Family volunteering in Borneo

“Contribute to extraordinary wildlife conservation with your family in Sabah rainforest of Malaysian Borneo, along Kinabatangan River. See an array of Sabah wildlife and stay in community accommodation. ”


Wildlife conservation project | Sabah wildlife | Sandakan | Orang Sungai community | Kinabatangan river | Tree planting and habitat restoration | Orangutans | Pygmy elephants | Proboscis monkeys | macaques | Visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Description of Family volunteering in Borneo

Immerse yourself and your family into rainforest life, living amongst the ever-smiling Orang Sungai tribe and playing a vital role in habitat and wildlife conservation on a family volunteering trip in Borneo. Help to conserve a proliferation of wildlife including orangutans, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, macaques, singing gibbons and sun bears – not to mention the birds! –through protecting and regenerating their jungle environment.

This is a specifically-designed family trip, allowing you and your family to experience conservation of species and habitats in Borneo. Habitat destruction has led to a rapid decline in many of Borneo's species and you will leave knowing that you have made a genuine contribution to protecting orangutans, elephants and other endangered animals. This inspiring project helps in a twofold way:

1) Planting trees to regenerate the jungle. Increased jungle coverage means that more creatures can live and survive in the wild. This involves planting trees, clearing weeds and growing saplings. Young children will be under the supervision of parents when using tools for planting and weeding.

2) Spend time out on the beautiful river, monitoring the wildlife that you see in the area from the boat. Seeing orangutans swinging through the trees, elephants grazing and macaques leaping through the branches is quite incredible. Young children need to be able to sit still and quietly for 2 - 3 hours.

In addition to these principal daily activities, other tasks and activities can include community and education, a jungle trek and a visit to the world famous Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre, the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Please note that parents are responsible for the behaviour of their children and they must be sensitive to other volunteers on the programme at the time. Some activities require silence and observation while others will involve the use of tools.

Accommodation and food
You will be staying in local guest houses throughout this project. Meals are provided either by your guest house hosts or by members of the local community. Food is delicious and varied. All meals will be local meals so please do not expect burgers, chips or chicken nuggets for children!

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Arrival in Sandakan and overnight in the rainforest on the outskirts of the town
Day 2:Transfer to the Orang Sungai village for the start of the project.
Day 2 - 5:Wildlife monitoring, tree planting, community involvement and jungle trek.
Day 6:Depart the project site and visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre and Rainforest Discovery centre. Overnight in Sandakan.
Day 7:Return to Sandakan airport

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
US pricing:
The currency converter above works on todays exchange rate. We do take bookings in USD but the price is set at a rate confirmed months in advance and is typically above the current exchange rate. Please enquire for details.
Accessible overview:
There are challenges associated with volunteer travel, and these can make accessible travel difficult. However, we are very keen to chat with travellers with specific needs to see if we can make a trip possible.
We cater for both vegetarians and vegans.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Conserving Borneo
This project is all about conserving the dwindling natural environment in Borneo - and hopefully enabling it to regenerate and survive for many more generations to come. Orangutan populations are plummeting, mainly thanks to palm oil plantations and deforestation. On this project, volunteers help to plant new rainforest and maintain it, ensuring that animals have safe places to live and thrive.

Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travellers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic and electricity usage.

We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.

The Impacts of this Trip

Meeting local needs
This project engages directly with the local community. Meals are provided by local families, boat and bus drivers do all transfers and the guest houses are rented from local families. In addition to this there is an active local education and immersion scheme which allows families to get to know their friendly hosts. Volunteer spending is spread around the local community by engaging a large range of local individuals and businesses. Saplings are bought from locals who grow them to help regenerate the rainforest.

Cultural sensitivity
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Borneo. Volunteers are briefed on the local cultures and customs. Our policy is to send people in small groups, which minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination and helps them to integrate into the local community.


1 Reviews of Family volunteering in Borneo

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 06 Dec 2016 by

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

Being in a group of mostly 20-somethings was a wee window into their world!
Handling the monkeys was pretty extraordinary!

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

Just be prepared to get dirty and for quite physical work.

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

Yes we were directly looking after animals.

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

It was a very interesting experience and we both learned a lot. But I think my 'roughing it' days are over; I was really glad to get to a nice, clean hotel at the end!

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