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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karen Morrow

    Borneo: Lovely but not quite what I'd hoped.

    I have mixed feelings about this trip. On the positive side, my husband and I joined a very lovely and friendly group and a delightful guide (Sheila). The accommodation, although more basic than on some trips we've done, was mainly fine and some of the restaurants Sheila took us to were in lovely positions and had good food - although rice did tend to dominate the menu! We also saw some lovely things, such as Lang's cave, with its stalactites and stalagmites, and Bako national park, where we saw silver leaf monkeys, proboscis monkeys, macaques and bearded pigs. I also particularly enjoyed the river trips and going to the 'sun bear sanctuary' as well as watching flying squirrels 'fly'! However, overall, there was a lot less wildlife around than I have seen on previous holidays (especially our visits to Africa and the Galapagos). On some walks we saw virtually nothing, certainly in the way of larger mammals or birds. I think the trip notes - and even the very name of the trip! - implies that you'll see a lot more. Like most groups apparently, we did not see elephants at all ('A rare thing to see around here' according to the guide). We also did not see rhinos (I've never seen one in 22 years...'), or, of course, more elusive animals such as leopards or wild sun bears.. We fortunately did see wild orangutans but only briefly on two occasions and at a distance. A necessary evil in such trips is the travelling. However, in Africa, we would often see interesting animals 'en route'. In Borneo, for a large majority of the time, we were travelling through endless miles of palm oil plantations, which have been planted where rain forest used to be, and virtually no animal life - or wildlife of ANY type except for the trees themselves - exists in these massively impoverished environments. It was very sad to see, as well as being, frankly, tedious. If you, like us, would like a trip based on special scenery and fairly frequent sightings of larger/interesting mammals or birds, then I personally feel this trip is probably not one to choose.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were a few. I particularly enjoyed watching the flying squirrels 'fly' and the proboscis monkeys were lovely to watch. The sun bear sanctuary was interesting and watching thousands of bats emerge from a cave in the late afternoon and fly off 'in formation' was also fascinating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader, Sheila, was very sweet and kind. She worked hard, was anxious to please and was very concerned about our safety and wellbeing. Her only slight fault was to under-estimate how long each activity would take, so we invariably were running late and time to shower, or relax, was often considerably reduced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The animals and birds we did see could often be a long way away, so take a good pair of binoculars and a camera with a lot of zoom. We did not have a lot of rainy days, but when it rains, it POURS, so also take a good waterproof and NEVER go out without it! (We did on a visit to a restaurant and would have been soaked through, if Sheila hadn't been able to beg a lift back for us.) You will also need a lot of insect repellent, as there are many mosquitos and sand flies. In some jungle areas, there are also a lot of leeches, so leech socks (or a good pair of long socks such as football socks) are also a 'must'.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a good holiday for people who are generally interested in being in a rain forest environment, or have a particular interest in insect life or plant life species. It also gives you a realistic chance to see such lovely (and funny!) animals as proboscis monkeys or the stunning silver leaf monkeys. However, if you want to see many different animals, be aware that most species are very elusive and you may see a lot less than you'd like over the two weeks.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Karie Bala

    Life Changing Experience

    Just back and can't quite believe what we saw and experienced on this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We were lucky enough to see a wild pigmy elephant, crossing the river right in front of our boat. Lucky for us, we were alone on the river. Sunrise at the Wildlife Discovery Centre in Sepilok had us up close with a somewhat angry wild orang-utan, which was definitely an experience! At the Sun Bear Sanctuary we met Poppa Bear (Wong) who, if you've seen the ITV Borneo show with Judi Dench, you will know instantly. He, like every other Bornean, was extremely friendly, and happy to chat at length about about the gorgeous Sun Bears. Visiting Labuk Bay and the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary was a special place, my favourite being the Silver Leaf Monkeys and one baby. And snorkelling off of Manukan Island was top notch, and accommodation there was lush! Could have used a few more days. Be sure to order a kopi tarik at the take away cafe toward the pool. They open at 7.30 am.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel, our tour leader, was amazing. We were such a lucky group and could have not asked for a better leader to gel our Exodus Team! He was knowledgable, compassionate, and a pleasure to be around. I'm looking forward to another Manuel Exodus tour in the future, as he really bonded with every member of our tour and we were all sad to say our goodbyes.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Luggage - You have to carry your own nearly everywhere, so pack as light as possible, in a soft pack. Leech socks - I was very worried about finding these here before we left, but we found some in the Centre Pointe Mall on the ground level. They were also available to rent at the Bilit Adventure Lodge along with wellington boots! Sleep - Our entire group had problems sleeping on various parts of our tour. No way to combat it, but be ready. Bug spray - Take it with you an top up regularly, especially in the rainforest areas. Plasters - Take these too as you may have blisters. Roti cannai - Try this in the Centre Point basement Islamic Center restaurant. It doesn't look like much, but we were there every day were were in KK. You'll see red plastic chairs and know you're in the right place. 1x roti cannai costs 1.50RM, so like 30p, and it's the best we found on the whole tour. Noodles and rice dishes were great too. Laundry - Forget about it. Know by the end you're going to stink. So will all your travel companions. Use laundry services where they're available; we found the Sabah Tea Longhouse laundry to be a reprieve from the stink! The last hotels on the trip will happily take any clothes you don't want to take home with you and distribute to those in need. A good idea (stolen from travel mates) is to buy clothes at the charity shop and leave them with you. Best thing to wear would be lightweight long sleeved shirts! If you put any effort into this tour, you'll be handsomely rewarded - early morning treks provided us with a personal encounter with a pigmy elephant as well as an orang-utan. It was special!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't hesitate. I'm experiencing massive post-holiday blues as this holiday was particularly life changing for me. Amazing. Enjoy.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    (E) Pat Arlette

    Borneo Wildlife

    This was an absolutely fabulous holiday. It had been very well thought out to give us as much exposure as possible to as many aspects as possible of the wildlife of Borneo. The accommodation was good and we saw an amazing variety of animals, birds, plants and insects. The local guides were excellent at spotting things of interest and Sheila, our leader, was one of the best I have ever had, all done with a lovely sense of humour. I'd thoroughly recommend it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Probably seeing the giant flying squirrels as I wasn't expecting them. The orang-utans in the sanctuary and in the wild were just lovely.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent! A grand sense of humour, always patient, interested in us all personally, very knowledgable and very good at spotting the wildlife

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are interested in wildlife, go for it
  • Reviewed April 2017
    Gina Eckersley

    FIB: Borneo Wildlife Adventure

    A fantastic trip featuring an incredible amount of wildlife, some stunning scenery, and many once-in-a-lifetime experiences!!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me I think it was seeing Pygmy Elephants crossing the Kinabatangan river. We had overheard that there were elephants in the area, but I don't think any of us truly believed that we would see a herd of at least fifty swimming across the river right in front of us!! We also loved seeing the flying squirrel in Sepilok, and we managed to catch two flying lizards at the Sun Bear sanctuary! I also loved the truly magical sunsets encountered on this trip - I think the Sabah Tea Gardens Longhouse was a highlight, with the mighty Mount Kinabalu in the distance.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Manuel was absolutely brilliant. His knowledge of the wildlife and of Borneo is encyclopedic, and he is truly passionate about his country and conserving the natural resources. We all learnt so much and I think Manuel's enthusiasm was shared by each and every member of the group. I especially enjoyed the various food recommendations (Asam fish - delicious!!)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is super hot! Bring quick dry clothing (especially t-shirts) as anything too thick or heavy will struggle to dry. Bring an individual water bottle so you can refill from the main bottle daily, rather than buying smaller bottles. Leech socks can be hired at Kinabatangan along with wellington boots, which were really necessary because of the mud! Take plenty of insect repellent (not that it stops the mozzies). A camera with a good zoom and/or binoculars is a really good thing to take - especially for your time at Kinabatangan.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We thought that the 2 nights spend on Manukan Island at the end of the trip were absolutely perfect - we fell in love with our hillside villa (so luxurious!) and it was a real struggle to leave the island!
  • Reviewed October 2014
    Anonymous

    Borneo Family Adventure

    This is a great trip if you want to experience Sabah, Borneo. It is well organised and you see a lot, the orangutans are amazing. It is a good mixture of wildlife and culture and my son thoroughly enjoyed the trip at age 8. The people in Borneo are really friendly and it feels a safe place.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The orangutans

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The tour leader Roxanne was great with the children teaching them the language and imparting her knowledge at the right level for them, She is fun so the kids really take to her. She does the majority of the family trips .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My son had a great time on this trip at age 8 , personally I think the trip would be hard for a lot of 5 year olds as there are as few early morning starts and the trip is busy. However, this would depend on the individual child. My son is a seasoned traveller and would have managed it well at age 5. My son and I travel a lot independently but this trip was good for him as he was able to make friends with the other children on the trip. The kids on the trip got on well and it was great for him to travel with children from other countries. Try and give yourself a couple of days before or after the trip so you can take the short boat trip across to one or two of the islands off Kota Kinabalu.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would not hesitate in recommending this trip to anyone it is great. My son and I also went to the Kuching, Sarawak on our own after the trip and then hired a Klotok in Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesia Borneo after. I would also recommend doing both of these if you have the time. Internal flights in the region are cheap find them on skyscanner. Get yourself on this Exodus trip you will have a super time.
  • Reviewed August 2013
    Anonymous

    BORNEO FAMILY ADVENTURE

    Wow...what an adventure!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    On the river canoe trip, watching the elephants crossing the river and struggling to get up the muddy bank on the far side. This was a rare event and we watched for ages as the baby struggled up the  bank with the help of the adult herd. Truly amazing! Spending the night in the jungle camp was an experience. No electricity, and only a roof and a mossie net to protect us from the thunder storm is something I'll never forget.  The boat trip back from the island in rough seas, I was dreading, but absolutely loved it...thrilling!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was excellent. Very patient and understanding of our needs. She was ready to spring into action at any point and did so with a smile on her face the whole time!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is an adventurous holiday and can be quite challenging at times.you need to be prepared for basic accommodation, which is described in the brochure and web site as such, but "showers" were often a barrel of rainwater and a scoop, and toileting was somewhat of an adventure..especially when you find a frog in the toilet! It really makes you appreciate the comforts of life, though, like toilet paper and hot running water! There are a lot of "beasties", most of which love to bite or sting so take some antihistemines just in case! I'd advise breaking up the jouney there with a stopover as the time difference can be difficult. We had a great time in out homestay, the house was clean and comfortable and we played with the children for hours ( learn some good hand clapping games!), so not speaking the language wasnt a problem.  Other families were not so lucky though, so our group had a mixed response to this aspect of the trip. You just need to go with the flow on this part.   We booked the trip so that we could visit Sepilok, but I was disappointed that there were so few orangutans to see and they were quite far away...its so much better to see them in the wild!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, then Borneo is for you. I am so pleased we had this adventure, it challenged me several times, but looking back on it now I realise how lucky I am to have been there to experience it.
  • Reviewed August 2013
    Anonymous

    BORNEO FAMILY ADVENTURE

    A fantastic introduction to Sabah in Borneo. The trip (run by Intrepid) was varied, pacey, full of fun and led by Bibiana who added a huge amount to the whole experience. Jungle, tropical beaches, homestay and local food and culture combined to provide a spicy introduction to Malaysian Borneo.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the real life drama of a two week old pygmy elephant fighting to get out of the river. Initially supported just by Mum but later others of the herd arrived to ensure a positive outcome. The on the boat back seeing a big orang-utan high in the trees in that almost cartoon like pose they keep.Lying in  a mosi net on a platform in the jungle listening to the sounds through the night - I only wish I had taken a tape recorder!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic - she had a big responsibility taking a family group into the East of Sabah just a week or so after it reopened to travellers. Her sense of humour, love of snacks and knowledge of people, food and wildlife combined to make her a perfect family group leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do it! But be flexible and aware that some parts eg homestay will be variable within the group.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just a great trip - we are used to travelling independently but the value added from this trip was well worth the cost.
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