Borneo holiday, Mt Kinabalu, orangutans & rainforest

“Fly, trek and explore amongst the national parks of Borneo where Deer Cave, the Headhunters Trail and Mount Kinabalu at sunrise will leave you giddy with adventure.”


Miri | Mulu National Park | Lang's and Deer caves | Rainforest canopy walkway | Clearwater and Wind caves | Melinau Gorge | Headhunters Trail | Limbang | Labuan | Kota Kinabalu | Sandakan | Kinabatanagan River | Sabah tea plantation | Gomontong caves | Mount Kinabalu ascent via Mesilau Route, summit at sunrise | Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre | Optional activities include: self-guided trails, visits to a long house and nocturnal jungle walks |

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700


Check dates, prices & availability

15 Oct 2016
£ 2739
including UK flights
Our top tip:
Put in a few hours hill walking at home and don't forget insect repellent, good hiking boots, thermal undies and a head torch for all of those caves.
Trip type:
Small group, av. 12 people. Min age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate/challenging. 3 full day walks and ascent of Mt Kinabalu.
5 nights comfortable hotels, 4 standard hotels (all en-suite), 4 basic lodges/huts (shared facilities, limited hot water).
Accommodation, transport, park fees and tour leader.
Breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners.
Single room supplements available for 8 nights only.
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Borneo holiday, Mt Kinabalu, orangutans & rainforest


A large portion of this trip is dedicated to observing the abundance of diverse wildlife in Borneo. Our care for the natural environment and indigenous species in the area extends even beyond careful briefing, meticulous waste disposal and payment of National Park fees which help to protect the wildlife. This particular trip directly supports the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary which rehabilitates injured, orphaned and captured Orang-utans into the wild. At 43 square kilometers, Sepilok is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the world and so this is a great place to find out more about these loveable monkeys and to make a donation or buy souvenirs. We are also involved in the Turtle Conservation Project, HUTAN- an NGO that specialising in Orang-utan/elephant research throughout Eastern Sabah, and several community-based programmes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.


We use locally owned hotels, restaurants and employ local guides and operators. This keeps our tourist money in the host countries by providing income for people in the area. In Mulu National Park the Penan people and other native groups are employed by the park and this trip helps to maintain their livelihood. There is also the option of visiting a Penan settlement to learn about these forest dwellers and the chance to join a night walk to experience the nocturnal activity of this varied habitat. Often there is the chance for clients to enjoy and participate in cultural entertainment such as traditional dancing and music. We are keen to emphasise that interaction with indigenous groups should not be a one-way street and so our guides will teach some Bahasa Malay so those travelling can interact with local people.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. Our leaders and guides have been trained in responsible travel and actively encourage our suppliers, drivers, and other members of our team to respect the environment, protect the culture and support the local economy. They have also completed Child Safe training which enables them to take positive action should they encounter children at risk as well as educating clients re child protection within tourism.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Borneo holiday, Mt Kinabalu, orangutans & rainforest

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There are two: seeing a grown male orang utan in the wild, and watching the sun rise from the summit of Mount Kinabalu

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring a head torch and lots of insect repellant. Plus an alarm clock!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Overall we did nothing to harm the environment and also planted some trees. Generally, yes (although there is a lot of flying).

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

fantastic, a real once in a lifetime experience

Reviewed on 25 Oct 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

See the orangutans , the river crusies wildlife spotting, reaching the top of the mountain.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Pack really warm clothes for the mountain (thermal underwear is a must), make sure you've done some hill walking before you go, be prepared for really basic accomodation, take a sleeping sheet with you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

The first week wasn't really a holiday it was just a hard slog. The 2nd week was great though and the guide Manuel was amazing, he made the holiday as fantastic as it was.

Reviewed on 17 Jan 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Climbing the pinnacles and Mt. Kinabalu!!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Bring good hiking boots and strong insect repellent! Otherwise, follow the trip notes in terms of things to bring and just enjoy!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Not as much as it could have done. We took quite a few flights in the 2-week trip, some of which could have been avoided.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was the first time that I had been on a group holiday and I was very impressed with the Guide, the organisation and the structure of activities during the trip.

Reviewed on 20 Jun 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The climax of the holiday definitely was the final ascent of Mount Kinabalu, arriving at the summit at sunrise. Amazing feeling of being on top of the world - very beautiful and physically challenging. This was closely followed by swimming in an idyllic jungle pool and bathing in an equally idyllic jungle waterfall. Climbing the Pinnacles was the ultimate physical challenge and although not the greatest view at the top it left you feeling exhausted but exhilarated. This was balanced by wonderful river safaris at night and at dawn. Each day brought a new adventure - a wonderful holiday!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read the travel notes!! I didn't - because I'm blonde! Had to borrow a few items from people especially for the final climb as it became very cold! Also this is quite a physical holiday - which I loved but it does require a certain level of fitness if you're hoping to achieve all that's planned.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Definitely. All local produce was used for our meals which were prepared by local people. Local guides were used at all times. Care of the environment was encouraged in order to minimise the impact of our visit together with education about maintaining the delicate environmental balance especially at the eco lodge.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Just the most fantastic time - a wonderful balance of nature, truly exhilarating physical activity and fun!

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