If you’ve ever wanted to venture into the heart of the Bornean wilderness – snatching rare glimpses of proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and wild orangutans – this post-conference tour is for you. We start in Sandakan, visiting a wartime memorial commemorating humanity at its worst, before cruising deep into the Kinabatangan wilds to experience nature at its very best. Sleep in a jungle lodge surrounded by ancient rainforest teeming with wildlife, see adorable sun bears, and soak up Sabah’s colonial history.
Fly from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. Visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, home to orphaned and injured orangutans being rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Tour the nursery, where the adorable infant orangutans are reared, and don’t miss the feeding frenzy as semi-wild apes swoop in from the jungle for a bounty of fruit. Head next door to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre and learn about efforts to preserve the world’s smallest bear species. See these vulnerable creatures, with orange patches of chest fur and long, curling tongues, stretched out in the sunshine – so cute you could almost cuddle them.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before checking in to the Sepilok Nature Reserve, where you will have an afternoon of free time.
Get set to meet the monkeys! No ordinary monkeys, proboscis monkeys with long, comical noses. The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is a 160-hectare pocket of forest within a palm oil plantation, reserved for about 150 free-roaming monkeys. See them at feeding time (there’s not enough food to sustain them in their natural habitat) and keep a lookout for silvered leaf monkeys and hornbills.
Visit the Sandakan Memorial Park in honour of the 2,428 Australian and British prisoners of war who died during the notorious WWII death marches. Stroll through the gardens in quiet reflection, pause at the museum and see the stirring remnants of the POW camp. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the historic Agnes Keith House – home to the famous American novelist and her husband, Harry, for about two decades until 1952. We’ll also visit St Michael’s Anglican Church and a Chinese temple during a city tour of Sandakan, before returning to Sepilok Nature Reserve.
Have your binoculars at the ready, today we’re heading deep into the Bornean rainforest. We’ll travel two hours by road to the multi-award-winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge, perched on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Hop on a boat and cruise along Borneo’s longest river to explore the rich rainforest habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, macaques, gibbons and orangutans.
In the evening, chat about the day’s adventures over a candlelit dinner overlooking the riverbank.
Wake to the thrum of the jungle as birds, insects and other forest creatures sound nature’s alarm clock. In the early morning light, depart on a cruise up the Kinabatangan as mist rises from the river, arriving at Kelenanap Oxbow Lake. Have your binoculars ready and be amazed as your guide spots wildlife camouflaged in the jungle. Is today the day you spy a wild orangutan? After breakfast, enjoy a guided tour along the lodge’s Hornbill Boardwalk with the in-house naturalist. After lunch we’ll learn more about our orange-furred friends in an orangutan talk, before taking one last cruise up the Kinabatangan River. See how the landscape changes in the afternoon. Fingers crossed we spot an elusive pygmy elephant.
Kinabatangan – Sandakan - Kota Kinabalu
After breakfast, return to Sandakan for an early afternoon flight to Kota Kinabalu. Check in to the hotel and enjoy free time.
Kota Kinabalu - Australia
Depart Kota Kinabalu for Australia at midday, flying via Singapore with Singapore Airlines.