BORNEO BIRDING

Kinabalu National Park HQ - Sepilok - Kinabatangan - Danum Valley

Borneo is home to roughly 60 species of endemic birds and around 600 species total for the island with most occurring within Sabah. Our Borneo Birding specialty trip focuses on a variety of destinations planned to maximise the number of species you can see during your stay. Sabah’s diverse landscapes include a range of habitats from montane forests to lowland dipterocarp, riverine forest and floodplains. Explore some of Borneo’s most reliable birding hotspots in the company of a specialist birding guide to ensure the sightings and knowledge are spot on. Our itinerary is entirely customisable providing accommodation options based on your budget and trip length to suit the time you have available to build your Borneo birding list.

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 advanced.

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

Day 1 – Kota Kinabalu, Sayap

Be met by your guide and transfer directly to Sayap Substation (3 hours). For the next 3 nights, you will be camping at a substation in a rarely visited part of Kinabalu Park. Birds here are plentiful! Enjoy lunch on arrival. Spend the afternoon birding with your guide on one of the main trails. Sayap has a high concentration of endemics, you will spend most of the days focusing on this. Because of the elevation (1,000 meters asl), you get a mix of montane and lowland birds in the surrounding forest. After dinner, look for the Bornean frogmouth that is a common resident.

Common species at Sayap – Bornean leafbird, black-and-crimson oriole, long-tailed broadbill, orange-breasted trogon, whitehead’s trio, mountain blackeye, crimson-headed partridge, wreathed hornbill, chestnut-crested yuhina, bornean treepie, banded kingfisher, Bornean forktail, fruit hunter, mountain serpent eagle, Bornean whistling thrush, chestnut-capped laughing thrush, Bornean barbet, golden-whiskered barbet, etc.

   Lunch / Dinner

Day 2 – Sayap (Western Kinabalu Park) 

Early morning birding around the substation. After breakfast, walk on the trails and focus on under canopy species. After lunch, take a dip in the beautiful waterfall. We will return to camp for dinner, before heading out on a night walk to search for reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

  Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 3

Today, you will bird on the many great trails around Sayap. Follow the beautiful mountain rivers as we do a 6 km trek to discover the flora and fauna of Mt. Kinabalu. Return for lunch and spend the afternoon on short walks, or relaxing by the river. After dinner, head out for night walk.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 4 – Sayap – Kinabalu National Park

Early wake up for breakfast and depart from Sayap by 7:00 AM. Arrive in Tempasuk plains (if you wish to include this stopover) by 8:00 AM for birding in the paddy fields and along the Tempasuk River. After the activity dies down, continue on a scenic road up the Kadamaian Valley on your way to Kinabalu National Park HQ (2 hour drive). Arrive for a late lunch, and then head out for an afternoon of birding in the stunning Kinabalu Park.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5 – Kinabalu National Park HQ

Early morning birding at Kinabalu National Park Headquarters. 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).

Common species at KNP – It has 18 Bornean endemics, some of the common birds are mountain black eye, mountain blackbird, Bornean treepie, Kinabalu friendly warbler, Kinabalu serpent eagle, red-breasted wood partridge and Bornean mountain whistler, orange-headed thrush, Everett’s thrush, eyebrowed thrush, Whitehead’s trio.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6 – Kinabalu National Park HQ – Sepilok

Depart Kinabalu National Park after breakfast. The drive takes 4-5 hours to reach our destination. Along the way, stop at the Sabah Forestry Institute for lunch. Upon arrival mid-afternoon, check-in at your hotel, depending on time head to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for afternoon of birding.

Common bird of Sepilok – Diard’s trogon, black-headed pitta, red-naped trogon, greater-racket tailed drongo, hornbills, black-and-yellow broadbill, black-and-red broadbill, hooded pitta, spiderhunters, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, Bornean bristlehead.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7 – Sepilok

Early morning birding on the canopy at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. In the afternoon, head to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for the 3:00 PM feeding. Walk next door to the Borneo Sun Bear Rescue Centre to see one of Borneo’s rare residents, the Malayan Sun Bear. Return to the Canopy Walk at Rainforest Discovery Centre for a chance to see Flying Squirrels at dusk. Return to your hotel for dinner.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 8 – Sepilok

Birding in Sepilok area all day.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9

Spend another morning at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Return to your lodge, check out and depart at 11:00 AM for the 2 hour journey to the welcome centre at the Kinabatangan River. Upon arrival you will be given a briefing and orientation about local culture followed by registration, welcome drinks and lunch. After lunch, take a short transfer to your lodge. Settle in and chat with your guide about the day’s program and at 4:00 PM, depart on a wildlife river cruise to spot wildlife and birds along the river. Return to lodge before dark. After dinner, embark on a night walk within the area for chances of spotting nocturnal wildlife such as tarsier, slow loris and sleeping birds.

Common birds of Kinabatangan – Storm Stork, all species hornbills, all pittas, trogons, kingfishers, Malaysian blue flycatcher, red-bearded bee-eater, blue-throated bee eater, lesser adjutant, fish eagles, Wallace’s hawk eagle, etc

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 10 – Kinabatangan River

Early morning wake at 6:00 AM for river cruise on the Kinabatangan River. After breakfast, head out for birding on the property. Return for lunch, spend time relaxing or birding. In the afternoon, head to Gomantong Caves, a 1 hour drive. Spend the afternoon at the caves, birding and watching the bat exodus as a million bats exit from the cave. Return to your accommodation in the evening.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 11 – Kinabatangan – Danum Valley

Early morning wake up, pack up, and check out. Take a short river cruise back to the jetty for breakfast, before continuing to Lahad Datu at 8:30 AM (1 hour drive). From Lahad Datu, the drive to the Danum Valley Field Centre takes 2 hours (30 minutes sealed road, 1.5 hours dirt track). After checking into your accommodation, have lunch before trekking in the afternoon. Birding at the field centre will be mostly by foot. There are over 300 species of birds in Danum Valley. This will also be the most challenging birding, as the canopy is tall and dense.

Common birds of Danum Valley – all hornbills, blue-headed pitta, banded pitta, all trogons, kingfishers, great argus, crested fireback pheasant, wren-babblers, roul roul, Bornean bristlehead, etc.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 12 – Danum Valley

Explore Danum Valley with a full day of birding with your guide. In the evening, head out for an optional 4×4 night safari to search for civet cats and other nocturnal mammals.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13 – Danum Valley

Full day of birding with your guide. In the evening, take an optional night drive or night walk.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 14 – Danum Valley

Full day of birding with your guide. In the evening, take an optional night drive or night walk.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 15 – Danum Valley – Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Enjoy your last morning of birding with your guide. Check out at 12:30 for your transfer back to Lahad Datu. Transfer vehicles and begin the 2 hour journey to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Enjoy a late lunch before departing on an afternoon game drive going in search of birds along open forest edge returning in the early evening spotting nocturnal wildlife along the way. After dinner you will have the opportunity to go on a night walk in search of nocturnal birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. 

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 16 – Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Enjoy your last morning of birding with your guide. Check out at 12:30 PM for your transfer back to Lahad Datu. Transfer vehicles and begin the 2 hour journey to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Enjoy a late lunch before departing on an afternoon game drive going in search of birds along open forest edge returning in the early evening spotting nocturnal wildlife along the way. After dinner you will have the opportunity to go on a night walk in search of nocturnal birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. 

 Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

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

  • 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 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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