Borneo is without doubt another of those bucket-list destinations if you are fascinated by birds and mammals. This 17 night tour encompasses the very best of Borneo’s birds and mammal habitats in this wonderful part of South-East Asia. During the first half of the tour we visit the forests of Sepilok and the Kinabatangan River before becoming nocturnal with a 5 night stay at Deramakot Forest hoping for Clouded Leopard! We then travel to the famous Danum Valley and hugely impressive Borneo Rainforest Lodge before ending the tour at the cooler forest of Mount Kinabalu NP. This will be our first tour to Borneo and we are very excited about it, so come and join us on this great forest adventure as we only have 6 places!
DAY 1: Arrival Sandakan and transfer to Sepilok
Sepilok’s primary lowland forests and surrounding habitat has to be one of the “must see” birding sites in the world as a visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre will show, with its spectacular canopy walkway. This wonderful birding platform is approximately 350M long and suspended 25M above the forest floor and makes for an excellent birding viewpoint allowing you to find canopy birds at eye level. Of course we will also explore the fabulous forest trails below as well as areas just outside of the forest and we should see a spectacular variety of birds during our two night stay here. The bird list is endless but highlights are likely to include Black Hornbill and Bushy-crested Hornbill, Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Oriental Honey-Buzzard, the huge Great Slaty Woodpecker, Coppery-throated Sunbird, Crimson Sunbirds, Black-crowned Pitta, Rufous-collared Kingfihser, Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfishers and much more. A visit to the forest at night is certainly a must and we will try to find both birds and mammals with chances of the very scarce Oriental Bay Owl and maybe a Western Tarsier. Overnight Sepilok
DAY 2: Full day exploring the Sepilok Forest Reserve
We will spend the full day exploring the forest and canopy walkway and forest trails targeting the species that we still hope to find. Another evening session in the forest should also produce some more avian and mammal surprises! Overnight Sepilok
DAY 3: Transfer to Kinabatangan River
After a final early morning around Sepilok, we will then transfer to our next lodge on the Kinabatangan River. We will arrive at the lodge by boat and we will see a number of great birds and mammals en route. The Kinabatangan River and the adjacent forest is particularly rich in primates and we should find Proboscis Monkeys and Long-tailed Macaques. Birds, as always, will be plentiful and we will be keeping an eye out for species such as White-bellied Sea Eagle and Great Crested Tern and numerous Hornbills including the enormous Rhinoceros Hornbill. Overnight Kinabatangan River
DAY 4: Full day exploring the Kinabatangan River
We will spend a full day exploring more of the Kinabatangan River searching for birds as well as primates. Highlights should include species such as White-crowned Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Wrinkled Hornbill, Storm’s Stork, Diard’s Trogon as well as Silver-leafed Monkey, Bornean Gibbon and with luck our first Orangutan! Overnight Kinabatangan River
DAY 5: Transfer to Deramakot Forest Reserve
After a final morning birding around our accommodation grounds we will then head make our way to the town of Telupid on good roads and then transfer for a 2 hour drive along bumpy forest tracks until we arrive at Deramakot Forest Reserve. We will then take our first night drive looking for mammals! Overnight Deramakot Forest
DAYS 6 – 9: Deramakot Forest Reserve
During the next four days we will become more nocturnal with our habits as we will be spending most of our time spotlighting for mammals in 4-wheel drive vehicles.
The Forest Reserve is around 55,00 hectares in size of mixed dipterocarp forest and very rich in wildlife. During the next few days/nights we will be searching for mammals such as Bornean Pygmy Elephants, Western Tarsier, Bornean Orangutan, Banded Linsang, Thomas’ Flying Squirrel, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Sunda Stink Badger and of course the star attraction of the reserve, the numerous cats! Marbled Cat, Sunda Leopard Cat, Flat-headed Cat and Sunda Clouded Leopard will all be high on the target list! Of course mammals are never guaranteed and cats in particular are always difficult, but Deramakot has recently become probably one of the best places in the world of having at least a reasonable chance of seeing a Clouded Leopard with numerous sightings during the year.
Surprisingly, Deramakot is actually a logging concession where ‘reduced impact logging’ is practiced. The forest reserve is also the longest Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified tropical forest in the world, having been first certified in 1997. Up to 49,711 hectares are set aside for logging with 5,778 hectares for conservation and 18 hectares for community forests. Overnight Deramakot Forest
DAY 10: Transfer to Danum Valley
Today will be a long travel day as we take the journey to the Danum Valley.
Overnight Borneo Rainforest Lodge
DAYS 11 – 13: Danum Valley
Borneo Rainforest Lodge lodge has to be one of the stand out highlights of any trip to Borneo. It is set in a stunning location surrounded by magical rainforest with an incredible diversity of wildlife much of which is present just outside your room! The accommodation here is simply first class, the grounds are brilliant for wildlife and the food is also pretty special too!
The list of birds is simply gripping and although there are simply too many “must see” birds to be found here, if there was a single stand out bird it would probably have to be Borneo’s sole endemic of monotypic bird family, the Bornean Bristlehead. Our four night stay at Borneo Rainforest Lodge gives us the best chance of finding this difficult and amazing looking bird with its stunning black and crimson plumage!
The birding in the forest over the next three full days should produce some truly stunning species and the list is endless. Some examples of species that we hope to find include numerous Pittas such as Blue-headed Pitta and Bornean Banded Pittas, the tiny endemic White-fronted Falconet, fabulous Broadbills such as Black-and-Red Broadbill, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, and Banded Broadbill, Diard’s Trogon, Red-naped Trogon and Banded Kingfisher being just some of the gems!
Of course, we won’t forget the mammals as we have a good chance of finding a wild Bornean Orangutan and probably the key mammal of our stay here. Other species that we may see include Philippine Loris, two species of Mouse-deer and Western Tarsier. Night birding can also be good with chances of Large Frogmouth and Owls. Overnight Borneo Rainforest Lodge
DAY 14: Transfer to Kota Kinabalu
We will have our final morning birding around the lodge before transferring to Lahad Datu where we will take a short flight of about an hour to Kota Kinabalu. Overnight Kota Kinabalu
DAYS 15 – 16: Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu with its peak at just under 4,100M makes for an impressive sight and the largest peak in Southeast Asia. During the next 3 days we have no need to head to the highest peaks, as most of our birding will focus at around 1,500M- 2,000M where many new species of bird await us! The birding will be done along often very quiet forest trails where we will be looking for species such as noisy flocks of Chestnut-crested Yuhinas, Golden-naped Barbet, mixed feeding flocks with Laughingthrushes such as Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush and Sunda Laughingthrushs, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler and the unmistakable and “must see”, Bornean Green Magpie! Other gems that we hope to find include, Black-sided Flowerpecker, Temminck’s Sunbird, Bornean Forktail, Bornean Whistling-Thrush, and the superb Orange-headed Thrush. Mammals will also feature during the next few days with squirrels in particular from Bornean Giant Squirrel to one of the world’s smallest, the Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel.
The highest parts of the trail are where the real gems are to be found and with perseverance we will hopefully find one or two of the hardest and incredibly beautiful species such as Whitehead’s Trogon, Whitehead’s Broadbill or Whitehead’s Spiderhunter! Overnight close to Mount Kinabalu NP
DAY 17: Mount Kinabalu
After a full final day on the trails around Mount Kinabalu, we will then take the 2 hour transfer and return to the same hotel at Kota Kinabalu. Overnight Kota Kinabalu
DAY 18: Kota Kinabalu Wetland and flight home
A final morning spent birding at the nearby Kota Kinabalu Wetland should result in some final relaxing birding before transferring to the airport for a mid afternoon flight back to the UK.
*Please note this itinerary may change slightly (to increase our chances of key species) dependent on the most recent information from our local guides*