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OVERVIEW

Danum Valley / Gaya Island / Sepilok / Kinabatangan River / Sandakan / Kota Kinabalu

From vibrant waterways to jungles teaming with wildlife, explore the natural wonders of Malaysia. After a visit through historic Sandakan, journey along Kinabatangan River and into the Dunum Valley where incredible eco-systems are waiting to be discovered. Following the adventure, kick back and relax on tropical Gaya Island. 

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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Tour Highlights for The Comfortable Naturalist Multi Day Sabah
Discover Kinabatangan’s ecosystems

Discover Kinabatangan’s ecosystems

Join a naturalist for excursions around the Kinabatangan River, spotting unusual plants, a diversity of bird species and wild primates.

Explore the rugged Danum Valley

Explore the rugged Danum Valley

Travel by 4-wheel drive jeep through thick virgin rainforests to discover one of the world’s most complex ecosystems.

Visit Sandakan and surroundings

Visit Sandakan and surroundings

Learn about Sandakan’s military history at sombre war monuments then encounter orangutans and proboscis monkeys on its outskirts. 

Exo Travel

ITINERARY

The Comfortable Naturalist Multi Day Sabah - 10 Days / 9 Nights

DAY 1 - Sandakan, arrivalMealsMEALS [D]

Exo TravelSandakan Airport to Hotel (25 km): 25 mins

Upon arrival to Sandakan Airport, meet with a private guide and driver and transfer to the hotel in Sandakan. There are plenty of optional activities available, depending on the arrival time, which can added to the itinerary as requested.

OPTIONAL: SANDAKAN FIRE FLIES & STILT VILLAGES

Late afternoon, take a speedboat from Sandakan for about 15 minutes to Tanjung Aru Island. While cruising along the river, take note of the stilted villages that line it before stopping at one of them for a look around and a simple tea break in one of the villager’s homes for a unique cultural encounter. After continuing on the cruise, keep an eye out for wild animals such as proboscis monkeys, otters and kingfishers. As sunset approaches, enjoy the wild surroundings of the river in peaceful ambience. Just as the sun dips below the horizon, around 1900, the cruise will slow down for a chance to witness a magical display of natural lights as fireflies descend upon the river from the surrounding jungle. After witnessing this incredible natural spectacle, transfer to a local seafood restaurant back in Sandakan and enjoy a seafood dinner that the city is famous for.

Overnight in Sandakan

DAY 2 - Sandakan Tour – SepilokMealsMEALS [B|L]

Exo TravelSandakan to Sepilok (27 km): 40 mins

Take an early breakfast at the hotel before visiting the Central Market. Here, see a wide assortment of exotic produce and fresh seafood while the market is abuzz with distinct colours, sights and sounds.

Afterwards, continue to the Sepilok Orangutan Reserve for an informative video presentation about the aims and achievements of this award-winning rehabilitation centre. At 1000 the first feeding of the day occurs. The boardwalks will be crowded, so arrive early to get the best vantage point. After the first feed, walk to the adjacent Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. This centre was established in 2008 to provide rehabilitation to rescued sun bears and increase awareness of the plight of these wonderful creatures.

Afterwards, take some time to wander the centre at leisure. Soak up its lush tropical surroundings or learn more about the centre’s conservation efforts and the wildlife it protects.  

Afterwards, check in to the hotel and enjoy a sumptuous lunch before visiting the interesting and educational Rainforest Discovery Centre.

Aside from the Plant Discovery Walk, which features herbs and plants used in traditional medicines, the highlight is a 347-meter-long 87-meter-tall canopy walkway. Nestled high in the rainforest canopy, this walk provides a great opportunity to spot some of the 250-300 bird species that call the area home. With a bit of luck, it’s even possible to see a wild orangutan.

The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at leisure. Either return to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for the 1500 feeding or relax at the hotel.

OPTIONAL:

NIGHT WALK OF DISCOVERY TRAILS – RAINFOREST DISCOVERY CENTRE (1800-2000, Join in Tour)

(Available Mon, Wed and Fridays only)

The jungle comes alive at night and this tour is a great opportunity to explore the often missed nocturnal animals that inhabit these lush jungles. A local =guide will point out a variety of insects and wildlife that hide under the cover of darkness, and then appear literally right before your eyes!

Dinner at leisure

Overnight at Sepilok Nature Resort

DAY 3 - Sepilok to KinabatanganMealsMEALS [B|D]

Exo TravelSepilok to Sandakan Pier (27km) 40 min Boat to Sukau 2 hours 30 min (Join in basis) Cruise times: PM – 16:00 (Join in Basis) Cruise duration will depend on wildlife spotting: approx. 2 hours

Enjoy a leisurely morning at the resort before returning towards Sandakan via the Sandakan Memorial Park. Adjacent to the site of the original Sandakan Prisoner of War (POW) Camp, the park commemorates the sacrifice and suffering endured by both Australian and British soldiers who were held as prisoners by the Japanese between 1942 and 1945.

OPTIONAL: LABUK BAY PROBOSCIS MONKEY SANCTUARY (2.5hrs round-trip)

(Viewing/Feeding times: Platform A: 09:30/14:30. Platform B: 11:30/16:30)

Visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary for the morning feeding before continuing on with the program. This is a great location to see the local proboscis troop up-close (additional charges apply, please request further details and timings).

On arrival in Sandakan, visit the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple, located on a steep hilltop which affords magnificent views overlooking Sandakan Bay and the town centre. Agnes Keith was the author of three famous books, ‘Land Below the Wind’, ‘Three Came Home’ and ‘White Man Returns’ – semi autobiographical accounts of her life in Borneo in the mid-20th Century, when her husband Harry was the first conservator of the Forestry Department in Sabah. Stop at the nearby English Tea House for more spectacular views of Sandakan and take lunch here (on own account).

Continue to the Sandakan Pier (Boat departs at 13:30) for a two and a half-hour journey by boat along the longest river in Borneo. With eight species of hornbill, Bornean pygmy elephants, over 300 bird species and a whopping ten species of primates, this area’s biodiversity is among the finest in the world. After arriving in the afternoon, check into the chalet and take some time to relax.

In the evening, meander along the Kinabatangan River alongside a local guide who will point out some of the area’s nocturnal inhabitants as they descend from their hiding places high in the trees.  Afterwards, return to the resort and enjoy dinner before meeting the resort’s in-house naturalist for an informative talk and presentation on the river and the species found around it.

Please Note: Boat Transfer into Sukau Rainforest Lodge is only available if Deluxe Villa is booked. For Superior Room a 2-hour land transfer will be provided from Sandakan.

Overnight at Sukau Rainforest Lodge

DAY 4 - Kinabatangan MealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelCruise times: AM – 06:30, PM – 16:00. (Join in Basis) Cruise duration will depend on wildlife spotting: approx. 2 hours

Rise early with the birds early in the morning and head out for a cruise to Kelenanap Oxbow Lake. This crescent-shaped lake was created when the meandering path of the main river strayed so far that its loop got cut off from the main tributary.The stillness of the lake and its relative protection provides a haven for animals and plants that is unique from the nearby river ecosystem.

Return to the resort for breakfast before taking an informative tour along the Hornbill Boardwalk, with the resort’s naturalist, offering fascinating insight into the medicinal and traditional uses of the jungle flora.

The rest of the day is at leisure before heading out in the late afternoon to watch the river activities of local primates. The afternoon is a particularly great time to spot wildlife, and the light is perfect for photography.

Return to the resort for dinner and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight at Sukau Rainforest Lodge

DAY 5 - Kinabatangan - Danum ValleyMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

Exo TravelSukau to Gomantong Caves (105km) 2 hours Gomantong Caves to Lahad Datu (111 km) 2 hours Lahad Datu to Danum Valley (100km) 3 hours (bumpy unsealed road)

After breakfast, depart the resort for a 50-minute journey to the intricate limestone system of the Gomantong Caves. After walking about 10 minutes, reach two main accessible caves – Black & White Caves. Within these caves the ancient tradition of collecting of solidified swiftlet saliva for ‘Birds Nest Soup’ is still carried out, although under strict licensing and on sustainable terms. The area surrounding the caves is thick rainforest, where, on occasions, wild orangutans can be seen. This area is also home to around two million bats and the lurking, opportunistic bat hawk.

After returning to the vehicle, continue along the main highway for around 110km to Lahad Datu for lunch before the last leg of the journey into the thick virgin rainforest area of Danum Valley – one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Around 30km of this 85km journey is on sealed roads, and the last two hours are along a gravel road – so expect a bumpy but interesting ride!

On arrival at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, check in and enjoy a late afternoon walk along the trails and the 130-metre-tall, 300-metre-long canopy walk, high up in the 130 million year-old rainforest which is literally humming with jungle sounds.

After dinner, board one of the open-top 4WD vehicles for an exhilarating night spotlighting tour. Accompanied by a local guide who shines a light into the jungle looking for nocturnal animals, spot  a range of nocturnal animals that inhabit reserve, from samba deer to civet cats, leopards, and a stunning array of insects and frogs.

Afterwards, return to the chalet.

Overnight at Rainforest Lodge.

DAY 6 - Danum ValleyMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

The morning chorus of the jungle is a cacophony of sounds ranging from birds to primates, such as the gibbon. Taking a packed breakfast, travel to a 200 year-old Kadazandusun Burial Site, known as “Coffin Cliff”, along the 2.6km Viewpoint Trail. The end of this trail results in spectacular views over an ocean-like million-year-old jungle – a truly spectacular sight. The return journey includes a trip to waterfalls for a refreshing dip in the Jacuzzi Pool – with the added benefit of nibbling fish!

Return to the resort for lunch.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure; however there is a range of optional activities available, such as private trekking, tubing on the Danum River and specialised guided tours. There is also a series of tracks leading around the Canopy Walk are free to discover at will.

Dinner at leisure

This evening, venture into the jungle on foot with a local guide. Quietly entering the jungle reveals a stunning array of wildlife, not to mention the variety and size of the many insects that flourish in the evening hours.

Overnight in Danum Valley

DAY 7 - Danum Valley – Lahad Datu – Kota KinabaluMealsMEALS [B|L]

Exo TravelDanum Valley to Lahad Datu Airport (96km) 3 hours (Join in Basis) Flight Lahad Datu to Kota Kinabalu 55 min Kota Kinabalu Airport to hotel (10km) 20 min

In the morning take an optional trek (additional charges apply) along the jungle trails before returning to the lodge for lunch. After lunch, transfer to Lahad Datu Airport for the flight to Kota Kinabalu. For those who choose not to take part in the optional trek, they will depart from the lodge after an early breakfast for an earlier flight to Kota Kinabalu and lunch will be in Lahad Datu.

Upon arrival in Kota Kinabalu, or ‘KK’ as it is affectionately referred to, meet the local guide and driver and be transferred to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to walk around the city of Kota Kinabalu. All in easy walking distance of the hotel situated in the city centre. Take a stroll late afternoon to the lively Filipino market, immerse in the lively fish market before taking a walk along the waterfront in time for sunset.

Overnight in Kota Kinabalu

PLEASE NOTE: DAY 8 ONWARDS CAN BE SUBSTITUTED FOR ONE OF THE MANY SARAWAK EXTENSION TOURS (luggage limits apply to flights to Mulu National Park, please request further details).

DAY 8 - Kota Kinabalu – Bunga Raya ResortMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelBoat to Resort around 20 min

A Late breakfast and last stroll around the City of Kota Kinabalu before heading to the Jesselton Jetty for a speed boat transfer to Gaya Island.

Overnight at Bunga Raya Resort

DAY 9 - Beachside, at leisureMealsMEALS [B]

Spend the day at leisure, enjoying the beach or swimming in the clear blue waters. Take a snorkel and enjoy the marine life or simply relax by the pool.

Overnight at Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa

DAY 10 - Beachside, departureMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelBoat to Pier around 20 min Pier to Airport (7km) 25 min

09:00 or 11:00 Check out and Depart Palau Gaya for a 20-minute boat transfer back to Kota Kinabalu hotel/airport.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room in selected hotel
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English speaking local guide for tours and transfers (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Transfers as mentioned by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Kinabatangan boat transfer and cruises on a join in basis and In-house English-Speaking Nature Guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Boat Schedule from Sandakan: 1330hrs
  • Transfers from Lahad Datu to Borneo Rainforest Lodge on a Join in Basis
  • Borneo Rainforest Lodge Scheduled Transfers (SIC)

09:30 Hrs : Dep LDU-BRL for MH3010 06:05 / 07:05 Flight

13:30 Hrs : Dep BRL-LDU for MH3023 17:40 / 18:35 Flight

  • Legislation requires a Guide from 7+ people.
  • Bunga Raya Scheduled Boat transfer – Join-in basis

Jesselton Point > Resort: 1330 / 1530

Resort > Jesselton Point: 0900 / 1100

Boat Schedule coincides with Resort Check in and Check Out

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and Domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance (must include helicopter evacuation for Malaysia)
  • Visa for Malaysia
  • Camera/video entrance fees
  • Tourism tax
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