Those travelling on the group flights will depart today for your overnight flight to Kota Kinabalu, via Kuala Lumpur.
The group flight is an overnight flight departing the day before. Those travelling on the group flights will be met on arrival at the airport this morning and transferred to our hotel, where the rest of the group will join throughout the day. Today is a free day but there will be a welcome meeting in the evening; details of where and when this will take place will have been left with the hotel's reception. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having recovered from World War II bombings, 'KK' now possesses a gateway charm that can only be found in a frontier town. If you have enough free time, why not immerse yourself in local history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village (once home to a notorious headhunter), or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu - excellent for swimming or snorkelling (all at additional charge).
Day 3 - 4
Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you'll head for the hills and the beautiful Kinabalu National Park. Arriving in time for lunch you have the afternoon to stretch your legs and take in the mountain views on many of the numerous walking trails - keeping an eye out for birds, snakes and the odd little leech. There is plenty to see and do here. The Mountain Botanic Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the Park has been replanted here. The afternoon is free for you to relax here. The next day you'll get up early to catch glimpses of this mighty monolith before the cloud rises for the day, before you take a day trip to Poring Hot Springs (approx. 1 hr), where you have time to soak in the famous thermal pools, take in the trails that abound within the reserve, or have a refreshing swim in a nearby waterfall. You can spend time exploring the butterfly farm, the orchid garden, or traverse the canopy walkway (all additional charge) where you can view the jungle as the birds and monkeys do.
Day 5 - 6
Today you'll journey by local bus (approx. 5 hrs) to Kinabatangan. Your hosts for the next 2 nights are the local ecological organisation, MESCOT, who's aim is to provide villagers with environmental education and the means of making a living from their forests, without the need for its destruction. Part of the program is to develop an ecologically sound wildlife and ecotourism centre, owned and operated by the villagers themselves. After you arrive in the afternoon, you head by boat (approx. 30 minutes) into the jungle where you'll stay by the beautiful Oxbow Lake - the best way to experience untamed Borneo. Wild elephants are rarely seen but you will hopefully find crocodiles, macaques, wild orangutan and the freaky looking proboscis monkeys, as hornbills fly in the skies overhead. Be prepared for an adventure! Your stay in the jungle is in simple huts where sleeping and bathing facilities are basic, with only cold bathing available. You will pack an overnight bag for the jungle camp and leave your main luggage at the MESCOT office. On the following day you return to a local Malay village where you will be invited into the lives and homes of the local people. This is an amazing privilege and your leader will explain local cultural expectations to ensure that we get the most out of your stay. Your accommodation tonight is a home stay experience where you'll be split into different homes throughout the village with different families. Accommodation is traditional but simple and you should expect Asian toilets and cold water bucket showers. Please note that the order of the above days may be occasionally reversed depending on seasonal variations and if the weather is bad, we may not be able to visit the jungle stay. Out of respect for your Muslim hosts, alcohol is not to be consumed.
Day 7 - 8
We head to Sepilok, a 2 hour drive by minivan, where you will have some free time to settle in to your guesthouse to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. This afternoon, you will visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where you will have an opportunity to see these famous monkeys - found only on the island of Borneo - feeding with their different family or bachelor groups. If you are lucky we might also see a hornbill or two. You will visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre - a reserve set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adaptation to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, visitors may watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. You are not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum. There is also a short film to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre about the orangutan rehabilitation process. Your afternoon is free to relax or return to the reserve for the 2nd feeding of the day. There is also the opportunity to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre, a centre for environmental education situated within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. The 147m long, 28m high steel canopy walkway enables spectacular views of beautiful rainforest giants like the Mengaris tree, there are also 250 species of bird to look out for - experience forest life high in the canopy. For these 2 nights you will stay in family multishare accommodation with private amenities. The guesthouse is located in Taman Jilil, a local recreation area. Please note due to limited space on transport to Pulau Tiga tomorrow, you will take overnight bags only, dropping your main luggage off at your mainland accommodation on the way. You will need to pack tonight for your beach trip.
Your early morning transfer takes you to Sandakan Airport where you'll catch your flight to Kota Kinabalu (please refer to the 'baggage' information for details on flight luggage restrictions). From here you will drive approximately 2.5 hrs, dropping off your extra luggage on the way, to Kuala Penyu, from where you will travel by speedboat (approx. 30 mins) to your secluded, rustic hideaway on 'Survivor Island'. Pulau Tiga played host to the first-ever series of 'Survivor' - an American television program that was filmed on the island in 2000. The island is full of mud volcanoes, great jungle walking tracks and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and amazing snorkelling opportunities. The waters surrounding the island are home to over 132 species of fish, as well as sea turtles, whilst the island wildlife consists of proboscis and macaque monkeys, flying foxes, bats and monitor lizards. Keep an eye out for the hornbills overhead on their flight for the day's food. Arriving in the afternoon we will spend the night on the island. After settling into your accommodation, you can take a walk through the jungle to visit one of the mud pools where we can wallow in the mud like buffaloes, then walk back to the beach for a swim in the sea. Weather permitting, you will take a boat for a trip to Snake Island, home to the yellow-lipped sea krait who use the island as their breeding ground. Tonight you will stay in very basic family multishare accommodation with private amenities. The resort offers the opportunity to sight the morning hornbills on their flight for the day's food.
Day 10 - 11
Today you say goodbye to your patch of paradise and head back to Kuala Penyu and on to our seaside guesthouse on the mainland where you will spend the next two nights. You travel via speedboat (approx. 30 mins) to the mainland where you transfer to a minivan (approx. 2 hrs) to take you to your final destination by the beach. For the next two nights you have the opportunity to relax in this peaceful beachfront resort. Clean, comfortable twin share bedding with private facilities including air-conditioning, TV, restaurant and pool.
For those not on the group flights the tour ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London.