Orange, hairy apes, leaping monkeys, colourful birds, mini elephants, Borneo's lush forests are a wonder of nature.
The group flight is an overnight flight departing the day before. Those travelling on the group flights will be met on arrival at the airport this morning and transferred to our hotel, where the rest of the group will join throughout the day. Today is a free day but there will be a welcome meeting in the evening; details of where and when this will take place will have been left with the hotel's reception. The hotel check-in time is from 2pm. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having recovered from World War II bombings, 'KK' now possesses a gateway charm that can only be found in a frontier town. If you have enough free time, why not immerse yourself in local history at the Sabah State Museum or visit the Mari Mari cultural village for a fun and interactive learning experience. *Dreamtel Hotel or similar*
Leaving the city behind we head towards Mt. Kinabalu. After about 2-2.5hrs we arrive at the Dusun village of Tanak Nabalu (please note that at time of writing the roads to the village are quite bad so we may have to use smaller minibuses for this journey). The Dusun people are the largest ethnic group in Sabah, the province of Borneo where we find ourselves. In the village we are separated into different homestays and will spend the rest of the day hiking through orchards and rubber plantations, going for a swim in the river, exploring the village and, possibly, if anyone is feeling energetic, playing football on the village pitch. This evening we all gather together for a cultural show which helps the Dusun preserve their ancient, traditional dances. As not all families speak English, our tour leader will hand out language sheets and will be on hand to assist with communication. *Tanak Nabalu Homestay or similar *
This morning we visit the Mini Mount Kinabalu, a natural rock formation that looks exactly like the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. We continue into Kinabalu National Park (about 30mins). Here we will go for a 1-2hrs hike along some of the lower trails and the Mountain Botanical Gardens with an excellent showcase of the mountain’s diverse plant life. There is an option to visit the Kundasang War Memorial which commemorates Prisoners of War who died during the infamous death marches of World War II. The memorial is made up of four gardens, the Australian, English, Malaysian and the Contemplation Garden that represent the different nationalities. We later drive 1hr, to the Sabah Tea Gardens where we will spend the night in a traditional reconstructed longhouse with shared bathrooms. *Sabah Tea Longhouse*
Waking to the spectacular views overlooking the mountain, we start with a visit to the tea plantation, learning about the process of tea production. From here it’s only a short drive to the Poring Hot Spring. We have plenty of time to enjoy the cool pools and hot-tubs (into which the steaming hot water is piped) as well as the well maintained, self-guided walking trails to a nearby waterfall. The hot springs can get quite popular with locals especially during school and public holidays and you may wish to pay the additional charge to enjoy a private bath if you want a good soak. We later take to the trees as we head on a canopy walkway which follows a trail including a number of suspension bridges hanging from the trees at canopy level, some up to 40m above the ground. There is also a butterfly and orchid garden within the complex. We later return to the Sabah Tea Gardens. *Sabah Tea Resort or similar*
We leave early this morning as the drive to Kinabatangan is approximately 5-6hrs and we aim to get there for lunch. The Kinabatangan River is the longest in Sabah and its lower reaches are recognised as one of the best places in South East Asia for wildlife viewing. The surrounding forests are home to ten species of primate, including orang-utans, Proboscis monkeys and gibbons as well as hornbills, crocodiles and the elusive Pygmy elephants which come down to the river to drink, amongst others. We spend the next day and a half exploring the surrounding jungle. We go on river cruises, jungle hikes, a night walk, visit an oxbow lake and plant trees. *Bilit Adventure Lodge or similar*
The next two days are spent in and around Sepilok. The drive to Labuk Bay and the Proboscis monkey sanctuary takes about 3-4hrs. These monkeys, only found in Borneo, are very distinctive with their large noses and can often be seen jumping from tree to tree with tremendous leaps through the air. After visiting the sanctuary we continue towards Sepilok, about 40mins away where we will be staying just 5mins from the famous Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in a guesthouse with a pool. The Kabili Sepilok Reserve, established in the 1960s, is home to between 60 and 80 rehabilitated orang-utans which roam freely in the forest. In addition to this, the rehabilitation centre was established to care for the apes and is home to a further 25 young orphaned orang-utans who live in a nursery. The rehabilitation centre provides medical care for the orphaned and confiscated apes as well as various other wild animals. Whilst the semi-wild orang-utans roam free in the reserve and forage for food, their diet is supplemented by milk and banana. There are two feedings a day, at 10am and 3pm, and we have the opportunity to witness both. There is also the opportunity to visit the nearby Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The smallest of all bears, Sun bears were once widely found across much of Asia but have drastically decreased in numbers. The Centre aims to protect and promote conservation to return these bears to the forest. The nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre is a centre for environmental education situated within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. The 147m long, 28m high steel canopy walkway gives spectacular views of beautiful rainforest giants like the Mengaris tree, and there are also 250 species of bird to look out for - experience forest life high in the canopy. *Sepilok Jungle Resort or similar*
Leaving early we head to Sandakan Airport (about 25mins) for our flight back to Kota Kinabalu (40mins). From here we travel by boat to Manukan Island, part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Manukan Island is the second biggest island in the national park and is covered in thick forest with a nice beach and some good corals for snorkelling. There is also a network of easy walking trails around the island. We spend the next two nights in the lovely Manuken Island Resort with its Balinese style villas facing the South China Sea. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the pool and the beach. *Manukan Island Resort or similar*
Today we head out exploring the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park on a snorkelling trip to some of the best sites with vibrant coral and schools of colourful fish. The more intrepid can also zip-line from one island to another. *Manukan Island Resort or similar*
We have a leisurely morning to enjoy the beach before heading back to Kota Kinabalu. Please note that on some departures the flight schedules may require us to catch the evening flight to Kuala Lumpur connecting to the overnight flight back, in such cases, those on the group flights will be taken to the airport in time for their flight. Otherwise we have time in Kota Kinabalu for some last minute shopping and our final night in Borneo. *Dreamtel Hotel or similar*
Land only passengers, the trip ends after breakfast this morning. **
* 8 nights hotels/lodges (mostly en suite), 2 night homestay and 1 night longhouse * Group normally 2 to 16, plus local leader * Travel by minibus, speedboat, longboat, local bus and 1 internal flight
All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners are included in the price of the tour. Malaysia is renowned for its culinary excellence however food can often be relatively unexciting and limited in the lodges and for hotel breakfasts. Meals will be more varied for everyone in cities and seafood is widely available on the coast. Vegetarians can be catered for but will find the food choice limited. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Borneo the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free, please be prepared for this and you may need to bring such items from home. Most meals will be basic based around rice and noodles although most accommodation does offer a western breakfast of beans, toast and eggs. In the bigger hotels and cities the full range of Western and local foods are available. You can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. You should allow at least £10-20 (US$15-30) per day for lunch and dinner. You can eat out very cheaply in Borneo, but if you go to the more expensive restaurants most of the time, you will spend more than the suggested amount. Dinner at Manuken Resort is currently buffet style only (no a la carte menu) and costs 65MYR per dinner.
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