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Best of Borneo
Transport - Minibus, longboat, 4WD, on foot, in country flight, ferry.
Accommodation - Hotel (6nts), Dormitory (4nts), Homestay (2nts), Guesthouse (5nts), Cabin (2nts), Lodge (1nt), Chalet (1 nt)
Meals - 15 breakfasts, 4 lunches & 8 dinners.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 2.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Kuching, meaning 'cat' in Malay, is arguably the most pleasant city in Malaysian Borneo. It was home to the infamous White Raja of Sarawak whose mysterious rule in this remote corner of the world sparked the imagination of many people who dreamt of becoming royalty. Rich in architecture, the waterfront houses a wealth of curio shops and local vegetable, spice and fish markets.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
- Kuching - Sarawak Cultural Village - MYR60
Hotel (1 nt)
Transfer via minivan to the fishing village of Kampung Bako (approx 1 hr).
Take a local boat up the coast to Bako National Park.
Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak and features rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Millions of years of erosion have created a coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays. Wave erosion at the base of the cliffs has carved many of the rocky headlands into fantastically shaped sea arches and sea-stacks with coloured patterns formed by iron deposits.
There are many jungle trails to traverse in Bako, each offering an insight into the island's botanical diversity. Weather permitting, your leader will take you on walk to the beautiful beach at Telok Pandan Kecil (5 km, approx 3 hrs return). For those looking for a longer (or shorter) hike you are free to explore as many of the 18 different trails as you like. Whatever you plan, check with the ranger for the best time to spy the proboscis monkeys coming to feed from the beach mangroves. Wild pigs also grace this abundant island.
Check with your leader to see if the park is conducting a night walk, a rare chance to experience the jungle in a different light.
- Bako National Park
- Bako NP - Night Walk
Dormitory (1 nt)
Hit the trails early before meeting up with our local driver.
Return to Bako Village by boat (it may be necessary to depart the park earlier or later subject to weather conditions).
Travel in a private minivan to Kuching via the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary.
Explore the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary, a government-funded rehabilitation centre set in lush surrounds. Head into the jungle via a walkway to watch the orangutan feed - a truly remarkable sight.
Return to the hotel where you can freshen up from the heat and head out to one of the many Chinese-influenced hawker markets for dinner and experience the range of local seafood.
- Semengohh Orangutan Sanctuary
Hotel (1 nt)
Today we take a flight to Miri where we will be sending our large bags to Limbang and packing a day bag for the next 4 nights.
We drive 1-2 hours to Niah National park. Niah NP is where the oldest human remains in South East Asia have been unearthed dating back 40,000 years.There is a small museum that we can visit before starting the 3.5 KM walk through the rainforest to an Iban longhouse.Meet the local community and participate in a traditional Iban welcome before we're billeted out into different homes in the longhouse. This is a very traditional and authentic experience and the sleeping and bathing arrangements are very basic.
- Nah National Park
- Cultural Show
Patricks Longhouse (1 nt)
Mulu National Park
Take a flight to Miri (flight included).
After a short lunch stop, take a connecting flight (included) to the jungles of Mulu National Park.
The maximum luggage allowance for both flight is 15kg, and Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Please note: As you are trekking for the next three days through Mulu NP you only carry day packs and our main packs will be forwarded on to Limbang.
Head into the heart of one of the most spectacular national parks in Asia - Gunung Mulu National Park. Spend the afternoon strolling the walkways and catching the sunset flight of the bats at Deer Cave. This spectacular cave is home to millions of bats and at dusk they emerge for their nightly feeding, looking like a black plume of smoke moving across the sky.
Stay in the park headquarters which has its own restaurant and information centre. Accommodation is multishare rooms with private bathrooms.
Set out to explore the amazing Wind and Clearwater Caves, which contain Asia's longest underground river.
Take a longboat downriver before disembarking to hike through the jungle to Camp 5 (approx 8.5 km), our base for trekking to Melinau Gorge and into the Kerangas Forest. If you prefer to skip the trekking options, the rustic Camp 5 is a great place to spend the day, swimming in the river or relaxing in the jungle atmosphere.
At Camp 5 you will sleep on mats on raised open air platforms in a mixed gender dormitory with shared bathroom facilities and cold water showers. Bedding is not provided so bring your own sleeping sheet and a warm layer for cool nights.
- Mulu NP - Guided walk to Deer and Lang Caves
- Mulu NP - Guided walk through Wind and Clearwater Caves
Cabin (multishare) (2 nts), Dormitory (1 nt)
Set off to tackle the infamous Headhunters' trail. Located in an isolated area of the Borneo jungles this 11.3 km trail (approx 5 hrs) takes its name from its historical role as the route taken by warring parties between the Tutoh and Limbang rivers. The trek is through dense jungle along a well-defined, mainly flat track, although the way can be muddy during the rainy season. You'll also have to cross some streams by bridges, logs or getting your feet wet wading through. Stop midway for lunch before continuing on to the Terikan River. Today is a long, challenging but rewarding day.
Take a longboat to Medamit (approx 4 hrs).
Transfer by minivan to the town of Limbang (approx 1 hr).
- Mulu NP - Guided trek along Melinau and Headhunters' Trails
- Mulu NP - Longboat ride along the Melinau & Terikan Rivers
Hotel (1 nt)
This morning we take the ferry across to Labuan (2hours) where we will change to a smaller boat for the short hop back onto the mainland.
We take minibuses to Kuala Penyu where we will get lunch before taking one more short boat journey to our secluded rustic hideaway on Survivor Island.
Pulau Tiga played host to the first ever series of Survivor - an American television program that was filmed on the island in 2000. The island is full of mud volcanoes, jungle walking tracks and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and amazing snorkelling opportunities. The waters surrounding the island are home to over 132 species of fish, as well as sea turtles, while the island's wildlife consists of proboscis and macaque monkeys, flying foxes, bats and monitor lizards. Keep an eye out for the hornbills overhead on their flight for the day's food. It's the ideal place to snorkel, swim or just relax on the beach.
Take a walk through the jungle to visit one of the mud pools where you can wallow in the mud like buffaloes, then walk back to the beach for a swim in the sea.
- Guided walk to Mud Volcano
Guesthouse (1 nt)
We have a free morning to relax, snorkel or walk some self guided trails. In the afternoon we depart from Survivor Island to Kula Penyu and drive to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 2.5 hours)
Sabah's historic capital, Kota Kinabalu has interesting museums to explore and the surrounding beaches and islands are perfect for swimming or snorkelling.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
- Kota Kinabalu - Sabah Museum - MYR15
- Kota Kinabalu - Monosopiad Cultural Village - MYR75
- Boat trip to Tunku Abdul National Marine Park - MYR70
- Tunku Abdul Marine Park - Scuba diving - MYR260
Hotel (2 nts)
Travel by minivan to a Dusun village near the base of Mt Kinabalu (approx 3 hrs).
The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their traditional way of life. The location for our homestay is a village nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea.
We stay in multishare accommodation. Facilities are basic with outdoor bathrooms and cold water only.
Please note the river swim activity is dependant on the weather.
- Dunsun Village - Cultural Show
- Dunsun - Rubber tapping/rice pounding
- Dunsun - River Swim
Homestay (1 nt)
Say goodbye to our village friends and travel to the headquarters of Kinabalu National Park (approx 45 mins).
You will have some free time to prepare for the climb up Mt Kinabalu and to enjoy the surroundings of this World Heritage site. There are some beautiful nature trails you can follow through the lowland tropical forest or stop by the Botanic Garden - this 5-acre garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Otherwise, feel free to just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. Your leader will provide a safety briefing about the climb and assist with any last minute questions.
Stay overnight at the park's headquarters in dormitory accommodation with shared facilities. Nestled amongst the lowland forests, this is the perfect place to relax before the climb. Breakfast is provided.
Rise early the next day, recheck our day packs and begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, being uphill all the way, and you need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can also affect you, regardless of your fitness level, and it will certainly slow you down a fair bit (it's important that you educate yourself about the dangers of altitude sickness and its symptoms).
However, there's absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment - this is an area which boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. You cover 6 km on the first day (approx 4-6 hrs) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 m) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you're ready for the final climb in the morning.
We consider the Mt Kinabalu trek to be a huge highlight of the trip. Porters are also available (at extra cost) and are recommended, but if you decide the trek is just not for you, you can provide alternative arrangements at an additional cost if advised at time of booking. Please note that if you decide not to climb the only meal included is breakfast.
- Mt Kinabalu climb
- Kundasang - War Memorial - MYR10
Dormitory (2 nts)
Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 m). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is stupendous - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, don't underestimate the cold - bring warm clothes.
The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes between 2 and 4 hours. Even if you are very fit you may find this section of the climb difficult because of the altitude. This can make you feel quite nauseous and short of breath. The trail is marked by a white rope that's also useful to help you up some of the steep sections. Gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm).
After witnessing the morning sunrise, return to Laban Rata for breakfast, then descend the mountain (approx 3-6 hrs) and enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom.
Continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approx 1 hour).
Poring Hot Springs was developed by the Japanese during World War II and now warm sulphur water is piped into several open-air Japanese style baths. The hot springs are said to have curative properties for the skin and, if nothing else, they're soothing after a long climb.
Soak your weary limbs in the famous outdoor thermal pools - sheer bliss!
There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves - with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You may also choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools.
Stay in a very basic and well-located guesthouse opposite the Poring Hot Springs reserve. Your guesthouse is the ideal setting to explore the waterfalls, sulphur pools and trails that abound within the reserve.
- Poring Hot Springs - Canopy Walk - MYR5
- Camera fee - Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR10
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Journey by private bus to Bilet a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approx 5 hrs). (approx 5 hrs).
We travel by boat for 5 -10 minutes to the lodge. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife.
In the early evening we will head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan and proboscis monkey’s and if you are lucky you might spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening we take a night walk in search of the western Tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire.
We will be staying in a comfortable jungle lodge on a twin share basis with private bathrooms.
- Kinabatangan - Sunset wildlife boat trip
- Kinabatangan - Night jungle walk
Jungle Lodge (1 nt)
We take another early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast we will make a visit to the Gomantong caves The caves are renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird's nest soup. Birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves, and collect the nests and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors.
We then travel towards Sandakan approximately 2.5 hours.
The busy city of Sandakan has a strong Cantonese influence which is evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine.
We have free time here to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city.
Get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped.
- Sukau - Gomantong Caves
- Dawn Wildlife Cruise
- Sandakan - War Memorial - Free
Hotel (1 nt)
This morning we will leave our large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approx 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year.
In the afternoon, there's time for swimming, snorkelling or lazing about on this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire.
In the evening, you hope to witness the heartwarming display of a mother turtle laying her eggs and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It's a moving experience that makes you think twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies.
This is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles.
- Turtle Island - National Park
- Camera fee - MYR10
Hotel (1 nt)
Sepilok Orangutan Reserve
After breakfast we return to the mainland (approx 1 hour) and walk back to the hotel to collect our big bags before continuing on to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre by mini bus (approx 45 mins).
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adapt to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. We're not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. There's also a short film about the orangutan rehabilitation process to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre.
Visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. This is a wonderful new center taking care of rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages. Borneo Sun Bear Conservation center is giving a better life to these bears by caring for them with the hope of reintroducing them back into the wild. They are doing great work at promoting Sun Bear conservation in Borneo through animal welfare, conservation, rehabilitation, research and education - to put a stop to these cruel practices. There is plenty of time for an optional visit to see these very cute bears!
Visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding - an experience that can only be found in Borneo. The sanctuary is a protected forest reserve inhabited by several groups of wild proboscis monkeys.
Explore the Rainforest Discovery Centre, located five minutes walk from our guesthouse. The centre has been established for environmental education and is situated within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. You can experience forest life high in the canopy - the 147 m long, 28 m high canopy walkway enables spectacular views of beautiful rainforest giants like the mengaris tree. There are also 250 species of bird to look out for.
Our guesthouse is located about 20 minutes walk from the rehabilitation centre - it's a great place to relax or return to the reserve for the second feeding of the day.
- Sepilok - Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
- Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary - MYR100
- Bornean Sun Bear - MYR30
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu. The maximum luggage allowance for this flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight.
Relax by the pool or explore the surrounding islands on foot or by boat.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (1 nt)
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Enjoyed the longboat journey to the longhouse at Nanga Sumpa and our stay with the Iban people there. Chicken cooked with jungle herbs in a bamboo tube...Yum!