BORNEO

INTRODUCTION
Borneo Lowland Rain Forests are the richest rain forests in the world and rival the diversity of New Guinea and the Amazon. With an estimated 10,000 plant species including nearly 300 Teak, species (155 endemic to Borneo), Borneo is the centre of the world's diversity for Teak Forests. These forests are home to an array of wildlife including 600 species of birds [39 endemic to Borneo] and 300 species of mammals [44 endemic to Borneo] which includes fascinating primates like the Orang utan and Proboscis Monkey, and a collection of striking Hornbills.
The island also holds Mid and high altitude forests on the Slopes of the Crocker range of mountains, with the highest peak being Mount Kinabalu which reaches a height of 4095 meters[13435 Feet asl] and is the highest mountain in Asia outside of the Himalayas.
Though less wildlife occurs here the mountain is definitely worth a visit with some great opportunities for trekking and some birdlife that is incredibly tame and accessible to photograph. Botanically these forests are interesting and contain the parasitic plant Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the world's largest flower (up to 1 m in diameter).

ITINERARY

Day 1:  Kota Kinabalu
After arriving at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and transferring to our hotel in town, we have time to relax after the long flight. For those with enough energy we can do some local birding and photography in the afternoon at a small nature reserve within the city.

Days 2 - 5:  Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu
After an early breakfast we head out of Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu. At 13,455 feet, it is the highest point in Asia outside of the Himalayas. We will spend some of our time working the excellent system of trails†mostly around the park’s headquarters at 5,300 feet, but also exploring the different altitudinal zones for some of the unique birds, mammals, and plants that make Borneo such an attraction.
We will visit the historic hot springs at Poring originally developed by the Japanese as a rest and recreation spot for their battle weary troops during the Second World War.  Should anyone be particularly interested, short visits to some of the historical sites of that era may be particularly moving.
Photographic opportunities abound and you will find the early mornings around Mount Kinabalu irresistible when it comes to landscape photography, while the birdlife around the park headquarters is unusually tame and photogenic.
However it is the botany of this mountain that really steals the show and with luck some of the locals will have found an example of the world largest flower, the Rafflesia,  and will be happy to take us to find an example for a small consideration.
Pitcher plants, ferns and forests hanging with lichens and steeped in mists add to our introduction to Borneo.    [B,D]

Day 6: Mount Kinabalu to Sandakan.  Today we take a leisurely drive to Sandakan for an overnight stay. En route we will stop at any photographic opportunities, of which there are many ranging from roadside markets to Buffalos pulling ploughs in the rice paddies. [B, D]

Day 7: Sepilok to Sakau.
An early morning start by exploring the trails around Sepilok the famous Orang Rehabilitation centre. The morning feeding of these animals takes place at 10 am and although it is very contrived and touristy, it does provide you with some opportunities for photography. I always try to spend my time until feeding time walking the walkway and boardwalks quietly and often catching these Orangs in far more natural poses than at the feeding station. At the same time few people can resist taking some shots of the unusually tame and strikingly looking Prevost’s Squirrel.
Onwards from Sepilok towards Sakau and our next lodge, we should hopefully arrive in time to relax with a sun downer on the banks of the Kinbatangan River.  [B,L,D]

Day 8 & 9: The waterways of Sakau.
Two days along these waterways in boats as we explore the Kinbatangan river, its tributaries, ox-bow lakes and surrounding forests by boat and on foot, both during the day and night excursions with the hope of finding some of the nocturnal specials.
Here on the Kinbatangan River we have our first chance to find wild Orang-utans, but the most interesting of species here is the bizarre proboscis Monkey, which is very common along the river. Other species include Sliver Langur, Pig-tailed and Long-tailed Macaques, a number of species of squirrels, Tree-shrews, and a possibility of wild Asian Elephants.

Birds special to here include the critically endangered Storms Stork, as well as a host of others. [B,L,D]
 
Day 10:  Kinbatangan River to the Danum Valley
A very early morning start to the Gormatong caves, famous for being the breeding site for four species of cave nesting swiftlets, Edible-nest, Black-nest, Mossy-nest and Glossy Swiftlets. Set in a beautiful patch of forest the caves themselves are amazing to see and have amongst the thousands of swift’s nests many thousands of bats. The visit to these caves is a remarkable excursion and proves to be a highlight on the tour for all who do it. The valuable nest sites are guarded 24/7 by their owners who harvest the nests at the end of the breeding season for sale to the Chinese for Bird nest soup.
Leaving the caves we drive through to Lahad Datu and drive to the comfortable and ideally situated Borneo Rainforest Lodge that is in the heart of the most unspoilt lowland Dipterocarp forest in Borneo. Our lodge is on a bend of the river in the middle of the forest so that we have excellent birding within the hotel grounds. This area is one of the best in the world to see the giant Orang-utan, as well as Bornean gibbon, Maroon Langur, Bearded Pig, Leopard Cat, Red Giant Flying Squirrel and many other fantastic creatures.
Over the next three days we will explore the roads and trails of this fine area and spend some time on the amazing canopy walkway. During the heat of the day we will relax at our lodge and in the evenings we will do some spotlighting on foot or from the back of a truck hoping to find some of the more elusive nocturnal species such as Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Tarsier, Flying Lemur, and several flying squirrel species. [B,L,D]

Day 11-13:  After a final mornings walk around the trails of the Danum valley we transfer back to Lahad Datu and catch our plane back to Kota Kinabalu for the last  night. [B,L,D]

Day 14:  Manukan and home
An early start and we head down to the jetty and catch a speed boat out to Manukan Island for breakfast and some snorkelling around this island. These islands are also the home of some interesting bird species and if the inclination takes you then there are well laid out trails that lead up to an impressive view point on the south of the island. With patience you may be rewarded with views of Tabon scrubfowl an interesting species of terrestrial flightless birds that lives here.
Return to our hotel in time to shower and leave for the airport to catch our flights Home. [B]


The projected cost of the trip is US$ 3820 per person sharing (single room Supplement $630)
This includes all landed costs, from Kota Kinabalu, Internal airfares, Professional Guides, meals as in itinerary, transport, Park entrances and activities in the itinerary. [Prices subject to change with Currency fluctuations]
 
This excludes International airfares to Kota Kinabalu, drinks, items of a purely personal nature, and any activities not in the itinerary.