- The Men of the Forest
One of our closest animal relations, sharing 97% of the same DNA, is the orang-utan, which are only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
- Small is beautiful
A highlight of your Borneo adventure will undoubtedly be a cruise along the Menanggol river, a small tributary of the Kinabatangan river.
- Small Group 15 or less
- VIP door to door
- Save £
- Full board
Discover one of the least explored places in the world
The adventure of a lifetime await you on this exploration of the Malaysian region of Borneo. Its rainforests are blessed with a stunning botanical diversity and unique wildlife which you can discover as part of a small group on this fascinating tour. Explore the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, cruise tropical rivers and thrill at the chance of seeing the orang-utans of Sepilok.
12 nights in hotels and 2 in flight
35 meals: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK
- Return flights and transfers
- Local expert guide
- Sundowner drink at a memorable location
- Porterage at all hotels
Excursions and visits
- Sabah Agriculture Park
- Poring Hot Springs and Kinabalu National Park
- Gomantong Caves
- Evening cruise on the Menanggol River
- Birdwatching cruise on an oxbow lake
- Sepilok Orang-utan Centre
- Sun Bear Conservation Centre
- Rainforest Discovery Centre
- Labuk Bay Monkey Sanctuary
- Sandakan sightseeing tour
- Kota Kinabalu city tour
Day 1 UK-Kota Kinabalu
After taking Saga’s included UK door-to-door travel service to Heathrow, depart in the evening for your overnight flight to Kota Kinabalu.
Day 2 Kota Kinabalu
Transfer to the locally rated 4-star Kota Kinabalu Marriott Hotel, where you'll spend two nights.
Conclude your day with a welcome dinner this evening when you can get to know your fellow guests over a relaxing meal. D
Day 3 Kota Kinabalu
Relax this morning, then look forward to an afternoon tour when you can discover some of the highlights of Kota Kinabalu. With museums, mosques, markets, temples and panoramic views, there's lots to see here. B, L, D
Day 4 Kota Kinabalu-Keningau
Pass through stunning mountain scenery on your journey to Keningau.
Pause at the Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve's visitor centre, where you can learn about this rare bloom and, if your luck is in, perhaps see one nearby.
Spend two nights at the locally rated 3-star Perkasa Hotel. Upon arrival visit the nearby shops and night market, which is often bustling with locals. The stalls sell a wide range of local spices and produce, along with handicrafts. Also worth a visit is the Keningau Oath Stone, a large commemorative rock that marks the formation of Malaysia. It was erected in 1964 and the terms of the agreement were literally set in stone. B, L, D
Day 5 Sabah Agricultural Park
Travel to the Sabah Agricultural Park today, a botanical paradise of exotic plants, flowers, insects and wildlife.
The park features a living crop museum with around 400 different species of industrially-farmed plants, all used to produce a range of medicinal products, oils, spices, condiments, fruit, nuts and even rubber and latex! The different areas of the park are linked by pretty trails that are surrounded by landscaped grounds, around 400 orchids and an ornamental garden. There's even a museum dedicated to bees! This afternoon return to Keningau and visit the Handicraft Centre where you can learn how to make pottery during a demonstration. B, L, D
Day 6 Keningau-Kinabalu National Park
Take a scenic drive along the ridges of the Crocker Range, where mist hangs in the valleys and you'll pass farmland and villages, and the small town of Tambunan, home of the Kadazan tribes.
Pause en route to witness the rushing cascades at picturesque Mahau Waterfall and peruse the stalls laden with a colourful array of fruit and flowers at Kundasang's market.
Stay two nights at the locally rated 3-star Hill Lodges, Sutera Sanctuary Resorts, which is situated just inside Kinabalu Park at the foot of Mount Kinabalu. B, L, D
Day 7 Poring Hot Springs and Kinabalu National Park
Travel to Poring Hot Springs this morning.
Lying to the south east of the park, these springs are known for their naturally mineral-rich, sulphurous waters which have been harnessed into Japanese-style open-air baths. From here take a short trek into the forest to the Canopy Walkway, suspended between trees at a height of some 40 metres. Enjoy a bird's-eye view of the tropical rainforest, that is both home and a hideaway for many animals and birds.
Spend the afternoon in Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park not only has a wide range of diverse habitats ranging from tropical lowland to rainforest, but it is also a Centre of Plant Diversity. The park encompasses the jagged granite massif of Mount Kinabalu which towers at over four kilometres. See a showcase of the park's flora on a visit to Mountain Garden at the park's visitor centre, and visit a butterfly farm. B, L, D
Day 8 Kinabalu National Park - Sukau
Leave the hilly Ranau region of Kinabalu and travel along the infamous ‘Sandakan Track’ route where you'll stop at points of significant interest.
During World War II, British and Australian prisoners were marched by the Japanese in three groups from their Sandakan POW camp to Mount Kinabalu to work as labourers. Having already spent three terrible years in captivity, around half did not survive the 260 kilometre journey through the rainforest, and in the end, only six Australians managed to escape and survive.
Stay two nights at the locally rated 2-star Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi. This evening enjoy a cruise on the Menanggol River, home to a range of birdlife including the kingfisher, oriental darter and the colourful bee-eater. Setting off at dusk, you'll be greeted by the cacophony of birds and animals preparing to settle down for the night. Don't forget your binoculars and camera. B, L, D
Day 9 Kinabatangan River
A great concentration of wildlife can be found along the Kinabatangan River.
The region is home to many primates including orangutan and proboscis monkeys, elephant, crocodile, civet and even rhino. Enjoy an early morning cruise on an ox-bow lake where you have the chance to view some of the world’s most dramatic and beautiful birds in their natural surroundings. You may also see the region's smaller residents – like leeches, for instance. B, L, D
Day 10 Sukau-Gomantong Caves-Sandakan
Travel to Sandakan today, pausing en route at the Gomantong Caves where precious edible birds’ nests – considered a delicacy in China – are collected.
Swiftlets nest in the caves and twice a year their used and empty nests are harvested from high up. Continue to Sandakan where you'll visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The proboscis monkeys are only found in parts of Borneo and with a diminishing habitat it has become increasingly difficult for them to find food. Located amid the mangroves in a region of vast palm oil plantations, this private sanctuary provides food and water each day to supplement their diet. Watch from the observation platform where, hopefully, you'll be able to see these fascinating and rare creatures, the males distinguished by their distinctive, pendulous noses and pot bellies!
Stay two nights at the locally rated 4-star Sabah Hotel. B, L, D
Day 11 Sandakan
This morning, after breakfast, visit two wildlife conservation projects that rehabilitate animals with the goal of returning them to the wild – Sepilok Orangutan Centre and Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary was established in 1964 and is dedicated to rehabilitating orphan orangutans. The sanctuary lies in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve where the orang-utans are taught to climb, feed and ultimately live independently. Walkways and viewing galleries make it possible to watch these fascinating and threatened creatures in their natural habitat (although sightings can't be guaranteed). You'll also be able to find out more about the orangutans at the Information Nature Education Centre on the reserve.
Later on you'll visit the Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The centre slowly rehabilitates the bears, recognisable by the gold crescent-shaped patch that adorns their breast, ready to release them into the wild – though, like much of the wildlife on the island, their natural habitat is under increasing threat from deforestation.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant today, then visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre, a local bastion of environmental education. Here you'll learn how life at the roots of the trees differs from that in the canopy as you follow trails through the jungle at ground level, and then ascend to the high walkways. B, L, D
Day 12 Sandakan-Kota Kinabalu-Manukan Island
Join an included orientation city tour of Sandakan.
Always an important trading post, Sandakan was the capital of British North Borneo from 1884 until it was destroyed in World War II. The Anglican Church of St Michael and All Angels contrasts with the beautiful 1880s Chinese Temple, dedicated to the goddess of mercy, and set on a hillside above the town. For an unrivalled view of Sandakan Bay, you'll visit the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist temple, which was built in 1987 and is an ornate blaze of red and gold.
Then travel to the airport for your flight to Kota Kinabalu from where you'll tranfer to Manukan Island where you'll spend two nights at the locally rated 4-star Manukan Island Resort and enjoy lunch on arrival. B, L, D
Day 13 Manukan Island
Manukan Island is one of five tropical islands that together form the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. Manukan Island is surrounded by a coral reef, and is home to rainforests and beautiful beaches, perfect for relaxing. Activities available on the island (for an extra charge) include scuba diving, and kayaking. B, L, D
Day 14 Manukan Island-Kota Kinabalu-UK
It's time to bid the magical land of Borneo goodbye as you travel to the airport for your overnight return flight to the UK. B
Day 15 UK
Arrive this morning for your included UK door-to-door travel service home.
Pre-holiday extension - breakfasts included
Before your holiday, stay at the locally rated 4-star Renaissance Kuala Lumpur, set in the city's 'Golden Triangle'. Available when flying with Malaysia Airlines.
4 nights post-tour extension. All inclusive.
After your holiday, stay a further four nights at the locally rated 4-star Manukan Island Resort.
Mulu National Park and Miri
Post-holiday extension - All breakfasts and two lunches
Spend 3 nights in Mulu National Park before travelling to Miri for your final night.
A note about food
The diverse cultural and ethnic mix of Malaysia is reflected in its cuisine, which incorporates elements of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Nyonya and Thai. Many of the lodges on this tour will only serve Asian-style buffet food such as stir fries, noodles and rice, and alternative dishes will be limited.
Please note: some of the sites visited during the tour may levy a small charge for photographs.
Departures in 2021 will follow a slightly different itinerary, spending two nights in luxury glamping accommodation at Poring Hot Springs instead of staying in Keningau.