Borneo Holiday: Orang-utans & Ibans

Meet Borneo’s two most famous inhabitants on our Orang-utans & Ibans holiday, which will send you deep into the rainforest to stay in a tribal longhouse, and to meet orang-utans at the island's most inspirational rehabilitation projects.

At a glance
  • Visit two orang-utan rehabilitation projects
  • Spot for wild orang-utans & other jungle species
  • Stay in a longhouse with the Iban people of Batang Ai NP
  • Cruise the biodiverse Kinabatangan River at dusk
  • Kick back at a beachside resort
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Kuching - 2 nights

For many, Kuching is the cultural capital of Borneo, and it's a wonderful place to learn about Sarawak’s history, with plenty of colonial past preserved for the modern visitor. It’s an energetic city, but not overcrowded, and much of it can be explored on foot. When you arrive at the airport, our local guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. The remainder of your first day is at leisure.

Day 1 - Arrive Kuching

On arrival in Borneo, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg some boat cruises & wildlife experiences) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - Explore Bako National Park

Includes:

Head into Bako National Park, one of the best places in Sarawak to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Commonly spotted species include proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, long tail macaques, wild boars, monitor lizards and diverse birds. You can spot them on several natural trails which suit different fitness levels and interests, or simply relax on one of the secluded beaches. The park sits on a stunning peninsular, and its habitats here range from mangrove to kerangas, tropical swamp, cliffs and shoreline. At Bako Village, you'll climb aboard a boat to complete your journey into the park.

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Iban Longhouse - 2 nights

After visiting the community of semi-wild orang-utans at Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, head into Batang Ai National Park, where the locals typically live in communal longhouses. Batang Ai is home to the Iban people, whose way of life goes back for centuries. They rely predominantly on hunting, fishing and small scale agriculture, although the trickle of adventurous tourists also provides an income. You'll stay at a riverside longhouse, whose Iban residents will treat you to traditional entertainment and, if our own experiences are anything to go by, copious home-brewed tuak (rice wine).

Day 3 - Semenggok Wildlife Centre & overnight in an Iban Longhouse

Includes:

Your day will begin with a visit to Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, considered to be the best place in Sarawak to view semi-wild orang-utans. Semenggok’s orangs have all been rescued from captivity and are undergoing rehabilitation to survive in the surrounding forest reserve. Orangs who’ve already been rehabilitated roam free in the forest throughout the day, but many still return to the centre at feeding time. The centre also has a successful breeding program, and it is often possible to see mothers with young babies.

After your orang-utan visit, head to an Iban tribal longhouse in Batang Ai National Park, travelling through picturesque rural Sarawak, pepper orchards, primary rainforest and the inevitable plantations. The final leg of your journey will be by longtail boat along the river into the rainforest, to find the longhouse.

Day 4 - Immerse yourself in longhouse life

Includes:

Longhouse life starts early, so prepare for members of the community wandering past you as they get ready for the day. Share a traditional Iban breakfast, before a morning spent learning about the tribe's unique lifestyle, and observing the longhouse residents as they go about their daily routines. You'll watch a blowpipe demonstration, and have a go at shooting one yourself (just avoid shooting it at yourself), then learn how the Iban traditionally use rainforest plants, before taking a short boat trip upriver to visit a waterfall. After a traditional lunch, the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

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Kuching - 1 night

Say farewell to your Iban hosts and clamber back into the longtail boat to begin today’s rather long but necessary journey back to Kuching, passing through the fascinating landscape of Sarawak.

Day 5 - Return to Kuching

Includes:

Journey from Batang Ai to Kuching by longtail boat and then car, arriving into the city in the late afternoon.

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Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary - 2 nights

Sepilok is an area of protected primary rainforest and mangrove on mainland Borneo, and its orang-utan rehabilitation centre is known across the world for exceptional conservation work. The reserve protects 19 square miles of dense rainforest, and exists for the rehabilitation of orphaned and injured orang-utans. Apart from feeding times, when you are almost guaranteed a sighting, you can enjoy looking out for flashes of orange fur amongst the multitude of flora and fauna in the surrounding forests. You may wish to visit the nearby (within walking distance) Rainforest Discovery Centre for a stroll through its tropical gardens, which contain a staggering amount of native flora, or take a stroll along the 147m steel canopy walkway, which sits 28 metres above the ground and offers stupendous views of Sepilok's rainforest. Your entire stay at Sepilok will be at leisure.

Day 6 - Fly to Sepilok

Includes:

Take a flight to Sandakan, where, on arrival you will be driven to Sepilok.

Day 7 - Sepilok at leisure

Includes:

Your day will be at leisure to explore the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre or simply make the most of the hotel's facilities. Tomorrow you'll be meeting Sepilok's famous residents...

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Kinabatangan River - 2 nights

The Kinabatangan River flows through diverse habitats including freshwater swamp forest, lowland rainforest, mangroves and oxbow lakes, with a wealth of thriving fauna and flora to be seen along its banks. The river’s far-reaching network of tributaries allows easy exploration and quiet viewing of superstar species like orang-utan, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino, proboscis monkey, various langar subspecies, and the Borneo river shark, along with hundreds of less famous but no less fascinating species. Along with wildlife-spotting, you will also visit a small village occupied by members of the Orang Sungai ('people of the river'), an indigenous tribe that lives along several of Sabah’s river ways. The community survives on river fish, locally grown veg, saved rainwater and solar energy, and works closely with the nearby riverside lodge and its restaurant, with local staff employed and regional produce used wherever possible.

Day 8 - Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary, boat to Kinabatangan River

Includes:

Today you'll rise in time to see the orang-utans of Sepilok Sanctuary enjoy their breakfast feeding time. Sepilok is an area of protected primary rainforest and mangrove on mainland Borneo, and its orang-utan rehabilitation centre is known across the world for exceptional conservation work. The reserve protects 19 square miles of dense rainforest, and exists for the rehabilitation of orphaned and injured orang-utans. Apart from feeding times, when you are almost guaranteed a sighting, you can enjoy looking out for flashes of orange fur amongst the multitude of flora and fauna in the surrounding forests.

Continue your wildlife encounter at the nearby Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, built both to improve the welfare and rehabilitation of the Malayan Sun Bear, and raise awareness of the plight of this now protected species.

From Sepilok, you'll head to Sandakan Yacht Club Jetty for the cruise to your riverside lodge, passing Berhala Island with its prominent sandstone cliffs. After lunch at your lodge, set out to explore the river in an open-topped boat. Look for wildlife with the help of your guide, and with any luck witness the impressive gathering of fireflies that frequently lights up the dusk. Return to the resort for dinner before venturing out on a guided night walk on the boardwalk around the lodge, spotting for nocturnal wildlife.

Day 9 - Wildlife spotting

Includes:

Prepare to be woken early by the hooting calls of gibbons and hornbills! At least you'll be up in time for an early boat trip to spot the river’s colourful (and noisy) birds, and wildlife foraging on the riverbanks. After your own breakfast, spend some time learning about local village life, before heading upriver for more wildlife spotting and time relaxing on the deck of a second riverside lodge.

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Kota Kinabalu Beach Resort - 3 nights

Head to the coast and Kota Kinabalu, the regional capital, which has excellent amenities, superb beaches, and National Parks within easy reach. Enjoy a relaxed photo-finish to your holiday with a few days at leisure on the sand or by the pool. If you wish, take time out to head inland to the world-famous Kinabalu National Park, where you'll find South-East Asia's highest mountain peak, or visit the local Rungus tribe for a traditional meal and a chat over the local brew. Overnight homestays can be arranged and are an excellent way to experience typical tribal life - speak to your Destination Specialist for further insight.

Day 10 - Boat & car to your beach resort.

Includes:

Journey by boat and car to your Kota Kinabalu beach resort. The remainder of your day will be free to relax on the beach.

Days 11 & 12 - Enjoy a few days R&R on the beach.

Includes:

Day 13 - Depart Kota Kinabalu

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
First Class £1,744US$2,285 £1,653US$2,166 £1,595US$2,091

Limetree Hotel

Conveniently located on the riverbank in Kuching, the Limetree Hotel is very well placed for exploring Sarawak’s intriguing capital before heading off for your adventures... See more

Iban Longhouse

In our opinion, an important part of any holiday in Sarawak is a visit to a traditional Iban longhouse. Often housing as many as 20 or 30 families…

See more

MY Nature Resort

Set on the edge of the tropical rainforest, MY Nature Resort is ideally located just 10 minutes away from the famous Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary and close to the Rainforest Discovery Centre... See more

Abai Jungle Lodge

The Abai Jungle Lodge is, rather pleasingly, only accessible by boat. It’s an excellent, well-renowned location for wildlife-spotting - truly quiet, unless you count the rainforest sounds, and far from any other accommodation, with creatures getting remarkably close to the lodge itself... See more

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Formerly known as Old Ben's Lodge, the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is an ideal base for making excursions along the river… See more

Beringgis Beach Resort

Located on the white sand of Kinarut Beach and facing the South China Sea, Beringgis Beach Resort offers comfortable and affordable accommodation... See more
Superior £1,972US$2,584 £1,866US$2,445 £1,824US$2,390

The Waterfront Hotel

The Waterfront Hotel, in the heart of Sarawak’s busy capital, combines timeless style and service with state-of-the-art facilities and slick efficiency… See more

Iban Longhouse

In our opinion, an important part of any holiday in Sarawak is a visit to a traditional Iban longhouse. Often housing as many as 20 or 30 families…

See more

MY Nature Resort

Set on the edge of the tropical rainforest, MY Nature Resort is ideally located just 10 minutes away from the famous Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary and close to the Rainforest Discovery Centre... See more

Abai Jungle Lodge

The Abai Jungle Lodge is, rather pleasingly, only accessible by boat. It’s an excellent, well-renowned location for wildlife-spotting - truly quiet, unless you count the rainforest sounds, and far from any other accommodation, with creatures getting remarkably close to the lodge itself... See more

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Formerly known as Old Ben's Lodge, the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is an ideal base for making excursions along the river… See more

Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort

Not satisfied with being just a world-class beachside hotel, the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is also home to a private nature reserve and an eco-friendly championship golf course... See more
Deluxe £2,047US$2,683 £1,918US$2,514 £1,899US$2,489

Hilton Kuching

Situated on the banks of the Sungai Sarawak River, the Hilton Hotel has great views not only of the river but, from its higher floors, much of the surrounding city as well... See more

Iban Longhouse

In our opinion, an important part of any holiday in Sarawak is a visit to a traditional Iban longhouse. Often housing as many as 20 or 30 families…

See more

MY Nature Resort

Set on the edge of the tropical rainforest, MY Nature Resort is ideally located just 10 minutes away from the famous Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary and close to the Rainforest Discovery Centre... See more

Abai Jungle Lodge

The Abai Jungle Lodge is, rather pleasingly, only accessible by boat. It’s an excellent, well-renowned location for wildlife-spotting - truly quiet, unless you count the rainforest sounds, and far from any other accommodation, with creatures getting remarkably close to the lodge itself... See more

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Formerly known as Old Ben's Lodge, the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is an ideal base for making excursions along the river… See more

Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort

Not satisfied with being just a world-class beachside hotel, the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort is also home to a private nature reserve and an eco-friendly championship golf course... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • As an alternative to the Kinabatangan River region (or in addition) you may wish to consider a night or two in Danum Valley, staying at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. There are some excellent treks in the vicinity, and the lodge boasts its very own rainforest canopy walk. The area has a well deserved reputation for being one of the best places to view Borneo's wildlife.
  • As an alternative to the beaches near Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island lies just off the mainland - easily reached by boat - and boasts some great diving and snorkelling opportunities.
  • Those looking for a little more ‘extreme’ adventure have a choice of two options. The Gunung Mulu Trail or ‘headhunters trail’, is a 6 day camping trek through some stunning National Park. The highlight for most is the climb up through the famous Pinnacles near camp 5.
  • Alternatively, the Kelabit Highlands, close to the border with Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), is a little visited region known for offering some of the finest trekking in all Borneo. Reached by flight to Bario, we use Kelabit longhouses for accommodation during treks which can last anywhere from a day stroll to weeks of hard trekking.
  • A visit to the famous caves at Mulu can be easily added to this itinerary, stopping en route between Sarawak and Sabah. The caves are located within Gunung Mulu, Sarawak’s largest National Park and home to a record breaking cave. We recommend spending two days exploring four outstanding caves and rainforest.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

*Please note: During certain activities in Borneo you may share your local guide with other guests of the lodge(s).

Please note: During high season periods such as Easter, Christmas, July and August, hotels in Borneo levy a surcharge, and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You may require a visa to enter Borneo. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Lionel – Borneo tailor-made specialist

'To truly understand Malay Borneo you need to have travelled in both states, Orang-utans & Ibans delivers just that.'

LionelBorneo tailor-made specialist

Speak to Lionel on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.