At the present time EcoQuest Travel does not have a trip to Borneo scheduled. The following itinerary is an example of trips we have conducted in the past and is similar to trips we intend to offer in the future. If you are interested in Borneo as a destination please contact us for further information.
Orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys and Pygmy Elephants
16-DAY ITINERARY PLUS OPTIONAL SNORKELING/DIVING EXTENSION
Day 1 – Thursday, April 12: Your Home Cities to Our Gateway City in Asia and on to Kota Kinabalu
You will depart from your home city today for your flight to a gateway city in Asia – likely Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Please make sure to arrive at your home airports at least two hours prior to your scheduled departure time.
Day 2 – Friday, April 13: Arrival in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo
Depending on your flight schedule, you will arrive at your gateway city in Asia this morning. Once you arrive in your gateway city in Asia you will transfer to your flight to Kota Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu is the capitol of Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. It is a vibrant bustling city sandwiched between the green mountains of the Crocker Range and the clear blue of the South China Sea. Upon arrival in Kota Kinabalu you will clear customs and immigration before your tour leaders meet you and we transfer to our accommodations at the Jesselton Hotel. The Jesselton is a modern comfortable hotel located in the heart of the city. Its cozy rooms will provide a welcome retreat after our long flights. Kota Kinabalu’s population is a delightful mix of ethnicities and cultures which yields an incredibly varied cuisine. Dinner tonight is on our own allowing you to choose from among the many fabulous restaurants.
Day 3 – Saturday, April 14: Free Day in Kota Kinabalu
Today is a free day to help you recover from the long journey to Borneo. The day is yours to relax, go shopping and/or to explore the sights of Kota Kinabalu on your own. You could choose to visit the graceful dome and minarets of City Mosque, the bustling Central Market, the Filipino Market, and Signal Hill Observatory and Bird Sanctuary. The Night Market in Kota Kinabalu is one of the best markets in all of Southeast Asia and we definitely recommend a visit to this famous landmark with its astonishing array of goods and hawker stalls full of delicious Malaysian food. Outside the city you could choose to take a ferry to the islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park for some beachcombing, bird watching and excellent snorkeling. While this is a free day for you to enjoy, if you would like your leaders to arrange some activities for you we will be happy to do so. Breakfast is included today, but all other meals will be on own.
Day 4 – Sunday, April 15: Kota Kinabalu National Park
This morning, after breakfast, we will travel to Kinabalu National Park. Kinabalu NP is home to the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It is also home to some of the best preserved forest in Borneo. At 4095m, Mount Kinabalu towers over Borneo and commands your attention – especially in the early morning when the shroud of clouds often parts revealing its summit of granite pinnacles. Along the way to Kinabalu we will stop at the roadside stalls of Nabalu market to sample some of the local tropical fruits. We should arrive in time for lunch and will check into our accommodations at the National Park Lodges. During our visit to Kinabalu there are essentially two choices with regard to activities. You may choose a two-day climb to the mountain’s summit or you may spend your time near park headquarters exploring the trails in search of wildlife. This afternoon we will have our first opportunity to hike some of the many trails that wind their way through the lush forests on the slopes of Kinabalu. Those who intend to climb to the summit during our visit may want to hike briskly to help you prepare for the arduous journey to come. Alternatively, the Park is full of fantastic plants and spectacular birds, so a more leisurely hike looking for wildlife will also be offered. After a full day we will have an early dinner before retiring for the night. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Monday, April 16: Begin Kota Kinabalu Ascent or Rainforest Exploration
Climbing Kinabalu takes two days and those of you attempting the summit will begin early this morning with transport to the Timpohon Gate at the beginning of the summit trail. It is a punishing six hours from Timpohon to Laban Rata where you will overnight at the comfortable guesthouse. Although climbing Kinabalu does not require technical expertise, the difficulty of reaching the summit should not be underestimated. The climb up an unrelenting steep path full of steps and rock piles is challenging and should not be considered unless you are in good shape. There is even a section near the summit that requires you to haul yourself up using ropes which can be taxing in the thin air. We state this not to discourage you from climbing, but rather to help you prepare. We recommend some climbing, walking or running leading up to our trip if you intend the ascent of Kinabalu’s summit. For those of you not ascending the summit we will have two days to hike the many trails near park headquarters. The wildlife in and around Kinabalu is rich and varied. An incredible variety of birds inhabit the mountain slopes including many endemic to Borneo. The largest butterfly in the world – the Rajah Brooke’s birdwing also flits through these forests. Mammals are scarce, but could include red leaf-monkey, mountain tree-shrew and yellow-throated martin. At night we could search for owls, frogmouths, spotted giant flying squirrel and the bizarre moonrat. The plant community at Kinabalu is spectacular and highlighted by nine species of carnivorous pitcher-plants and over 1500 species of orchids! (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Tuesday, April 17: Complete Kota Kinabalu Climb or Continued Rainforest Exploration
Those of you climbing Kinabalu will begin your ascent to the summit at 3:30 AM in order to arrive in time for sunrise over Borneo and in hopes of the clear views that early mornings often provide. It usually takes 2 ½ hours to reach the summit – although it can take up to four depending on conditions and your fitness level. The view from the top is fantastic and can be otherworldly as the mist-cloaked rainforests of Borneo stretch out below you. Once you leave the summit the descent takes about five hours to complete. Upon arrival at park headquarters your rooms, and hot showers, will be waiting for you and you will have the rest of the afternoon to relax and recover from your climb. For those not climbing we will continue to explore the rainforest. We could hike part of the summit trail in hopes of finding species normally found at higher altitudes or we could hike down the Liwagu River Trail. Either way it will be a privilege to spend another day in this extraordinary ecosystem. (B,L,D)
Day 7 – Wednesday, April 18: Poring Hot Springs and Back to Kota Kinabalu
After an early breakfast this morning, we will depart for Poring Hot Springs. Poring Hot Springs is located in another area of Kinabalu National Park and, as the name suggests, is famous for its thermal springs. The steaming sulphurous water is channeled into pools and tubs and will feel most welcome to the aching muscles of those who ascended the mountain. Behind the hot springs are a canopy walkway and a great trail leading to a couple of waterfalls. The trail to the waterfalls is also great for wildlife particularly birds and sometimes a rafflesia is in bloom (the world’s largest flower). We will spend the morning at Poring Hot Springs and visit Kundasang World War II Memorial Park before traveling back to Kota Kinabalu. Once we reach Kota Kinabalu we will check into our accommodations at the Jesselton and have the rest of the day free. Dinner is on our own tonight. (B,L)
Day 8 – Thursday, April 19: Fly to Sandakan & Visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center
This morning we will transfer to the airport for our flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. Once we reach Sandakan we will travel to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. Occupying more than 40 sq km of rainforest, Sepilok is famous for rescuing orphan, injured and confiscated orangutans and rehabilitating them for eventual release back into the wild. We will visit the Center’s Nature Education Auditorium for a short film on Sepilok’s conservation efforts before we have the opportunity to observe the orangutans at one of the feeding platforms. After Sepilok we will visit the Rainforest Discovery Center. The forest surrounding the Center is alive with wildlife and we will have the opportunity to hike a trail and a canopy walkway to look for Bornean gibbon, pig-tailed macaques, birds and reptiles. After a day at Sepilok we will settle into our overnight accommodations at the Sepilok Nature Resort. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 9 – Friday, April 20: Sandakan to Sukau Rainforest Lodge
This morning we will have a bit of leisure time before we have lunch in Sandakan and depart for the Sandakan jetty for our 2 ½ hour boat journey along the fabulous Kinabatangan River to our accommodation for the next three nights at Sukau Rainforest Lodge. This trip is a great way to view wildlife and with luck we could see up to ten species of primates including orangutans, gibbons, and our first proboscis monkeys. Birds are plentiful along the river including kingfishers, storks, herons and all eight species of hornbills found in Borneo. Once we arrive we will check in before we take another boat trip along the river in search of wildlife. Our boat trip will take place on boats with electric motors enabling us to quietly approach animals without disturbing them. We will be searching for primates, birds and if we are lucky some of the rarer denizens like marbled cat, sun bear or Sumatran rhinoceros. These boat trips are also our best chance to see pygmy elephants and with luck they might be cavorting in the river with us. Tonight there will be an optional night boat cruise with the chance to spot nocturnal wildlife like flat-headed cat, bantang (wild cattle), bearded pig, western tarsier, crocodiles and buffy fish-owl. (B,L,D)
Days 10 & 11 – Saturday & Sunday, April 21 & 22: Kinabatangan River Valley
We will have two full days to explore the Kinabatangan River Valley searching for its rich wildlife. We will do most our exploring by boat during the early mornings, late afternoons and, optionally, at night, but we also will have some opportunity to search for wildlife on foot. On the afternoon of the 22nd we will drive to Gomantong Caves – Sabah’s most famous source for the swiftlet nests used in birds-nest soup. The forests surrounding the caves contain plenty of wildlife and some good walks, but the real attractions are the caves themselves and their inhabitants. The caves support millions of bats and three species of swiftlet – mossy-nest, black-nest and edible-nest. We will search for the swiftlets and learn about the nest harvesting process. In the early evening we will witness millions of mostly wrinkle-lipped bats exit the caves for their nightly foraging. If we are lucky we could watch a bat hawk swoop in to catch the bats. The Kinabatangan has a remarkable diversity of wildlife and we have designed our stay to help maximize our chances of seeing all that this area has to offer. (B,L,D)
Day 12 – Monday, April 23: Travel to Danum Valley Conservation Area
Today we will travel southwest and into the heart of the Bornean rainforests. The Danum Valley Conservation Area is a vast swathe of forest containing mind-boggling biodiversity. Our explorations will begin as soon as we arrive at our accommodations for the next three nights – the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. This award-winning lodge has very spacious comfortable rooms, first class service and excellent food. It also maintains many trails through the forest and has a 107 m canopy walkway. After lunch we will have our first chance to hike the trails. After dinner we could take a night drive to look for nocturnal mammals and birds. (B,L,D)
Days 13 & 14 – Tuesday & Wednesday, April 24 & 25: Danum Valley
We will have two full days in the Danum Valley. This is a very remote area and is one of the best places to observe orangutans in the wild. It is also home to gibbons, bearded pigs, bantang, colugo (or flying lemur), red and grey leaf-monkeys, otter civets, leopard cat, slow loris, western tarsier, pygmy elephant and, for the really fortunate, clouded leopard. Danum Valley also plays host to a spectacular number of birds, reptiles, frogs and insects. We will search for wildlife each day by making use of various trails and the canopy walkway. It will be very hot and humid during the day so most of our activities will take place during the early morning and late afternoon hours when animal activity is at its peak. During the middle of the day we should have plenty of downtime to relax or swim in the pool. Many mammals are active only at night so we will have the opportunity to take night drives to try and find them. The biggest draw to Danum Valley is the opportunity to see orangutans in the wild and we will do our best to view these endangered great apes as they search for fruit high in the canopy. Danum is such a special place and its soaring trees and incredible variety of life are sure to create memories to last a lifetime. (B,L,D)
Day 15 – Thursday, April 26: Danum to Lahad Datu, Fly to Kota Kinabalu and Transfer to Outbound Flights or Begin Snorkeling/Diving Extension
For those of you who are not participating on the post-trip extension to snorkel/dive Sipadan, you will depart Danum this morning for Lahad Datu and your flight to Kota Kinabalu. Once you arrive in Kota Kinabalu you will transfer to your flight to your Asian gateway city and onward home. Those of you participating on the post-trip extension to Sipadan will depart this morning for Semporna and Kapalai Dive Resort. (B)
Day 16 – Friday, April 27: Arrival Home
Those of you who departed Borneo on April 26th will likely arrive home sometime today depending on your flight schedule.
* Please note that EcoQuest Travel, Inc. will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.
Optional Extension to Snorkel/Dive Sipadan
Day 15 – Thursday, April 26: Danum Valley to Semporna and on to Kapalai Dive Resort
This morning we will depart from the Danum Valley and travel to the seaside town of Semporna. Once in Semporna we will have lunch before transferring to the docks to take our boat out to Tun Sakaran Marine Park and our accommodations for the next four nights, at Kapalai Dive Resort. Kapalai is a bright, airy, self-contained water village built on stilts directly above the turquoise waters and shallow sandbanks of the Ligitan Reefs. Comfortable individual bungalows are connected to the dining facilities, boat docks and dive shop via wooden walkways. Great snorkeling and diving is literally at your doorstep. Dive and snorkeling sites are as close as a swim away, and the reefs of Sipadan and Mabul Islands are a few minutes away by boat. Once we arrive at Kapalai we will check into our bungalows and have our first chance to snorkel/dive the in crystal clear waters. The snorkeling is as great as the diving so one does not have to be scuba certified to thoroughly enjoy this extension. Each day at Kapalai there will be the opportunity to snorkel/dive in the morning and the afternoon and night dives may also be arranged. Of course, this is your vacation and you may choose to snorkel/dive as often or as little as you desire. There is a mile-long beach and plenty of sun to soak up if you choose to relax instead. Dinner tonight, and each night, will take place in the dining hall as spectacular sunsets paint the sky and ocean. (B,L,D)
Day 1 – Friday, April 27: The Incredible Reefs of Sipadan
Today we will snorkel/dive among the famous reefs of Sipadan Island. This volcanic atoll rises from a 700 meter abyss and is considered one of the top five dive sites in the world. The drop off the reef to the abyss creates some of the best vertical wall diving anywhere and provides a great mixing point for both reef and pelagic species. The coral reef is rich and healthy and home to millions of technicolor fish and invertebrates. Large fish such as grouper, rays and hammerhead sharks patrol the reef edge and Sipadan is one of the best places to snorkel/dive with both green and hawksbill sea turtles. After a full day in this extraordinary place we will return to Kapalai. (B,L,D)
Day 2 – Saturday, April 28: Tun Sakaran Marine Park
We will have the day today to explore other reefs in Tun Sakaran Marine Park. We could go over to Mabul Island in the morning to snorkel/dive. We will likely spend the afternoon snorkeling/diving the various sites located near Kapalai. There are 28 specific snorkeling/diving locations at Kapalai ranging from those you can swim to and those that are a quick boat trip away. Kapalai is a great place to search for the smaller, but no less spectacular, denizens of the reef. On the pilings, superbly camouflaged frogfish and undulating cuttlefish ambush prey while seahorses and pipefish hide among the coral. Octopuses, including the venomous, but beautiful, blue-ring octopus, are common on the reef. Exquisitely colored shrimp and vibrant reef fish dart through openings in the coral. All of this makes Kapalai a fantastic place for macro-photography. After another fun-filled day we will have dinner and overnight at Kapalai. (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Sunday, April 29: Tun Sakaran Marine Park
This will be our last day at Kapalai and Tun Sakaran Marine Park. Because of our flights tomorrow our divers will likely be snorkeling today. Today we will snorkel at some of the many sites located near Kapalai. After our last full day we will have some time to prepare for our long journey home. (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Monday, April 30: Kapalai to Semporna to Kota Kinabalu
This morning we will travel from Kapalai back to the mainland and transfer to the airport at Semporna for our flight to Kota Kinabalu. Once we arrive in Kota Kinabalu we will transfer to our flight to our Asian gateway city and from there to our flights home. (B)
Day 5 – Tuesday, May 1: Arrival Home
Depending on our flight schedules most of us should arrive home sometime today.
* Please note that EcoQuest Travel will make every effort to adhere to this itinerary, but dates, times, activities and prices are subject to change depending on scheduling and availability.