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Borneo Orangutan

Borneo Wildlife Discoverer with George Kourounis

15 days
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Wildlife Holidays
Group size:

Showcasing the best of Borneo with National Geographic Explorer, George Kourounis

Wildlife, rainforests, and tropical beaches– make your way through the wonders of Borneo led by renowned Nat Geo explorer, filmmaker, photographer, and Chapter Chair of the Explorers Club, George Kourounis. Whether it’s swapping travel and expedition stories from across the globe, learning about Kourounis’ work with National Geographic, or providing tips and training on photography techniques this epic adventurer will be there every step of the journey to share his expertise.

 Borneo is home to some of the most diverse and beautiful wildlife in the whole of South East Asia. Starting with a visit to majestic Mt Kinabalu, we then continue to one of the trip highlights - the pristine Danum Valley. A nature lover's paradise, whose beauty and animals are equaled only by Sarawak and the World Heritage Mulu National Park with its immense cave system and the oldest rainforest in the world. We come face to face with orangutans at the Sepilok sanctuary, stay at a bamboo longhouse in Sabah on a tea plantation, and finish the trip in the historic port town of Sandakan.


  • Orang-utan spotting
  • Mulu N.P. with the impressive Deer Cave bat exodus
  • River cruising in Kinabatangan
  • Luxury jungle lodge in Danum Valley
  • Proboscis monkey spotting

Key information

  • 13 nights comfortable/standard hotels and lodges- all en suite, 1 night basic longhouse with shared facilities
  • Travel by minibus, 4WD and boat
  • Two internal flights
  • Group normally 4-16 including special host, George Kourounis plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Visit remote wild areas
  • Countries visited: Malaysia

What's included

  • 14 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Special host, George Kourounis & Local Tour leader throughout
  • Group Arrival & departure transfer (available for clients able to join and must be requested with Exodus at least 1 month before departure)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips which improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally-owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • Staying at Kinabatangan provides employment opportunities to the local orang Sungai people who are working as boat men & drivers at the local wildlife lodge.
  • In Mulu National Park the Penan people, and others are employed by the park thereby our trip helps to maintain their livelihood and unique forest dwelling culture.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • This particular trip visits & directly supports the Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary which rehabilitates injured, orphaned and captured Orang-utans into the wild. At 43 square kilometers, Sepilok is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the world.
  • The trip visits the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, which provides sanctuary to Proboscis Monkeys and strives to educate people on sustainable ways of co-existing with nature and its inhabitants.
  • Whist visiting Sepilok, there is the option to also visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre, a wildlife conservation and research centre for improving animal welfare and rehabilitation of the Malayan sun bear.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We spend 2 nights at the eco award winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge, nestled by the Danum Valley Conservation Reserve which covers an area of 43,800 hectares of tropical virgin rainforest, inhabited by an astounding biodiversity of various flora and fauna species. Our visit to the reserve and lodge directly contribute to the conservation efforts of this special area.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for re-usable bottles.
  • The Exodus Travels Foundation has launched the Community Kickstart Project to help our destination communities recover and rebuild following the impact of COVID-19. In Malaysia, we’ve contributed to both the Rainwater Harvesting initiative (more details can be found here) and the Jungle Trek Path initiative (more details can be found here).


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at some accommodation and restaurants.
  • This trip favours locally-owned and run accommodation, such as the eco-award winning Borneo Rainforest Lodge. The lodge strives to minimise their carbon footprint through the implementation of various sustainable practices in their waste, water, chemical, noise, product use and energy management policies.

 Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country so modest dress is required on this trip when visiting holy sites such as the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur (i.e. legs, shoulders, and upper arms to be covered as well as a headscarf for women).
    • One should not show the soles of their feet or touch someone’s head, both are considered disrespectful.


  • Day 1

    Start Kuching

    The capital of Sarawak, Kuching, is a vibrant riverside city full of different ethnic groups who have migrated from the surrounding forests. With a great museum and a well preserved colonial centre there is much to do in this fascinating cultural hot spot.

    You are free to arrive anytime this afternoon. There will be a group briefing this evening at 6pm with your tour leader after which we can have dinner at the hawkers stalls on the waterfront.
    Hotel Lime Tree or similar

  • Day 2

    Day trip to Bako N.P. famous for Proboscis monkeys

    Our first foray into Borneo’s amazing nature as we head to nearby Bako National Park famous for its Proboscis monkeys. This is where the rainforest meets the sea and the only way to get to the park is by boat (after a 1hr drive out of the city). It has abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails. Despite being the smallest National Park in Sarawak, Bako contains almost every type of vegetation found in Borneo.

    Please note that as Bako NP is only accessible by boat, our time there is often dictated by tides and weather conditions. Our leader will inform us of the details the previous day.

    We return to Kuching for the night.
    Hotel Lime Tree or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Fly to Mulu N.P.; sunset walk to Deer Cave for bat exodus

    We leave the city behind and fly to Mulu National park (schedules for this flight often vary). After checking-in at the Park HQ, we will be introduced to the park guides and head through the forest to Deer Cave. Some of the caves have been mapped by occasional expeditions; they have their own ecosystems with plants and animals living in the cave chambers.

    Deer Cave, the largest cave passage in the world, is home to millions of bats and swifts that live side by side on the roof of the cave. The cave floor has a raised platform, though that is no escape from the smell of the 'guano' – the excrement from millions of birds and bats. Close-by is Lang's Cave, which though much smaller, has some excellent stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations. The forest around the caves is spectacular and there is plenty of time to examine it closely.

    The walk to Deer Cave is 3kms (each way) along boardwalks and there are wooden steps leading to different viewing platforms inside the show caves.

    We will arrive at Deer Cave in time for dusk which is when the bats leave the comfort of the cave to feed on insects (as long as it is not raining). This is a sight to behold with the bats leaving the cave in a long line snaking across the sky for quite some time. Dependent on the timings of the day we may visit the caves tomorrow instead.

    Please note that due to flight schedules there isn’t much time for lunch between the time we arrive at Mulu NP and the time we depart for the caves. You should buy something at the airport to have later.
    Mulu National Park Garden Cottages or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Full day exploring Mulu N.P.

    Today is a day for exploring this stunning park with a local guide. In the morning we visit two of the 'show caves' including Clearwater where a picnic (not included) lunch can be had in the gorgeous riverside location. The park has some incredible statistics; It has over 3,500 plant species, 8,000 different types of fungi and 170 species of orchid. Over 100 new plant species were discovered between 1960 and 1973, and many are still being added. There are 262 species of bird, almost 300 species of butterflies and many reptiles and mammals.

    Members of the Penan tribe live within the park. They are a small population of nomadic forest dwellers who live as hunter-gatherers. There has been fierce international opposition to the Malaysian government who tried to settle them in permanent longhouses and indeed the Penan themselves have also resisted. In 1994 they were granted an area of the forest where they could continue their traditional lifestyle. Although you are unlikely to meet these elusive people, you occasionally see their fishing shelters or areas in the forest where they have recently visited.

    This afternoon simply relax in the park and listen to the weird and wonderful creatures that call it home or explore self-guided trails within the park.

    Those with a head for heights can try the optional canopy walkway. This 480-metre skywalk takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors may be able to see macaque monkeys, hornbills, flying lizards, squirrels and a variety of rainforest birds. However, time slots to do the canopy walk can be limited and may subject to availability during busy periods.

    In the evening there is an optional night walk or we can try the local Mulu 'firewater', Tuak.
    Mulu National Park Garden Cottages or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Early rise for dawn chorus in Mulu; fly to Kota Kinabalu

    We aim to catch the morning flight out of Mulu and on to Kota Kinabalu via Miri though delays are not uncommon. Depending on what time we fly out of Mulu there may be some time to walk along self-guided trails or at the visitor’s centre.

    Known as KK to the locals, the capital of Sabah is a now a modern multi-cultural city. The evening is free to relax, explore the bustling Filipino markets or enjoy a sundowner on the waterfront.
    Hotel Dreamtel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Free day; optional snorkelling and island trip, wetland birdwatching or cultural village

    Today you are free to enjoy some of the many activities Kota Kinabalu has to offer. A popular option is to visit one of the tropical islands in the marine park, a 15 minute boat journey from the city and offering excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities. Here you can never be bored whether you are relaxing on the white sand, snorkelling or just swimming in the warm South China Sea.

    There is some good birdwatching opportunities in the wetlands not far from KK as well as a cultural village in Mari Mari for an insight into the different cultures of Sabah. Your tour leader can help organise any of these options.
    Hotel Dreamtel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    To Kinabalu N.P.; visit Sabah Tea Plantation

    Transfer about 2 hours and explore World Heritage Site; Mount Kinabalu National Park, home to the highest mountain in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu at 4,095m. This impressive peak of huge granite walls can be viewed from the Crocker mountain range which we pass over, with panoramic views of the countryside and soaring hills. The lower mountain slopes are covered in thick vegetation and it is well known for its diverse botanical and biological species. En route, we stop at Nabalu market where villagers come to sell their produce and handicraft. It’s possible to walk through the plantation on your own if you want this afternoon. Tea, medicinal herbs, fruit and vegetables are just some of the things produced locally. From the plantation, the sunrise with a view of Mount Kinabalu is often spectacular. If we are lucky it may be possible to view the spectacular rafflesia in flower nearby or en route to the plantation.
    Sabah Tea Gardens Longhouse

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary en route to Sepilok

    We visit the tea factory before we leave the plantation behind and continue our journey to Eastern Sabah. Our destination is Sepilok, a well-known destination for its Orang-utan Sanctuary. The journey time is about 5 hours and we will make a stop at the Labuk Bay Proboscis monkey sanctuary. Here you can get an up close look at this extraordinary animal which is only found in Borneo. We continue on to our lodge in Sepilok. This evening, as dusk approaches we will head to the nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre. The centre can have fantastic bird watching opportunities (though luck does play a role) as hornbills and the Borneo bristlehead are often seen and there is an array of displays which highlights the island’s diverse flora. Orang-utans can also be spotted during the fruiting season and there is an impressive canopy walkway as well as some easy walking trails.
    Sepilok Jungle Resort

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary; optional visit to Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

    Up early we return to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for some more bird and wildlife viewing before returning to our lodge for breakfast. We then visit Sepilok Orang-utan Centre, the largest orang-utan sanctuary in the world. Here rehabilitated orphans and captured orang-utans are cared for until they are ready to be released into the wild. We get the opportunity to see these incredible relations of ours close-up and learn about the very real threats to their continued existence. You will have the chance to visit both morning and afternoon feedings. There is also an orang-utan nursery where youngsters are trained in climbing skills with the aim of reintroduction to the wild. We will have the chance to view the youngsters from a special viewing platform that sits behind one-way glass so as not to disturb or influence them.

    There is the option of visiting the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre which works with rescuing and rehabilitating captured bears as well as research and providing education to the community.
    Sepilok Jungle Resort

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    To Gomantong Caves; onto Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary

    This morning we journey (2-3 hours) to the Kinabatangan River, stopping at the bizarre Gomantong caves along the way.

    The caves are a major source of the swiftlet bird nests that are a Chinese delicacy. Every day, when in season, workers climb large ladders up to 400 feet up to the roof of the caves to collect the valuable nests. It is also a good place for bird watching and spotting wild Orang-utans.

    Our river lodge is located on the mighty Kinabatangan River, the 3rd longest river in Borneo. The area is home to an astonishing array of wildlife including ten species of primates, four of which are endemic to Borneo. It has one of the highest concentrations of proboscis monkeys and orang-utans in Malaysian Borneo. Other wildlife includes Bornean gibbon, long tailed macaques, sun bears, and barking deer. The Asian pygmy elephant and clouded leopard also inhabit this area, but sightings can be rare. There are also over 200 species of birds including hornbills, eagles, herons, kingfishers, oriental darters, night jars, flowerpeckers and spider hunters. Later this afternoon we take our first river cruise.
    Nature Lodge Kinabatangan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Wildlife cruises on Kinabatangan River and forest walks

    We are up with the animals for a dawn wildlife cruise followed by a trek. In the afternoon, we will once again take a river cruise to spot wildlife and if we are lucky a crocodile or two.
    Nature Lodge Kinabatangan or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    To Danum Valley Conservation Centre; jungle walk and nocturnal safari

    We drive to Lahad Datu approximately 2-3 hours where we change vehicles and drive off road into Danum Valley conservation area (approx. 3 hours), the largest protected lowland dipterocarp forest in Borneo. It is one of the last remaining pockets of primary lowland rainforest in Asia. Danum Valley is at the forefront of tropical rainforest research, and home to many rare and endangered species of mammals and birds – it is a real privilege to spend 2 nights here in the comforts of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

    Danum Valley is probably the very best place in Malaysia to see wild orang-utans in their pristine habitat. Apart from orang-utans, it has just about the complete range of Bornean wildlife and great trails. After settling in, there is an afternoon jungle nature trek to try and spot the elusive orang-utan, and after dinner a night drive is possible to spot many of the shy and retiring creatures of the forest. We will spend our time here with very experienced guides who accompany us on all our walks. One night drive and one night walk is included during our stay.
    Borneo Rainforest Lodge

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Full day guided walk in Danum Valley

    We will spend a full day with our very experienced guides. We will have an opportunity to explore the trails, the canopy walkway and waterfalls whilst searching for wildlife in this remarkable place. The trek to a look out point over the Danum Valley takes approximately 1.5 hours each way. Danum is home to over 275 bird species, 110 species of mammals including orang-utans, five species of deer, giant flying squirrels, gibbons, bearded wild boars, flying frogs and the Asian elephant. 
    Borneo Rainforest Lodge

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Transfer to Sandakan

    Today we will journey to Sandakan (approx. 5-6 hours). En-route we stop at Sandakan War Memorial. Sandakan was once a huge logging centre (it first exported wood in the late 1880s to supply the building of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing) and is home to many Chinese and Filipinos. The waterfront is a good place to take an evening walk and the roof top restaurant at the Nak hotel is a great place to sip a cocktail or two.

    Sabah Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Sandakan

    The trip ends this morning after breakfast. There will be 1 group departure transfer offered to the airport for those who are able to join, please advise Exodus 1 month before departure. Otherwise, private transfers to the airport can be arranged with Exodus before your trip commences also.  

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



A visa is not required for most nationalities including British, EU, US, Canada, Australia and NZ nationals. If you are unsure of the requirements please check with your nearest Malaysian embassy.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners are included.

You should allow about  CAD 175- 265 /USD 140-210/GBP 100-150 for food not included. If you fancy a few drinks then you may want to bring a little more as beer and other alcoholic drinks are expensive and you should expect to pay western prices.

Malaysia is renowned for its culinary excellence however food can often be relatively unexciting and limited in the lodges and for hotel breakfasts.

 Meals will be more varied for everyone in cities and seafood is widely available on the coast. In the bigger hotels and cities the full range of Western and local foods are available. We also suggest you take snack food with you, as it is not freely available. Most meals will be basic based around rice and noodles although most accommodation does offer a western breakfast of beans, toast and eggs. You can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish.

Vegetarians will find the food choice limited but are well catered for. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Borneo the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free, please be prepared for this and you may need to bring these from home.


Borneo has an equatorial monsoon climate with the weather remaining similar throughout the year. It is hot and humid; temperatures range from 23-33degC during the day and rarely drop below 20degC at night. The rainy season is from November to January and the dry season is from May to September, though really it can rain at any time. A Borneo rain shower is quite an event!



Is this trip for you?

This trip is rated Activity Level 2- Leisurely/Moderate

This trip focuses on Borneo’s wildlife and natural wonders. There is a wide selection of accommodation used on this trip, from hotels, national park lodges, basic river lodges to a five star jungle resort. The longhouse is simple without en-suite facilities. The climate tends to be tropical which means it can get very hot and humid. There are a number of hikes in the forest though these are not strenuous.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels, Lodges & Longhouse

You will spend 13 nights in comfortable/standard hotels and lodges. All of which are en suite. There’s also 1 night in a basic longhouse, with twin share rooms and a shared bathroom.

The longhouse is a reconstruction of a local Rungus longhouse and is made entirely of wood with rattan walls dividing the rooms. Rooms are simple with mattresses on the ground, Mosquito nets and ceiling fans. Bathroom facilities are shared with hot showers available.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge is a comfortable luxury jungle lodge resort in the midst of teeming primary jungle. We choose to stay at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge primarily because of its prime location, their responsible tourism practices, continued positive feedback and the renowned wildlife viewing opportunities available in the area whilst staying at this award-winning lodge.

Single rooms are available (subject to availability) for a supplement for 10 hotel/lodge nights only (singles are not available in Mulu NP or the Danum Valley). Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement.

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1300 131 564
Call for private group trips:
1300 131 564
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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