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Borneo, Sabah tour

A varied selection of some of Borneo's highlights with this fabulous tour of Malaysia's Sabah State

'The Land Below the Wind'

Our 9-day Borneo Sabah tour – ‘The Land Below the Wind’ – takes the poetic name for this far-flung Malaysian state, derived from its fortuitously sheltered position just south of the Philippines’ typhoon belt. Sabah covers the northern part of Borneo and contains some of the Island’s most spectacular landscapes and most readily accessible flora and fauna.

This varied tour will take you from a tranquil, coral-fringed island in the South China Sea to the steamy rainforests of the interior with their spectacular tropical flora and fauna. Beginning in the state capital Kota Kinabalu (former Jesselton) we’ll spend a day exploring underwater and forest eco-systems on Dinawan Island; discover spectacular, UNESCO-listed Kinabalu National Park; visit the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary; stay in cottages on an organic tea plantation and from a rainforest eco-lodge join wildlife spotting boat trips up the Kinabatangan River, as well as an opportunity to join an exciting night hike through the jungle.

For those with more time to spare a 2-week Borneo Adventure begins in Sarawak’s historic Kuching Town and includes the additional sites of Bako and World Heritage Gunung Mulu National Parks before arriving in Kota Kinabalu. Additional extensions to the fabulous Danum Valley in the eastern part of Sabah or for the energetic a 3-day, 2-night ascent of Mount Kinabalu are also available after your tour. More relaxed activities in the form of snorkelling or scuba-diving options are on offer with a beach stay on the delightful China Sea Manukan Island.

An unforgettable journey!

(Many thanks to Erica Halvorsen for allowing us to use some of her great photos.)

Malaysia

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

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Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu - arrival and time to explore

Our tour begins in Kota Kinabalu, colonial-period Jesselton and today the thriving, state capital of Sabah.  Check-in to our centrally located hotel with time to relax before meeting your tour leader and a stroll down to the waterfront for perhaps a sundowner before a local-style, welcome dinner.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Dinawan - a pristine island in the South China Sea

A short boat trip to secluded and beautifully preserved Pulau Dinawan for a day on the island organised with a local conservation project. Discover the underwater flora and fauna on a guided snorkelling tour as well as the dry land offerings on a hike around the jungle-clad island. Barbeque lunch and late afternoon return to Kota Kinabalu with an evening at leisure to check out the town’s vibrant night market

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

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Day 3 - Mount Kinabalu National Park and plantation cottages

Time to head into the interior with a scenic drive to Kinabalu National Park for a hike along one of the Park’s nature trails. After lunch continue east with a stop to check-out (blooming permitting) the famous Rafflesia flowers as well as the moving Kundasang Memorial to the Allied POWs who died during WW2’s infamous Sandakan Death Marches. Overnight in cosy cottages at the Sabah Tea Plantation.

Overnight: Tea Plantation Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 4 - East to Sepilok and a scenic lakeside lodge

Admire the stupendous early morning views over Mount Kinabalu from the plantation’s perfectly placed restaurant followed by some tasting opportunities and the chance to learn about the plantation’s organic tea production.  From here we drive to Sepilok for a stay at a scenic, lakeside lodge. Afternoon arrival and free time to explore the resort’s very own botanical gardens or relax on their well-situated terrace?

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 5 - Sepilok - the famous Orangutan Sanctuary and Rainforest Discovery Centre

Morning visit to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and rehabilitation project as well as the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Time to relax to escape the midday sun with an afternoon stroll to the fascinating Rainforest Discovery Centre to roam their extensive canopy walkways.

Overnight: Sepilok Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 6 - Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatangan River

Morning departure for the nearby Gomantong Caves, famous for their edible swiftlet nests. Discover the unique eco-system of the limestone caves and, with luck, spot some of the wild orangutans that inhabit the area. On to Kinabatangan where we’ll check-in to our beautifully located, riverside eco-lodge. A sunset boat trip on the jungle-lined Kinabatangan River. and night trek to discover the nocturnal wildlife complete our day’s activities.

Overnight: Kinabatangan Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 7 - Kinabatangan - river trip and nature hike

Today’s programme includes a dawn river cruise and morning jungle hike as well as some time to explore the area or sit back and admire the views from your balcony. Proboscis monkeys, langurs, orangutans, crocodiles and pygmy elephants are just a few of the possible wildlife sightings you may make, whilst rare bird species found here include the lesser adjutant, Storm’s stork, pitas, broadbills and several species of hornbill.

Overnight: Kinabatangan Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

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Day 8 - Morning in Kinabatangan and return flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu

Some free time in the morning at your resort before an afternoon transfer to nearby Sandakan Airport for a return flight to Kota Kinabalu.

Overnight: Kota Kinabalu Transport: Minibus, Plane,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 9 - Kota Kinabalu - Morning to explore and afternoon departure

The morning is at leisure to explore Kota Kinabalu and perhaps visit one of its museums or markets before either an afternoon departure or transfer to the ferry for a few days on Manukan Island.

Additional nights in Kota Kinabalu are available before or after your tour.

Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Malaysia, Borneo lizard

Just a few of the many highlights

Jagged mountain peaks, jungle-lined rivers, mist-shrouded rainforest and rich wildlife make for a memorable tour of this exotic and evocative island

  • Check out the spectacular views of Borneo's highest mountain at Mount Kinabalu National Park
  • Visit the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
  • Jungle hiking through pristine tropical rainforest
  • Travel up the Kinabatangan River into the interior on wildlife spotting expeditions
  • Stay in a secluded jungle eco-lodge on the Kinabatangan River
  • Sample the rich and varied local food in restaurants, markets and street stalls

Air Departures (UK)

  • 16 October 19 1,950 GBP
  • 20 November 19 1,825 GBP
  • 25 December 19 2,150 GBP
  • 14 January 20 1,950 GBP
  • 11 February 20 1,950 GBP
  • 2 March 20 1,950 GBP
  • 4 April 20 1,950 GBP
  • 10 May 20 1,950 GBP
  • 27 May 20 1,950 GBP
  • 1 July 20 1,950 GBP
  • 29 July 20 2,050 GBP
  • 19 August 20 1,950 GBP
  • 30 September 20 1,950 GBP
  • 28 October 20 1,950 GBP
  • 25 November 20 1,950 GBP
  • 24 December 20 2,235 GBP
  • 20 January 21 2,035 GBP
  • 17 February 21 2,035 GBP
  • 17 March 21 2,035 GBP

Land Departures

  • 17 October 19 1,150 GBP
  • 21 November 19 1,025 GBP
  • 26 December 19 1,150 GBP
  • 15 January 20 1,150 GBP
  • 12 February 20 1,150 GBP
  • 3 March 20 1,150 GBP
  • 5 April 20 1,150 GBP
  • 11 May 20 1,150 GBP
  • 28 May 20 1,150 GBP
  • 2 July 20 1,150 GBP
  • 30 July 20 1,150 GBP
  • 20 August 20 1,150 GBP
  • 1 October 20 1,150 GBP
  • 29 October 20 1,150 GBP
  • 26 November 20 1,150 GBP
  • 25 December 20 1,185 GBP
  • 21 January 21 1,185 GBP
  • 18 February 21 1,185 GBP
  • 18 March 21 1,185 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Kota Kinabalu

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Malaysia, Sabah Tea view

  • Overnight stay in an organic tea plantation
  • Magificent views over the Crocker Ranges and Mt Kinabalu
  • Accommodation in cozy plantation cottages

Myne Resort, Kinabatangan, Malaysia view

  • Comfy wooden chalets in a tropical garden setting
  • All rooms come with private balconies overlooking the river
  • In-house bar and restaurant with riverside terrace

Sepilok Jungle Resort, Sabah, Malaysia view

  • Set in its own botanical gardens!
  • Swimming pool and restaurant with lakeside terrace
  • Well-appointed rooms with air-con, WiFi and cable TV

Manukan Island Resort, Sabah view

  • Manukan Island - in the South China Sea
  • A stunning and beautifully preserved, tropical island
  • Located in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Visas: No visa in advance is required. A free 60-day visa is issued on arrival at any international airport. As usual, a minimum of 6 months validity from the date of arrival and at least 1 blank page in your passport is required. 

Meals: Breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Your tour-leader will usually order a selection of dishes, local-style, while a number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

With its kaleidoscopic population, Malaysian cuisine is one of the most varied and richest anywhere on the planet and includes all the various, regional Indian and Chinese dishes, the unique Chinese/Malay Nonya cuisine as well as traditional Malay food alongside Thai and Indonesian influences. Dishes are generally mild with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on offer.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination. 

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any, including trekking, can be tailored for any fitness level or alternatives suggested. 

Further info: detailed descriptions and photos can be found on the corresponding page of our travel blog.

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Extensions

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