great views into the Sepilok reserve. After lunch we take a mini bus (2.5hrs) to the mighty Kinabatanagan River. The wildlife reserve here is home to an astonishing array of wildlife including pygmy elephants, wild orang-utans, gibbons, Proboscis monkey and rare birdlife. On arrival at our riverside lodge we take a sunset boat cruise to spot incredible creatures.

Day 8
Wildlife spotting on the river, and trek to an ox-bow lake

Wildlife spotting on the river, and trek to an ox-bow lake

We are up with the animals for a dawn wildlife cruise followed by a trek out to an ox-bow lake and forest restoration site for tree planting. Here, we learn what is being done to protect this fragile environment. In the afternoon, we will return to the river to spot wildlife and if we are lucky a crocodile or two. We will also have the opportunity for a jungle night walk with possibilities of seeing scorpions, night owl and even western tarsiers.

Day 9
Transfer to Sabah tea plantation via Gomontong caves

Transfer to Sabah tea plantation via Gomontong caves

This morning we have a final early morning wildlife cruise, then after breakfast we leave by bus, and make the long drive (5-6 hours) to the cooler altitude of Borneo's largest tea plantation. En-route we stop at the bizarre Gomantong caves. The caves are a major source of the swiftlet bird nests that are a Chinese delicacy. Every day, when in season, workers climb large ladders up to 400 feet up to the roof of the caves to collect the valuable nests. Tonight we sleep in a traditional style bamboo longhouse, in twin rooms.

Day 10
Morning walk; drive to mountain resort and prepare for ascent

Morning walk; drive to mountain resort and prepare for ascent

Early risers are rewarded with the breathtaking sunrise over Mt Kinabalu. After breakfast there is a tour of the tea factory followed by a 3 - 4 hour acclimatisation walk through the plantation and rainforest. Weather permitting, lunch will be picnic style by the river which is perfect for a cooling dip. After check out we make the short drive to our mountain hostel stopping en-route at the local food tamu (market). There may be time to visit the Kundasang War Memorial (optional) upon arrival at our hostel which commemorates Prisoners of War who died during the infamous death marches during World War II. The memorial is made up of four gardens, the Australian, English, Malaysian and the Contemplation Garden that represent the different nationalities. A briefing will be given in the evening about the ascent of Kinabalu.

Day 11
From Mt Kinabalu Park HQ climb to mountain hut at 3400m, via Mesilau Route

From Mt Kinabalu Park HQ climb to mountain hut at 3400m, via Mesilau Route

Impressive Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia, at 4,101m. Its lower slopes are covered in thick vegetation rising up the huge granite walls. Due to its great height, Mount Kinabalu has a number of different climatic zones and an enormous variety of plants and animals. Half of the world's flowering plants grow here, including innumerable mosses, over 1,200 species of orchid and the largest flowering plant in the world, the Rafflesia, as well as carnivorous and insectivorous pitcher plants. Animal residents include badgers, monkeys, squirrels, flying lemurs, and deer, although we are more likely to encounter the many birds, snakes, and insects of the region. You need to be fit for the ascent of Mount Kinabalu. We take the alternative Mesilau Trail on the first day, allowing us to enjoy this quieter and more interesting trail, climbing up through a multitude of vegetation zones and cloud forest to reach Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,300m. 

Days 12-13
Climb to summit of Mt Kinabalu for sunrise; descend and transfer to beach outside Kota Kinabalu

Climb to summit of Mt Kinabalu for sunrise; descend and transfer to beach outside Kota Kinabalu

Awoken around 2am we slowly make our way towards the summit (a good way to warm up!). You will need to carry a torch and the going is slow as the thin air at altitude causes you to work harder to breathe. Gloves, hat, warm layers and waterproofs are also essential. There are a few hand-over-hand rope climbs on the steepest sections, though they are not difficult or vertical. As the dawn breaks we will be close to the summit, Low's Peak. The momentous summit feeling is easily matched by the tremendous view stretching across this part of Borneo as the early morning unfolds. On clear days you can see as far as the southern islands of the Philippines. With a long way to descend and aching legs we return to the base to collect any belongings and have breakfast. We continue down via the main Timpohon route and transfer to our beach hotel by bus, approximately 3 hours drive. Enjoy a free day the next day.

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