- Get up close to orangutans and Malayan sun bears at conservation centers in Sepilok.
- Stay at Sukau Rainforest Lodge—a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World on the Kinabatangan River—and explore jungle waterways by boat.
- Meet a marine biologist on Gaya Island and dive into the Bornean undersea to lend a hand with coral restoration efforts.
- Search for pygmy elephants, gibbons, langurs, and rare birds in the primary rain forests of Danum Valley Conservation Area.
Misty mountains and jungle-shrouded rivers, colorful coral reefs and rain forests teeming with rare species: few places on Earth offer such a bounty of natural wonders as Borneo. Uncover the rich biodiversity of Malaysian Borneo on a journey from the wild interior of Sabah to idyllic Gaya Island. Stay in jungle lodges nestled within wildlife reserves, surrounded by canopy walkways suspended through the treetops. Set out on day and night hikes and river safaris to search for orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and leopard cats; and snorkel in tropical waters inhabited by sea turtles and a rainbow of fish.
Arrive in the city of Sandakan on Borneo’s eastern coast and transfer to your jungle lodge, located on a lakeshore just outside Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Join your private guide for an introductory dinner, then set out on an optional night walk to seek out the sources of the jungle’s wild cheeps and shrieks.
Climb into the canopy early this morning and weave your way across aerial walkways to spot kaleidoscopic birds flitting amid the treetops. After breakfast back at the lodge, visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where orangutans rescued from captivity are reintroduced to the wild. Spend the afternoon trekking through Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, and take another canopy walk at dusk, when you could find nocturnal creatures like tree frogs and tarsiers in the foliage.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour and watch the morning feeding at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. Then board a local boat for a two-hour ride along the Kinabatangan River. Your destination is Sukau Rainforest Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge built by native Borneans to celebrate—and help protect—the riverine rain forest and the communities that depend upon it. Settle into your room, then depart at dusk in an electric-motored boat to look for orangutans, pygmy elephants, and proboscis monkeys.
Awaken to the calls of gibbons and hornbills, and watch the sun rise during a guided wildlife cruise. Have lunch back at the lodge and take advantage of free time to wander the elevated boardwalk with the resident naturalist, tour the property’s eco-friendly facilities, or unwind by the pool. As a National Geographic guest, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the lodge’s in-house orangutan expert. Later, visit the Gomantong Caves, home to thousands of bats and swiftlets; then embark on another twilight river safari to search for monkeys, owls, and crocodiles.
Travel overland to the valley of the Danum River, known for its 169 square miles of virtually undisturbed primary rain forest—which offers exceptional wildlife viewing. Spend two days exploring the many nature trails on your own or with a guide. Keep an eye out for rare species, including the leopard cat, Bornean gibbon, clouded leopard, and maroon langur. Rise early to explore the canopy bridges and boardwalks around the lodge; hike to a nearby waterfall to swim in rock-sculpted pools; and take guided night hikes when the forest comes alive with nocturnal species.
Venture into the jungle on an early morning nature walk. For the remainder of the morning, explore the rain forest on your own or take advantage of the lodge’s amenities before departing on an afternoon flight to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival, transfer to the docks and catch a shared ferry to Gaya Island. Settle into your secluded resort, accessible only by boat, and spend the rest of the day at leisure in this tropical paradise.
Meet the lodge’s resident marine biologist for an excursion that includes an opportunity to lend a hand with local conservation efforts. Hear about programs aimed at restoring the bordering coral reefs and protecting endangered green sea turtles, then dive into the Bornean undersea to help out with coral restoration as clownfish, seahorses, and turtles swim past. This afternoon, enjoy free time to take advantage of the lodge amenities. Unwind at the spa or in the infinity pool, or take a short boat ride to a private beach.
Ferry back to Kota Kinabalu and transfer to the airport to catch your international flight home.