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BIRDS OF BORNEO

Kinabalu National Park HQ - Sepilok - Kinabatangan - Danum Valley

Malaysian Borneo is a biodiversity hotspot boasting more than 600 bird species, found in habitats of montane forests to lowland dipterocarp, riverine forest and floodplains. Starting out on the West Coast of Sabah, we go to a little-known village on the foothills of Mt Kinabalu called Sayap for a plethora of lowland and montane species. At the next destination, Mt Kinabalu World Heritage Site, see Whitehead’s Trogon, Bornean Barbet and the rare Crimson-headed Partridge – indulge the ornithologist in you in this ultimate montanic bird playground. At Sepilok Forest Reserve, endemic birds such as Bornean Bristlehead awaits on the extensive network of trails and canopy walkways. The next destination, Kinabatangan Floodplain, offers the possibility of Hooded Pitta and Blue-Eared Kingfisher whereas Tabin Wildlife Reserve offers up to 8 species of hornbills. The crown-jewel of the trip, Danum Valley Conservation Area, offers untouched primary forests teeming with babblers, sunbirds and spiderhunters. You are accompanied throughout by a specialist birding guide.

Accommodation

Accommodation options for this itinerary can be tailored to suit your budget and travel style with the exception of Sayap as the only option is camping and Tabin Wildlife Reserve where there is only one accommodation option available at the on-site resort.

Food

Accommodation properties will provide buffet style meals cooked to local cuisine. Dietary and allergy requirements can be catered for, please let us know these in advance.

Facilities & Services

*information available upon request

Guides

Specialised birding guide

Key Destinations

  • Sayap Substation, Kinabalu Park
  • Kinabalu National Park
  • Sepilok – Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok Orangutan
  • Rehabilitation Centre, Rainforest Discovery Centre.
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Danum Valley
  • Tabin Wildlife Reserve

16D15N Birds of Borneo
Day 1 – Kota Kinabalu

Pickup from Kota Kinabalu airport upon arrival and transfer to the Jesselton Hotel overnight. In the evening, your guide will give you a trip briefing, and then enjoy a welcome dinner.

    Dinner

Day 2 – Kota Kinabalu to Sayap Substation

After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer directly to Sayap Substation via Kota Belud for 3hrs. We will set up camp and then eat lunch, before departing on a trek to Kemantis Waterfall. Take a splash in the cool, refreshing water that is coming from Mt. Kinabalu. We will return to camp for dinner, before heading out on a night walk to search for reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

Target Species: Long-tailed broadbill, Orange-breasted trogon, Whitehead’s broadbill, Whitehead’s spiderhunter, Bornean bulbul, Bornean flowerpecker, Kinabalu Serpent eagle, chestnut crested yuhina, Red-throated barbet, Bornean barbet, Bornean frogmouth

Other common species: Hill blue flycatcher, Ochraceous bulbul, Cinereous bulbul, Little cuckoo dove, Orange-headed thrush, Grey-throated babbler, Mountain barbet, Chestnut-capped laughing thrush, Erpornis, Sunda cuckoo-shrike

Temperate climate makes it very comfortable for hiking at 950-1200 meters asl. Options for walking on open roads, single trails that are flat with options for challenging steep walks.

  Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 3-4 – Sayap Substation

Awake before sunrise for early morning birding along the dirt road and trails. Return for breakfast and spend a full day exploring the network of trails around Sayap Substation. Follow stunning mountain rivers and discover the unique flora and fauna of the Kinabalu Mountain region. Return for lunch and spend the afternoon on short walks, or relaxing by the river. After dinner, we will head out for a night walk. Overnight camping at Sayap.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5 – Sayap Substation to Kinabalu National Park HQ

Awake for early morning birding, return to camp for breakfast, pack up and depart. Drive back down to Kota Belud for a stopover at Tempasuk Plains for a few hours of paddyfield birding in search of wintering waterbirds. Continue to drive to Kinabalu Park Headquarters via picturesque mountainous roads, and enjoy a packed lunch along the way. Upon arrival at Kundasang, check-in to your accommodation, drop your gear and spend the late afternoon walking around the nature trails within Kinabalu Park. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6 – Kinabalu National Park

Early morning birding at Kinabalu National Park Hq. Explore the various trails at the base with your guide – the park is a birdwatcher’s paradise with about 326 species, which represents more than 50% of bird species in Borneo. Spend the full day birding at the headquarters area exploring the various trails – Power Station Road (4.5km), Kiau View trail (2.5km), Liwagu River trail (5km), Silau-Silau trail (3km), Bukit Ular (1km) and Pandanus trail (0.5km)

Target Species: Whitehead’s trogon, Whitehead’s broadbill, Whitehead’s spiderhunter, Bornean treepie, Golden-naped barbet, Everett’s thrush, Bornean swiftlet, Bornean green magpie, Bornean bald laughing-thrush, Chestnut-hooded laughing-thrush, Fruit hunter, Bornean whistler, Temminck’s sunbird, Bornean whistling-thrush, Mountain wren babbler, Red-breasted hill partridge, Crimson-headed partridge

Other common species: Indigo flycatcher, Little pied flycatcher, Orange-headed thrush, Sunda hooded laughing-thrush, Blyth’s shrike-babbler, Mountain leaf-warbler, Snowy-browed flycatcher, Pale-faced bulbul, Grey-throated babbler, Grey-chinned minivet, Black-capped white eye, Wreathed hornbill

Temperate climate makes it very comfortable for hiking at 1400-1800 meters asl. Options for walking on open roads, single trails that are flat with options for challenging steep walks.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7 – Kinabalu National Park HQ – Sepilok

Depart Kinabalu National Park after breakfast. The drive takes 4-5 hours to reach our destination. Lunch enroute. Upon arrival mid-afternoon, check-in at your hotel, if times remain head to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for afternoon birding and wildlife opportunities.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 8 – Sepilok

Early morning wake up for a dawn walk on the canopy walk for bird watching and searching for mammals. After breakfast, continue on to the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where captive orangutans are reintroduced into the wild. You will be able to observe them at their feeding stations in the rainforest. Return for lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon, we will head for trekking in Sepilok Forest Reserve and then continue to the canopy walk at dusk to see giant red flying squirrels emerge from their nests. These squirrels can “fly” up to 500 feet between trees, which is a spectacle to see. Return for dinner, and then head out for a night walk to search for nocturnal wildlife.

Target Species: Bornean bristlehead, Black-crowned pitta, Red-naped trogon, Diard’s trogon, White-crowned shama, Black-and-red broadbill, Black-and-yellow broadbill, Wallace’s hawk eagle,, Copper-throated sunbird, Blue-eared barbet, Rhinoceros hornbill, Bornean banded kingfisher, Rufous collared kingfisher, Green broadbill

Other common species: Asian black hornbill, Bushy-crested hornbill, Crested Serpent eagle, Oriental dwarf kingfisher, Black-capped babbler, Sooty capped babbler, Ashy tailorbird, Green iora, Racquet-tailed drongo

It is hot and humid in Sepilok, but trekking in Rainforest Discovery is relatively easy. Most of the paths are wide, well maintained, with very little ups and downs. Just waiting on the canopy walkway still produces good bird sightings at eye level.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9 – Sepilok to Kinabatangan River

Optional dawn birdwatching walk behind the lodge. After breakfast, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the nearby Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre with the founder to learn about Bornean sun bears. Continue to the Kinabatangan River, home to one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. Settle into our lodge and take a cruise at dusk to look for orangutans, pygmy elephants, silvered langurs, hornbills, and proboscis monkeys. On a night walk, see nocturnal fauna such as the slow loris, western tarsiers, civets, and more.

Birding in the Kinabatangan is easy. We will be birding from a boat for the majority of our time in Kinabatangan, searching for birds along the waterways. Kingfishers, raptors, hornbills, and much more reside in abundance in this region.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 10 – Kinabatangan River

Watch the sun rise during an early morning river safari cruise. Return to the lodge and set out on a jungle walk to search for wildlife. After lunch, we will take a short boat ride and overland transfer (15 minutes) to Gomantong Caves. We will spend the afternoon walking in the reserve and visiting the bat cave. This is a great place to see bat hawk, wallace’s hawk eagle, white-crowned hornbill, etc. At dusk, we will have an opportunity to see the bat exodus, where over 1 million bats come out of the cave to feed in the night. Return to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, set out for a night cruise to search for nocturnal wildlife on the riverbanks.

Target species: Black-crowned pitta, Black-and-red broadbill, Black-and-yellow broadbill, Wallace’s hawk eagle, Rhinoceros hornbill, Wreathed hornbill, Wrinkled hornbill, Asian black hornbill, White-crowned hornbill, Pied hornbill, Bushy-crested hornbill, Malaysian blue flycatcher, Bornean ground cuckoo, Blue-eared barbet, Rhinoceros hornbill, Storm’s stork, Stork-billed kingfisher, Blue eared kingfisher

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 11 – Kinabatangan River

Wake up to the calls of birds, insects and animals. At 6am go on a morning cruise up to The Kinabatangan River and onto Kelenanap Ox-Bow Lake. Take a short jungle walk before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Spend some time exploring the lodge, surrounding areas or the nearby village. The afternoon is followed by another cruise. After dinner, relax or on an optional night walk in search of nocturnal creatures.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 12 – Kinabatangan River – Danum Valley

After breakfast, proceed with boat transfer to Lepit Jetty for check out at 7:30AM and overland to Lahad Datu. Continue to drive from Lahad Datu town to Danum Valley Field Centre. One of the highlights of Borneo birding destinations is Danum Valley, with over 300 species recorded and a high number of endemics makes this place a must visit. The birding can also be very challenging in Danum because of the size of the forest and canopy (30-40 meters). If trees are fruiting, the birds will be very active. Finding a fig tree and waiting is a great way to see target species (even if the tree is quite tall). There is an amazing variety of species to see, but it also requires hard work. Birding along the dirt tracks is good for the open views. Trail birding is good for more targeted species ie. trogons, pittas, wren babbler, etc. Upon arrival at the field centre, settle-in and enjoy lunch. Relax or take an afternoon siesta before going on a mid-afternoon walk in the area as an introduction to the Borneo rainforest. Return to center before sundown and enjoy dinner at 7pm. After dinner, go on a night walk.

Target species: Bornean Bristlehead, Whiskered Treeswift, Red-naped / Scarlet-rumped / Diard’s / Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Bornean Banded Kingfisher, All Hornbills, Crested Fireback Pheasant, Blue Eared / Gold-faced / Red-throated / Brown Barbet, Brown Barbet, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Green Broadbill, Dusky Broadbill, All Pittas, Bornean Banded Pitta, Black-throated Wren Babbler, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Great Argus, Bornean Black Magpie, Bornean Wren Babbler, Yellow Rumped Flowerpecker, Barred Eagle Owl, Brown Wood Owl

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13-15 – Danum Valley

Full day of activities at the Danum Valley Field Centre (DVFC) and exploring the Danum Valley Conservation Area.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 16 – Danum Valley – Kota Kinabalu

Wake up early for an early morning trek. Return to eating lounge for breakfast, and spend the rest of your morning at leisure until check out time at 11am. Arrive at Lahad Datu for onward travel at about 1pm. Take a flight to Kota Kinabalu and onwards.

Breakfast / Lunc

Included

  • All accommodation, tents (Sayap camping) and meals as stated in program
  • Permits and accommodation for mountain climb
  • All activities stated in the program, unless mentioned in exclusions
  • All connecting land transfers in a/c vehicles
  • Private specialist birding guide

Excluded

  • International flights
  • Juices, carbonated & alcoholic drinks, and meals not specified in program
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses (souvenirs, laundry etc.)
  • Add-on optional night cruise on the river and 4×4 drives in Danum Valley
  • Tips or gratuities for guides
  • Tourism Tax 10RM per room/night where required.

Want to Customise the Itinerary?

Our Borneo birding itinerary is entirely customisable to better suit your budget, travel style or target species with the exception of destinations such as Sayap and Tabin Wildlife Reserve where there is only one accommodation option available.

What to Bring?

Head lamp, insect repellent, sunscreen, hat, raincoat, binocular, dry-bag, swimwear, good walking or trekking shoes, sandals, personal toiletries including a towel, a warm jacket (the Kinabalu substation is at 1000 meters asl so it gets chilly in the evening), sunglasses, water bottle.

Departure

Daily based on minimum 2pax. Single supplement applies for solo travelers.

Recommended for

Families, couples, nature enthusiasts, birders, and adventurous travelers wanting to get away from the masses. This program is suitable for children 8 years and above if comfortable camping in nature, as the trails surrounding the area are not too challenging.

Responsible Traveler

Be aware that you will be in conservation areas and sensitive environments we ask that you please consider your actions:

  • Cut out plastic – remove and recycle plastic packaging before coming into a conservation area, please consider taking out what you bring in with you.
  • Bring rechargeable batteries as disposable batteries leach toxic chemicals as they degrade in landfill, and recycling facilities are scarce in areas like Malaysian Borneo.
  • Bring your own metal water bottle – you can fill up at the eating area instead of purchasing bottled water, most places in Malaysian Borneo will have clean drinking water available.
  • If you smoke, never throw your cigarette butts on the ground or in the forest – dispose of them in ashtrays or bins, otherwise carry them until you can dispose of them thoughtfully.
  • During outdoor and nature activities, take your cues from the expert local guides. Follow their instructions when observing wildlife. Be aware that you may need to take extra care in these areas to respect the natural environment.

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