Wildlife Group Tour

Malaysia Group Tour - Borneo wildlife photography in the Danum Valley

Departing 29th Sept - 6th Oct 2020

8 days

from £4,495pp
  • Expert photographic tuition throughout from George Chan
  • Behind the scenes access at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
  • Meet with researchers from the Danum Valley Field Centre
  • Explore Gomantong Caves, the largest cave system in Sabah

Charles Darwin called Borneo “one great wild untidy luxuriant hothouse made by nature for herself". It is wild and exciting and remains the preserve of the true traveller. This tour is perfectly suited for those that have a genuine interest in conservation issues at the grass root level, and a love of the rainforest, wildlife, and photography. Accompanied throughout by wildlife photographer George Chan, this tour offers a perfect opportunity to hone your photographic skills in one of natures greatest playgrounds.

A soft landing in Sepilok with ample time to explore the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located on your doorstep. The Sanctuary offers a true insight into the lives of this remarkable and sadly endangered species. Continue to The Kinabatangan River, home to the wonderful proboscis monkey. Finish in the Danum Valley, spending the next three nights at Borneo Rainforest Lodge, where some of the islands most pristine rainforest can be found, giving an insight into Borneo's amazing bio-diversity. This region is teeming with endemic animals and birdlife and a visit to the Danum Valley Research Centre is organised to meet scientists in situ. This is where the Royal Society carries out research on the impact of deforestation and so there is the opportunity to talk with academics from Raleigh International, Earthwatch and Oxford University about the future of rainforests in Borneo. A final night in Kota Kinabalu allows time to take stock, shop for gifts, and have a final night of conservation and debate with guest scientists before returning home.


This tour is perfect for photographers wanting to follow orangutans in their natural habitat, arguably one of the world's most special wildlife experiences. Immerse yourself in the pristine rainforest of Malaysia Borneo with the expert guidance of our team of local experts and photographer George Chan. 

Do I need to be an experienced photographer to join this tour?

Whether you have a simple point and shoot camera or a sophisticated SLR, George will be on hand to give you tips on how to improve your photography skills. Therefore, you don’t even have to be an experienced photographer to join.

The maximum group size of just ten people will allow George to spend time with you at the different locations to help you get the perfect shot and develop your wildlife photography skills for future use.


This tour will have a number of long travel days and there will be daily walks through the rainforest, so a decent level of fitness is required. 


On this trip, the accommodation aims to get you in the best locations to allow you the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in nature and allow ample time to photograph the flora and fauna that surrounds you.

In Sandakan, you will be based near Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Continuing onto the Kinabatangan River region, you will be staying in moderate lodge accommodation. The highlight of the trip will be your time spent at Borneo's most luxurious eco-lodges, Borneo Rainforest Lodge. While your stay in Kota Kinabalu will be at the excellent Hyatt Regency.


Borneo's cuisine is heavy influenced by the food found on the Malaysian peninsula. Expect delicious, spicy coconut-milk noodle soups called laksa, simple dishes with chicken and vegetables and Iban style dishes where food is cooked in a bamboo stem over an open fire. We have organised for some great private dining on parts of the trip to see what the chefs of Borneo can do when given the opportunity.


September is the end of the dry season with hot, dry air being blown in from Australia. Throughout Sabah, there is also the possibility of unsettled wet weather at times, especially in rainforested areas. The rain will normally fall in the late afternoon.


Sabah is home to some of the last remaining areas of primary tropical rainforest in South East Asia. Kinabatangan River is home to orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, macaques, leaf monkeys, otters and more. Nocturnal life is spectacular including civet cats, snakes, frogs, and owls. The Danum Valley is the best place in Borneo to see orangutans in the wild, alongside a huge diversity of vegetation including ferns, orchids and pitcher plants.

Can I extend my stay in BORNEO?

This tour works perfectly with an extension in Malaysia or other South-East Asian countries. Speak to one of our Asia specialists for more details of possible extensions. 

Departing on:
  • 29th September 2020

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
29th Sep 2020 6th Oct 2020 £ 4,495 £ 775 £ 565 George Chan Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation as detailed based on a twin-share basis
  • Accompanied by an English speaking local guide throughout
  • Accompanied by photographer, George Chan throughout
  • Airport arrival and departure transfers
  • All activities as detailed in the itinerary
  • Gratuities for local guide, driver and porters
  • Meals as indicated
  • Park fees
  • Services of guides and rangers
  • Transportation throughout

what is excluded

  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • All items of a personal nature
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance (mandatory)
  • Visa and associated fees


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Sandakan arrival day
On arrival into Sandakan, you will be met by your local guide in the arrivals hall and transferred to the Sepilok Nature Resort, a journey time of around 20 minutes.

At 18:00, meet with the rest of the group and the local guide in the resort lobby, where there will be a short briefing about the tour.

After the briefing, depart for a welcome dinner before returning to the resort to overnight.

Welcome dinner included.

You will be staying at Sepilok Nature Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Morning visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre
After an early breakfast, head out to the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which will involve a short amount of trekking. The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) evolved from a small environmental education centre in 1996 into one of Sabah's most popular education centres. It is within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, home of the orangutan at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. The centre is managed by the Sabah Forestry Department and its main purpose remains an environmental education centre for students and teachers, however, in August 2007 it opened its doors to the public. It is hoped that the RDC will help boost the tourism industry in the Sandakan district and all proceeds from ticket sales will be used to sustain the centre.

Return to the lodge for lunch.

Afternoon visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
In the afternoon, walk the short distance from the resort to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, which covers an area of 43 square kilometres at the edge of Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. The centre was set up by Barbara Harrison in 1964 and was the first centre in the world to dedicate itself to the rehabilitation of orphaned orangutans. Today there are around 60 to 80 orangutans living free in the reserve. In addition, the centre provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orangutan as well as dozens of other wildlife species. There will be plenty of time this afternoon, to observe and photograph orangutans at the centre's feeding platforms. Your guide, George Chan will be on hand to give photographic tips.

Photography opportunities
There will be some great photography opportunities at the Rainforest Discovery Centre for birds, flowers and forest shots from the canopy. In addition, the rehabilitation centre will offer a wonderful chance to photograph orangutans, especially at the feeding platforms.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Sepilok Nature Resort, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Sepilok to Kinabatangan
After breakfast, depart for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where you will be given a private tour by the founder of the centre. Afterwards, head for an early lunch at San Da Gen Kopitiam. Then drive to a small dock on the Kinabatangan River, which takes around 45 minutes. From here depart on a two-hour boat journey to Borneo Nature Lodge, situated on the banks of the Kinabatangan River.

After time to relax at the lodge, head out by small boat for a dusk river cruise to search for wildlife. The region is teeming with fauna, orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, macaques, leaf monkeys and otters. Spend a couple of hours on the river, before returning to the lodge for dinner. After dinner, you have the option to head out for a short night walk in search of nocturnal wildlife such as civet cats, owls, frogs, mousedeer, and much more.

Photography opportunities
There will be plenty of photography opportunities in the Kinabatangan as this region is home to a plethora of wildlife. Orangutan, proboscis monkey, elephant, silver leaf langur, hornbill, and more. Photography will be from an open boat. Monopods work well on the boat. The river also has beautiful landscapes of the river and forest.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Borneo Nature Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Kinabatangan River and Gomantong Caves
Early starts will allow you to make the most of the local wildlife which is at its most active during dawn and dusk.

Wake up early to depart on your dawn river cruise in search of more wildlife. Spend a couple of hours on the river, before returning to the lodge for breakfast.

After lunch, take a short boat ride to a vehicle, where you will travel overland for around half an hour to Gomantong Caves. The boardwalk to the caves is a very popular spot for wildlife including orangutan, hornbill, and red leaf langur. The cave is a beautiful limestone cave, with a ceiling of over 100 metres high. If here at dusk, there is a chance of seeing over a million bats coming out in an exodus, which is amazing to watch. Return to the lodge for dinner. Optional night walk after dinner.

Photography opportunities
There will be plenty of opportunities to photograph wildlife during the river cruises and walks around the lodge.

Gomantong Caves is an amazing formation to photograph, and a tripod is a must in the dark conditions. There is a great chance for orangutans, red leaf langurs, and hornbills to be seen around the cave, which offers great wildlife photo opportunities.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Borneo Nature Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Kinabatangan River to Danum Valley
Today will involve a full day of travel.

An early start for a full breakfast, before departing for the Danum Valley. Firstly, head to Lahad Datu, a journey of around two hours. Stop to break the journey before another two and a half hours to Danum Valley. Please note that two hours of the journey will be via a dirt road. Arrive at Borneo Rainforest Lodge for lunch before checking in. The lodge is the only resort in the entire conservation area. Head out for a wildlife walk in the afternoon to search for orangutan, gibbon, hornbill, and more. In the evening, head out on a wildlife drive.

Photography opportunities
Danum Valley is made up of is a virgin rainforest, home to wonderful bird and wildlife offering excellent opportunities for photography. For serious wildlife photographers, using a camera with a tripod and gimbal head is very helpful. Wildlife photography can also be challenging because of dark conditions under the tall forest canopy. Weather allowing we will watch the sunrise over Danum Valley, which is an amazing place for landscape photos. Common species seen are orangutan, red leaf langur, gibbon and hornbill.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Borneo Rainforest Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Danum Valley
Today will be a very early start, with a wakeup call at around 03:30am for a 04:00am departure to the top of Danum Valley. The drive takes around an hour to reach the viewing area where a continental breakfast will be waiting in the tower with 360-degree views of the valley. Enjoy breakfast as you watch the sunrise over the conservation area.

Afterwards, continue to the Danum Valley Field Centre, the research station that oversees all science projects in the conservation area. You will get to meet scientists and learn about their work in the area. Return to the lodge for lunch.

In the afternoon, take a trek or relax by the river. There will be an optional night drive or night walk in the evening.

Photography opportunities
Sunrise over the Danum Valley will be an amazing site to photograph, however, this is one occasion we would suggest putting down your camera and taking in the view.

There will also be plenty of opportunity to take photographs during the canopy walks.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Borneo Rainforest Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Danum Valley to Kota Kinabalu
Spend your last day exploring Danum Valley on foot, up on the canopy walk, or just relaxing. Depart from the lodge in the afternoon, for the two hour drive back to Lahad Datu.

Photography opportunities
As with the previous day, there will be plenty of opportunities to photograph wildlife in the morning during the walks around the lodge.

Fly Lahad Datu to

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

You will be staying at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Depart today for onward flights.

Breakfast included.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Situated within the tropical lowland rainforest of the Danum Valley Conservation Area, Borneo Rainforest Lodge offers 31 timber chalets and a true jungle experience....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Malaysia

Clare Higginson, Travel Expert

Read More

Deborah Brock-Doyle, Travel Expert

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

George Chan

George Chan
George has been a photographer and cameraman for more than 30 years, and was a Producer and Director at the BBC Natural History Unit. He worked on David Attenborough’s State of the Planet, the BBC’s most comprehensive series about conservation. He also worked on the first series of Planet Earth travelling to the Amazon and the Arctic. George made an episode of the BBC’s Wild China, and is an expert on the nature of Asia. He has a PhD in Evolutionary biology and a degree in Zoology from Oxford University.

His career highlights include visiting Easter Island with Sir David Attenborough, finding a mummy in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, seeing the world’s largest butterflies in New Guinea and filming Tibetan Antelope in Central Tibet.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 10

Tour Expert:

George Chan

Departure Date (S):

  • 29th September 2020

Holiday Ideas in Malaysia

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom