Explore Sabah, the Malaysian part of Borneo!
Enjoy wild jungles, mountains and beaches, and make friends with orangutans or giant turtles!
Borneo, the largest island in Asia offers something for everyone. Climb Mt Kinabalu, watch sea turtles lay their eggs on Turtle Beach and share laughs with local village hosts.
Sabah is a state in Malaysia, and together with Sarawak, the two states form the Malaysian portion of Borneo. Sabah is one of the most culturally diverse, and natually beautiful states in Malaysia. It offers breath-taking natural wonders such as wild jungles filled with wildlife, mountains, beaches and incredible flora and fauna, to the colourful cultures of its multi-ethnic inhabitants. On this exciting small group journey, you will explore fascinating wildlife, including the giant turtles and adorable orangutans. Other highlights include experiencing sunrise atop magnificent Mt Kinabalu, stating in a village homestay, traversinge the steamy Kinabatangan rainforest, and relaxing at Poring Hot springs. This itinerary will ensure you will not run out of things to do and see!
Day 1 – Kota Kinabalu
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived World War II bombings, ‘KK’ (as it’s commonly known) now has a charm that can only be found in a frontier town.
If you arrive early, you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, once home to a notorious head hunter, or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, excellent for swimming or snorkeling.
Day 2 – Dusun Village
Travel by minivan to a Dusun village near the base of Mt Kinabalu (approx 1.5 hrs). The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people and while here you’ll have the opportunity to learn about their traditional way of life. The location for our homestay is a village nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. We stay in multi-share accommodation. Facilities are basic with shared bathroom and cold water only. Experience some local Dusun food with a cooking lesson at our homestay. Please note the river swim activity is dependent on the weather.
Day 3 – Mount Kinabalu
Say goodbye to our village friends and travel to the headquarters of Kinabalu National Park (approx 1 hour). You will have some free time to prepare for the climb up Mt Kinabalu and to enjoy the surroundings of this World Heritage site. There are some beautiful nature trails you can follow through the lowland tropical forest or stop by the Botanic Garden – this 5-acre garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Otherwise, feel free to just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. Your leader will provide a safety briefing about the climb and assist with any last minute questions. Stay overnight at the park’s headquarters in dormitory accommodation with shared facilities. Nestled amongst the lowland forests, this is the perfect place to relax before the climb. Breakfast is provided.
There’s absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment – this is an area which boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. We cover 6 km on the first day (approx 4-6 hrs) and stop at a rest house near Laban Rata (3,272 m) for the night. The rest houses have very basic, mixed gender, multi-share bunk rooms, additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you’re ready for the final climb in the morning. We consider the Mt Kinabalu trek to be a huge highlight of the trip. Porters are also available (at extra cost) and are recommended, but if you decide the trek is just not for you, we can provide alternative arrangements at an additional cost if advised at time of booking. Please note that if you decide not to climb the only meal included is breakfast.
Day 4 – Mount Kinabalu
Rise early today, recheck the day packs and begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It’s not an easy walk, being uphill all the way, and you need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can also affect you, regardless of your fitness level, and it will certainly slow you down a fair bit (it’s important that you educate yourself about the dangers of altitude sickness and its symptoms). Ensure you have warm layers, gloves, hat, head torch, waterproof jacket and good walking shoes/boots. The top of the mountain is deceptively cold.
Day 5 – Poring Hot Springs
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 m). It’s difficult walking, but you’ll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is stupendous – the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, don’t underestimate the cold – bring warm clothes. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes between 2 and 4 hours. Even if you are very fit you may find this section of the climb difficult because of the altitude. This can make you feel quite nauseous and short of breath. The trail is marked by a white rope that’s also useful to help you up some of the steep sections. Gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). After witnessing the morning sunrise, return to Laban Rata for breakfast, then descend the mountain (approx 3-6 hrs) and enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom. Once everyone is down from the mountain we continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approx 1 hour).
Poring Hot Springs was developed by the Japanese during World War II and now warm sulphur water is piped into several open-air Japanese style baths. The hot springs are said to have curative properties for the skin and, if nothing else, they’re soothing after a long climb. Soak your weary limbs in the famous outdoor thermal pools – sheer bliss!
Day 6 – Poring Hot Springs
There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves – with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You may also choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools. Stay in a very basic and well-located guesthouse opposite the Poring Hot Springs reserve. Your guesthouse is the ideal setting to explore the waterfalls, sulphur pools and trails that abound within the reserve.
Day 7 – Kinabatang River
Journey by private bus to, Bilet a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approx 5 hrs). We travel by boat for 5 -10 minutes to the lodge. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife. In the early evening we will head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan and proboscis monkey’s and if you are lucky you might spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening we take a night walk in search of the western Tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire. We will be staying in a comfortable jungle lodge on a twin share basis with private bathrooms.
Day 8 – Sandakan
We take another early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast we will make a visit to the Gomantong caves The caves are renowned for their valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are harvested for bird’s nest soup. Birds’ nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves, and collect the nests and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors. We then travel towards Sandakan approximately 2.5 hours. The busy city of Sandakan has a strong Cantonese influence which is evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. We have free time here to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city. Get some insight into the city’s past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped.
Day 9 – Turtle Island
This morning we will leave our large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approx 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the afternoon, there’s time for swimming, snorkelling or lazing about on this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire. In the evening, we hope to witness the heartwarming display of a mother turtle laying her eggs and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It’s a moving experience that makes you think twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies. This is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles.
Day 10 – Sepilok Orangutan Reserve
After breakfast we return to the mainland (approx 1 hour) and walk back to the hotel to collect our big bags before continuing on to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre by mini bus (approx 45 mins). The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adapt to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. We’re not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum and it’s essential that we follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. There’s also a short film about the orangutan rehabilitation process to watch in the reserve’s interpretation centre.
Visit the newly opened Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center which takes care of rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages, or see the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary to watch the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing and feeding – an experience that can only be found in Borneo. Alternatively see the Rainforest Discovery Centre, located five minutes walk from our guesthouse.
Day 11 – Kota Kinabalu
Transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu. The maximum luggage allowance for this flight is 15kg maximum, and you will have to pay for luggage that exceeds this weight. Arrive and relax by the pool or explore the surrounding islands on foot or by boat.
Day 12 – Depart Kota Kinabalu
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Plenty of departure dates!
2017: Nov 4, 11, 18, 25; Dec 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
2018: Saturdays (except Feb 3)
Prices from $2,085 CAD
For more information on this exciting adventure please contact Lucas@Lloydstravel.com.
11-Nights accomodation (mix of chalet, hostel, hotel, jungle lodge and resort); guided touring and activities as per itinerary; overland transport by boat, mini-van and longtail boat as per itinerary; domestic flights from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu; and meals as indicated.
International airfare & airfare taxes, travel insurance, visa fees, optional excursions, beverages, gratuities and items of a personal nature.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
*Prices are “from” per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travelers are available on request.