Best of Borneo
Imagine a place that is spiritual and wild, colourful and mysterious, and full of tantalising secrets - this is beautiful Borneo. From the steamy jungles of Mulu National Park and the secluded beaches of Turtle Island, to the graceful orangutans at Sepilok and small villages nestled in the shadow of Mt Kinabalu, Borneo is a true gem of South East Asia. Experience captivating sunsets, be welcomed on homestays, travel along scenic trails, laze on tropical beaches and see an abundance of wildlife - this is a tour to remember forever.
Finish: Kota Kinabalu
Ages: 15 - 99
Theme: Explorer, Wildlife
Accommodation: Cabin (multishare) (2 nights), Dormitory (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (5 nights)
Destination: Kota Kinabalu
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Kuching, meaning 'cat' in Malay, is arguably the most pleasant city in Malaysian Borneo. It was home to the infamous White Raja of Sarawak, whose mysterious rule in this remote corner of the world sparked the imagination of many people who dreamt of becoming royalty. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, which you can find details about at the hotel’s reception. In any free time before the meeting, check out this cosmopolitan city rich in architecture, where the waterfront houses a wealth of curious shops and local vegetable, spice and fish markets. This city of skyscrapers sitting near lush green jungle is easily walked around, so maybe relish the mellow vibe and head out with your new travel companions to try some local dishes like Sarawak Laksa and Kolok mee.
Hop in a private van to the fishing village of Kampung Bako (approximately 1 hour), then a local boat up the coast to Bako National Park (approximately 20 minutes). Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak and features rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Millions of years of erosion formed a coastline of steep cliffs, rocky headlands and stretches of white, sandy bays. Waves have carved the cliffs into fantastically shaped sea arches and sea-stacks, with coloured patterns formed by iron deposits. The many jungle trails in Bako offer an insight into the island's botanical diversity. Weather permitting, you’ll take a leader-led walk to the beautiful beach at Telok Pandan Kecil (5 kilometres, approximately 3 hours return). The trail climbs through the forest before emerging onto an open plateau covered in scrub, from where curious pitcher plants can sometimes be seen. It can be a hot, but always rewarding hike. For those looking for a longer (or shorter) hike, you are free to explore as many of the 18 different trails as you like. Whatever your plan, check with the ranger for the best time to spy the quirky proboscis monkeys up in the trees. In the evening, you’ll take a night walk, a rare chance to experience the jungle in a different light. Notes: You’ll stay in basic National Park lodgings – fan cooled, multi shared rooms. Most visitors will only come to Bako on a day trip, so after 4pm you’ll have the beach to yourselves at a prime time for wildlife spotting and spectacular sunsets. This is the best time to be at Bako National Park, and why we prefer to stay overnight. Even if the accommodation is basic, it's worth it for this experience!
After an optional, invigorating morning hike, farewell the jungle and return to Bako Village by boat (it may be necessary to depart the park earlier or later subject to weather conditions). Then travel by private minivan back to Kuching (approximately 1 hour). Later you will transfer to the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary – a government-funded rehabilitation centre set in lush surrounds – on the way. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. Head into the jungle via a walkway, where from a viewing platform you can watch and photograph the orangutans as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day. Take some time to savour the special moments in these animals’ company. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow your leader's instructions. Afterwards, return to Kuching and the hotel, where you can freshen up from the heat. This evening perhaps mosey down to the riverbank and watch tambang ferries glide by, visit Sarawak Museum (one of the most popular attractions here), or head out to one of the many Chinese-influenced hawker markets for dinner and experience the range of local seafood.
Fly to Mulu via Miri, sending your large bag on to Limbang and packing a day bag with the essentials for the next four days. When you arrive in Mulu, head into the heart of one of the most spectacular national parks in Asia – Gunung Mulu National Park. Transfer the short distance to Mulu HQ (2 kilometres) where you’ll stay for the next 2 nights. Your leader will go through some of the options for your free time here. You can take to the some of the self-guided trails around the park, or to the treetops on the world’s longest tree based canopy walkway. Or maybe simply kick back with a book and enjoy the sounds of the nearby jungle. Later there is the chance of an optional night walk to search for some weird and wonderful insects and reptiles. Tonight you’ll stay in the park headquarters, which has its own restaurant and Information Centre. Accommodation is multishare rooms with private bathroom.
Today you have a free morning to explore or have a sleep in. Spend the afternoon strolling the walkways of this 180-million-year-old rainforest, and then catch the sunset flight of the bats at Deer Cave. The World Heritage-listed park has absolutely spectacular limestone geology, with enormous caves, vast cave networks, rock pinnacles, cliffs and gorges. In fact, its system of caves is the largest known in the world, formed when surface water worked its way through the rock, carving gigantic passages through the bedrock. Deer Cave has one of the single largest cave passages in the world, 2.2 kilometres long and 220 metres tall at its highest point. Before it was part of the park the cave was a well-known hunting ground for deer, who were attracted to the pools of salty water running off the heaps of guano. The guano comes from the millions of bats who call the cave home, and at dusk there’s a mass exodus as they emerge for their nightly feeding, like a seemingly endless black plume of smoke twisting across the sky. In nearby Lang cave you can appreciate the work that the water does on the limestone, sculpting waves on the ceiling, drawing stalagmites, columns and stalactites.
Leave Park HQ behind and head into the jungle. Take boats for around 30 minutes downriver to the amazing Clearwater and Wind caves, which contain Asia’s longest underwater river. The Clearwater cave system runs for 107 kilometres, 75 of which have been explored. The system gets its name from the bright jungle pool at the base of the steps that lead up to the cave mouth. Wind Cave draws a cooling breeze through its lengths and features some of Gunung Mulu’s best cave formations, while Clearwater is covered in a species of bright green plant that is unique to the park and offers a real opportunity to see the water at work on the rock. Afterwards, take a longboat downriver before disembarking to hike through undisturbed jungle to Camp 5, nestled at the end of Melinau Gorge (approximately 8.5 kilometres). During dry season, the boats may need to be pushed over certain sections of the river, so it is advisable to wear strap on sandals or shoes that can get wet. At Camp 5 you will sleep in these wonderful surrounds, on mats on raised open-air platforms in a mixed gender dormitory, with shared bathroom facilities and cold water showers. Bedding is not provided so bring your own sleeping sheet and a warm layer for cool nights. Mosquito nets are available to rent for a small charge. Please be aware that at certain times of the year there can be many bees around Camp 5.
Today you’ll tackle the infamous Headhunters' trail. Located in an isolated area of the Bornean jungle, this 11.3 kilometre (approximately 5 hour) trail takes its name from its historical role as the route taken by warring parties between the Tutoh and Limbang rivers. The trek is through dense jungle along a well-defined, mainly flat track, although the way can be muddy during the rainy season. You'll also have to cross some streams by rope bridges, wooden walkways, logs or by getting your feet wet as you wade through. You’ll be surrounded by stunningly diverse flora, massive bird-filled trees, and the magical sounds of the forest – a hornbill flapping its wings, the cries of monkeys, and the pulse of cicadas and crickets. Then you’ll take a boat from Kuala Terikan to Kuala Mendalam, a journey of around 4 hours. Depending on how much rainfall there’s been, you may be required to help push the boat over shallow parts of the river and there will be a stop at a ranger station for lunch along the way. It’s a long, challenging and rewarding day. Spend the evening at a homestay, a short walk from the river, where you’ll reunite with your luggage. Freshen up on arrival and enjoy dinner with the host family.
Farewell your hosts and depart the longhouse to travel by private vehicle to Limbang (approx. one hour). From here, catch a ferry to Labuan Island (approx. 2-2.5 hours) where you’ll have a free afternoon and evening at a beach resort. Relax and recover after yesterday’s trek, chilling out with a cold drink and a good book. Maybe head to Layang-layang beach for a swim and the sunset.
Labuan was occupied by Japanese forces during WWII and this morning you’ll have time to visit the Labuan War Memorial, where British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Malay and local soldiers are buried. Take some free time to wonder around town then catch the afternoon ferry to Kota Kinabalu (approx. 2.5 to 3 hours), the capital of Sabah and a modern metropolis that rebounded from multiple bombings during WWII. Kota Kinabalu has interesting museums to explore (the Sabah State Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in its backstory), markets to browse, and the surrounding beaches and islands are perfect for swimming or snorkelling. Tonight, perhaps head out to the night market for a grilled fresh seafood.
Spend a free day in Kota Kinabalu. You could visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village, or perhaps explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu, excellent for swimming and snorkelling. There are plenty of ferries heading out and each island has a different vibe, many with small hikes and some with restaurants and resorts on them. As this is a combination trip, you may be joined today by new travellers, who will have a welcome meeting at 6 pm as you did on your first night.
Today you will travel by minivan to a Dusun village, nestled amid picturesque hills in the shadow of imposing Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea (approximately 2 hours). The Dusun people, the ethnic group of our guides on Mt Kinabalu, are wonderfully warm and friendly people, and while here you'll have the opportunity to learn about their way of life and spend a night in a village. Depending on the weather, you will then take a trek through the surrounding fruit and rubber plantations. Then your leader can point you in the direction of a local river for a great way to cool off. To ensure we do not disrupt the homestay community we split up our groups to stay in a couple of different family homes. All the homes are in waking distance from each other and you usually have a couple of group members with you at each home. Tonight you'll also get to watch a cultural performance in the village.
This morning say goodbye to your new friends from the village and travel into the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Kinabalu National Park (approximately 1 hour). Take some time to enjoy the surroundings and prepare for the climb. There are nature trails through the lowland tropical forest and a Botanic Garden to explore. Otherwise, just relax in the afternoon and take in the cooler clime. Before you depart, your leader will provide a safety briefing about the climb and assist with any last minute questions. Stay overnight at Kinabalu Park in a lodge with shared bathroom. Nestled among the lowland forests, this is the perfect place to chill-out before the climb.
Rise early the next day to begin the climb up Mt Kinabalu. It's not an easy walk, uphill all the way, and you’ll need to be prepared to tackle a trail made up of steep steps that vary considerably in size. Altitude can also affect you, regardless of your fitness level, and it will certainly slow you down a fair bit (it's important that you educate yourself about the dangers of altitude sickness and its symptoms). Ensure you have warm layers, waterproof gloves, hat, head torch, waterproof jacket and good walking shoes/boots. The top of the mountain can be deceptively cold. However, there's absolutely no rush so take your time and enjoy the pristine environment - this is an area that boasts a remarkable variety of plant life, including some 1,000 species of orchid and the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant. You will cover 6 kilometres on the first day (approximately 4-6 hours) and stop at a resthouse near Laban Rata (3,272 metres) for the night. The resthouses have very basic, mixed gender, multishare bunk rooms, and additional blankets can be hired from the park office. Go to bed early, so you're ready for the final climb in the morning.
Rise around 2am in order to catch the sunrise at the summit of Mt Kinabalu (4,095 metres). It's difficult walking, but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement. Also, the view from the summit is incredible - the jungles of Borneo in one direction, the South China Sea in the other, making every inch of the climb worthwhile. Be warned though, the temperature can change very quickly up on the mountain, so bring clothes for all weather conditions. The climb from Laban Rata to the summit takes 2-4 hours and, due to the altitude, can be hard going even for the fit. The first section from Laban Rata is along man made steps passing through vegetation. Once clear of the treeline you will be walking up a series of wooden steps all the way to the final check point at Sayat Sayat. The window for climbing the summit trail is quite narrow so Climbers need to reach Sayat Sayat check point by 6am to continue and must listen to the instructions of the mountain guide and leader - their decision is final when it comes to safety on the mountain. After Sayat Sayat there is a rope marking the trail all the way to the summit Peak. Waterproof gloves are recommended to protect your hands from rope burn (as well as to keep them warm). After witnessing the morning sunrise, return to Laban Rata for a well-earned breakfast, and then descend the mountain (approximately 3-6 hours) to enjoy a rewarding lunch at the bottom. Once everyone is down from the mountain you will continue on to Poring Hot Springs by bus (approximately 1 hour). Tomorrow you will be able to soothe your mountain-weary limbs in pools developed by the Japanese during World War II, where warm sulphur water - believed to have healing properties for the skin - is piped into several open-air baths. Depending on the time of year it might be possible to see the Raffelsia flower nearby. Rafflesia’s are the world’s largest flower and can grow up to 1 metre in size! Tonight you will stay at a hostel located right inside the springs complex itself, with a light and airy lounge room for you to relax in. The hostel has bunk beds, multiple beds and the bathroom is shared, there are no double beds.
Poring Hot Springs is an ideal place to kick back for a day to recuperate after the Mountain climb. There are a number of optional activities from which to choose. There are graded paths leading through rich lowland forest to mountain rivers, waterfalls and bat caves - with birds and other wildlife often seen along the trail. A walkway in the tree canopy provides magnificent views or there's a visit the enchanting butterfly farm. You can choose to trek to the lovely Laganan Falls or just laze about in the hot and cold pools.
Today, journey by private bus into the steamy rainforest to Bilit, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Take a short boat tide to the comfortable jungle lodge where you’ll spend the night. The lodge is located directly on the river and is a good place to spot wildlife. In the early evening as the sun sets, head out by motorised boat in search of wildlife such as macaques, Orangutan, proboscis monkeys and, if you’re lucky, spot some pygmy elephants. In the evening take a night walk in search of the western tarsier. Rubber boots and leech socks are available to hire. The lodge tonight is comfortable with private bathrooms.
Today take an early morning cruise in search of wildlife. After breakfast, say goodbye to the Jungle Lodge and hit the road in a private mini van to the coastal city of Sandakan (approximately 3 hours). Along the way there’s the option to stop at the Gomantong caves (additional entrance fee). The caves are renowned for their valuable swiftlet nests, which are edible and harvested for bird's nest soup. Birds' nest collection is an ancient tradition, but nowadays locals must have licenses to climb to the roof of the caves and collect the nests, and penalties are imposed on unlicensed collectors. The nests are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavour. This stop is also a great chance to spot orangutans swinging among the trees. Arrive in the busy city of Sandakan and see the strong Cantonese influence, evident in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. Here there is free time to catch up on laundry and banking as well as to explore the city.
This morning, leave your large bags at the hotel and walk 15 minutes to a nearby jetty. Travel by speedboat, past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, to Turtle Island Marine Park (approximately 1 hour), where green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the afternoon, there's time for swimming, snorkelling or some quality time lazing about on the beach of this tropical island. Snorkelling gear is available for hire. In the evening, be touched by the sight of giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight, and watch the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It's a moving experience that makes you think more than twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies. Beware that this is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles. You will spend the night on the island.
After breakfast, return to the mainland (approximately 1 hour), collect your bags, and continue by minibus to a guesthouse located near the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (approximately 45 minutes). The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat the supplementary diet of bananas and milk that is laid out for them twice a day. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader. Also included is a new nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as to not disturb the animals. To see more of Borneo’s creatures there’s the option to visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Here rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages are cared for, with hopes of rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. There’s also the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary where you can watch up close the amazing proboscis lazing and feeding - an experience that can only be found in Borneo. A thirty minute walk from your guesthouse is the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which also has a 147-metre long, 28-metre high canopy walkway with spectacular views of rainforest giants. Your accommodation is located about 10 minutes walk from the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
In the morning get some insight into the city's past at the emotive War Memorial, built on the site of a Japanese POW camp. This site also marks the starting point of the tragic Sandakan Death Marches, on which 2,400 POWs were forced to walk through the jungles of Borneo. By the end of the march, only 6 Australians survived, and only because they had escaped. We then transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). The flight usually gets back in the afternoon, so the rest of the day is free for your own activities. Do some last minute shopping at the large shopping centres or take a wander down to the night market to pick up something more local. You’ll end this colourful Sabah Adventure with an optional final group meal.
Your Sabah adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying in Kota Kinabalu longer, then there are some additional activities that your leader can assist with booking. It’s best to pre book these activities with your leader on Day 1. There’s a scuba dive trip from Manukan Island to see the wonderful underwater world of Borneo, or an optional fun, interactive and educational visit to Mari Mari Cultural Village to see how indigenous ethnic groups of Borneo used to live. Please also remember Most Scuba Diving companies would recommend you don't fly for at least 24 hours after your last scuba dive.
- Sandakan - War Memorial
The Lime Tree Hotel
317 Jalan Abell
Phone: 0011 6082414600
Dreamtel Hotel - Kota Kinabalu
5 Jalan Padang
Phone: +(60) 88240333
The Mt Kinabalu climb is quite challenging so the fitter you are the more enjoyable the experience will be. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest. Please note for those that do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu you are not obliged to, it is an option to have accommodation arranged and stay at the base of Kinabalu at Park Headquarters. Please advise your agent at the time of booking if you do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Please note due to limited availability there may be an additional charge to book this alternative accommodation. The additional charge will be confirmed to you upon your booking request being confirmed and will be collected locally by your leader on day one.
1. Please provide passport details at time of booking, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.
2. Strict luggage limits apply. See under the Important notes section of Trip Notes for more information.
3. A Single Supplement is available on some nights of this trip, please contact your sales agent if you would like to book a single supplement. Due to the type of accommodation we use on this trip, a single supplement is only available on the following nights, Day 1 Kuching, Day 3 Kuching, Day 8 Labuan and Day 9 & 10 Kota Kinabalu, Day 16 Kinabatangan River, Day 17 Sandakan, Day 19 Sepilok and Day 20 Kota Kinabalu.
Please note for various nationalities in particular Australian, UK, Irish, New Zealand and United States different increased Government travel warnings are currently in place for Eastern Sabah. Please read the Important Notes section of your trip notes for further information.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
GOVERNMENT TRAVEL WARNINGS FOR EASTERN SABAH Please note for various nationalities in particular Australian, UK, Irish, New Zealand and United States, different increased Government travel warnings are currently in place for Eastern Sabah. We ask all of our travellers to familiarise themselves with their own Government Travel Advisories and to check that these Government warnings do not affect the level of coverage that is offered to them by their Travel Insurance provider. Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and your insurance must cover you for all activities and areas visited as part of this tour. Please contact your Travel Insurance provider to ensure you have adequate cover for travel to Eastern Sabah. We ask all of our travellers to monitor their own Government travel advisories, some of these are listed below, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/ UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office https://www.gov.uk/browse/abroad Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories US Department of State http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/ Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/ The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority of Intrepid. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. Intrepid makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources including The level of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) travel advisory. For any Intrepid Travel operated trip if this advisory is at Level 4 'Do Not Travel' then Intrepid will either cancel a trip or reroute the itinerary to avoid the areas concerned. We however also acknowledge that many of our travellers come from many different countries whose own Government travel warnings may differ to the Australian Government. We ask you to familiarise yourself with your relevant Government travel advisories at time of booking and continue to monitor these advisories prior to your trip.
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in Kuching.
As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Most nationalities do not need visas to visit Malaysia as a tourist for up to three months. Please check with your relevant Malaysian embassy or consulate.
Why we love it
One of the last remaining truly wild places on earth, Borneo offers rare treats for the nature lover – see Orangutans at the Semenggoh Sanctuary and the quirky proboscis monkeys in Bako National Park
Discover the colourful history of the Iban people and spend the night inmodern longhouse with a local family
Explore one of the world’s largest cave networks and witness a sunset hunting exodus of millions of bats, twisting through the sky like a plume of black smoke in Gunung Mulu National Park
Follow in the infamous footsteps of tribal warriors on a trek through wild, dense jungle on the Headhunters’ Trail
Experience next-level vistas from the top of Mt Kinabalu climb on a two-day climb that will really get the heart pumping
Witness nature at its most beautiful with a night on Turtle island, watching mother turtles come ashore to lay their eggs
Cruise down the Kinabatangan river and search for wildlife in this rich and unique ecosystem
Is this trip right for you
It’s best to pack light for this trip. There is a strict 15 kg maximum luggage limit on the included internal flights. Excess luggage will incur extra fees to the traveller.
A small to medium size day backpack is required for the time in Mulu NP and on the Headhunters Trail. Your main pack will be forwarded on, so there will be days when you don’t have access to it. Pack light and smart.
This trip includes a number of wonderful long walks through forest and jungle, especially the 11.5 kilometre Headhunters’ Trail, so a good level of fitness is required.
The Mt Kinabalu trek is very challenging, including an altitude of more than 2,800 metres and an early morning to summit in the dark, so we recommend a good level of fitness to be able to enjoy this unforgettable climb.
We recommend packing specific items for this trip so please take a look at the ‘what to take’ section of the trip notes.
You will get to experience a wide range of accommodation types on this trip – some dormitory rooms in hostels, a homestay, guesthouses, jungle lodge and hotels. Some may be a little more basic than our standard hotels, but their unique location and close proximity to wildlife is what makes them special.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip:
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
From June to October, Malaysia can experience air pollution from forest fires in Indonesia. The persistent hot and dry weather conditions also causes dust to remain suspended in the air and accumulate, causing haze. Please be aware of this if you suffer from any medical conditions exasperated by air pollution.
There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
We recommend USD530 for meals not included.
The official currency of Malaysia is the Ringgit (MYR).The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is by ATM. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
Optional Tipping Kitty:
On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.
As this trip is a combination trip the optional tipping kitty will be divided into 2 parts.
In Sarawak the optional tipping kitty is: MYR65 per person
In Sabah the optional tipping kitty is: MYR60 per person
Your Tour Leader:
You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
MALAYSIA DEPARTURE TAX:
From 1st September 2019, all travellers departing Malaysia by air will be required to pay a departure levy. The amount depends on the destination as well as the flight class and ranges from RM8 - RM150.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances. As well as your underwear, toothbrush and other items you always need to pack for travel, below are some items that you specifically need for this trip.
LUGGAGE LIMIT - The maximum luggage allowance for the internal flight is 15kg maximum, Intrepid won't cover the cost of luggage that exceeds this weight. LAUNDRY – There will be limited laundry facilities on this trip. We recommend you take a few set of clothes to wear, for times when you don’t have access to a laundry. LOCAL DRESS Malaysia is a liberal Muslim country, and many Malaysian women do not wear headscarves. However, Malaysia is very conservative when compared with standards you may be accustomed to at home, and you should dress accordingly. As a general guideline, shoulders, cleavage and knees should be covered when traveling in Borneo except when on the beach. Wearing skimpy clothing is considered disrespectful to local culture at many of the small local communities we visit. ESSENTIALS - T-Shirts/cotton shirts - Long-sleeved top (for evenings when mosquitoes are out) - Long trousers/long skirt/shorts (Denim not recommended due to humidity – cotton or quick drying clothes are better) - Walking shoes or hiking boots with a good grip - Strap on sandals or old pair of sand shoes/trainers that can get wet for river crossings - Flip flops - Sun protection – hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm - Insect repellent - Light sleeping bag or sleep sheet (Mossie nets and blankets are available for hire at camp 5) - Travel towel or sarong (no towels provided on day 7 at camp 5, Mulu National Park) Swimming costume - Long socks (football socks are good to tuck into your trousers to keep leeches out on the headhunters trail) - Waterproof jacket - Head torch (a head torch is best for when you are climbing the summit of Mt Kinabalu) - Waterproof jacket - Warm hat and waterproof gloves - Warm layers (While climbing Mt Kinabalu it’s important to note that temperatures can drop to below freezing, so make sure you pack several layers that can be added/removed as you ascend/descend) - Small to Medium Day Pack ( You will need to bring a small to medium backpack (30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) Please note due to space and weight limitations on transport we will be leaving our main piece of luggage in Miri. You will need to bring a small to medium backpack (30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) which will be your main pack for Mulu National Park (including trek to Camp 5) and the Headhunters trail. In this you will need to carry a change of clothes, torch/flashlight, toiletries, warm clothes and any other essentials. You will also use need this back pack for the Mt Kinabalu climb and Turtle Island where you will leave your main luggage stored away for the night and you will travel with just an overnight bag. RECOMMENDED - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as, mild pain killers, adhesive bandages and electrolytes. - Camera with spare batteries/charger - Electrical travel adaptor plug - Hand sanitizer - Water bottle – some hotels may have filtered drinking water to refill your bottle. - Money belt or pouch - Water purification tablets - Backpack or bag with shoulder strap – rather than wheelie bags - Waterproof bag (for your camera and personal belongings for the trekking and boat rides) - Travel pillow for camp 5 OPTIONAL - A good book, a journal and music player - Playing cards -Travel washing line and Bio-degradable washing detergent We do not allow the use of video cameras when staying in the villages as it can be perceived by the local people as highly obtrusive. MORE! If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.
WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation or simply refill with tap water (your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination). When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
Climate and seasonal
Please note occasionally the summit trail will be closed due to strong winds or heavy rainfall. When this happens no trekkers will be able to summit. This is a safety measure and is enforced by Sabah Parks staff and is beyond Intrepid's control. This can happen at any time of the year including outside of the wet season.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us
In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.
Intrepid’s Local Operator: +60 13 881 5813
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in predominantly hot Asian climates. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets and tank tops for daily wear are not unusual attire. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
BIRDS NEST SOUP
Birds nest collection is an ancient tradition dating back to 500AD which is used to make bird nest soup. Today birds nest collection is a regulated practice with locals requiring a government harvesting licence to climb to the roofs of caves to collect the birds nest. The first collection takes place early in the breeding season before the swiftlets lay their eggs. The birds then make another nest in which they lay their eggs. After the young have left the nest a second collection is made. Care must be taken to assure that the nests are collected only after the young swiftlets have abandoned these nests. Edible birds nests are protected under the Birds Nest Ordinance and the Forest Enactment of 1968. There are heavy fines and penalties imposed on unlicensed collectors and Intrepid Travel asks our passengers to refrain from consuming birds nest soup or products to discourage unlicensed collection.
While travelling through Eastern Sabah, you will likely notice that much of the land is covered in palm oil plantations. Check out our Boeneo Destnation page for more information about this hot topic:
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
AMENDED ITINERARY 22nd of June 2017
Please note there is a change to this trip departing on the 22nd of June. The changes are as follows:
Day 5 - Travel from homestay to Miri in a private mini bus. Overnight stay in Miri in a centrally located hotel.
Day 6 - Morning flight from Miri (departing 0925) to Mulu (arriving at 0925) Afternoon visit to Deer and Lang Caves
Please note this change is due to an unusual increase in bookings on the flight from Miri to Mulu. We apologise for this change but we are confident this will only have a small impact on your free time in Mulu National Park. This also means your accommodation has been automatically upgraded from multi share dorm rooms at Mulu National Park to twin share rooms in a centrally located hotel in Miri.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Please provide passport details at the time of booking. If we have not received these details at least a 45 days before the departure date of your tour, there is a risk the internal flight (if included on your tour) cannot be booked, and we will not be able to request permits to climb Mt Kinabalu.
If you do not wish to climb Mt Kinabalu you can opt to stay the night at the base of the mountain and meet the group the following day when they descend. Please ensure you advise your sales agent at time of booking if you wish to opt out of the climb. Please note due to limited availability there may be an additional charge to book this alternative accommodation. The additional charge will be confirmed to you upon your booking request being confirmed and will be collected locally by your leader on day one.
Please note any additional activities you choose to do during this time will be at your own expense and can be organised locally, Some include:
1. Guide hire - approx 100MYR - You can hire a guide and walk some of the many trails located at the base of the mountain.
2. Sabah Tea Plantation - approx 80MYR - Visit a tea plantation (approx 20 mins drive), cost only included transfers to and from the plantation www.sabahtea.net
3. Mt Kinabalu Garden - approx 15MYR entry fee - Free guided tour of the gardens
4. War Memorials - approx 40MYR - visit the surrounding war memorials, cost only includes transport.
ITINERARY CHANGE - 19th of December 2019
Please note on the 19th of December 2019 departure you will stay in a hotel in Kudasang on day 12 - 10 minutes drive to Kinabalu Park. This is due to limited accommodation inside Kinabalu Park
Hotel (7 nights),Dormitory/multi share (7 nights),Homestay (2 nights),Chalet (3 nights),Lodge (1 night)