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Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo

Borneo Conservation Insight with New Scientist

Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
02/07/22 10/07/229 days £5,495 ex. flights £730Charles Ryan14 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Infant and Mother, Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia 1

Orangutan Conservation

See orangutan – learn about their plight and the efforts to save them

Kinabatangan River, Malaysia 2

River Safaris & Sustainable Farming

Cruise the Kinabatangan River and discuss sustainable farming with local communities

Black and white hornbill with yellow beak and blue rimmed eyes, sat on tree. 3

Diverse Wildlife

Explore primary rainforests and wetlands teeming with rare and endangered species

Canopy walk in the primary rainforest, Danum Valley, Malaysia 4

Eco-Friendly Accommodation

Stay amidst the pristine rainforest of the Danum Valley

Why we like it

This tour is perfectly suited for those with a genuine interest in conservation issues at a grassroots level, plus a love of the rainforest, wildlife and photography. The chance to breakfast with local farmers and experts on the shores of the Kinabatangan River is a special and privileged experience. Learn about their lives, their struggles, thoughts about the plight of their beautiful wildlife and discuss their plans for a sustainable way forward for all rainforest dwellers.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Sandakan - Sepilok

  • Day 2


  • Day 3

    Sepilok - Kinabatangan River

  • Day 4

    Kinabatangan River

  • Day 5

    Kinabatangan River

  • Day 6

    Kinabatangan River - Danum Valley

  • Day 7

    Danum Valley

  • Day 8

    Danum Valley - Kota Kinabalu

  • Day 9

    Kota Kinabalu

Day 1

Sandakan - Sepilok

Sepilok Nature Resort, Malaysian Borneo

On arrival, transfer to your hotel close to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. This evening meet with the rest of the group for a welcome dinner and an introductory talk from your tour leader on the adventures ahead.

After dinner, head out for an optional night walk in search of nocturnal wildlife among the 150 species of orchid.

Day 2


Orangutan, Borneo

Head out early for a birdwatching walk. Return to the lodge for breakfast before walking the short distance to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. See how the centre operates and the work they do in saving and rehabilitating orphaned and rescued orangutan. Plenty of time will be spent observing and photographing the orangutan as they spend time feeding within the reserve.
This afternoon take a short trek to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Managed by the Sabah Forestry Department its main purpose is an environmental education centre for students and teachers.

Day 3

Sepilok - Kinabatangan River

Sun Bear on a tree branch between leaves at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre Sepilok in Sabah, Borneo

After breakfast, depart for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, for a private tour by the founder of the centre, Dr Wong. The sun bear is the smallest bear species in the world and also the second rarest due to various threats. As well as being able to see the bears in a natural habitat, your entrance fee supports the ongoing protection of the species.
After an early lunch travel 45 minutes to the Kinabatangan River for a two hour boat journey to your accommodation on the banks of the river. After time to relax, head onto the river at dusk to spend a couple of hours searching for wildlife. Return to the lodge for dinner before an optional night walk to look for nocturnal residents of the forest.

Day 4

Kinabatangan River

Proboscis Monkey, Borneo

After an early wake-up call, embark on a two hour river safari to search for wildlife. Finish at the village of Abai for breakfast at a local home. Here, an expert will give a talk about the communities’ work with forest restoration and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The group will have time to ask questions and discuss the work being done. Afterwards, visit a forest restoration site, see the impact that it has on wildlife and have an opportunity to plant some trees.

Return to the lodge for lunch before further river cruising in search of wildlife.

Day 5

Kinabatangan River

Pygmy Elephants, Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia

Wake early for a dawn river cruise. Spend a couple of hours on the river, before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Afterwards, enjoy a walk through the rainforest to learn about rainforest ecology and peat forest.

After lunch, there will be a presentation on conservation in Borneo, followed by an afternoon river cruise and this evening a night safari by boat to spotlight for wildlife along the river.

Day 6

Kinabatangan River - Danum Valley

Canopy walk in the primary rainforest, Danum Valley, Malaysia

An early wake up for a full breakfast before travelling by boat and road to the Danum Valley. Arrive at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge for lunch. The Danum Valley Conservation Area is an area of 440 square kilometres of virgin primary rainforest and is home to some of the highest diversity on the planet with common sightings of orangutans, red leaf langurs, gibbons, hornbills and more.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge has exceptional local guides – experience this first hand this afternoon during the first of several wildlife walks with them.

Day 7

Danum Valley

Maliau Basin, Borneo

Spend the day with guides trekking through the rainforest in search for animals both large and small – your guides will provide a wealth of knowledge and insight.

This evening, enjoy a presentation about Alfred Wallace’s contribution to the theory of evolution and his discoveries in this region. After dinner, take a night walk or night drive in search of nocturnal wildlife.

Day 8

Danum Valley - Kota Kinabalu

Silver Leaf Monkey in Bako National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

Spend this morning on a final drive of the forest in search of wildlife. Return to the lodge for lunch, before departing for the 1.5-hour journey back to Lahad Datu and a one hour flight to Kota Kinabalu. On arrival, transfer to your hotel in the city centre. This evening enjoy dinner in a local restaurant in the company of local conservationists.

Day 9

Kota Kinabalu

British Airways plane wing

After a farewell breakfast, transfer to Kota Kinabalu airport for your onwards journey.

Palm Oil plantation - aerial view
Palm oil plantation

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The RSPO are a non-profit organisation that unites stakeholders to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil. The RSPO has more than 4,000 members worldwide who represent all links along the palm oil supply chain. They have committed to produce, source and/or use sustainable palm oil certified by the RSPO.

Orangutan, Borneo Expedition, Sabah, Borneo
Male orangutan

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

The centre was set up by Barbara Harrison in 1964 and was the first in the world to dedicate itself to the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans. It covers an area of 43 square kilometres of protected land and today there are around 60 to 80 orangutans living free in the reserve. In addition, the centre provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutans as well as dozens of other wildlife species, facilitating their return to the wild. The centre has built a buddy system within the orangutan community to replace the training they would normally receive from their mothers.

Borneo Expedition, Sabah, Borneo
Civit cat

Wildlife Big and Small

Malaysian Borneo is teeming with fauna from orangutans to pygmy elephants, hornbills, macaques, proboscis monkey, leaf monkeys and otters. Rich in night loving creatures too including civet cats, owls, frogs, slow loris and mousedeer. Smaller but no less fascinating species include giant millipede, stick insects and beautiful butterflies.

Green and black butterfly perched on green leaf.
Green swallowtail butterfly

Alfred Wallace

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was an explorer, collector, naturalist, geographer, anthropologist and political commentator. He was most famously known for having the revolutionary idea of evolution by natural selection entirely independently of Charles Darwin. Wallace noticed a striking pattern in the distribution of animals around the Malay archipelago. He proposed an imaginary line dividing Borneo from its eastern neighbours that later became known as Wallace’s Line. This marked the boundary between the animal life of the Australian region and that of Asia.

Why travel with Steppes Travel and New Scientist to learn about conservation in Malaysian Borneo?

As part of our partnership with New Scientist, we have some amazing special access opportunities on this tour. Accompanied throughout by conservationist and photographer Charles Ryan, he will give informal talks each evening reflecting on the days finds and insight on conservation issues. He will also help you improve your photography skills. Throughout the journey you will also meet with local naturalists, guides and conservationists and your participation in the tour helps support conservation efforts throughout the region.

What will the weather be like in July?

July is typically the driest month in Malaysian Borneo. The sudden, heavy downpours that keep the rainforests so lush should be far fewer during July. Skies should be blue and average daily temperatures in the high 20’s.

What is the standard of accommodation on this tour?

Accommodation throughout is of a good standard. The majority of your time will be spent in rainforest lodges and nature resorts in the heart of forest reserves. From lakeside chalets surrounded by rainforest at Sepilok  to stilted ‘Longhouse’ style eco-lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. In the Danum Valley the Borneo Rainforest Lodge offers a true jungle experience staying in stylish timber chalets. Finish at a 5 star hotel in the heart of Kota Kinabalu overlooking the South China Sea.

Is this tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of our tour experts.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

Do I need to be physically fit to enjoy this tour?

A reasonable level of fitness is required. On many of the days there will be trekking, sometimes through dense ecosystems. You must be comfortable being on foot, wear appropriate clothing and have a reasonable level of fitness. For example, being able to walk for a few hours on uneven terrain. None of the activities are compulsory.

Do I need a visa to travel to Malaysian?

Visas are not currently required for British Nationals to Malaysia for stays of up to 3 months. Your passport must have two blank pages side by side for the stamp and at least six months to run from the return date of travel.

Can I extend my time in Malaysia?

Absolutely. There are lots of options to extend your stay in Borneo – relax on the beach or head inland and hike Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain. Alternatively fly back to Kuala Lumpur for some city exploration.

Speak to one of our Malaysia specialists for more details of possible extensions.

What wildlife should I hope to see on this tour to Malaysian Borneo?

The rainforests and rivers of Malaysian Borneo are rich in wildlife and sightings in the wild could include orangutans, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant, civet cat, gibbon, silver leaf monkeys plus birdlife including various species of hornbill, bee eater, owl and kingfisher. Nocturnal wildlife is particularly diverse and there will be numerous opportunities to search for tarsier, slow loris and flying squirrel plus varied reptiles and insects.

Incredibly rare and elusive but also found in the rainforests of Borneo are the clouded leopard an the pangolin.


Hope to see orangutans, sun bears, civet cats, langurs, gibbons, proboscis monkeys, rhinoceros hornbills and many more species.

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?



Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge £££££

  • Borneo
  • Wilderness

Situated within the tropical lowland rainforest of the Danum Valley Conservation Area, Borneo Rainforest Lodge offers 31 timber chalets and a true jungle experience. Deluxe chalets have a balcony with river or jungle views plus some have their own outdoor hot tub or even a private plunge pool. The communal dining area and bar offer a great spot to relax with a drink at the end of the day, immersed in the sounds of the night.

View Property

Why a Steppes expert-led group tour

1.Experience Matters

We have been running insightful and groundbreaking group tours since our inception in 1989. We have worked with institutions such as the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum and run wildlife tours in conjunction with conservation agencies such as Fauna & Flora International, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Orangutan Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute.

2.Size Matters

Our average group size is typically eight to ten people, smaller than other group tours typically offered – a factor which many of our clients appreciate. Travelling as part of a smaller group provides a more intimate, personalised and relaxed atmosphere.

4.It’s about who you know

We have developed an enviable pool of expertise from which to choose our tour experts, who we carefully select based on their knowledge, companionship and personality. Often, these experts can use their influence to facilitate private access to sites not typically open to the public.

3.Like-Minded People

Steppes Travellers are like-minded people – interesting, interested and curious. Our group tours aim to create an easy and informal atmosphere – we have a lot of fun on our tours and many friendships have been formed.

5.Value for money

Our tours are well-priced to ensure you get real value for money. We include gratuities on the majority of our tours and do not pass on currency surcharges. We strive to look after single travellers as well as we can, keeping single supplements to a minimum.

6.Peace of Mind

When you travel on one of our group tours, you will be looked after by our local agents and your tour expert with the back-up of our 24-hour emergency number and duty manager. All our holidays are fully bonded and protected – our ATOL number is ATOL 6495.

Includes / Excludes

Important Information

Activity Level
Single Supplement

Travelling on your own? Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.


To allow flexibility, our group tours do not include international flights as standard. We can arrange international flights on your behalf, please get in touch with our travel experts for a quote. All international flights from the UK are ATOL protected.

What is included

  • Accompanied by Charles Ryan throughout
  • Local guides
  • Accommodation (as indicated)
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • All permits and entrance fees
  • Full board. All breakfast, lunches and dinners throughout
  • Transfers and transportation throughout
  • Presentations and walking seminars from local experts and Charles Ryan
  • All tours and excursions
  • Leach socks where appropriate

What is excluded

  • Travel insurance
  • International flights
  • Any visa requirements
  • Drinks with meals
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Meals unless mentioned
  • Early check in or late check out of accommodation

Our future tour dates

For further information about any of these tours please call 01285 880 980

Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
02/07/22 10/07/229 days £5,495 ex. flights £730Charles Ryan14 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Reserve your place on this group tour

Our travel experts have a wealth of first-hand knowledge, so if you have any questions about this expert-led group tour, please get in touch. They would love to help. We hope you can join us on this tour.

01285 880 980

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Explore similar expert-led group tours

With an average group size of just eight to ten people our group tour itineraries enable you to travel to some of the most intriguing regions of the world in the company of experts guides in the field and, of course, with likeminded people.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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