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BORNEO PHOTOGRAPHY

Sepilok - Kinabatangan River - Tabin Wildlife Reserve - Danum Valley - Mount Kinabalu (optional)

Our Borneo photography itinerary explores Sabah’s East coast along Malaysia’s longest river, ancient rainforest home to the tallest trees in the tropics with an optional extension to exploring the gem of Sabah climbing Mount Kinabalu. You will be accompanied by an experienced photographer with the experience to ensure you will capture Borneo from every angle. The itinerary provides plenty of opportunities to photograph Borneo’s iconic wildlife, nature and landscapes with insider access and knowledge to get you behind the scenes and leaving you with a deeper appreciation for Borneo’s natural beauty.

Accommodation

Accommodation options for this itinerary can be tailored to suit your budget and travel style with the exception of Tabin Wildlife Reserve as there is only one accommodation facility 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 photography guide

Key Destinations

  • Sepilok – Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, Rainforest Discovery Centre.
  • Kinabatangan River
  • Tabin Wildlife Reserve
  • Danum Valley Conservation Area
  • Kinabalu National Park (optional extra)

Day 1 – Sepilok

Welcome to Borneo! Be met by your guide at Sandakan airport and transfer to your accommodation (20 minutes overland). Check in to your room and have some downtime. Depending on time, head to Rainforest Discovery Centre and spend the afternoon on the canopy walk to give you a first look at the Bornean rainforest and some of the bird species commonly seen in the area. Have an introduction with your photography guide over dinner. After dinner, head out for an optional night walk to search for nocturnal species.

   Dinner

Day 2 – Sepilok

Spend all day at the Sepilok Forest Reserve. Visit the orangutan sanctuary, the sun bear centre, and spend time on the canopy walk at the Rainforest Discovery Centre searching for species in the canopy. In the evening, head out for a night walk to search for nocturnal species.

  Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 3 – Sepilok – Kinabatangan River

After breakfast, we will depart for the Kinabatangan River (2 hours overland). En route, we will stop in the morning at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary for a close up encounter with this unique species, and then continue on to the river. Have lunch, and in the afternoon head out for your river cruise. After dinner, embark on a night walk within the area to enjoy the opportunity to photograph macro subjects and spotting nocturnal wildlife such as tarsier, slow loris and civets.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 4 – Kinabatangan River

Early morning wake at 6am for river cruise on the Kinabatangan River. One of the focuses will be going for the Bornean ground cuckoo – a bird that requires patience! After breakfast, head out again to search for more wildlife. 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 spectacular bat exodus as a million bats exit from the cave. Return to your lodge for the evening. Optional night walk after dinner.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 5 – Kinabatangan River

Early morning wake at 6am for river cruise on the Kinabatangan River. After breakfast, head out again to search for more wildlife. Return for lunch, spend time relaxing or birding. In the afternoon, head for another river cruise to search for more species. Optional night walk or river cruise.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 6 – Kinabatangan River to Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Early wake up for a full breakfast, before departing for our next destination: Tabin Wildlife Reserve. A boat will send us upriver for 2 hours, before we meet with the vehicle to send us to Lahad Datu. We will stop in Lahad Datu for lunch, before taking a 1.5 hour drive to Tabin Wildlife Resort. On the way into the conservation area, we will pass through the centre of a very large palm oil plantation. Check into the resort, and head out for a wildlife drive at dusk. After dinner, have the evening to rest.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 7 – Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Early morning optional walk before breakfast (6:15 AM – 7:30 AM) providing great opportunities to view the resident Mueller’s gibbons. Breakfast, and head out for a 1-2 hour jungle trek in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing, trekking, or heading out on a scenic drive. After dinner, there will be another night drive to search for leopard cats, civets, owls, etc.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 8 – Tabin Wildlife Reserve to Danum Valley

Wake up early for breakfast, and head out by 8:00 AM back to Lahad Datu (1 hour). 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, and a high diversity of all other fauna.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 9 – Danum Valley

Full day in the forest with your guide. In the evening, head out for an optional 4×4 night safari to search for civet cats and other nocturnal mammals or night walk to photograph macro subjects, amphibians and reptiles.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 10 – Danum Valley

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

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 11 – Danum Valley

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

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 12 – Danum Valley to Kota Kinabalu

Enjoy your last morning of birding with your guide. Check out at 1:00 PM for your 5:30 PM flight back to Kota Kinabalu (1 hour flight).  Check in to your accommodation at Kota Kinabalu and rest for the evening.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 13 – Departure Day

After breakfast, be transferred to the airport for your flight home. 

*For those including the Mount Kinabalu extension you will get picked up by a vehicle, and sent to Kinabalu National Park early morning.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

MOUNT KINABALU EXTENSION

Summiting Mount Kinabalu is a challenging hike, but the reward at making it to the roof of Borneo is something that people do not forget. The photography opportunities at the top are amazing, and sunrise is a breathtaking experience that you will not forget. The montane ecosystem boasts a diverse community of flora found nowhere else with an array of endemic carnivorous pitcher plants, rhododendrons and orchids.

Day 14 – Kota Kinabalu to Mount Kinabalu

You have the option of including the Mount Kinabalu extension in your itinerary either at the start or end of your trip. Availability of permits may influence this factor. After checking in to your accommodation, explore the lower trail of the World Heritage listed Kinabalu National Park for birdwatching, finding orchids, etc. You will spend the rest of the day exploring the network of trails. In the evening, head out for herping and frogging for some macro photography in the park as well.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 15 – Mount Kinabalu

The climb on the 1st day is 6.5km with an elevation gain of about 1,300 meters. This takes 4-6 hours depending on fitness, and there are rest stops with toilets along the way. There are opportunities to refill your water bottles on the way up but since the water is not treated, we recommend water purification tablets or iodine for this. Alternatively, you can stock up on drinking water before commencing your climb.

Along the way, observe the fascinating montane forest with pitcher plants, rhododendrons and orchids along with unique birds such as island thrush, mountain black-eyes and friendly bush-warbler. Stop en-route to eat your packed lunch. Reach Pendant Hut by 3.30 PM for mandatory safety briefing at 4:00 PM, and check in. You will have access to filtered drinking water and will be able to refill your water bottle here. Dinner is served at 6:00 PM and lights out at 8:00 PM.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 16 – Mount Kinabalu

Early morning wake up for coffee or tea at 2.30 AM. Continue your climb to the summit for sunrise. Make sure you have your headlamp with you during this portion of the climb to the summit. After sunrise, meet your via ferrata trainer at the starting point for your via ferrata experience. Then, return to Pendant Hut for a full breakfast before checking out and making your way to the base of the mountain. Most people take 4-5 hours to return to the base. Your driver will be waiting for you at the start of the trail to take you back to your accommodation at the base. After some rest, we will head to dinner. For the people that are not too tired, we will head out for a night walk in the park.

Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 17 – Departure day

After breakfast, we will head back to Kota Kinabalu for connecting flights home. 

Breakfast 

Included

  • All accommodation 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 photography 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.

What to Bring?

All of your essential camera equipment including camera body/s, lenses, field cleaning equipment (blower, microfibre cloth, etc.) tripod and flash. Other items such as headlamp, insect repellent, sunscreen, hat, raincoat or poncho, binoculars, dry-bag, swimwear, good walking or trekking shoes, sandals, personal toiletries including a towel, sunglasses, water bottle, cold weather gear (Mount Kinabalu is very cold at the summit)

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 can be 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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