A Borneo Wilderness and Cultural Adventure
This northern Borneo adventure will suit the active traveller with an interest in both natural history and tribal culture. The itinerary encompasses Sabah and Sarawak, the two East Malaysian states. It includes an unforgettable climb of Mount Kinabalu, stunning limestone pinnacles, the Mulu caves, the orang-utans of Semonggok, the Bako National Park and a night as a guest of the notorious Iban tribe. Well off the beaten track, the tour does involve some rustic and basic accommodation, but will reveal many wonders seldom seen by visitors to this extraordinary island. Be among the lucky few able to gain an insight into the manifold cultural and natural history attractions to be found in north Borneo.
Arrive in Kuching, capital city of Sarawak, East Malaysia. Enjoy a cultural tour of the city and check-in to hotel.
Staying at Kuching Hilton. Includes No Meals.
Morning pick-up from hotel and transfer to a small Bako fishing village. Transfer by boat to Bako National Park. Enjoy a guided tour of the National Park to see the mangrove forest and Padang vegetation in search of long-tailed macaque, leaf monkey, proboscis monkey, bearded pig, monitor lizard and 150 species of birds. Bako is also famed for its various carnivorous Nepenthes (pitcher) plant species.
Continue to Semonggok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre to see the afternoon feeding.
Staying at Kuching Hilton. Includes Breakfast.
Pick up from the hotel and drive through rainforest, fields of pepper and rubber plantations. Stop for lunch plus a visit to a local farmers’ market. Continue to the Lemanak River and board a motorised longboat to the Iban village. Enjoy a traditional dinner and ceremonial dance, then settle down for the night in a traditional longhouse.
Staying at Traditional Iban Longhouse. Includes All Meals.
Morning spent with the Iban people. Take a guided nature walk whilst learning about their medicinal plants, trapping techniques, edible fruits and leaves and the agricultural activities of the community. Later, transfer back to Kuching.
Staying at Kuching Hilton. Includes Breakfast.
Fly to Mulu and check-in to your hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour through lowland rainforest to the Lang Caves to see formations of stalactites and stalagmites and on through the Deer Cave (part of the world’s largest cave complex) to the Garden Of Eden to see the exodus of thousands of bats at sunset.
Staying at Royal Mulu Resort. Includes All Meals.
Morning excursion by longboat to explore the spectacular Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave. Continue for 2-3 hours up the Melinau River to Kuala Berar. Trek through the peat swamp forest for 2hrs to Melinau Camp.
Staying at Camp 5. Includes All Meals.
Begin a steep ascent through limestone boulders and forest – with occasional sections using aluminium ladders – to 1,750 metres for a spectacular view of the limestone pinnacles. Return to the camp in the afternoon.
Staying at Camp 5. Includes All Meals.
Trek back to the river to be met by the longboat, then cruise back to Mulu and fly to Kota Kinabalu. Met on arrival and transfer to Kinabalu National Park.
Staying at Kinabalu Park Cabin. Includes Dinner.
Enjoy a guided tour of the forest trails, visit the education centre and botanical gardens with its superb collection of pitcher plants, rare orchids and other flora. The park has an extremely high biodiversity, including a large number of endemic species, and vegetation types ranging from humid lowland rainforest through to tropical oak and chestnut forests and sub-alpine mountain habitat.
Staying at Kinabalu Park Cabin. Includes All Meals.
Transfer to Timpohon Gate at 1828m to start the ascent of Mt Kinabalu. Hike with guide (4-6 hrs), observing changing vegetation and animal life, to Laban Rata at 3261m.
Staying at Laban Rata Dormitory. Includes All Meals.
Very early morning (c. 3am) start the trek to the mountain summit (4095m) in time for a spectacular sunrise. Trek back down to Timpohon Gate and return to the Park Headquarters.
Staying at Kinabalu Park Cabin. Includes All Meals.
Drive to Poring Hot Springs. Explore the rainforest trails, canopy walk, visit Kipungit Waterfall and soak in the hot sulphur water pools. This is also one of the best places in the world to spot Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower. Return to the coast and check-in to hotel.
Staying at Rasa Ria Resort. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
Free day to relax at the hotel. Transfer to Kota Kinabalu airport and board international flight home.
Includes In-flight Meals.
Camp 5 in Mulu National Park, near Miri in Sarawak, is a very simple communal facility located deep within the park. The camp is strategically positioned to provide an overnight base for trekking in remote parts of the park. The camp is reached from the park headquarters by an hour’s boat ride and a further 9 km hike.
The camp is well situated for exploring the surrounding forest and adventurous hikes and mountain climbs within the park. It is the best option for an overnight stay before commencing the challenging but rewarding pinnacle summit trek up Gunung Api (you don’t trek to the actual top of the mountain).
The accommodation is very basic as the camp only serves as an overnight base for trekking. The rooms are open and communal with simple wooden floors and there are just thin mattresses to sleep on. Mosquito nets and blankets are available but have to be borrowed with a deposit. No pillows are supplied, so it is advisable to take a small travel one with you or something that you can use as an alternative. There is no restaurant but food can be brought in and guides will be on hand to cook for you. There is a limited shop selling soft drinks, water and a few snacks. Safe drinking water is also available from boiled tanks.
There is a western toilet and shower block (no soap) with cold water only and spacious changing area.
The camp has some lighting but it is very limited so it is essential to bring a torch. There are no power sockets, so bring extra camera batteries if necessary. It is possible to leave excess luggage and some electronics at the park headquarters, but not cash or passports.
There is an attractive river running close to the camp which can be a refreshing way to cool off after a long day of hiking.
Gunung Mulu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its mountains, caves and moon-like karst landscapes. The park is best accessed by flights to Mulu from Kota Kinablau.
Communal sleeping room, thin mattress, shared toilets and showers (cold water only), lighting (no power sockets), limited snack shop and mosquito nets available.
Trekking in Mulu National Park. Pinnacle summit trek up Gunung Api.
A highlight for many visitors to Sarawak is a stay with one of the tribes in a traditional longhouse, home to many families under one roof. Sarawak has over 40 ethnic groups, each with its own traditions, culture and language. The Iban tribe (also known as Sea Dayaks because of their history as pirates and fishermen) were once feared as head hunters, but are now better known for their traditional weavings, silver craft, wood carvings, beadwork and friendly nature.
The accommodation is in the Iban’s rustic longhouses, most equipped with some modern facilities such as electricity. There will be a designated guest mattress with mosquito net and the family will provide you with dinner and drinks.
Mattress and mosquito net.
Rasa Ria Resort
Upmarket Rasa Ria Resort overlooks Dalit Bay near Kota Kinabalu and has a good beach, a sixty-four acre rainforest reserve, horse stables, three large swimming pools, a full service spa and massage centre.
There are 416 spacious and comfortable rooms, each with a wonderful sea or forest view. All have en suite bathrooms and most private balconies too. Amenities include flat screen cable TV with movie channels, direct dial telephones, tea- and coffee-making facilities, safety deposit box, free Wi-Fi, mini-bar and complimentary toiletries.
The Coast Restaurant and bar serves both local specialities and international favourites, always to a high standard. Facilities also include a full health centre and spa, tennis courts, golf course, and water sports including canoeing, parasailing and jet skiing. Rasa Ria is approximately a 45-minute drive from the Kota Kinabalu airport.
Restaurants, bar, spa, tennis court, golf course, games room, water sport activities, large swimming pool, satellite TV, air-conditioning, mini-bar, direct – dial telephone, room safe, free Wi-Fi, laundry service, currency exchange and 24-hour room service.
Inclusive activities at the resort and offsite excursions.
Kinabalu Hill Lodge
Kinabalu Hill Lodge consists of 10 en suite cabins nestled in the wildlife-rich Kinabalu National Park. The lodge sits at an altitude of 1, 585m above sea level with easy well-marked trails leading out from the lodge straight into the national park. Each cabin is within walking distance of the park headquarters and restaurant.
The restaurant at Kinabalu Hill Lodge serves excellent traditional Malay and international cuisine.
The cabins are quite basic but have comfortable beds and a spacious living area with a cable TV and attractive parquet flooring. They are located on the side of a hill with far-reaching views across to the rainforest: the summit of Mount Kinabalu can be seen on clear days.
En suite rooms, restaurant, 24-hour electricity and cable TV.
The park has an extremely high biodiversity, including a large number of endemic species, and habitats ranging from humid lowland rainforest through to oak and chestnut forests and sub-alpine montane forest. There are over 700 orchid species, 600 species of fern (including many tree ferns), 600 species of butterfly and 326 species of bird including the mountain serpent-eagle and the wreathed hornbill.
Guided walks in the Kinabalu National Park and Botanical Gardens. For the more adventurous, hikes to the summit of Mount Kinabalu can be arranged. The Poring Hot Springs are also nearby offering natural warm baths and a canopy walkway.
Kuching Hilton Hotel
Centrally located on Kuching’s beautiful riverfront promenade, this modern and comfortable Sarawak hotel has 315 guest rooms with nice views over the river and towards the city.
All the en suite rooms have an attractive neutral décor and modern facilities such as flat-screen TVs and complimentary high speed Wi-Fi. Other hotel facilities include a 25-metre landscaped outdoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis courts, gift shop and 24-hour room service.
For dining there are five restaurants on the property, each offering slightly different options but overall a good selection of Malaysian, Asian and western cuisine is available.
The Kuching Hilton’s location is ideal for transport links and for access to local attractions such as the Semenggoh Wildlife Park and Sarawak Cultural Village.
Restaurant, bar, safety deposit box, air-conditioning, outdoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis court, 24-hr room service, concierge service, luggage storage, laundry service and gift shop.
Inclusive activities at the hotel and excursions to the Semenggoh Wildlife Park and Sarawak Cultural Village.
Laban Rata Lodge
Situated in the endemic-rich Kinabalu National Park at an altitude of 3,272m above sea level, Laban Rata lodge is the final accommodation before reaching the summit of Mount Kinabalu.
Laban Rata Lodge offers sensational views down the mountain and over the surrounding area. There is a friendly and quiet atmosphere, the simple accommodation is clean and each room has comfortable bunk beds. Most are dormitories shared by four to six guests of the same sex and have shared bathrooms that currently do not have hot water. There are also private twin and VIP rooms but they are often booked up early – so if you want one, early booking is essential.
There is a restaurant serving hearty meals at flexible hours to ensure guests can replenish their energy levels after or before a day of hiking. There is also a small shop where snacks and drinks can be obtained.
3 private rooms plus 60 dormitory beds. Shared bathrooms, bunk bed dormitory rooms, 24-hour electricity, restaurant, snack shop.
The park has an extremely high biodiversity, including a large number of endemic species, and vegetation types ranging from humid lowland rainforest through to oak and chestnut forests and sub-alpine mountain habitat. There are over 700 orchid species, 600 species of fern (including large tree ferns), 600 species of butterfly and 326 species of bird including the mountain serpent-eagle and the wreathed hornbill.
Climbs to the summit of Mount Kinabalu.
Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa
Completely refurbished in 2014, the former Royal Mulu Resort, now the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa, is a luxury five-star hotel with beautiful gardens, well-appointed rooms, swimming pool and elevated position overlooking the Melinau River.
The resort’s architecture is inspired by the indigenous vernacular – it is built on 15-foot stilts with the rooms connected by wooden walkways. There is a choice of deluxe and suite rooms, all beautifully decorated with smooth wooden floors and large windows overlooking the nearby jungle or river. All come with en suite “wet room” bathrooms with great views, private verandas, mini-bars, air-conditioning, 42inch satellite TVs and room service. Limited internet access is via satellite in the business centre only.
There is an a la carte gourmet restaurant serving delicious international and regional cuisine, a riverside bar, gym, swimming pool, Balinese spa.
The hotel is just a 5-minute drive from the Gunung Mulu National Park and then it’s a 45-minute walk to reach the Lang and Deer caves. These are part of the largest cave system in the world with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and thousands of bats that emerge from within. The Wind and Clearwater caves are also close by and very accessible.
Two restaurants, riverside bar, lounge, air-conditioning, laundry service, room service, medical assistance, TV, mini bar, fitness centre, karaoke room and currency exchange.
Long-tailed macaques, silvered langurs, bearded pigs, Malayan civets, western tarsier, Bornean yellow muntjack, the park is home to all of Borneo’s species of hornbill and a diverse selection of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Wildlife watching in the National Park, visits to the Deer and Lang caves, rock climbing, swimming, cultural demonstrations, cycling, cookery classes, spa treatments, boat excursions, rainforest hikes, visits to Mulu National Park.
Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.
Domestic flights included within Borneo.
March to October
Are you ATOL Registered?
Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.
The ascent of Mount Kinabalu is very rapid, starting in humid rainforest and ending in an exposed mountain summit. They key is taking many layers of clothes that you can take off or on as the temperature changes. A hat and gloves will be very welcome whilst waiting for the sunrise at the summit!
If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965
I would like to express my thanks to you for preparing the splendid itinerary, covering my recent trip to Borneo. I achieved every objective set, from reaching the summit of Mount Kinabalu to photographing wild orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and crocodiles, not to mention watching turtles laying their eggs and the hatchlings returning to the sea, plus all the other fascinating wildlife that was observed. The organisation on the ground was seamless and every connection and transfer in a somewhat complex itinerary went like clockwork. Accommodation and cuisine in the various lodges was excellent…superb diving at both Mabul and Sipadan. Once again, thank you – we shall be back.