This itinerary offers students the chance to experience and study a range of Borneo's environments and wildlife, with emphasis on the conservation, regeneration and sustainability of the region.
Firstly, students will focus on the eco-systems found around Kinabatangan River, where there will also be plenty of opportunities to encounter wildlife on different walks and river cruises. There are also chances to help conserve the fragile river environment by assisting in cleaning and restoration of the river and surrounding forest.
Following on from Kinabatangan, the group heads to the magnificent Danum Valley, home to some of the rarest flora and fauna found in Borneo. With very little human interference, the rainforest here has incredible biodiversity, and the focus during your stay turns to wildlife encounters and jungle trekking through the pristine forest.
Finally, the itinerary concludes with a three day community project in the Sapulot area, where the group will work to improve village conditions by building much needed infrastructure, with some time before departure for snorkelling in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and exploring Kota Kinabalu.
Day1: Depart UK
Depart from the UK on an overnight flight via Kuala Lumpur.
Day2: Arrive Sandakan, transfer to Sepilok
On arrival you will be transferred to your lodge near Sepilok to drop your bags off. After lunch you have the rest of the afternoon free and easy to relax after your journey.
After dinner, there will be a presentation by a representative from Sabah Wildlife Department on the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, it's ecosystem, threats impacting the area and the conservation programmes in place. Then it's time for a good night’s sleep before your Kinabatangan River adventures start tomorrow.
Day3: Sepilok to Kinabatangan River
This morning you will visit Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary for the morning feeding session, following by a visit to the Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where you will learn more about the conservation efforts aimed at trying to protect these endangered species.
After lunch you will support the Tree Planting Programme, one of the conservation efforts in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. You will be transferred to the tree planting site, where each team member will plant a seedling near the river. This activity helps to regenerate the rainforest in one of the many 'gaps' or fragments along the river as part of the "Kinabatangan - Corridor of Life (CoL)" programme.
In the late afternoon, join a river cruise along the Kinabatangan River in search of a variety of wildlife, including proboscis monkey, hornbills and hopefully wild orangutans, and perhaps even the endangered Bornean pygmy elephant.
Day4: Kinabatangan River
Join an early morning river cruise; at this time of day you will typically you see a lot more bird and mammal life.
After lunch the team will join a river cleaning activity to remove water hyacinths from a nearby site along the Kinabatangan River. The river cleaning activity is one of the conservation activities included in the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life Programme; water hyacinths are considered to be a nuisance due to the physical problems and ecological impacts arising from its uncontrolled growth.
You’ll join another late afternoon river cruise in search of more amazing wildlife encounters, and after dinner partake in a night trek behind the lodge in search of nocturnal wildlife.
Day5: Kinabatangan River
After an early morning river cruise, visit Gomantong Cave, one of the biggest cave systems in Sabah, and part of the Gomantong Forest Reserve (3,000 hectares). In this enormous cave several million bats can be found during the day and just as many swiftlets (from the swallow family) at night.
Returning to your lodge in the morning, you will join a local cooking class and learn to prepare some local tasty dishes – the results will be your lunch! After lunch you will visit nearby Bilit Village and join a guided walk around the village, before returning to the lodge.
Join another late afternoon river cruise in search of more wildlife encounters. After dinner you will join a local dance class led by Bilit Youth Club – an opportunity for you to learn more about traditional dancing in Sabah, and have a go.
Day6: Kinabatangan River to Danum Valley
An early start today as you leave for the journey to the Danum Valley. After lunch, you will take a short trek in the local area as an introduction to the Borneo rainforest. The area surrounding the Field Centre teems with wildlife and it is not unusual to spot residents such as orangutan and hornbills.
After dinner, go on a night walk with your guides in search of nocturnal wildlife.
Day7: Danum Valley
After breakfast, prepare your trekking rucksack and at 9am start your trek to a jungle camp, eight kilometres through beautiful rainforest. Upon arrival at the campsite, settle-in and enjoy lunch, then you'll have time to explore the waterfall with its seven-tiered pools. After dinner join a night trek around the camp in search of nocturnal wildlife.
Day8: Danum Valley
Today you will trek back to the Field Centre, exploring the forest en route with local naturalist guides. After a relaxing afternoon, there will be time for a short hike for more wildlife observation. After dinner, go on a night trek with your local guide, looking out for nocturnal species.
Day9: Danum Valley to Sapulot
Today is an early start as you transfer to Sapulot, a total driving time of around six to eight hours, including a stop en route for lunch near Tawau. Arriving at Sapulot in the late afternoon, take a short walk around the village and familiarise yourself with the project work ahead. After dinner you’ll overnight in traditional longhouse style accommodation.
Day10: Sapulot Community Project
After an early breakfast, transfer to the project site and start working in small groups, each led by a skilled coordinator in the particular task assigned to the group. Upon completion of the first day’s work, perhaps join in a soccer game with the locals, or help prepare tonight’s dinner.
Day11: Sapulot Community Project
After an early breakfast, transfer to the project site, where your day follows a similar format to yesterday. After lunch, enjoy a short break to mingle with villagers before resuming work. Upon completion of the today's work, you’ll have another opportunity to mingle with the villagers. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner and cultural program, join in local dances, and chat with your new friends from the village.
Day12: Sapulot to Kota Kinabalu
After an early breakfast, transfer to the project site again until lunch. After lunch, bid farewell to your hosts before transferring back to Kota Kinabalu, arriving back at around 7pm.
Day13: Snorkelling in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park
Today will be a day of snorkelling in the nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The local team will provide you with a full safety briefing before starting a morning guided snorkelling tour. In small teams, begin snorkelling along coral reefs teeming with marine life including various species of damsel fish, puffer fish, lion fish, parrot fish, blue spotted rays, anemone fish (including Nemo!) and a perhaps a turtle. After lunch the team can choose between relaxing on the beach or going for another guided snorkelling tour along a different coral reef.
Day14: Kota Kinabalu, depart
This morning you will have free time to explore the craft markets in Kota Kinabalu. After lunch, transfer to the airport for the return flight to Kuala Lumpur and onward journey to the UK.
Day15: Arrive UK
This suggested itinerary is based on personal recommendation and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
Facilitate improvements to local conditions and activate sustainable change within the Sapulot community, in order for villagers to retain their land over selling to palm oil and timber companies.
Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary offers the finest orangutan encounters in Borneo. Here you can experience some of the clearest and closest meetings with these apes in their natural environment.
Home to some of the finest wildlife encounters in Borneo, the Kinabatangan region has been a haven for scientists and conservationists for many years due to its prosperous environment.
This is one of Borneo's leading wildlife environments and an outstanding location to research some of the country's most diverse fauna such as the endangered Bornean orangutan and pygmy elephant.
A must-see on your visit to Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah and offers amazing opportunities to explore World War II wrecks on diving tours, as well as learn about the city's history and culture.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park offers exceptional opportunities to explore a marine environment, identify fish and coral, and get involved in marine conservation.