Borneo Holiday: Orang-utans & Ibans
Kuching, Bako National Park, Batang Ai, Kota Kinabalu, Selingan 'Turtle' Island, Sandakan, Kinabatangan River, Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary,
As with most of our holidays in Borneo, you’ll enjoy a superb blend of cultural and outdoor activities plus an abundance of wildlife. Meet the famous orang-utans and sea turtles; trek through pristine rainforest; learn about the island's colonial past; visit the Iban people and be introduced to their fascinating culture.
As with all our holidays, we have created lots of free time for you to enjoy as you please. If you would prefer a more ‘complete’ travel programme, we will be happy to oblige. We can also tailor this holiday to meet your exact needs - your holiday, your way.
Upon arrival in Kuching you will be met by your guide who will transfer you to your hotel. For many people, Kuching is the cultural capital of Borneo, and it’s a wonderful city in which to learn about Sarawak’s history, with much evidence of its former Colonial past well preserved for today’s visitor. It’s an energetic city without being overcrowded, and much can be covered by foot.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.Overnight in Kuching.
Kuching, Bako National Park
Morning drive to Bako Village, approximately 40 minutes from the city centre. Switching to boat (depending on the tide), it’s another 25 minutes until you reach the National Park, set on a stunning peninsular.
Bako is one of the best places in Sarawak to see wildlife in its natural habitat. The various types of animals that are commonly spotted at Bako include the proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, long tail macaques, wild boars, monitor lizards and numerous species of birds. The tropical rainforest ranges from mangrove to kerangas, tropical swamp vegetation, cliff vegetation and beach vegetation.
There are several trails inside the park depending on level of fitness and interest. There is also the option of swimming in the warm waters of the South China Sea or just relaxing on one of the secluded beaches. Return to Kuching in the mid-afternoon when there will be time to explore this culturally rich city further.Overnight in Kuching.
Kuching, Batang Ai, Traditional Longhouse Stay
Morning departure for the Batang Ai Reservoir. Travelling by road, your journey takes you past lush, scenic countryside dotted with small roadside towns, Bidayuh villages, pepper orchards, rubber and oil palm plantations interspersed with creeper-covered trees of the secondary jungle and tall gigantic trees of primary rainforest. Stopover at Serian for a short tour of the town.
Continue your journey to Lachau or another roadside town for lunch before completing your journey to the Lemanak River where you will board a motorised longboat for the final leg of the journey, passing through the heartland of the Borneo rainforest; one of the oldest in the world. Arrive at your ancient longhouse where you will experience for yourself a way of life that goes back many centuries.
Take a dip or swim in the cool water of the Lemanak River. In the evening, entertainment by the longhouse residents usually consists of traditional dances to the music of the gongs and drinking tuak. Stay overnight in the guesthouse, built especially by the residents for their guests.Overnight in the longhouse.
(An additional night at the Hilton Batang Ai Resort can be added in place of the traditional longhouse if preferred. This comes at an additional cost).
Batang Ai Trek
Following a traditional Iban breakfast, take a morning hike as far as the river, following the same jungle trails that were used by headhunters in years gone by. Explore the lush forest, a favourite spot for wild orang-utans! Experience a blowpipe demonstration
Have lunch at your longhouse before departing by longboat to the jetty followed by a drive to the Hilton Batang Ai Resort, where a swim is often top of our guests’ list after a day on the trails. No ordinary Hilton Hotel, this traditionally designed resort is modelled on an Iban village complete with longhouses, and is perfectly in keeping with its stunning surroundings.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.Overnight at Batang Ai.
Batang Ai, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu Beach Resort
Travelling by longboat one last time, cross the reservoir before making the journey back to Kuching. The journey takes approximately 6 hours and you will arrive late in plenty of time for your flight to Kota Kinabalu.
Upon arrival you will be met by your guide who will transfer you to your beach resort approximately 30 minutes drive from the city centre.
The city of Kota Kinabalu, or KK as the locals call it, is the state of Sabah's largest city. The city has excellent infrastructure and amenities as well some superb beaches, islands and National Parks within easy reach.Overnight in Kota Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu Beach Resort
Your day is at leisure.Overnight in Kota Kinabalu.
Enjoy a relaxed horse ride along Kinarut Beach, mangrove jungle and through nearby villages. Kindawan Riding Centre is well established and provides short introductory rides as well as trail rides and lessons, open to riders of all ages and abilities. All equipment is provided and an experienced instructor leads all rides.
Hike or even climb
The world famous Kinabalu National Park is easily accessible by car from Kota Kinabalu in little over two hours, making it great for a daytrip. There are numerous trails to explore with your guide and the range of biodiversity makes the park one of the most important in the world. For those with more time on their hands, or more adventure in mind, a stay in one of the park lodges and a guided ascent of South-East Asia’s highest peak can be arranged. Climbing Mount Kinabalu requires two nights and no previous climbing experience.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park comprises five islands and nearly 5000 square hectares of protected ocean lying between 3 and 8 km off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. The Park is home to unique coral reefs supporting a multitude of reef species, as well as birds, mammals and reptiles making their home on the islands. Snorkelling and island-hopping excursions are ideal for exploring this warm section of the South China Sea.
Meet the real locals
Borneo is well known for its ancient tribes, and a great way to experience traditional life is to arrange a homestay with the Rungus tribe of the Kadazandusun group, found mainly on the Kudat and Bengkoka Peninsulas to the north-east of Kota Kinabalu. Traditional meals are prepared by your hosts and in the evenings visitors are welcome to join the villagers to chat, drink the traditional local brew and enjoy performances of traditional music and dance.
Kota Kinabalu Beach Resort
Your day is at leisure.Overnight in Kota Kinabalu.
Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Selingan 'Turtle' Island
Early morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Sandakan.
Sandakan, whilst a relatively unremarkable town in many ways, is ideal as a base to make a number of superb visits in this area of Sabah, namely Selingan Turtle Island, Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary, the Kinabatangan River, and Danum Valley.
Upon arrival transfer the port where you will board a speedboat for the hour-long journey to Selingan Island. One of five islands within the Turtle Park, Selingan Island is the only habitable island due to regulations put in place by T.I.H.P.A authorities (Turtle Island Heritage Protective Area) to protect the many hawksbill and green turtles that have chosen the archipelago as a favoured location to come ashore and lay their eggs almost year round.
Along with the park chalets, the island is also home to a hatchery; set up to protect the eggs from the many predators that help to ensure that only 1% of baby turtles survive to maturity. Having checked in at one of the island’s chalets, your afternoon is at leisure - relax, bird-watch or take a dip in the Sulu Sea, enjoying some of Borneo's best snorkelling.
In the evening a park ranger will escort you to observe the turtles as they come ashore to lay their eggs. Through the expertise of the experienced rangers you can learn about the essential conservation efforts being made by the state of Sabah to protect these wonderful creatures.
Selingan 'Turtle' Island, Sandakan, Kinabatangan River
Return to the mainland where there will be time to visit a few of Sandakan's highlights, such as the Puh Jih Syh Chinese Buddhist Temple with its panoramic views out to the South China Sea.
Return to Sandakan Jetty for a boat excursion along the coast and into the mouth of the Kinabatangan River. Your first stop is near the village of Abai just an hour by water from Sandakan. In recent months there have been a number of wild orang-utans spotted close to the lodge so its advisable to keep your eyes peeled at all times!
Throughout your stay in the Kinabatangan region you will pass amongst pristine mangrove forests in search of a diverse range of wildlife including proboscis monkeys, a wide array of bird life and various reptiles. The river and these forests provide a vital natural habitat for many of Borneo's endangered species including pygmy elephants and orang-utan.
Having relaxed at the lodge and perhaps taken a walk through the nearby village of Abai, spend the afternoon and early evening on the quieter waterways at this end of the Kinabatangan River, spotting wildlife with your specialist guide. Weather permitting you can witness the impressive gathering of fireflies close to the lodge before returning to the lodge as darkness falls.Overnight on Kinabatangan River.
Kinabatangan River, Abai, Sukau
Enjoy an early morning cruise on the quiet waterways surrounding the Abai Lodge, travelling as far as the Pitas Ox Bow Lake and benefiting from the dawn's lesser heat that is so popular with many of the Kinabatangan's wilder residents.
Abai Lodge runs a tree-planting scheme which you are welcome to participate in, in conjunction with the local people of Abai Village. After lunch cruise further up river, using the transfer as another opportunity to watch for wildlife, primarily birdlife and primates at this time of day.
Your base for the day is the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge near the village of Sukau, a popular location for wildlife enthusiasts looking to all but guarantee a wealth of spotting. Once again there is time at leisure at the lodge before your late afternoon cruise along the Kinabatangan River and on to the Menanggul River in search of yet more primates, birds and other wildlife. Return to the lodge as darkness falls.Overnight on Kinabatangan River.
Kinabatangan River, Sandakan, Sepilok Nature Resort
The morning is spent on the water once again, with the opportunity to spot more proboscis monkeys, birds and other wildlife whilst en route back to Sandakan.
Transfer directly to Sepilok Nature Resort, set in beautiful tropical gardens, just a matter of minutes from the orang-utan reserve.
On arrival you may want to make your first visit to the adjacent Orang-utan Sanctuary, known across the world for its exceptional work with our orange-furred friends. The reserve covers over 40sq km of lush, dense, protected rainforest, and exists for the rehabilitation of orphaned and injured orang-utans.
Apart from feeding times when you are almost guaranteed a sighting of at least a few orang-utans, there is a multitude of flora and fauna in the grounds and surrounding forests. There is also an excellent visitor centre and video presentation to be enjoyed.
(Admission times to the orang-utan sanctuary are 0800hrs-1100hrs and 1400hrs-1600hrs, small local conservation fee payable).Overnight at Sepilok Nature Resort.
Sepilok Nature Resort, depart Sandakan
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Please give one of our Asia experts a call on +44 (0)1273 670 001