Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city located between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived World War II bombings, 'KK' (as it's commonly known) has a charm that can only be found in a frontier town. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early, you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village, once home to a notorious head hunter, or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu which are excellent for swimming or snorkelling.
Head for the beautiful Kinabalu National Park. Stretch your legs and take in the mountain views on any of the numerous walking trails. As you walk along, keep a close eye on the sky and on the trees, as there are many exotic birds to spot – mountain serpent-eagle, Dulit frogmouth and bare-headed laughing thrushes among them. It's also important to keep an eye on the ground for snakes, and you might encounter a leech or two. There's plenty to see and do in this World Heritage-listed park. The Botanical Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, and flora from all over the park has been replanted here. The walk in the park takes 1 hour. This afternoon is free for you to relax.
Today you will get up early to catch glimpses of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, before the cloud rises for the day. A little later in the morning you will embark on a day trip to Poring Hot Springs, which are not too far away (approximately 1 hour). Here you will have time to soak in the famous thermal pools which are mineral-rich and believed to have medicinal properties. There will also be time to explore some of the many trails in the reserve, or go for a refreshing swim at a nearby waterfall. Tonight you will stay in a reconstructed longhouse on the tea plantation. Rooms are twin/triple-share and have fans and shared bathrooms.
Travel by private bus to Batu Puteh, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Your hosts for the next two nights are the local community run conservation organization KOPEL whose aim is to provide villagers with the means of making a sustainable living from the forest. KOPEL are responsible for a reforestation project in which the community are actively involved in growing seedlings and replanting back degraded forested areas. In doing so, they are helping to restore forest corridors and increase the forest habitat for wildlife in the Lower Kinabatangan Region. To date KOPEL has restored more than 1000 hectares with over 350,000 trees. KOPEL also work on a number of other resource conservation projects with the local fishermen and farmers in the area. After learning about forest rehabilitation, head by boat into the jungle (approximately 20 minutes) and stay by the oxbow lake. You should be able to glimpse crocodiles, macaques and the freaky-looking proboscis monkeys. After settling into the camp we head off up the river to view wildlife. As it gets dark we head out on foot looking for creepy crawlies and other nocturnal animals such as civets and tarsiers. The walk is approximately 1 hour. Later settle in for a night as the cicadas sing you to sleep You'll pack an overnight bag for the jungle camp and leave your main luggage at the KOPEL office. Stay in the jungle in a simple hut with basic facilities and cold bathing. There is no electricity at the camp so please see below for must have packing items. Mosquito nets are provided. PACKING LIST FOR THE JUNGLE: A torch, insect repellent and rain jacket are essential.
We are up at dawn to look for more wildlife on a river cruise. Later there is time for some more treks around the camp for the energetic or kick back in a hammock on your camp deck. As lunch time approaches we will get a local traditional cooking lesson at the jungle camp with our local hosts. Later we take a boat back to KOPEL village base and take a short bus ride to visit the nearby Batu Tulug burial caves. These caves were once a burial site some 500-900 years ago. A short hike will take you through the caves where around 125 wooden carved coffins are found. Afterwards there maybe chance for a game of volleyball with the villagers. Out of respect for the locals please ensure you are wearing conservative clothing covering your knees and shoulders during your visit. The village visit is a good opportunity to interact with local families and learn a little more about the local culture and way of life – so now is not the time to be shy! You will be treated to a traditional music and cultural dance performance at the KOPEL village hall before transferring back to the jungle camp for the night.
After breakfast, jump into the minivan and travel to Sepilok (approximately 2 hours). On the way you will pay a visit to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The sanctuary is a protected forest reserve inhabited by several groups of these intriguing primates. It's a chance to get up close to the amazing bachelor proboscis lazing around and feeding – an experience that can only be found in Borneo. Watch with awe as these gracious creatures jump from tree to tree and sometimes come down to munch on young leaves and plants. Later we transfer to Sepilok for the night. Here you will have some free time to kick back at your guesthouse and relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. The resort has a pool to cool off in.
Today you will visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre that was set up to help reintroduce these animals into the wild after they have been domesticated or orphaned. To aid with adaptation, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. Watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. Human contact must be kept to a minimum, and your leader will brief you on the park's strict regulations. There's also a short film about the orangutan rehabilitation process to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre. Today you will also have the option to visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (at additional cost). This is a wonderful new centre taking care of rescued Sun Bears that have spent many years mistreated and locked away in cages. There is plenty of time for an optional visit to see these very cute bears. A laundry service is available at the guesthouse tonight.
Today you will transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). Keep in mind that the luggage allowance for this flight is only 15 kg, and any excess baggage may incur a further charge. Then drive to Kuala Penyu (approximately 2.5 hours). From there you will travel by speedboat (approximately 30 minutes) to your secluded, rustic hideaway on Pulau Tiga. Pulau Tiga played host to the first ever series of Survivor, the American television program, in 2000 and has jungle trails and mud volcanoes as well as white sand beaches. Your flight departs in the morning, and your boat to Survivor Island leaves in the afternoon. This means there is plenty of time to allow for delays, but also means a long day of travelling. Accommodation for the next 2 nights is in basic chalets but the natural surroundings make up for the simple standard. Later your leader can take you for a walk (approx: 1 hour) through the jungle to visit one of the mud volcanos and wallow in the mud like a buffalo before walking back to the sea to rinse off – guaranteed to take years off!
Today (weather permitting) you'll take a boat to nearby snake island which is breeding area for Yellow-lipped Sea Kraits or Banded Sea Kraits. If we are lucky your guide might be able to find one of these snakes lurking under a rock. Later we head to a sand spit where we can snorkel in the clear waters. The waters surrounding the island are home to over 132 species of fish as well as sea turtles. The rest of the day is free to relax in a beachside hammock or perhaps take to one of the jungle trails to explore.
Bid farewell to your patch of paradise and head back to the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu, where you'll spend your last night. You will get there via speedboat (approximately 30 minutes). Transfer from the mainland to a seaside guesthouse for your final evening. Take the opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink and look back on the week's adventures with the family and your fellow travellers. Your hotel is approximately 40 minutes drive from downtown Kota Kinabalu.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. You are free to depart the accommodation at any time.