Borneo orangutan holiday
Description of Borneo orangutan holiday
This two-week Borneo orangutan holiday allows you to get up close to some of Malaysia's most mesmerising and iconic wildlife. Discover Borneo on a holiday set to an array of exotic postcard-worthy backdrops; time is perfectly balanced between both the stunning coastal white-sand beaches and the lush virgin rainforest.
Stout walking shoes at the ready – you'll find yourself exploring the spectacular Danum Valley conservation area which is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity. Here you’ll encounter a wide range of wild primates, birds and insects, before retiring to your base at a variety of jungle lodge accommodations, from where to enjoy nocturnal nature walks (or just relax in the Jacuzzi!).
Travel deeper into the jungle ecosystem, spotting wildlife at a leisurely pace as you cruise gently along the River Kinabatangan. Watch out for proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, rhinoceros hornbills while searching for the area’s reclusive wild orangutan population.
Even if the jungle does not yield, you are guaranteed an amazing Borneo orangutan tour experience with a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Orphaned Bornean orangutans are rescued and cared for at the sanctuary, where you’ll have the opportunity to watch feeding time and learn more about the rehabilitation initiatives that are currently taking place in the surrounding jungles.
No Borneo orangutan holiday would be complete without some beach time which is why your final destination is Gaya Island. This pristine island, just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, is the perfect place to trade hiking boots for flop flops and take some well-deserved time to relax. Enjoy a spot of snorkelling or try your hand at scuba diving around the island’s coral reefs before you head for home.
Please note: this holiday assumes a 2-night jungle stay at the luxury Borneo Rainforest Lodge. For a lower price we can replace this with a 2-night jungle stay at Tabin Wildlife Resort. Please speak to us to discuss options.
|Day 1||Depart on an overnight flight from the UK.|
|Day 2||Land Kota Kinabalu and drive to the Rasa Ria Resort. The day is at leisure.|
|Day 3||Full day at leisure to relax. (B)|
|Day 4||An early start today. Return to the airport and fly to Lahad Datu, the gateway to the Danum Valley Conservation Area. Transfer in a 4WD vehicle to the unique Borneo Rainforest Lodge: wildlife can often be seen on the journey. After a sumptuous buffet lunch, traverse the 300-metre canopy walkway to search for animal and birdlife and experience life in the treetrops - not for the faint hearted! Return to the lodge and enjoy the lodge comforts. After dinner, enjoy a night walk or night safari (weather permitting). Overnight Borneo Rainforest Lodge. (B,L,D)|
|Day 5||Start early with a trek on the Coffin Trail to an ancient Kadazandusun burial site and a truly magnificent viewpoint. Return to the lodge with a stop in the jacuzzi pool - look out for the fishies! Enjoy lunch and time to relax before heading out on a shorter walk along the Segama Trail to search for wildlife. After dinner there is once more the chance to enjoy a night walk or safari (weather permitting). Overnight Borneo Rainforest Lodge. (B,L,D)|
|Day 6||This morning there is the option to enjoy a final early walk (please consult your guide) before departing back to Lahad Datu. Change vehicles and drive to the Kinabatangan River region, a key wildlife area. Arrive at your riverside lodge and if you wish there is the chance to visit the Gomantong Caves (payable locally, please speak to lodge staff). Late afternoon enjoy a river cruise to search for wildlife including proboscis monkeys, macaques, hornbills, snakes, eagles, pygmy elephants and wild orangutans. Overnight Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge. (B,L,D)|
|Day 7||Transfer downriver to your next river lodge, the transfer itself is another chance to search for wildlife. Arrive at your lodge and take part in the tree planting programme with the local villagers. After lunch enjoy time to relax at the lodge nature boardwalk before a late afternoon river cruise. At this time of day the wildlife tends to be more active so keep an eye out for families of proboscis monkeys, troops of macaques and grey-leaf monkeys, birds of prey and magnificent hornbills. After dinner cruise to see the firelfy display. Overnight Abai Jungle Lodge. (B,L,D)|
|Day 8||Wake up to the sounds of the jungle landscape. Take a boat through the mangrove forest and out into the Sulu Sea to Sandakan. Enjoy lunch in town and drive to the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. This afternoon visit the Centre to watch the feeding of the orangutans, a truly fantastic experience. Overnight Sepilok Nature Resort. (B,L,D)|
|Day 9||You will be collected today and returned to Sandakan airport for the flight back to Kota Kinabalu. Transfer to the jetty and take the resort speedboat across to Gaya Island Resort, home for the next 5 nights. This luxury resort offers excellent snorkelling and diving. Enjoy your time on the island. Overnight Gaya Island Resort. (B)|
|Days 10-13||Time at leisure on the island. There are some excellent jungle treks you can do here with the chance to see one of the families of proboscis monkeys which live here. (B)|
|Day 14||Time at leisure until you return to Kota Kinabalu airport today for the flight back to the UK. (B)|
25 Reviews of Borneo orangutan holiday
Reviewed on 09 Oct 2019 by Mr B GibsonThe most exciting part of the holiday was the several sightings of Orangutans in the wild. Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Sep 2019 by Matthew Gobey5***** Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Aug 2019 by Sharon RichenbergCruising down the Kinabatangan River, marvelling at the wildlife was the highlight of the holiday. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Aug 2019 by Pirkko ErichsenRiver boat cruises and lunch at Abai village were the most memorable parts of the trip. Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Jul 2019 by Kate BradleyThe most memorable part of the holiday was seeing orangutans in the wild for the first time at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Jan 2019 by Sheena PatelWe had an amazing trip in Borneo. Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat was amazing. Having monkeys and wild pigs join breakfast in the jungle is something that will need topping!! Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Aug 2019 by Kamini GadhokIt was a real privilege to see the wildlife from the elephants and birds at Dunam rainforest, the probuscus monkeys and wild orangutan along the Kinabatangan river to the sun bears and orangutans in Sandakan Read full review
Reviewed on 06 May 2019 by Carolyn VincentWe loved seeing the orangutans both in the wild and in the Sepilok rehabilitation centre. Read full review
Reviewed on 04 May 2019 by Jane HorstThe fantastic close encounters with the wildlife unique to Borneo was the most memorable part of our holiday. We were lucky enough to see wild orangutans at close quarters Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Sep 2018 by Linda PhillipsSeeing a wild male Orangutan just a few feet away from my room at Borneo Rainforest Lodge was the most memorable. Read full review
Reviewed on 01 Aug 2018 by David Abramowitz...at least a nine out of ten. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Jul 2018 by Rebecca SmithThe most memorable part of the holiday was...the wildlife! it was amazing! We were so lucky as we saw wild orangutans for 5 days straight, Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Jun 2018 by Pippa FinlaysonThis was a dream holiday for us. With the added bonus of getting to see some very special and endangered wildlife. I can't thank Responsible Travel enough. Read full review
Reviewed on 24 Oct 2017 by Eivind ThomsenOrang-utans in the wild, - fabulous guides, the incredible beautiful rainforests - and an amazing birdlife. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Oct 2017 by Penny MorganSeeing the orang-utans in the wild, a amazing experience. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Aug 2017 by Charlotta HickieVisiting different areas of the jungle and rain forest and being immersed in it. The flora and fauna is superb and the wildlife mesmerising. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Sep 2017 by Caroline DavisonRiver lodge and cruises and Danum valley - seeing the wildlife was amazing. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Mar 2017 by Kath TunstallSeeing Orangutan up close in the wild was the most memorable. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Oct 2017 by Stephen ReedWe spent half a day in the local village planting trees that formed part of the income for some of the villages, we also had dinner with them which brought them into our activities... Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Oct 2016 by Tim HarrisonAn amazing experience, probably the best holiday ever! Read full review
Reviewed on 19 Apr 2016 by Peter GreenThis was the best holiday I've ever had; it was our first 'wildlife' holiday and whetted our appetite for more. Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Oct 2016 by Julien WrightSeeing orang-utang and gibbon in the wild. Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Oct 2016 by Ashley IronsQuality of guides was excellent, they were so enthusiastice and wanted to ensure we saw as much wild life as possible. The guide in Tabin went above and beyond to try and ensure that we saw an orangutang in the wild (which we did!). Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Jun 2015 by Marnie HadawayThere are too many memorable and exciting parts to mention! Watching young Orangutans playing in the trees in Danhum Valley was incredible, seeing flying squirrels and a Western Tarsier on a night walk was fantastic. An incredible experience, I would recommend this to everyone. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Sep 2015 by Ellen CartwrightGreat holiday, excellent service, good communication & transportation. Read full review
PlanetOn this holiday you will spend time in the Danum Valley Conservation Area staying at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, the only lodge in the region. The Danum Valley Conservation Area covers 43,800 hectares of protected lowland rainforest and is home to an astonishing variety of plants and wildlife including more than 340 species of birds, 124 species of mammals, 72 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians and 200 species of plants per hectare. The Lodge takes its eco-friendly credentials very seriously, they are committed to try and minimise guest and staff impact on the environment as much as possible. Some of the principles they have introduced include simple things like keeping guests on set trekking paths through the jungle, paper, plastic and aluminium can recycling in the nearest town but also more complex ideas such as the filtering of water for drinking thus avoiding the need for plastic water bottles: guestrooms have jugs of filtered water and the bar only sells canned drinks, no plastic is allowed. Also used cooking oil is collected from the kitchen and filtered to make oil for the restaurant table lamps and refuse sacks are made from biodegradable cornstarch not plastic.
The stilted timber guestrooms are built to try and minimise heat build-up in the rooms and thus avoid the need for in-room air-conditioning: the ceilings of the rooms are insulated with a 10cm-thick layer of mineral wool which keeps heat out and allows natural ventilation to pass through. The bathrooms are centrally located in the guestrooms and constructed of concrete which, while not inherently an eco-friendly substance, when placed in shade works to absorb the cooler air around it and act as a cooling ‘agent’ for the entire room.
There is an on-site organic garden where a lot of the restaurant’s salad and vegetables are grown: the gardens are fertilized by a combination of food waste and a homemade organic compound created by the lodge. This organic compound, called EM-1, is a combination of molasses, yeast and organic microbes mixed together and used in their organic fertilizer but also as a substance to neutralise odours from the septic tanks. Borneo Rainforest Lodge established a project in conjunction with the authorities of nearby Lahad Datu town to produce 300,000 EM-1 ‘mud balls’ to be thrown into the sea around the fish market to remove excess fish waste and neutralise the smell from the water.
The Lodge is also the site of an ongoing scientific study into the feeding habits of the local orangutan population and the effects of fluctuating fruit supply. This is being conducted in conjunction with the staff and guides of the lodge and with their full cooperation.
This holiday visits Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Founded in 1964, Sepilok was established to rehabilitate orphaned and often injured orangutans and rehabilitate them back into the wild. Located on the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve, the facility provides medical care for orangutans and other wildlife species including gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and the occasional injured elephant. The Centre works like a halfway house for the orangutans: it provides a semi-wild haven in the protected reserve outside the confines of the Centre but twice a day meals are provided for those animals who feel the need for it. Entrance to the Centre for these feedings is chargeable and all funds go back to the Centre to help fund the important work they are doing here. The Centre is also an important education tool for visitors to learn about the orangutans and the Centre’s work and help promote it to possible future visitors.
This trip also stays in Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort which offers an involved corporate social responsibility scheme split between EMBRACE and SANCTUARY. Sanctuary focuses on their nature project and centres on their nature reserve, the Rasa Ria Resort Nature Interpretation Centre. The centre has worked closely with the Sabah Wildlife Department for almost 20 years and is responsible for the first stage care of orphaned and injured orangutans, which usually lasts between 4 and 5 years, before they are transferred to Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre near Sandakan for their onward care and release. To date, 39 young orangutans have been rehabilitated and transferred to Sepilok and the centre has been responsible for the education of nearly 10,000 school children and of course countless hotel guests and other visitors. The Rasa Ria Resort also recently donated and sponsored a fully modified 4WD vehicle to the Sabah Wildlife Department. The Rapid Response Wildlife Enforcement Unit has been set up to address illegal wildlife poaching and killings in Sabah state and this 4WD donation will go some way to helping address the problem.
The resort also has their own bottling plant where they supply pure still water to all guestrooms and outlets. Since its implementation, there has been a reduction of up to 420,000 plastic bottles! Since February 2013 the resort has been composting waste in an attempt to convert it to something beneficial, as fertilizer for the gardens. Waste water from guestrooms is channelled to the resort’s own sewage treatment plant where the water is treated and used to water the golf course.
More recently the resort ran a reef clean-up activity in conjunction with Raleigh International and Borneo Divers - 15 staff and 1 guest participated in the clean-up resulting in the removal of 19kg of rubbish. Also, in conjunction with Earth Hour, resort staff produced 1,441 candles from used cooking oil and jam jars sourced from the resort and staff also planted herbs at La Salle Secondary School which they will purchase from the school when ready for harvest to be used in the kitchens.
PeopleOur local Borneo ground agents employ only local guides and drivers thereby keeping all moneys paid to staff in the local community. Where possible, food served to guests at the lodges is sourced locally thereby providing a further income to local residents.
Abai Jungle Lodge is located next to Abai village en-route from the Sulu Sea to Sukau. In conjunction with the Abai villagers, the Abai Jungle restaurant was built with food sourced from Abai village and their fishermen. A donation is made for each diner towards the Abai Homestay Development Fund to go towards the upgrading of village facilities with the provision of household goods, school uniforms, seeds etc.
Abai Jungle Lodge came later and was built behind the restaurant. The lodge uses many environmentally friendly practices including the use of biodegradable and environmentally friendly shampoo and soaps in guestrooms, rainwater collection and a reverse osmosis water treatment system which purifies the water in an energy efficient and cost effective way. The lodge also introduced their ‘tree planting and lunch with the villagers’ programme where for every person who partakes in this activity, a donation is made to the village as well as the tree itself which helps generate an extra income for the village. Over the years the lodge owners have donated useful items such as motor and fibreglass boats to the villagers.
In conjunction with Orangutan Appeal UK, for every booking to Borneo we adopt our chosen Sepilok orangutan, Gelison, in your names for a year. Orangutan Appeal UK works to support the orangutans of Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre which provides 24hr essential care for orphaned and injured orangutans with the aim to rehabilitate them into the wilds of the adjacent Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve and beyond. Funds from the adoption costs go towards funding the Centre’s work providing food, medical care and a safe refuge for the orangutans as well as being an important educational tool for visitors.
Rasa Ria Resort's Embrace scheme focuses on community work within the region. The resort has been sponsoring two secondary schools located in close proximity to the resort, SMK Sri Nangka and SMK Tamparuli (Special Education Centre), since 2012. Apart from scholarships, various educational support and the improvement of facilities and health support, the resort also provides skills training for sustainable futures.
The “A Meal a Day” programme was launched and established by the resort to provide meals to students from underprivileged, single parent and low income family backgrounds. Twenty students of SMK Sri Nangka were selected for this programme.
As part of the Shangri-La chains commitment to corporate social responsibility, Tanjung Aru Resort has implemented a range of practices including a coral planting programme to help propagate marine life, a private water bottling plant to eliminate the wastage of 450,000 plastic bottles per year and a rain water collection scheme where the water is used in the resort gardens. A new aquaponics programme was introduced in 2014 to harvest herbs and rear fish for the restaurant. Biodegradable bathroom amenities made from plant starch are used in guestrooms and their composting scheme aims to reduce organic waste and produce fertiliser reducing their dependence on chemicals and pesticides which can affect the safety of the natural environment. The resort also does not serve any shark-fin in the resort restaurants.