Borneo Explorer, Malaysia
- Hike, bird, and marvel in the dramatic and lush Mount Kinabalu Park World Heritage site
- Cruise jungle rivers looking for monkeys, gibbons, hornbills, and the elusive Borneo pygmy elephant
- Snorkel in warm waters amongst brilliant coral reefs and rainbow-colored fish
- Delicious Malay and continental meals and comfortable hotels and jungle lodges
- Expert on-trip naturalist, transportation in a private coach, and one in-country flight
- All admissions, excursions, and gratuities
|Dates||Oct 27–Nov 7, 2013|
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To search our full lineup by destination, date, activity, or price, please visit our Advanced Search page. Or give us a call at 415-977-5522 to find the trip that's right for you.
Borneo is one of the world’s last wild places with its dense rainforests, tropical coastal islands, and mysterious jungle valleys. As such, it has become a rare place on this planet today -- somewhere you can still encounter a rich variety of colorful and endangered wildlife amidst amazing natural scenery. Borneo is part of Malaysia and is the third-largest island in the world. It is considered one of the most bio-diverse places, having over 15,000 species of plants, 221 species of terrestrial mammals, and 420 species of birds.
This trip is designed for active people with a sense of adventure. We will explore many parts of the incredible island, from coral reefs to the lower elevations of the 14,000-foot Mt. Kinabalu, searching for wildlife and birds and unique plant life. We’ll see unique birds with names such as spiderhunters, flowerpeckers, bee-eaters, trillers, and sunbirds. The Borneo rainforest is one of the only remaining habitats for the Borneo Orangutan and Pygmy elephant, and we hope to experience these wild mammals firsthand. We stay at several jungle lodges; an added special highlight is two nights at a first-class rainforest lodge in the pristine Danum Valley. At these remote lodges we go in search of the many birds and mammals found during the day, as well as those during the night, such as civets, flying squirrels, sambar deer, and slow loris. We hike to and explore Gomantong Cave, a spacious limestone cavern where locals sustainably harvest nests on tall bamboo ladders to make the authentic "birds nest soup." The trip also explores the rich cultural diversity in Borneo and visit sites of historical interest, particularly those of World War II.
We travel comfortably by private tourist bus with our own driver and naturalist, and enjoy spectacular scenery along the way, feasting on tropical fruits and healthy, fresh, local cuisine. The trip includes one in-country flight and a number of jungle boat cruises. Venture to the wild!
Note: The following day-to-day itinerary may vary according current conditions.
The trip starts and ends in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. While Kota Kinabalu is a relatively small city in Asia, it is served by a number of regular flights out of Singapore, Seoul, Korea, Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The leader can assist you with flight suggestions. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. The leader will be happy to assist you if you wish to extend your stay on either end of the trip.
Accommodations and Food
No special equipment is needed. However, binoculars and a camera are highly recommended. Your leader will provide a comprehensive packing list well in advance of the trip.We will stay in charming lodges, modern hotels, and first-class jungle lodges. All of our accommodations have air conditioning or room fans. Rooms are double-occupancy; if you come alone we'll give you a roommate. A single supplement may be available for additional cost; please contact the leader. The food will be delicious -- a mix of local and typical Asian dishes, with a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians can be accommodated. We'll travel by comfortable, private, air-conditioned bus. There will be a few long drives, but the scenery along the way is spectacular.
This trip is suitable for individuals who are in good health, get regular exercise, enjoy nature, and have a good-humored approach to traveling in Asia -- where things might not go as predictably as they do at home. Our trip is not strenuous, and can be considered leisurely-to-moderate most days. Elevation gains and losses on most hikes are minimal. Although October is considered the end of the dry season, rain can fall at any time in the jungle. Rain will not restrict our movements or our enjoyment of the forests or coast. We can expect sometimes hot and humid conditions when we are hiking or wildlife viewing, but dressing properly and hydrating well will increase your comfort level.
Equipment and Clothing
No special equipment is needed. However, binoculars and a camera are highly recommended. Your leader will provide a comprehensive packing list well in advance of the trip.
- Garbutt, Nick, Wild Borneo: The Wildlife and Scenery of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan. Excellent overview of natural history and current preservation efforts. Published in association with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
- Myers, Susan, Birds of Borneo: Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak, and Kalimantan (Princeton Field Guides). Full field guide.
- McNamee, Brian Row, Wild Pythons & Head-Hunters in Borneo. A classic travel narrative.
- Galdikas, Birute, Reflections of Eden: My Years With the Orangutans of Borneo.Primatologist recruited by Leakey to study orangutans.
- Payne, Junaidi, Wild Malaysia: The Wildlife and Landscapes of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, and Sabah. Great inspirational overview with photos.
- Overview information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/borneo
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation and sustainability of resources both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, and encourages grassroots involvement. Our outings hope to guide participants toward understanding the environmental parallels between home and abroad.
In Borneo, we will get an up-close look at conservation in action. The country is struggling with protecting indigenous animals and plants while striving for economic development. Borneo historically had extensive rainforest cover, but the Malaysian plywood industry has had a detrimental effect. Half of the annual global tropical timber comes from Borneo. Tracts of fast-growing tropical trees have been planted on formerly logged and deforested areas to supplement the timber production pressure on the native species. Malaysia is the second-largest world producer and largest exporter of palm oil. These palm oil plantations are rapidly encroaching on the last remnants of primary rainforest. The rainforest was also greatly destroyed from the forest fires of 1997 to 1998, which were started by the locals to clear the forests for crops. Further deforestation and destruction of the biodiversity are anticipated in the wake of logging commissions, hydroelectric dams, and other mining of minerals and resources.
We will have many opportunities to discuss these issues with naturalists and rangers as we travel this amazing country on the brink of critical decisions for future preservation.