Start your trip in cosmopolitan Kuching, making sure to sample Malaysian cuisine before making a day trip to Bako National Park, Sarawak’s oldest national park. Here, you can trek through the jungle and see macaques and proboscis monkeys. Next, head to the Batang Ai river, where you’ll take a riverboat cruise to see the traditional longhouses of the Iban people. Travel back to Kuching before flying to Sandakan and the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary for feeding time and conservation. Continue your orangutan odyssey on the Kinabatangan River searching for semi-wild orangutans building nests and jungle treks. End your trip with a flight to Kinabalu for beaches, resorts and relaxation.

Key information

Destinations Borneo
Activity Luxury, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Get to know Sarawak’s capital city

Get to know Sarawak’s capital city

Day 1–2 in Kuching

Nestled between the jungle and the sea, Sarawak’s capital began life as a trading post, built up by the family of Sir James Brooke, the first of the line of “white rajahs” who ruled Sarawak for a century. The city has boomed in the last two decades, due in large part to its close proximity to a number of national parks and wildlife destinations. Kuching’s historic waterfront makes for perfect sunset strolling, before exploring the city’s sophisticated food and bar scene.

Don't miss

See the legendary rafflesia flower

See the legendary rafflesia flower

Blooming up to 1m in diameter, the world’s largest flower takes nine months to mature and only lasts for a week. Keep your ears pricked for a tip in Kuching, and take a day trip to nearby Gunung Gading National Park.

Listen out for wildlife in Bako National Park

Listen out for wildlife in Bako National Park

Day 3–5 in Bako National Park

Sarawak’s oldest national park is just over 20km from capital city Kuching, and is a popular day trip for tourists wanting a taste of the region's wildlife. Although Bako National Park is quite compact, it is home to a multitude of flora and fauna which call the mangroves, swamp forest and beach-speckled coastline their home.

Travellers can take advantage of the park’s well-marked trails, which range from short and sweet walks to full-day hikes.

Volunteer at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Volunteer at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Day 6–8 in Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

25km west of the waterside town of Sandakan is Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, a rehabilitation centre which runs popular pay-to-volunteer programmes.

Founded in 1964, the first rehab centre for orphaned orangutans in the world, Sepilok provides medical care for orphaned and displaced orangutans, along with dozens of other species, including elephants, gibbons and sun bears.

Alongside their four-week volunteering schemes, Sepilok is a popular day trip from Sandakan. Feeding time is the main attraction here, with the centre operating feeding platforms that draw in the released orangutans, especially when food is scarce in the wild. Guests can follow the boardwalks to spot orangutans in the trees, passing through an area where they can watch young orangutans playing on swings and climbing.

The centre is easily accessible by car, taxi or by bus from Sandakan.

Don't miss

Look for the bear necessities

Look for the bear necessities

While in Sepilok, make time to visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which cares for the world’s smallest bear species (standing at around 120-150cm in height).

Float down the Kinabatangan River

Float down the Kinabatangan River

Day 9–11 in Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve

Sabah’s largest waterway is one of only two regions in the world which are inhabited by ten species of primate, and is Borneo’s most popular destination for tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of a wild orangutan.

Most visitors will opt to cruise down the river, combined with the odd trek and overnight stay in a jungle-fringed campground. The river itself is home to freshwater sharks and crocodiles, but If you’re very lucky, you might spot a Bornean elephant on the banks.

The area is also home to the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project. Although not a tourist-oriented enterprise like Sepilok, the centre may help you source guides should you wish to search for wild orangutans.

Unwind in Kota Kinabalu

Unwind in Kota Kinabalu

Day 12–14 in Kota Kinabalu

Whether you’re wanting to scuba dive in pristine coral reef, trek Malaysia’s highest mountain or simply relax on the beach of a stylish resort, Kota Kinabalu seems to have something for everyone. The busy CBD and waterfront are compact enough to easily explore, and visitors can delight in the city’s emerging music scene and diverse culinary options.

Other itineraries you might like

Off The Beaten Track in Borneo

Kota Kinabalu, Sepilok and the Kinabatangan River

15 daysFrom £3,000
Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Kota Kinabalu, Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve, Danum Valley
Tour Type Custom itinerary, Private guided tour
Activity Family, Adventure, Caving, Hiking & Trekking, Active, Walking, Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Photography, National Parks, Culture, Indigenous Tourism

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