Our adventure begins in Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and the largest city on the island of Borneo. Kuching is one of the most multicultural cities in Malaysia, melding Chinese, Malay, Indian and Indonesian cultural groups and languages.
Transfer to our boutique hotel in the city center and have lunch, then visit Semenggoh Orangutan Center outside town to observe the afternoon feeding. The center was established in 1975 to care for wild animals found injured or orphaned in the forest, or ones that were previously kept as illegal pets. Since its founding, the center has cared for more than 1,000 animals, and its orangutan rehabilitation mission has been so successful that the surrounding reserve has now reached its carrying capacity. While rehabilitation continues elsewhere, today Semenggoh focuses on the study of orangutan biology and behavior while providing a safe and natural haven for dozens of semi-wild orangutans that are graduates of the rehabilitation program. It is also home to numerous babies, born in the wild to rehabilitated mothers, a further testament to the program's success. This evening, learn more about the adventures to come at a welcome dinner with our Expedition Leader.
Day 2: Bako National Park / Kuching
Embark on a short boat ride this morning to Bako National Park, reachable only by sea on the tip of a peninsula where the Bako and Kuching rivers meet. Millions of years of erosion have carved the sandstone cliffs and rocky headlands into fantastically shaped arches and sea stacks, striated with colored layers formed by iron deposits. White sandy beaches edge the coast below, while inland, the compact reserve abounds with wildlife. Look for
Day 3: Sandakan / Kabili-Sepilok Nature Reserve
This morning, fly to Sandakan, Sabah. Our destination is the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, home to endangered orangutans. The 10,000-acre protected area, named for the two main rivers that flow through it, comprises tropical highland forest, sandstone ridges
Day 4: Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary / Sun Bear Conservation Center
Make two visits today to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, established in 1964 to protect orphaned baby orangutans and rehabilitate them for
We also visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Founded in 2008, the center provides care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, and increases awareness about the plight of this little-known bear. We’ll take an exclusive private tour of the center—either with founder Wong Siew Te, whom CNN lauded as a Hero of 2017, calling him a “Superman saving the sun bears of Malaysia,” or one of his close conservation colleagues. The Malayan sun bear, found only in Southeast Asia, is the world’s smallest bear species. While Borneo remains a stronghold for this vulnerable animal, it is seriously threatened if not extinct in many areas of mainland Asia, where forest destruction and poaching have dramatically reduced its numbers.
Day 5: Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary / Selingan Turtle Island
This morning, we'll visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, a mangrove reserve along the coast that allows us a close-up view of these leaping primates named for their large, fleshy noses, which are found nowhere in the world beyond Borneo. Then we board a speedboat to ride to Selingan Turtle Island, one in a group of uninhabited islands in the Sulu Sea. As one of three main turtle nesting sites in Borneo,
Days 6 & 7: Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary
Depart by boat for the dense mangrove forests of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. The Kinabatangan River at the center of the reserve is the longest river in Sabah, providing a lifeline for inhabitants of this vital ecosystem. The sanctuary is home to one of the highest wildlife concentrations in Southeast Asia. Lush vegetation provides camouflage for many species, but we'll hope to see plenty of the wild residents including the elusive wild orangutan, proboscis and leaf monkeys, gibbon, macaque, pygmy elephant, wild boar, otter, river crocodile, monitor lizard and a great array of birdlife—rhinoceros hornbill and kingfisher are common sightings. Since palm oil plantations surround the reserve on all sides, it provides especially critical habitat for these species threatened by habitat loss.
Our remote jungle lodge along the riverbank is
Days 8–10: Kinabatangan / Danum Valley
Depart Kinabatangan by boat, with
Day 11: Danum Valley / Lahad Datu / Kota Kinabalu
This morning, enjoy an easy nature hike or
Day 12: Kota Kinabalu / Depart
Transfer to the airport this morning for homeward flights.