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Into the wild in Borneo
Spot wild orangutans, scramble through ancient caves and forage your own fresh rainforest dinner
About your trip
Great adventures are all about balance – and the balance is just right on this Borneo expedition.
Between boutique hotels and rugged jungle camps, you’ll search for endangered orangutans in the treetops, spend time with the Iban community of Nanga Sumpa and embrace the adrenaline of caving in Mulu National Park.
There will be dozy sunbears to make you smile, river safaris to seek out pygmy elephants, and longhouse jungle camps to keep the experience authentic. And how to end? With a relaxing taste of Bornean beach life on the edge of the South China Sea.
- Local transport
- Most meals included
- Max 14 travellers per group
- Atol protected
- Private airport transfers
Remember, flights aren't included. We're happy to help you find the best ones for you.
Day 01 Hello Kuching
Step off the plane into the heart of Kuching, the capital city of Malaysia’s Sarawak state. No matter what time you arrive, there will be a private transfer waiting to take you to your hotel for the next two nights. Touching down early? We recommend that you head off into Borneo’s most dynamic city with your fellow Flash Pack early birds. From the capital’s prime location sandwiched between dense jungle and the winding Sarawak River, you can get your first taste of city life and adjust to the humid tropical heat. Later, meet up with your full Flash Pack group and get to know each other over a glass of tuak (local rice wine).
Day 02 Paddle through the jungle
Today you’ll drive half an hour to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a rehabilitation reserve that’s home to over 20 orphaned or rescued orangutans. If you’re lucky you’ll see these incredible apes swing through the rainforest, or even drop in for a meal at one of the reserve’s feeding zones. Next, you’ll embark on an 11-kilometre paddle along the Semadang river, taking in the beauty of the jungle as you tackle the river’s thrilling Class I and II rapids. After a quick swim and picnic lunch, you’ll all paddle downstream to the village of Kampung Semadang and return to your hotel for a rest before dinner.
Day 03 Longboat into the heart of Borneo
Now to go off-grid as we drive you four hours east to Batang Ai National Park, stopping to explore local bazaars and lunch at one of the market towns scattered along our route. At Batang Ai, you’ll jump aboard a longboat and travel along the river for another 1.5 hours, gliding past incredible views of the rainforest and junglescape until you reach Nanga Sumpa. Here you’ll bed down on the banks of the Delok River at a unique jungle lodge, which sits alongside a traditional Iban longhouse. The rooms are quad-share, and come with Western-style toilets and showers, mosquito nets and fans. It’s quite basic but it’s all part of the jungle experience.
Day 04 Wild orangutans and foraging
Today you’ll head out just after dawn and follow your local guide into the rainforest to search for orangutans. Afterwards, it’s back to the lodge to pack up and board a longboat upstream to Lubok Kasai. After checking in to tonight’s jungle camp and lunch at one of Sarawak’s most beautiful riverside spots, you’ll follow an expert into the forest to forage for dinner. From wild ferns to ginger shoots, you’ll each gather up a crop of fresh jungle delicacies. Afterwards, head back into the rainforest in search of more wild orangutans, passing the Enseluai waterfall – perfect for a dip if you’re feeling the jungle heat. Come evening, feast on the rewards of your forage and enjoy a sundowner in the heart of Borneo’s rainforest.
Day 05 A jungle sail to the city
Wake for an early morning jungle walk and breakfast before boarding the longboat back to Kuching. After three days spent deep in the rainforest, the evening is yours to explore more of Kuching’s city life. Take an evening stroll along the picturesque esplanade then delve into the city’s tasty Sarawak-style cuisine. To eat like a local try fried tapioca leaves, indigenous dishes such as ayam pansuh (seasoned cuts of chicken cooked inside bamboo stalks), or a hearty laksa; rice noodles cooked in a spiced coconut milk and prawn broth.
Day 06 Bats, deer and stalactites
Today you’ll catch a short flight to Gunung Mulu National Park. Flanked by a trio of rugged mountains – the Mulu, Api and Benarat – this World Heritage-listed park is home to monkeys, Malayan sun bears, bats and the intriguing hornbill. Check in to your park chalet and set off on a three-kilometre walk to Deer Cave. The world’s biggest cave passage, Deer Cave has a spectacular main chamber reaching 122 metres high and leading onto Borneo’s Garden of Eden – a pocket of lush green plants bathed in sunlight from an opening in the roof. Afterwards, you’ll head to nearby Lang’s Cave, home to impressive stalactites and stalagmites, and then back to Deer Cave to watch over a million bats flying in a mass exodus for their nightly feeding forays.
Day 07 Deep adventure caving
You’ll venture deep into one of Mulu’s less-visited caves today for your caving adventure. Crawl, climb and squeeze your way through rock formations and crevices, hopping over streams and wading through underground rivers. Mulu’s immense caves are always challenging, so expect to work up a sweat. After an adrenaline-fuelled morning, head back to your park chalet for a quick lunch and change of clothes, before exploring a nearby village that’s home to a community of Sarawak’s indigenous Penan tribe.
Day 08 Wild swimming and waterfall picnics
After a quick breakfast you’ll board a longboat and sail up the Melinau River to Wind Cave. Pass through the King’s Chamber at the heart of the cave and then feel the burn as you climb 250 steps to the entrance of Mulu’s Clearwater Cave, which, at 107 kilometres, is the longest in Asia. Having stopped by an idyllic pool shaded by rainforest for a refreshing dip and picnic, you’ll say farewell to Mulu and hop on a flight to Borneo’s Kota Kinabalu. Check in at your boutique hotel, a magnificently restored Colonial building in the city centre, then you’re free to explore Kota Kinabalu’s eclectic dining scene and lively bars.
Day 09 A wildlife river safari
Onwards to Kota Kinabalu airport and your 45 minute flight to the city of Sandakan. After touching down you’ll head to the Sandakan Memorial Park, where serene gardens and a small museum pay tribute to Australian and British soldiers held at the city’s prisoner of war camp during World War II. Then, hop on a boat and glide along the Kinabatangan River to a beautiful rainforest lodge, your home for the next two nights. Here you’ll take to the river once more with your group for a safari along the banks of the Sukau Rainforest. You’re likely to catch a glimpse of orangutans and proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and hornbills, so stay alert.
Day 10 Rainforest kingdom and conservation
Wake early to experience the beauty of Pitas Oxbow Lake. There are 200 different bird species in this region alone, from hawk, heron and hornbill, to colourful kingfisher. After breakfast back at the lodge, you’ll head out to a rainforest replanting area to see the work being done to regenerate orangutan habitats, before setting out for another afternoon of wildlife spotting. Back at the lodge, take to the sun deck surrounded by towering trees, enjoy a stroll along the boardwalks, or grab a drink at the jungle restaurant.
Day 11 All the sun bears
Enjoy a slightly later start this morning before travelling back along the Kinabatangan River and to Sandakan, where you’ll check in at the MY Nature Resort, a spread of high-end eco-chalets next to the Sepilok forest reserve, one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. After lunch it’s on to the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, home to 44 rescued Malayan sun bears – the world’s smallest bear. Next up is the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, your last chance to see these magnificent apes up close in the wild. Later, fly to Kota Kinabalu, where you’ll find your beachfront hotel overlooking the South China Sea.
Day 12 Beach life in Tanjung Aru
This is your penultimate day in Borneo and time to slow the pace. Pull up a sunbed, submerge yourself in the hotel’s infinity pool or book yourself into the spa. If you have itchy feet, the retreat’s marina offers an array of water sports, including kayaking, or jump aboard the shuttle boat to snorkel the corals of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Come evening, gather at the Sunset Bar to toast your epic adventure, followed by one last group feast at an al fresco hangout.
Day 13 Goodbye, Borneo
Your final day and time to say goodbye to Borneo. It’s over to you to organise your taxi to the airport and depart as you please. If you feel like exploring this region further, we suggest combining this trip with our Malaysia adventure.
Our Favourite Hotels
Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.
The Waterfront Hotel, Kuching
Artists’ hotel with magnificent city views
This sleek hotel sits in the heart of Kuching with views towards the Sarawak River and the city’s old-meets-new skyline.
Why we stay here
This is a hub for up-and-coming artists, whose works are dotted all around the venue. You can buy local pieces from the exhibition space on Level 4, when you’re not busy enjoying the rooftop pool or exploring the bustling waterfront.
Nanga Sumpa Lodge, Lubok Antu
Unique jungle lodge in the depths of Sarawak rainforest
This traditional “village stay” sits by a longhouse on the banks of Delok River, in the remote interiors of Borneo.
Why we stay here
Rooms and facilities are basic but this lodge offers a rare glimpse into the Iban people’s way of life, as well as a chance to unplug in the rainforest wilderness. Drift off to the sound of the jungle and watch out for wild orangutans.
Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu
Opulent hotel by Tanjung Aru beach, overlooking the South China Sea
This beachfront retreat is all about luxury, from its gleaming infinity pool to a private jetty where you can hop over to neighbouring coral islands.
Why we stay here
Treat yourself at the finale of your Borneo trip with a massage at the private island spa. Then head to the Sunset Bar to watch the sea turn gold over a signature Kota Kinabalu Fruit Punch.
Fly into Kuching International Airport (KCH) and fly out of Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI).
Please try and time your arrival before 4pm on day 1, and depart at leisure on day 13.
For the first few nights of this adventure, the accommodation is more basic due to the remote jungle location. One the other hand, it really offers the best way to experience and get up close to the lush rainforest landscape. Prepare for heat, humidity and a fair amount of mozzies (come armed with plenty of repellent). To balance the books, we finish in luxury at the resort on Tanjung Aru beach.
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting.
We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures, read more here.
Joining the Flash Pack community comes with a few special guarantees...
Our trips are for like-minded people in their 30s and 40s – and 98% of them join us solo. It’s almost a given you’ll make friends.
We know the world’s best bits, so your adventure will always be immersive and authentic, and your accommodation hand-picked.
Our guides on the ground know their destinations better than anyone, so expect unprecedented access to local living and cultural secrets.
We take all the hassle out of travel planning for you. Unique accommodation? Activities? People? Sorted.
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