Tailor-Made

Ultimate Sabah Wildlife Safari

The Malaysian state of Sabah, located in northern Borneo, holds a great number of the island's treasures. Over three weeks, this fantastic trip takes travellers to Danum Valley, the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the Deramakot Forest Reserve and many more locations rich in wildlife and natural beauty.

Duration 21 Days
Price From $14,865
When APR - OCT
Destination BORNEO

Safari Overview

As the third-largest island in the world and a hub of biodiversity, Borneo is home to no shortage of fantastic wildlife destinations. The island is split between three countries – Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia – but it is the Malaysian state of Sabah that provides perhaps the finest safari experiences that Borneo has to offer. Wild orangutans are an undoubted highlight, while primeval forests protect elusive and endangered species like the banteng, binturong, clouded leopard, bearded pig and Sumatran rhino. This epic 21-day journey through Sabah allows travellers to experience the fullness and richness of this intoxicating corner of Southeast Asia, taking in plenty of wildlife and wilderness as well as mountain ascents, animal sanctuary visits and beachside relaxation.

WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY

  • Witness the feeding of injured and orphaned orangutans up close at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
  • Explore the dense forests where orangutans live in the wild, alongside gibbons, proboscis monkeys and leaf monkeys, swinging through the trees of their natural habitat.
  • Embark on river safaris along the wildlife oasis of the Kinabatangan River.
  • Stay in a lodge located deep in primal rainforest within Danum Valley, some of the oldest rainforest in the world which is home to 10 species of primate, as well as pygmy elephants, sun bears and clouded leopards.
  • Discover the rich vegetation of Tabin Wildlife Reserve, where the mineral-rich mud volcanoes attract many animals such as gibbons, bantengs, clouded leopards and an incredible array of tropical birds and reptiles.
  • Traverse forest trails, view the jungle from a towering canopy walkway and take guided night walks to spot nocturnal creatures.
  • Climb the highest peak in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu.
  • Relax on the private island of Pulau Tiga, snorkelling in its turquoise waters.
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Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Sepilok

On arrival at Sandakan Airport, you will be met and transferred to Sepilok, a haven for nature and the perfect base to visit the nearby animal sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres.

Overnight: Sepilok Nature Resort D

Day 2

Sepilok, Sun Bears & Labuk Bay

After breakfast you will visit the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in time for their morning feed. This sanctuary rehabilitates previously captive or orphaned orangutans (through deforestation, poaching, etc.) to their natural surroundings, ready for release when they are capable of supporting themselves in the wild. You then have a tour of the Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn all about the project to save these adorable bears, whose population is rapidly diminishing. After lunch you will head to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in time for the afternoon feedings. Proboscis monkeys, found only in coastal swamps close to rivers in certain areas of Borneo, are lucky to have survived after the area near the mangrove swamps was nearly lost to palm oil plantations. Plans for oil were dropped, and now around 60 monkeys regularly come here to feed. Famed for their large nose, which acts as a resonator for their loud honking noises, these pot-bellied primates really are a sight to behold.

Overnight: Sepilok Nature Resort B, L, D

Day 3

Sepilok - Deramakot Forest Reserve

Rise early for breakfast and depart your lodge at 8am for the transfer to Deramakot Forest Reserve. Your journey will be by road to the town of Telupid, where you can stop for refreshments before continuing on to Deramakot by 4x4. Arrive at the Forest Reserve before 5pm. Upon arrival at the lodge you'll have a brief introduction to the facilities, before checking into your room. After dinner head out on a night drive in search of the clouded leopard. Deremakot offers the best possible chance of seeing a clouded leopard in the wild, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes peeled!

Day 4

Deramakot Forest Reserve

Deramakot Forest Reserve is a great example of conservation through sustainable tourism. Spend today exploring the reserve, one of the best wildlife locations in Borneo, home to rare species like the clouded leopard, binturong, slow loris, flat-headed cat, pygmy elephant, colugo, Bornean gibbon and otter civet. It is also home to over 250 different species of bird. Wake up with the forest at dawn and head out on an early-morning drive with your expert guide. Return back to the lodge for breakfast before a 2.5km guided walk. Just be careful of the leeches! Return back to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon you'll head to Balat on the other side of the Kinabatangan River to search for orangutans (amongst other wildlife). Enjoy a simple dinner on the banks of the river, then head back to the lodge, spotting nocturnal creatures as they begin to emerge. Return to the lodge at around 9pm for a shower and a good night's sleep!

Day 5

Deramakot Forest Reserve

Another day to explore this rich rainforest with your naturalist guides. Enjoy an early-morning safari before returning back to the lodge for breakfast. Head out again on a jungle walk to learn more about this fragile ecosystem. Lunch is served back at the lodge and the rest of the afternoon is yours to spend at leisure, either relaxing or doing some birdwatching from your room. In the evening, head out on another game drive in search of the clouded leopard.

Day 6

Deramakot Forest Reserve - Sandakan

Your final early-morning wake-up to enjoy an excursion through the forest. Return back to the lodge for breakfast and check out. At 9am you'll head back to Sandakan to arrive at around 2pm. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight: Sepilok Nature Resort B, L, D

Day 7

Sepilok - Lower Kinabatangan

This morning you will head back to the Orangutan Sanctuary to visit the nursery platform, where you can watch the young and juvenile orangutans play. You also will catch the morning feeding of the older apes at the main viewing platform. After your visit, you will be transferred to the Sandakan Yacht Club Jetty for a 1.5-hour boat trip up the Kinabatangan River, travelling through mangroves and past villages, keeping watch for wildlife including macaques, wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys and mudskippers. After lunch at your lodge and a debriefing by the lodge staff, set off for your afternoon river expedition in search of the local wildlife. You will head back at dusk to amazing river landscapes and, hopefully, an abundance of fireflies.

Day 8

Kinabatangan River

Wake up to the calls of nature and take an early-morning river safari (2 hours) in search of orangutans, proboscis monkeys, silver langurs and hornbills. After breakfast back at the lodge, you will join a shared boat transfer to continue 1.5 hours up the river to Sukau Village in search of primates, especially wild orangutans, as well as birds and pygmy elephants. Arrive in time for lunch and in the late afternoon, enjoy a cruise to the Menanggul River, a small tributary of the Kinabatangan which forms a narrow jungle corridor rich in wildlife. After dinner, head out on a night walk in search of the nocturnal residents of the forest.

Overnight: Sukau Rainforest Lodge L, D

Day 9

Kinabatangan River

Rise early and head out on a shared morning river safari to discover a variety of flora and fauna along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Species to be found include orangutans, proboscis monkeys, tree snakes, crocodiles, monitor lizards, macaques and much more. Herds of wild elephant may also be seen passing along the banks of the river. Return back to the lodge for lunch and some relaxation time before heading out in the late afternoon to the Gomantong Caves in the 3,924-hectare Gomantong Forest Reserve, where orangutans, mouse deer, wild boar and buffalo can sometimes be spotted. Up to 1 million bats of 64 differing species are thought to live in the caves. Observe as the swiftlets take their last flights before nesting for the night, and the bats fly out of the cave at sunset to head off into the dark to forage. Return to the lodge for dinner, before heading out on another boat safari in the evening in search of nocturnal wildlife.

Overnight: Sukau Rainforest Lodge B, L, D

Day 10

Kinabatangan River - Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Wake for breakfast before departing by road for two hours to reach the town of Lahad Datu, where you will stop for lunch. From here, you will swap vehicles for a 4x4 and proceed into the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, a journey of 1.5 hours that will take you through the centre of a large oil palm plantation – a stark reminder of the challenges facing wildlife here in Borneo. Upon arrival at your simple forest lodge, check in and head out on a wildlife drive as dusk begins to fall, in search of nocturnal wildlife.

Overnight: Tabin Wildlife Resort B, L, D

Day 11

Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Take an early-morning bird walk before breakfast in search of resident birds and other wildlife. Following a hearty breakfast back at the lodge, head out on a jungle trek in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, keeping your eyes peeled for gibbons and the silver-leaf monkey. In the afternoon, you'll have the chance to meet with the Borneo Rhino Alliance, learning about Sumatran rhino conservation efforts during a special meeting with the programme’s director. In the evening, head out on a night drive after dinner in search of leopard cats, civets, owls and other nocturnal species.

Overnight: Tabin Wildlife Resort B, L, D

Day 12

Tabin Wildlife Reserve - Danum Valley

After breakfast you will be transferred back to Lahad Datu, then on to the renowned Danum Valley. On arrival at your rainforest lodge you will have time to sit back, relax and enjoy your new surroundings. Danum Valley is one of the best remaining examples of how Borneo's forests used to be, with a thick tropical canopy and a variety of wildlife. In the afternoon you can join one of the fascinating treks, and in the evening after dinner, there is a night drive to search for nocturnal creatures.

Day 13

Danum Valley

Wake early for an early-morning trek with your guide that will allow you to observe the forest come to life – this is particularly great for those interested in birds. Alternatively, head out on a 4x4 drive to Bukit Atur to experience the breathtaking sunrise from the forest canopy (must be booked in advance at an additional cost). Return to the Danum Valley Field Centre for breakfast and in the mid-morning, head out on a trail walk in the area. After lunch back at the Field Centre, take a dip in the Ulu Segama River before heading off on another trek in the forest. There are various types of trails, and your guide will discuss these with you at the time, tailoring the walk to what you would prefer to see and do. You will return to the Field Centre in the late afternoon in time for the sunset and dinner, before embarking on a night walk or optional 4x4 night drive.

Day 14

Danum Valley

Spend another full day with your guide, exploring the forest in the early morning, for another chance to spot wildlife such as gibbons and orangutans. Wander the trails before returning to the lodge to spot birds and other creatures. The remainder of the day is yours to relax at the field centre or you can alternatively head out on a longer trail with your guide (fitness levels will depend which trail) in search of more wildlife. In the evening, after dinner, head out on another night walk or night drive (at additional cost) in search of nocturnal species.

Day 15

Danum Valley - Lahad Datu - Kota Kinabalu

Today you have one last morning to spend relaxing in the jungle before being transferred to Lahad Datu for your onward flight to Kota Kinabalu. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel in the city.

Overnight: Le Meridien B

Day 16

Kota Kinabalu - Mount Kinabalu

After breakfast, travel to Kinabalu Park. Your mountain guide will be waiting for you at Timpohon Gate, the start of the climb. The climb on the first day is 6km with an elevation gain of about 1,300 metres. This takes 4-6 hours depending on fitness, and there are rest stops with toilets along the way. Kinabalu National Park boasts an estimated 4,500 species of plant, including 1,500 orchid species, 77 of which are endemic to Kinabalu. Enjoy a well-earned dinner and get an early night at Laban Rata Mountain Hut before tomorrow's early start. There are opportunities to refill your water bottles on the way up, however the water is not treated. We recommend you either stock up on water before the climb, purchase bottled water at your mountain accommodation or take water-purification tablets or iodine with you.

Overnight: Laban Rata B, L, D

Day 17

Mount Kinabalu - Pulau Tiga

Wake for coffee or tea at 2:30 AM before continuing your climb to the summit in time to witness a spectacular sunrise from the highest point in Southeast Asia. Make sure you have your headlamp with you during this portion of the climb to the summit. Absorb the astounding views before heading down to Laban Rata for a full breakfast. After breakfast, make your way to the base of the mountain. Most people take 4-5 hours to return to the base. Make sure to collect your certificate at Park HQ! In the afternoon you will be transferred back to Kota Kinabalu and on to Kuala Penyu from where you will take your speedboat transfer across to Pulau Tiga, a beautiful jungle-clad small island located off of Sabah's west coast. Check in to your intimate hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure.

Overnight: Borneo Eagle Resort B, D

Days 18-20

Pulau Tiga

Enjoy your time at Borneo Eagle Resort by taking part in the myriad activities here, designed to help you reconnect with the natural world. Explore miles of forested trails and ancient ecosystems, practice making local handicrafts or try your hand at cooking. There are also activities such as yoga or guided meditation and a PADI Dive Centre. Of course, you can also relax by the pool, make use of the spa or just float above the coral gardens with your mask and snorkel!

Overnight: Borneo Eagle Resort B, D

Day 21

Pulau Tiga - Depart Kota Kinabalu

Today you will be transferred back to Kota Kinabalu by boat and private car to Kota Kinabalu Airport, where you will catch your onward flight home.

Trip Details

About Tailor-made Safaris

A tailor-made safari is one designed according to your specific requirements, including budget, dates, personal interests, the number of people travelling, and more. This itinerary is just an example and can be refined and altered to make it perfect for you.

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