Classical Borneo

Borneo (Malaysia)

Culture

Uncover the most beautiful sights of Borneo

14 days £3,195 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Immerse yourself in Bornean culture as you explore this enigmatic land. Witness the marvellous bat exodus in Mulu National Parks and meet remote tribes in Batang Ai. Search Borneo's abundant wildlife - for the endangered orangutan, the cuddly sun bear and the majestic Sumatran Rhino - by boat on the Kinabatangan or by foot in Danum Valley. Finally delve into Borneo's wealth of natural sights including the Gomantong Caves and Enselaui Waterfall.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sample local delicacies in Kuching
  • Navigate the rainforests of Batang Ai National Park
  • UNESCO-listed Mulu National Park
  • Meet the Penan tribe
  • Explore the capital of Kota Kinabalu
  • Meet the rare Malayan sun bear
  • Take a boat on the Kinabatangan River
  • See the native orang utan in Sepilok Forest Reserve
  • Explore the Gomantong Caves
  • Spot rare species in Danum Valley Field Centre

Places Visited

Kuching - Batang Ai National Park - Mulu National Park - Kota Kinabalu - Sandakan - Kinabatangan River - Gomantong Caves - Danum Valley

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival into Kuching

Arrive into Kuching, where you will be met by your Travel the Unknown representative and then transferred to your hotel. You can spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring the city. In the evening, there will be an introductory dinner and briefing for the trip. Overnight stay in Kuching. 

Meal plan: Dinner

The state capital of Sarawak, Kuching, is often described as one of the most attractive cities in Southeast Asia. It is one of the most multiracial cities in Malaysia - north of the Sarawak River being predominantly Malay in character, whilst the south is largely populated by Chinese. The city has become a major food destination, and market stalls sell many varieties of Asian cuisine. Kuching's attractions include a picturesque port, the Rainforest World Music Festival, the historic Fort Marherita and the ornate Sarawak State Museum.

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Day 2 : Batang Ai National Park

After breakfast, drive to Batang Ai reservoir, stopping off at Lachau Bazaar. Here, you will have the opportunity to wander around the shops, getting lost in the small native markets. Later, continue your journey on towards Batang Ai Lake where you will board a longboat to travel upstream to Nanga Sumpa. Settle in at your lodge where you will spend the night. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Located in Lubok Antu in southwest Sarawak by the border to Indonesia, Batang Ai National Park is one of the largest protected conservation areas in the region. Its reservoir and tropical rainforests cover the expanse of the national park, leaving boats as one of the most common methods of transport. Batang Ai is home to the Iban tribe - who live in longhouses within the national park - along with many rare and protected animals.

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Day 3 : Batang Ai National Park

In the morning, gentle hike along the jungle trials that lie along the river. Travel upriver by longboat, stopping to visit the indigenous Jambu community, where you will have the opportunity to see their traditional longhouse. You will then continue your journey by boat, arriving at Enseluai Waterfall where you will have time to take a swim and relax. In the evening you will be able to taste local delicacies before staying overnight at Nanga Sumpa. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 4 : Kuching

After breakfast, you will have the rest of the morning free in Nanga Sumpa. Later, you will travel back to Kuching, where you will visit a private gallery of Borneo ethnic arts and crafts. The collection, predominantly from the 18th to 20th Century, contains some especially rare and unique pieces. In the evening you will sample some typical Sarawakian cuisine before staying overnight in Kuching. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 5 : Mulu National Park

Begin the day with a flight to Mulu National Park. On arrival, head to Deer Cave where you will explore the amazing cave system before watching the famous bat exodus at dusk. The evening will be free for you to spend at your leisure. Overnight stay in Mulu National Park. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Mulu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of mountains and rainforest, yet, its main attraction lies beneath the ground. Mulu’s cave networks have become the subject of much international interest - Deer Cave being the largest single cave passage in the world and the bat exodus from here, where millions of bats fly out of the cave and create swilling patterns in the sky, is a sight to behold. Mulu has become the site for many research projects, including that of the Royal Geographic Society.

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Day 6 : Mulu National Park

Before breakfast you will take walk along the longest canopy walk in Borneo. Following breakfast travel to a Penan village, where you will get an insight into their daily lives and have a chance to browse the traditional crafts they produce. Later in the evening, take a night walk around Mulu where you will see the prehistoric forest's nocturnal species. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Penan villagers live a nomadic way of life deep in the heart of the Sawarak rainforest, largely living a life of hunting and gathering meaning that they are reliant on their natural surroundings for survival. The Penan have suffered greatly from the large-scale deforestation and logging which is encroaching on the Sarawak landscape and, in turn, their way of life.

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Day 7 : Kota Kinabalu

Following breakfast you will take a flight to Kota Kinabalu, where you will have the afternoon to explore at your leisure. Overnight stay in Kota Kinabalu.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton under British colonial rule, is now the capital of the state of Sabah. It is situated on the north-western coast of Borneo, lying between the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and Mount Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu was only granted city status in 2000, but it is fast becoming one of the largest urban regions in Malaysia.
 


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Day 8 : Sepilok

Begin the day with a flight to Sandakan, where you will be transferred to Sepilok. Spend the morning at the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre before also stopping at the Sun Bear Centre. Later, continue to the Kinabatangan River where you will arrive at your lodge. Take a river cruise at dusk to experience the local wildlife at night. Overnight stay at your lodge by the Kinabatangan. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Sun Bear Centre is a rescue and rehabilitation facility in Sabah. Malayan sun bears, only found in Southeast Asia, are suffering from the growing pressures of forest degradation and illegal hunting. This centre aims to preserve the endangered species - creating large forest enclosures to house injured and orphaned sun bears in an effort to replicate the natural environment - facilitating their later rehabilitation back into the wild.
 


In the past, the town of Sandakan was populated with traders from all over the world - Dutch, Arabs, Indians - as well as Chinese planters. However, following its destruction by the British in World War 2, it has since had to rebuild itself. It has achieved this with the support of an ever growing timber trade and, later, the palm-oil industry. Today this port is Sabah's second largest town, boasts excellent seafood especially along its waterfront and its bay is dotted with Chinese fishing trawlers.

Sepilok Forest Reserve & Orangutan Sanctuary occupies an area of 16 square miles, consisting of an orangutan sanctuary and mangrove trails. Most well known for its orangutan sanctuary, founded in 1964, its primary aim was to rehabilitate orphaned and confiscated orangutans. Located on the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, this sanctuary is now home to somewhere between 60 and 80 wild and 25 young orphaned orangutans. Orangutans are fed the same meal every day in a bid to encourage them to venture out on their own in search of variety, a tactic that has proved very successful.

At a length of 560 km, the Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia. The river and its banks are renowned for its extraordinary wildlife  including macaques, elephants, monitor lizards, and of course the unique proboscis monkeys with their harems of wives. It also boasts a diverse birdlife including rhinoceros hornbills and blue-banded kingfishers.  Furthermore you can find limestone caves, swamp forests and salty mangroves along its vast length. A boatride on the river is a special highlight of Borneo.

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Day 9 : Kinabatangan River

Wake early for the chance to enjoy a dawn river cruise, before making your way back to the lodge for breakfast. Travel to Gumantong Caves, where you will explore the giant cave opening along with the spectacular surrounding wildlife. On returning to the lodge you will be able to relax for the afternoon, before later embarking on another river cruise at dusk. Overnight stay at your lodge. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

The Gomantong Caves are located within Gomantong Hill. The intricate cave system is divided into two parts: the more accessible Simud Hitam (Black cave) and the larger Simud Putih (White cave). The caves are home to bats, raptors and a wide variety of birdlife. They are also renowned for valuable edible swiftlet nests, which are carefully harvested for bird’s nest soup, once the swiftlets have left the nest, a tradition that goes back centuries.

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Day 10 : Danum Valley

In the morning, drive to Danum Valley, known to be one of the best spots for viewing Borneo's wildlife. Spend the afternoon exploring the many nature trails with your guide. In the evening take a guided night hike, where you will have the opportunity to see a different, nocturnal, side to the jungle. Overnight stay in Danum Valley. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Danum Valley is made up of 538 square kilometers of Class 1 Virgin Primary Rainforest, which boasts unbeatable conditions for viewing native wildlife due to the lack of human habitation, hunting and logging. The valley is renowned for its rich biodiversity and houses extremely rare species, including the Sumatran Rhino and the Pygmy Elephant but also wild orangutan, gibbon, mousedeer and clouded leopards as well as over 270 bird species. The Danum Valley Field Centre is a world-recognised tropical rainforest research station, located at the heart of this conservation area.

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Day 11 : Danum Valley

Rise early to take a wildlife walk before breakfast. Spend the day exploring your surroundings and trekking through the jungle. Later, enjoy an night safari and search for native animals as they hunt in the cover of darkness. Overnight stay at Danum Valley. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 12 : Danum Valley

Start the day early, traveling to the GAW tower to see the morning sunrise over Danum Valley - thought to be one of the greatest sunrises in Southeast Asia. Spend the rest of the morning relaxing before an afternoon of more exploring, searching for more unique wildlife. Overnight stay in Danum Valley. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 13 : Danum Valley

In the morning you will take a wildlife walk in the forest, spending the rest of the morning at your leisure before later flying back to Kota Kinabalu. Here, you will enjoy a final dinner with your guide and stay overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 14 : Departure from Kota Kinabalu

After breakfast, drive to the airport for your departure flight out of Sabah. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Ranee Hotel

The boutique Ranee Hotel is centrally-located in Kuching Old Town and offers beautiful views of the river, the Astana and the State Assembly building. Renovated from traditional 19th-century shop houses, each room has its own unique character that combines the old and the new. There is an all-day dining and bar service.

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Nanga Sumpa Lodge

The Nanga Sumpa Lodge is situated on the banks of the Delok River and offers a rare insight into the lifestyle of some of the remote tribes of Borneo. The more basic facilities on offer reflect the remote location of the lodge. The beautiful surrounding rainforest, streams and waterfalls make this lodge the perfect setting for outdoor activities - including jungle trekking and spotting Orang Utan in their natural habitat. 

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Garden Bungalow

The Garden Bungalows lie nestled in the rainforests of Mulu National Park. These wooden lodges are set on stilts in the woodland, offering guests the real wildlife experience whilst also being fitted with air conditioning and hot water to allow for a comfortable stay. The small on-site restaurant serves a selection of local dishes for guests. Guides are on hand for advise and activities at Mulu, which can include trekking, caving and rafting. 

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Royal Mulu Resort

Mulu Resort is built in the style of a traditional Bornean longhouse, which stands on wooden stilts on the banks of the Melinau River. Situated near to Mulu National Park, Mulu Resort is the perfect location from which to explore its rich wildlife. Its spacious interior is fitted with modern fixtures and fittings, including air conditioning. Whilst each room has its own veranda that boasts tranquil views across the surrounding jungle and Melinau River. 

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Jesselton Hotel

The Jesselton Hotel is situated in the heart of the city, making it a good base for exploring the local sights. The spacious rooms have a classic feel, offering a mix of colonial history with modern amenities, including an en-suite and internet access. The restaurant at Jesselton Hotel serves a mixture of western and local dishes. 

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Borneo Nature Lodge

Borneo Nature Lodge is an eco-friendly resort that lies on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. The lodge has simple furnishings that complement the real wilderness experience of the region. Many of the decorative items displayed within Borneo Nature Lodge have been hand-made by indigenous tribal communities. The lodge also houses a restaurant, with both indoor and al fresco seating, allowing guests to enjoy their natural surroundings.     

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Danum Valley Field Centre

The Danum Valley Field Centre is located in the Danum Valley conservation area - one of the largest and best-protected forests remaining in South East Asia. It is a leading rainforest research centre and a member of The South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP). The site offers several types of accommodation, including chalets, a hostel and a campsite, which all provide an ideal base for exploring the surrounding wildlife. All meals served for guests at Danum Valley are prepared in traditional Malaysian style using fresh local ingredients. 

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