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Borneo, Sabah tour

A 1-week highlights of Borneo tour with a choice of varied extensions

'The Land Below the Wind'

Our 8-day Borneo Sabah tour – ‘The Land Below the Wind’ – adopts 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 accessible flora and fauna. This 8-day tour will take you from steamy rainforests and their spectacular tropical flora and fauna to tranquil islands in the South China Sea.

Beginning in the capital Kota Kinabalu (former Jesselton) we’ll take a boat trip to pristine Dinawan Island, visit spectacular, UNESCO-listed Kinabalu National Park, the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, stay at a tea plantation and a rainforest eco-lodge, and enjoy a boat trip up the Kinabatangan River, as well as an exciting night hike spotting wildlife in the jungle.

For those with more time to spare a 12-day 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. More relaxed activities in the form of snorkelling or scuba-diving options are on offer with our 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, former Jesselton and now the thriving, gateway 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 optional sundowners before a local-style, evening 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 Pulau Dinawan – a secluded and beautifully preserved island where we’ll 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 where you can 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 - visit the national park and on to a tea plantation

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

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

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Day 4 - Kinabatangan - night trek from a jungle eco-lodge

Some tasting opportunities and the chance to learn about the plantation’s organic tea production before a departure for Kinabatangan where we’ll check-in to our beautifully located riverside eco-lodge. A sunset boat cruise on the jungle-lined Kinabatangan River and a 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 5 - Kinabatangan- a day exploring the river and forest

Today’s programme includes a dawn river cruise, morning jungle hike, night nature trail or relaxing at the lodge while listening to the sounds of the jungle. Proboscis monkeys, macaques, orangutans, crocodiles and pygmy elephants are just a few of the possible wildlife sightings, 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 6 - Sepilok - the orangutan sanctuary

Departure for the nearby Gomantong Caves – well known for their valuable edible swiftlet nests. Discover their unique eco-system and, with luck, spot some of the wild orangutans that inhabit this area. Continue to Sepilok for visits to the famous orangutan sanctuary and rehabilitation centre and Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Overnight by the Sanctuary at a jungle lodge.

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

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Day 7 - Sepilok - morning at leisure and return to Kota Kinabalu

A morning at leisure gives you the opportunity to explore the extensive canopy walkways of the fascinating Rainforest Discovery Centre, before an afternoon flight to Kota Kinabalu.

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

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Day 8 - 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.

Overnight: Departure Transport: Minibus, 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
  • Stay in a secluded jungle eco-lodge on the Kinabatangan River
  • Visit the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
  • Travel up the Kinabatangan River into the interior on wildlife spotting expeditions
  • Jungle hiking through pristine tropical rainforest
  • Sample the rich and varied local food in restaurants, markets and street stalls

Air Departures (UK)

  • 3 July 19 1,765 GBP
  • 2 August 19 2,095 GBP
  • 3 September 19 1,765 GBP
  • 16 October 19 1,765 GBP
  • 20 November 19 1,765 GBP
  • 25 December 19 1,965 GBP
  • 14 January 20 1,765 GBP
  • 11 February 20 1,765 GBP
  • 2 March 20 1,765 GBP
  • 4 April 20 1,765 GBP

Land Departures

  • 4 July 19 965 GBP
  • 3 August 19 965 GBP
  • 4 September 19 965 GBP
  • 17 October 19 965 GBP
  • 21 November 19 965 GBP
  • 26 December 19 965 GBP
  • 15 January 20 965 GBP
  • 12 February 20 965 GBP
  • 3 March 20 965 GBP
  • 5 April 20 965 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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