Keepers of the Wild
Your Malaysian adventure begins in Sandakan, where you will be transferred to your first resort for a truly authentic experience sleeping in rustic cabins in Sepilok Forest Reserve. This reserve is famous for housing a rehabilitation center for the beautiful and enigmatic orangutan, and you’ll catch plenty of them in the wild in this area. Kick back in a hammock on the balcony and soak up the surrounding views of the verdant jungle, the river coursing past as you ease your way into the trip with a relaxing first day. On Day 3, there are two optional tours on offer: get up close and personal with Borneo’s indigenous probosci's monkeys, famed for their unusually shaped noses, or perhaps delve into the depths of the jungle for a night walk, where you’ll be guided through the leafy paths on a search for nocturnal wildlife.
Wake up on Day 4 to the sound of birdsong and the feeling of being truly out in nature. After checking out in the morning, you’ll be whisked off to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to learn more about this beautiful but sadly endangered species, and even have the chance to watch them feed. You'll also visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where you can see the world's smallest bears.
Next on the agenda is a scenic boat cruise that winds its way through towering mangrove forests to reach Lower Kinabatangan River Sanctuary, where your next lodge is located, the Abai Jungle Lodge. Take to the waters again in the afternoon as you head off on a water safari, where you might spot Asian elephants or a whole host of native primates from gibbons to macaques. As the sun sets and darkness sets in, watch as the glimmer of fireflies fills the air around you like stars in the night sky. After dinner, experience the jungle at night with a nature boardwalk, where our guide will point out the many birds, snakes, and insects at the river's edge.
Day 5 begins with an early morning boat trip on the Pitas Oxbow Lakes before returning to your lodge for breakfast and a briefing on the Tree Planting Project, a community project designed to help the locals. You're invited to judge the most beautiful house, before enjoying a simple lunch with the community. In the afternoon, you have another exciting cruise lined up – keep your eyes peeled for wild orangutans, pygmy elephants and lots of exotic bird species. Then you'll head to the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, your home for the next two nights.
As you wake to the sound of gibbons and toucans in the trees surrounding your lodge, you can look forward to another trip on the Oxbow Lakes before breakfast, then a little free time to relax. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Gomantong Forest Reserve and spot yet more spectacular wildlife, from gentle orangutans to strong buffalo, before venturing into the caves which are home to over 300,000 bats of 64 different species - talk about biodiversity! It makes for an unforgettable spectacle as you watch the swiftlets taking their last evening flights, forming vast clouds of black that shrink and swell in the fading light of dusk. The caves themselves are an impressive sight too, and you’ll feel like a true adventurer as you make your way through the intricate system carved into the hill.
On Day 7, you're moving to the Village View Homestay for your last two nights. You’ll have the option to discover some Malaysian culture by taking a handicrafts class and making your own bird from coconut leaves, before moving on to learn about local fishing methods as you create a mesh fish trap. Your experience of this beautiful culture deepens on the next day, when you are invited to join traditional games and dancing in the evening. The rest of Day 8 will be dedicated to learning about conservation in the area, with your morning spent helping to plant new rainforest trees to support reforestation, and the afternoon observing some of the conservation efforts put in place to protect orangutans. With all of this action, you’ll be pleased to hear there’s also some free time for you to enjoy the sun deck, relax with a book and watch the world go by.
On Day 9 you'll transfer to Sandakan for your international flight home. You’ll head back feeling rejuvenated and full of fantastic memories of your time in Malaysia.