Days 1 and 2 - UK to Kota Kinabalu
Fly to Kota Kinabalu via Kuala Lumpur, arriving on day 2. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on the exotic island of Borneo and our base for the next two nights.
Day 3 - Kota Kinabalu
A journey on the North Borneo Railway aboard a vintage British Vulcan steam locomotive takes travellers back to a bygone era when North Borneo was a Crown Colony of Great Britain. We'll take this nostalgic trip to Papar – Sabah's main rice-growing region – on track primarily used for the transportation of tobacco in its heyday. Sit back, relax and enjoy views of traditional villages, grazing buffalo and beautiful countryside interwoven with paddy fields as you are served a tiffin-style lunch on board. Later, you might choose to join our optional sunset cruise, which will introduce you to the sights of Kota Kinabalu from a different perspective. As you sail the South China Sea, passing the islands and water villages that dot Sabah's west coast, take in the scenic beauty from the upper deck whilst enjoying a drink and the sight of the setting sun. On the lower deck you'll then enjoy dinner, accompanied by music from a live band. Back on the upper deck, as night falls, you could sip another glass of wine as you watch the lights twinkling along the shore. .
Day 4 - North Borneo
Today our adventure takes us towards the north of the island, travelling past vast oil palm and coconut plantations en route to Bavanggazo. This traditional village is home to the indigenous Rungus tribe, and several families here live in a traditional wooden longhouse, built on stilts. We'll step inside to experience this communal lifestyle, and we'll also see demonstrations of local crafts including basketry and beadwork. Next we'll call at the villages of Gombizou and Sumangkap, to experience gong-making and bee-keeping. Back at your hotel, enjoy a relaxed evening. Perhaps you'll choose to head out to the night market with your travelling companions.
Day 5 - Kinabalu National Park
Kinabalu National Park is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna native to Borneo, including several hundred species that are found only in the park itself. We'll explore on our included guided nature trek along one of the many trails, and also catch a glimpse of Mount Kinabalu, which is South East Asia's highest peak. After a stop at Poring Hot Springs, where we can take a dip in the soothing waters, perhaps take a thrilling walk more than 40 metres up in the canopy of the Menggaris tree – the 'King of the Forest' – for fantastic views.
Day 6 - Sandakan
Enjoy scenic views of the Kundasang highlands as we travel by road to Sandakan. We'll stop for lunch in a restaurant before we visit Sandakan Memorial Park. This was built in honour of the Prisoners of War who died in the Sandakan Death Marches during the Second World War.
Day 7 - Abai
Borneo is one of two places in the world where the endangered orangutan still lives in the wild, and we'll visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to observe man's closest relative and enjoy a walk in the tropical lowland forest. We'll also head to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to see these endearing animals, also known as honey bears, whose numbers are dwindling due to deforestation and poaching. After lunch, we'll transfer to the jetty in Sandakan, from where we'll cruise up to the Lower Kinabatangan River Sanctuary. This wonderful journey takes us on the Sulu Sea and through magnificent mangrove forests. On arrival in Abai, we'll check in at the Abai Jungle Lodge, where later this afternoon we'll head off on a river cruise to search for wildlife. As the sun begins to set we'll enjoy a cup of coffee on board, and as it gets darker we'll watch fireflies twnkling in the night sky. We'll return to the hotel for dinner, after which we'll set off on another exciting cruise. This time we'll head through the jungle, with an expert nature guide telling us about the sights and sounds we experience.
Day 8 - Abai
Wake up to the wonderful sounds of the rainforest before starting your explorations with a cruise to the Pitas lake to observe wildlife. We'll head back to the hotel for breakfast, after which we're invited to join a tree-planting project with the locals in Abai village, where the villagers will treat us to a simple lunch. Back at the lodge perhaps take time to explore the boardwalk behind the lodge, you may be lucky and spot wild orangutan, silver leaf monkeys and many other types of wildlife. We'll round off the day with further cruise to see what types of wildlife we can spot.
Day 9 - Sukau
During a free morning at the lodge, perhaps join some of your travelling companions and head off to explore your surroundings – stilted paths up to 800 metres long stretch into the forest, and animals often venture quite close. After lunch, our wildlife search continues as we cruise up river to our next destination, Sukau, for an overnight stay. This area was visited by the highly respected naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and his TV crew, who filmed here in 2011. We'll follow in his footsteps as we look for primates, in particular orangutans, as well as pygmy elephants and exotic birds – some of the world's most spectacular species are resident in Borneo.
After checking into our lodge, we'll take to the water again to enjoy wonderful views and search for exotic wildlife.
Day 10 - Sandakan
Today we depart Sukau by boat and make our way back to Sandakan. You can then spend the rest of the day at leisure. This evening we'll gather together to enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 11 - Sandakan to UK
Spend the day at leisure before we transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK via Kuala Lumpur.
Day 12 - UK
You'll arrive back in the UK today.