Our adventure begins in Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and 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 to observe the afternoon feeding. The center was established in 1975 to care for wild animals found injured or orphaned in the forest, or which 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 in wildlife. Look for
Day 3: Gunung Mulu National Park
Fly this morning to Gunung Mulu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses mountains draped in
Day 4: Wildlife Cruise on the Melinau River
Travel by longboat up the silt-laden waters of the Melinau River to the Penan settlement of Batu Bungan. The traditionally nomadic inhabitants of this village are one of the world's most endangered indigenous ethnic groups, their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle threatened by the encroachment of logging and resource development in the
Our journey continues to Wind Cave with its impressive King’s Chamber, an enormous cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites in intricate lace-like patterns. We also see Clearwater Cave, connected by a short boardwalk, which provides habitat for unique plant species including the single-leaf Monophyllaea plant found only in this park.
Day 5: Mulu / Sandakan / Kabili-Sepilok Nature Reserve
Early this morning, explore the treetops from the Mulu Canopy Skywalk, one of the world’s longest at 1,575 feet. As we examine the vegetation nearly 70 feet above the forest floor, we experience the jungle from an entirely new perspective. Return to our resort for breakfast before our flight to Sabah and Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, home to endangered orangutans. The 10,000-acre protected area is named for the two main rivers that flow through it and comprises tropical highland forest, sandstone ridges
Day 6: Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary / Sun Bear Conservation Center
Today we make two visits 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 Sabah, Malaysia in 2008 to provide for the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, and to increase 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 is a remaining 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 7: Selingan Turtle Island
Take a speedboat 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 8 & 9: 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 rich 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 orangutans, 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 10–12: Kinabatangan / Danum Valley
Depart Kinabatangan by boat, with a last chance to look for wildlife along the river during our 90-minute journey. Once we reach Sukau, we continue by logging road to the nearest town, Lahad Datu, then on to Borneo Rainforest Lodge within the Danum Valley. Danum Valley Conservation Area is Sabah's largest area of undisturbed lowland forest, with more than 200 species of trees that tower to 160 feet. This spectacular tract of ancient primary
Day 13: Danum Valley / Lahad Datu / Kota Kinabalu
This morning, enjoy an easy nature hike or
Day 14: Kota Kinabalu / Depart
Transfer to the airport this morning for homeward flights.