Wild Borneo

Why Borneo?  Rainforest. Orang-utan. Elephant. Hornbills. Tropical Islands.

Here is a selection of our best-selling Borneo Safaris & Extensions. Of course, there are lots of options & permutations... so contact us to tailor-make a bespoke safari just for you.

Why a Borneo Adventure?

Borneo Rainforest - one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, comparable to Madagascar in its species diversity.

 

Orangutans & other primates - the rainforests of Borneo are home to orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, langurs, macaques, tarsiers, the slow loris, a myrad of reptiles & birds, & plenty more.

 

Danum Valley, Kinabatangan River & Tabin Wildlife Reserve - home to orangutans, gibbons, Borneo pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, over 275 bird species including Borneo hornbills, 72 reptiles species, & more.

 

The Coral Triangle - the 'global epicentre of marine biodiversity'.  Enough said!  Awesome diving & snorkelling.  Dive Sipadan Island. Layang Layang.

 

Borneo Rainforest & Reef

Highlights:  Orang-utan, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant. Tropical Islands.
Is this for me?  For nature lovers who want tropical wildlife & reefs.

 

Quick Look Borneo Safari Itinerary
   Day    Location
  1   Sandakan/ Sepilok
  2   Sepilok Forest Reserve
  3   Kinabatangan River
  4   Kinabatangan River
  5   Danum Valley
  6   Danum Valley
  7   Lankayan/ Sipadan/ Mabul
  8   Lankayan/ Sipadan/ Mabul
9 Lankayan/ Sipadan/ Mabul
10 Kota Kinabalu
   
 
Safari Highlights
 

Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve: Learn about & see Borneo's unique wildlife at the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre & Rainforest Discovery Centre.
Kinabatangan River: Chance to spot wildlife on river boat cruises. Proboscis monkeys, macaques, pygmy elephants & organ-utan.  Birds, including 8 species of hornbills, kingfishers, and more.

Danum Valley: home to a bewildering profusion of wildlife, including sambar deer, flying squirrels, lizards, snakes, gibbons, orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, and plenty more.  Also present, though unlikely to be seen are sun bears, clouded leopards, Sumatran rhinos.
Tropical Island - choice of Gaya, Lankayan, Sipadan, Mabul, Layang-Layang: Wildlife-rich, with large elephant herds, excellent viewing along the river front from boat & 4x4 vehicle.

             

 

Detailed Borneo Safari Itinerary
   Day   Activities  
       
  1   Arrive into Sandakan, and transfer straight to your lodge at the Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Depending on the time of your arrival, you have a chance of visiting the Sun Bear Conservation Centre this afternoon.  (D)  
 
  2  

Today you will visit the sanctuaries located within the Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve.

A small portion of the Reserve is being used as a rehabilitation centre for orphaned & injured orang-utans, with the aim of returning them to the wild.  This is your best chance for seeing orang-utans as they come to feeding stations in the morning & evening.  You will also visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to see sun bears, and visit the Rainforest Discovery centre to walk along their boardwalks for a view of the treetops. There is an option for a night walk in the rainforest at the RDC (weather-permitting).  (B L D)

 
 
  3   Today you'll drive from Sepilok back to Sandakan's boat harbour, where you will board your boat for the two hour transfer along the river to your lodge set on the riverbanks. You have a good chance of seeing Borneo pygmy elephants along the riverbanks, so keep your eyes peeled.
Afternoon cruise along the Kinabatangan River in search of its wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, and even orang-utans & pygmy elephants if you are lucky.  (B L D)
 
 
  4  

Early morning & afternoon boat cruises today in search of wildlife.

OPTION: Gomantong Caves visit - a massive crack in a mountain, with a limestone chamber.  This is a living cave with swifts (whose nests are collected by locals), bats, and plenty of creepy crawlies - cockroaches, centipedes & scorpions to name a few.  This visit is for the adventurous only! We normally recommend this option for those choosing to stay here a third night.  (B L D)

 
 
  5   Early this morning transfer by road to the remote and wild Danum Valley, a lowland dipterocarp forest, and Sabah's largest protected area.  
Enjoy lunch at the lodge.  In the afternoon, you'll go on a walk around the nature trails & the canopy walk-way.  Tonight, enjoy a night driving safari to spot nocturnal creatures.
Danum Valley is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the Sumatran Rhino, and although you are unlikely to see these, you are likely to see rhinoceros hornbills.  Also present are sambar deer, pygmy elephants, flying squirrels, tarsiers, lizards, gibbons, orangutans, sun bears, clouded leopards and many more species - there are over 120 species of mammals, over 340 species of birds in these forests, 72 species of reptiles, and 56 species of amphibians.  (B L D)
 
 
  6   Wake to the sound of Bornean gibbon calls.  Another day to explore this extraordinary wilderness via walking trails. (B L D)  
 
  7  

Chance for an early morning walk today, before departing for your 2 hour journey to Lahad Datu. 
From here, you'll continue to your chosen tropical island:
for Sipadan/ Mabul/ Kapalai in the Semporna Archipelago - drive to Semporna (2hrs) & transfer to your resort by boat.
for Sandakan Archipelago - drive to Sandakan (2hrs) & transfer to your resort by boat.
for Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park - fly back to Kota Kinabalu and transfer by boat to the island.  (B D)

 
 
  8   Relax and enjoy your tropical island - do nothing, or go snorkelling or diving and discover the vibrant marine life in this region.  (B L D)  
 
  9   Another day to relax.  (B L D)  
 
  10   Today you'll leave your island and return to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan or Tawau (boat/ drive/ fly as required) for your onward flight home.  (B)  
 
 
Borneo Safari Photos
Borneo, Sepilok orangutans
Borneo proboscis monkey
Borneo orangutan male
Borneo pygmy elephants
Borneo orchids
Borneo photographer
Borneo Sabah beach - Tip of Borneo
Borneo sunset
Borneo accommodation - Tip of Borneo
Luxury Borneo Rainforest & Reef Safari from only $4,995
Want more Luxury or Exclusivity? from $5,995 to  $12,000+

 

Borneo Diving

Highlights: Kalimantan & Sabah. Pristine coral reefs. Mantas, turtles. Kakaban jellyfish lake. Sipadan Island.
Is this for me?
 For the avid diver who wants varied and remote diving.

 

Quick Look Borneo Diving Itinerary
   Day   Location
  1   Balikpapan - Derawan
  2   Derawan/ Maratua Atoll
  3   Derawan/ Maratua Atoll
  4   Derawan/ Maratua Atoll
  5   Derawan/ Maratua Atoll
  6   Derawan/ Maratua Atoll
  7   Tawau/ Kota Kinabalu
  8   Sipadan/ Layang Layang
9 Sipadan/ Layang Layang
10 Sipadan/ Layang Layang
11 Sipadan/ Layang Layang
12 Kota Kinabalu
 
Diving Safari Highlights
 

Derawan Archipelago (Derawan Island, Nabucco & Nunukan Islands, Pulau Maratua, Kakaban & Sangalaki): remote, and one of Indonesia's most biodiverse regions.  Clear waters pelagic diving in Pulau Maratua's Channel - even occasional thresher sharks.  Macro diving off Pulau Derawan with ghost pipefish.  Pulau Kakaban jelly-fish lake.
Semporna Archipelago (Sipadan Island, Mabul Island, Kapalai, Mataking)
: Sipadan Island is famous for having some of the world's best dive sites.  Crystal clear waters, awesome diving with colourful coral reefs, sea turtles, reef sharks, and if you're lucky, manta rays & eagle rays, and maybe even scalloped hammerheads!  For macro lovers, there is plenty of muck diving here.
Layang Layang, Borneo Banks/ Spratly Islands Group
: 300km off Kota Kinabalu - splendid isolation! Access is by plane. Truely healthy & pristine coral reefs, plenty of reef fish & reef sharks. An excellent alternative to Sipadan Island.

             

Detailed Borneo Diving Itinerary
   Day   Activities  
         
  1   Arrive at Balikpapan, Kalimantan (Indonesia) this morning. 
FLY to Berau. 
Transfer to the jetty for your boat transfer to your chosen island resort in the Derawan Archipelago.  Depending on time of arrival, you have a chance for an afternoon shake-down dive.  (D)
 
 
  2  

During the rest of your stay here, enjoy the fantastic and remote diving of Borneo's Derawan Archipelago over 10 dives. Some of the highlights include:

Pulau Kakaban, which is famous for the non-stinging jellyfish (4 species) lake in its interior, as well as excellent wall dives.

Pulau Sangalaki, for a chance to see manta rays and plenty of turtles. 
Pulau Maratua has a channel that attracts large pelagic fish, and sometimes even thresher sharks.
Pulau Derawan & Samama will keep macro photographers happy, with its ghost pipe fish and harlequin shrimps.  (B L D)

 
 
  3   Derawan Archipelago Diving - enjoy diving Kakaban, Sangalaki, Maratua, Derawan; depending on the dive schedule & weather conditions.  (B L D)  
 
  4   Derawan Archipelago Diving - Kakaban, Sangalaki, Maratua, Derawan; as above.  (B L D)  
 
  5   Derawan Archipelago Diving - Kakaban, Sangalaki, Maratua, Derawan; as above.  (B L D)  
 
  6   Derawan Archipelago Diving - Kakaban, Sangalaki, Maratua, Derawan; as above.  (B L D)  
 
  7   A long day of travel today to get between your remote destinations.  Boat transfer back to Berau today, and boat/ road transfer to Tawau (in Sabah).  Overnight in Tawau/ Semporna if you are continuing to Sipadan/ Mabul/ Kapalai. 
OR fly to Kota Kinabalu to overnight if continuing to Layang Layang.   (B)
 
 
  8  

Boat transfer to your chosen island resort within the Semporna Archipelago for your diving around the Semporna Archipelago, including Mabul, Sipadan, Kapalai, Mataking Islands.
OR FLY from Kota Kinabalu to Layang Layang in the Spratly Islands group.
Depending on arrival time, shake down dive today.
Semporna - 3 boat dives per day, and unlimited diving on house reef, except on day of arrival & departure.

Layang Layang - 3 boat dives per day.  (B L D)

 
 
  9  

Sipadan/ Mabul/ Kapalai Diving OR Layang Layang Diving.
The Semporna Archipelago's most well-known island is Sipadan Island, famous amongst diving circles the world over. The diving here is outstanding, with abundant & inquisitive turtles, plenty of reef sharks, and huge schools of barracuda. 

The diving on nearby islands of Mabul & Kapalai offers outstanding macro diving; look out for ornate ghost pipefish, tiny shrimps, leaf fish, orang-utan crabs, flamboyant cuttlefish, and plenty more.
Layang Layang meanwhile lies 300km off Kota Kinabalu, and is one of the remote Spratly Islands.  You will arrive here via a one hour charter flight, bringing you to some of the most remote diving in the region. Due to its remoteness, the coral here is some of the most pristine divers are likely to have seen. Here you will enjoy reef diving, pelagics, reef sharks - and if you're lucky in the right season (March - May), even hammerheads.  Currents can be strong here, so this is for experienced divers only.  (B L D)

 
 
  10   Semporna Archipelago Diving - Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking.
OR Layang Layang Diving. (B L D)
 
 
  11   Semporna Archipelago Diving - Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking.
OR Layang Layang Diving. (B L D)
 
 
  12   Today boat transfer back to Semporna, then road transfer to Tawau. 
FLY Tawau to Kota Kinabalu. (or fly from Layang Layang).
Continue with your onward flight home.  (B)
 
 
Borneo Diving Photos
Borneo Derawan Archipelago, Nabucco Island
Borneo Derawan, manta rays
Borneo Derawan, Nunukan Island
Borneo Derawan Archipelago, Nabucco Island Resort
Borneo Derawan Archipelago, Nabucco Island Resort
Borneo Derawan Archipelago, Nabucco barracuda
Borneo Derawan Archipelago, Nunukan crab
Borneo Layang Layang hammerhead shark
Borneo Layang Layang boat
Borneo Layang Layang
Luxury Borneo Diving Safari from only $4,998
Want more Luxury or Exclusivity? from $6,995 to $15,000+

 

Extend your Safari
Explore different regions, focus on particular wildlife, relax by the beach, go scuba diving, discover local culture... it's your choice.
Below are some ideas. Contact us for specific recommendations just for you.

  Kuching, Sarawak  - min 2 nights
Want to see some of Borneo's culture & tribal history?
Kuching is a sophisticated and stylish Bornean city, set in Malaysia's state of Sarawak. Thanks to its unusual history of being ruled by the White Rajahs, the culture of the indigenous peoples, the Dayaks, has remained relatively in tact. Explore Kuching's Old Chinatown, its India Street, and visit the Sarawak Museum or the Ethnology Museum. Take a day trip out to see one or more traditional Dayak Longhouses (e.g. Annah Rais) and stop in to the Semenggoh Nature Reserve to see orangutans, or travel to Gunung Gading National Park for a chance of seeing an amazing rafflesia flower (in season; unpredictable). Boat trips through the Kuching Wetlands National Park bring the chance of spotting proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, and other widlife - the most exciting being a chance to see critically endangered Irrawady dolphins.
Incl. airport transfers, accommodation, breakfast.
From US$ 390 pp for 2 nights.
   
  Tanjung-Puting National Park, Kalimantan - min 2 nights
Want to see Camp Leakey's orang-utans via a jungle river cruise in a klotok (motorised longboat)?
Explore Kalimantan's Tanjung Puting National Park (4,150 km sq) on a jungle river cruise up the Sekonyer river. You will travel on your very own private klotok (which is a motorised long boat), a wonderful soft adventure in itself. Visit the 'camps', or feeding stations for orangutans that are being rehabilitated for release back into the wild - these include Camp Leakey (established by Dr Birute Gladikas), Pondok Tanggui, Tanjung Harapan. You also have the chance to see other wildlife in this beautiful national park: proboscis monkeys, macaques, a myriad of birdlife, including the gorgeous hornbills & kingfishers, and maybe even a gharial (crocodile). 
Incl. airport transfers, accommodation & meals on the cruise, guide, park fees.
From US$ 550 pp for 2 nights.
   
  Wildlife & culture of Central Kalimantan - min 3 nights
Want a diverse Borneo experience, with local culture & wildlife (orangutans!)... on a luxury cruise?
Enjoy a relaxing, gentle cruise on a luxurious but traditional wooden riverboat; the Rahai'i Pahan, Ruhui Rahayu, or the Spirit of Kalimantan. Cruise up the Kahayan & Rungan rivers of Central Kalimantan, exploring as you travel. The wildlife highlight is Orangutan Island, a rehab centre for orangutans in the middle of the Kahayan River. You will not get as up close and personal as at Tanjung-Puting National Park, or at Sepilok in Sabah, but you will see many of them. Also keep an eye out for proboscis monkeys & hornbills. You will also have a chance to go canoeing, and to visit a Dayak village where you will see traditional dancing or a welcome ceremony.
Incl. transfers, accommodation, 3 meals daily on cruise, wildlife viewing, canoes, village visits.
From US$ 995 pp for 2 nights.
   
  Rafflesia flower - min 1 day
Want to see an epic rafflesia flower in bloom?
Seeing a rafflesia flower definitely takes some luck. Although they flower all year round, it's unpredictable, and only happens around 30 times a year. Each bloom lasts only around 5 days. You can see them at Gunung Gading National Park near Kuching, Sarawak, or otherwise at Tambunan Rafflesia Reserve near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. You'll need the better part of the day to visit the reserves, but the drives are picturesque, and the giant flowers worth seeing.
Incl. transfers, guide, park fees.
From US$ 95 pp for a day trip.
   
 
   
Borneo, Kuching chinatown
Borneo longhouse
Borneo orangutan
Borneo Kalimantan, Rahai'i Pangun cruise
Borneo Kalimantan, Rahai'i Pangun cruise
Borneo stilt houses
Borneo rafflesia
Prices

The long answer:  The World's wildlife, wilderness & best scuba diving destinations are often expensive because of strict government controls, high park fees & complex logistics.  Amongst other things, it also depends on accommodation quality, location & exclusivity; what type of vehicles/ boats are used; whether you're flying around a lot; and how many days you spend in-country. 

 

Whatever your budget, we will recommend the best possible adventure to suit you.

 

  Rainforest & Reef    
  Luxury from:  US$ 4,995
  More Luxury from: US$ 5,995
 
  Diving  
  Luxury from: US$ 4,998
  More Luxury from: US$ 6,995
 
  Extensions  
  Luxury from:  US$ 390
  More Luxury from: US$ 580
  Seasonal Pricing  
 
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
  Season   Low   High   Peak  
 
    Seasons shown here are based on accommodation pricing, which is based on holiday seasons.  For wildlife seasons & the best time to go, see our "Seasons" tab.    
     

Prices based on 2 people travelling, sharing a room.

 

Choose your own Private Safari or a Small Group - contact us for your tailor-made adventure!

 

No hidden costs - Guaranteed!  
We include everything possible to make your adventure as easy as possible.

 

Accommodation & responsible travel

We are strongly committed to the principles of responsible travel, and therefore recommend accommodations that are trying to do the right thing - by the environment, their staff & local communities, and their guests!  Environmental initiatives include using renewable energy such as solar power, using low-impact structures, reducing waste, and recycling wherever possible.  They support their local communities by providing employment as well as educational, medical, and other support; some even include profit-share arrangements. Many have, or support, anti-poaching units to de-snare and protect the wilderness areas within which they operate.

 

Great, so what's the difference between a luxury vacation and an even more luxurious or exclusive one?

       
  Luxury   More Luxury & Exclusivity
  Good quality hotels, lodges & resorts,
in a classic or adventure style.
Food is of a good standard.
Set in areas with good wildlife & diving/ snorkelling.
  High quality hotels, lodges & resorts,
often individually styled. 
High standards of guiding, food & service.
Best locations for wildlife & diving/ snorkelling.
       
  Accommodation featured:   Accommodation featured: 
 

Grandis Hotel, Kota Kinabalu
Paganakan Dii Retreat, Sepilok

Sepilok Forest Edge Resort
Sepilok Nature Resort 

Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Kinabatangan
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, Kinabatangan

Abai Jungle Lodge, Kinabatangan
Bilit Rainforest Lodge, Kinabatangan

Tabin Wildlife Resort, Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Gayana Eco-Resort, Gaya Island
Gaya Island Resort, Gaya Island
Mabul Beach Resort, Semporna Archipelago
Seaventures Dive Resort, Semporna Archipelago
Derawan Dive Lodge, Derawan Archipelago
Sangalaki Dive Lodge, Derawan Archipelago
Maratua Paradise Resort, Derawan Archipelago
Samboja Lodge, Samboja Lestari, Balikpapan

Klotok cruises, Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan

 

Le Meridian, Kota Kinabalu
Hyatt Regency, Kota Kinabalu
Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley
Bunga Raya Island Resort, Gaya Island
Hibiscus Riviera, Tip of Borneo
Layang layang Resort, Spratly Islands
Lankayan Resort, Sandakan Archipelago
Sipadan Kapalai Resort, Semporna Archipelago
Mabul Water Bungalows, Semporna Archipelago
Nunukan Island Resort, Derawan Archipelago
Nabucco Island Resort, Derawan Archipelago
Maratua Paratise Resort, Derawan Archipelago

Rahai'i Pahan, Ruhui Rahayu, or the Spirit of Kalimantan, Palankaraya, Central Kalimantan


       

We clearly explain what's included & what's not:

 

Inclusions: All your accommodation, most meals, wildlife viewing activities by foot, boat or vehicle with experienced Guide, all internal flights, all airport transfers, all park & conservation fees.

 

All government taxes, fuel surcharges, Park & Conservancy entrance fees are included and correct as at date of quote. However they are subject to government & local authority imposed changes, often without notice (!) and therefore beyond our control. We will always endeavour to minimise their impact and inform you if a supplement is required.

 

Exclusions: International airfares to & from your chosen destination. Visa fees, personal & travel insurance, excursions not specified, drinks unless specified, laundry, telephone or internet costs, gratuities, and all other personal expenses. Some airports now charge safety fees, which are payable directly at each airport upon departure. 

 

Additional things to consider: Busy times of the year normally have a supplement added by the accommodation providers - Easter, Xmas & New Year holidays.  These will be included in our costs - so no surprises when you get there!

 

Seasons

Q:  When is the best time to go to Borneo?    
A:  It depends on what you want to see & experience

The best time to go depends on what you want to see and do.

 

So if you're constrained to travelling at a particular time, don't worry: we'll recommend the best places & parks - and the best locations within the the parks - to visit at that time.  

 

If you have specific interests - such as a chance to see hammerhead sharks - then you do need to travel at the right time of year, AND to the right area.

 

Guide to the rainforest & diving seasons & the best time to go to Borneo


 

January - February
Seas are rough during this time, and it can be wet and windy, so not ideal for diving or snorkelling.

Lots of flowers in bloom - outstanding for botanists that are willing to brave the rain & leeches!


   
 

March - April

Change of season, from wet to dry. 
Decreasing rain, and calmer oceans make for better diving conditions in the Derawan Archipelago.

Fruiting season in the jungle brings orangutans into view, but may keep them away from feeding stations.

Feb-April - whale sharks off Lankayan Island off Sandakan, Sabah (Malaysia).

April - diving conditions improve in the Semporna Archipelago (Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai).

   
 

May - September

These are the drier & less humid months on Borneo, due to the SE monsoon.

Tropical downpours do still occur even in the driest months of July & August.

It is the most climatically pleasant time for land-based activities, and wildlife viewing.

Good season for diving, especially May - July, which can be the calmest.

   
  October - December
October is the beginning of the rainy season in most parts, although there are still many sunny days.
By November/ December, increasing rains, with downpours on most days.
   

 

Whatever time of year you choose to travel, rest assured that when you choose to travel with us, we will advise you of the best Borneo safari locations, safari seasons and safari dates for your particular interests.

 

How can we help you?