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Exploring Borneo

Sea and Summit

The highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, is a rewarding and manageable climb for anyone who’s reasonably fit. A limited number of permits are issued each day so the well-maintained trail is never over-crowded. Watching the sunrise at 4,095 meters with clouds below you is a spectacular sight and the sense of accomplishment as you sit atop the mountain will stay with you long after your holiday ends.

We’ve combined the trek with a chance to see some of Borneo’s other highlights including orangutans, proboscis monkeys, a turtle hatchery, and the clear blue waters of the South China Sea. For even the fittest hikers, a few days of rest following the climb are a welcome reward so we’ve selected a glorious boutique resort on Gaya Island but can offer a number of other options. One reason we like this choice is that if your knees are too wobbly to descend the hill from your villa to the beach, the staff will happily send the buggy for you!

Please remember this itinerary is here to inspire you as all of our holidays are tailor-made to suit you. We’re happy to add or subtract days or destinations and adjust as you see fit. If you’re interested in going from summit to sea in Borneo, give us a call at UK 020 7112 0019 or email to start planning your holiday.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Sandakan

Today you’ll arrive at Sandakan Airport where your driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. We haven’t scheduled anything for you once you arrive so go for a stroll along the trails or relax in your hammock.


Day 2 - Orangutans & Monkeys

Today your guide will take you to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre to look for semi-wild orang utans during the morning feeding. Stop by the Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn about these small bears. In the afternoon, we’ve planned a visit to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary to see these unique monkeys endemic to Borneo.

Day 3 - Turtle Island

This morning you’ll head across the Sulu Sea to Selingan Island. Grab a mask and snorkel the clear waters as you while away the afternoon at the beach. In the evening, help release baby turtles into the ocean or look for mothers coming ashore to lay eggs.


Day 4 - Kinabalu Park

Your driver will take you to Sandakan airport for a short flight to Kota Kinabalu. There, you’ll be met and taken to Kinabalu Park so you can adjust to the higher altitude. You’re staying the night inside the park so go for a walk on the trails, check out the botanic garden, or look up at the mountain you’re about to climb.


Day 5 - Climb to 3,261 meters

This is day one of your climb up Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia. On average, it’s a 4-6 hour hike to your resting point, 6km from where you start. You’ll gain an altitude of 1,395 meters today so take breaks to acclimatize along the way.

Day 6 - Summit Mount Kinabalu

It’s an early start this morning to reach the summit by sunrise but the reward is worth the effort. Take a moment to bask in the beauty and reflect on your accomplishment. Once you’ve made the trek down to headquarters, you’ll return to Kota Kinabalu and head straight for the jetty to catch your boat to Gaya Island.

Days 7-9 - Soak up the sun and rest your feet

These days are yours to relax by the sea or the pool, snorkel the rich waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, or if your legs are up for it, walk through the jungle. Perhaps it’s time to think about your next holiday to this incredible island.

Day 10 - Bid farewell to Borneo

Having had a taste of Borneo and conquered the sacred Mount Kinabalu, the journey comes to end. Glide across the South China Sea to Kota Kinabalu where a driver will meet your boat and take you to the international airport for your flight homeward. Safe travels!


This itinerary costs from £2,050 per person based on two adults sharing excluding peak seasons of July-August, Christmas and New Year, and Chinese New Year’s. The price includes all transfers and domestic travel but not international flights.

International flights tend to cost between £700 and £900 return – do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £2,050 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Full board on days 3, 5
  • Transfers in an air-conditioned vehicle or by boat as mentioned
  • Local taxes except Malaysia Tourism Tax (only collected locally)
  • Entrance fees
  • All excursions and activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Internal flights
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
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Kota Kinabalu
An easy city to see on foot, Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Sabah. Hop a ferry to the islands, relax by the beach north of the city, tuck into a meal at the night market, and settle into the easy pace of Sabahan life. More
Tip of Borneo
Empty beaches, clear water, and fantastic villas perfect for those looking to get away from it all. The Tip of Borneo is a quiet place for a self-drive holiday from Kota Kinabalu. A longhouse homestay, traditional villages, and a jungle home to proboscis monkeys are easy day visits. Snorkel, dive, kayak, trek, bicycle, or simply sit by the water. More
Mount Kinabalu
The highest mountain in Southeast Asia offers more than an incredible hike. With multiple mountain environments and climate zones, Kinabalu Park hosts more than 300 bird species and 5,000 flowering plants including the large rafflesia. For those up for the challenge, climbing Mount Kinabalu is an unforgettable overnight hike to see the sunrise at 4,095 meters. More
Considered by many one of the top dive sites in the world, Sipadan Island has coral-covered walls dropping well below recreational limits. Sharks, turtles, and schools of fish that number in the thousands are routinely seen by divers and snorkelers. Only 120 visitors are allowed per day so we recommend staying on nearby Mabul and diving its macro-rich waters on your non-Sipadan days. More
Danum Valley
The largest piece of preserved virgin rainforest in Malaysia sits within the Danum Valley Conservation Area. This remote jungle hosts a magnificent array of wildlife from the largest in the region to some of the smallest. Sun bears, orangutans, clouded leopards, wild cattle, Sumatran rhino, horned frogs, flying frogs, flying squirrels, the list goes on. Previously only accessible to researchers, campers, and those with a very high budget, we've found a lodge that gets you close to the action without the hefty price tag. More
Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Bornean gibbons, pygmy elephants, clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys, orangutans, and a few of the nearly extinct Sumatran rhinoceros are protected within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. A stay here will have you trekking to a mud volcano and a waterfall, looking for birds and nocturnal creatures on night walks and drives, and if you're lucky, getting a peek at some of Borneo's incredible wildlife. More
Kinabatangan River
A trip down the Kinabatangan River to Sukau is an almost guaranteed way to see proboscis monkeys in the wild. These unique monkeys are endemic to Borneo and line the protected river corridor. Wild orangutans, pygmy elephants, silver leaf langurs, macaques, crocodiles, kingfishers, hornbills, owls, civets, and an array of other wildlife can be spotted in the region. Fireflies light up near Abai and the Gomantong Caves boast a bat population in the millions. Nearby Sepilok is the home to an Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre and Sun Bear Conservation Centre, both worth a visit. More
The nation of Brunei Darussalam sits between the two states of Malaysian Borneo. Its capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, reveals the country's wealth with lavish mosques, gold towers, and carefully groomed outdoor spaces. People are friendly and when the sun sets the country's name, abode of peace, makes perfect sense. More
Built along the Sarawak River, Kuching makes a lovely base for exploring western Borneo. Architecturally interesting with Malay, Chinese, Indian, Muslim, British, and other influences apparent, the city is pleasant to walk around and easy to navigate. Nearby Bako National Park and Semenggoh Nature Reserve are great places to see wild proboscis monkeys and semi-wild orangutans. Each can be visited on a day trip from Kuching although spending a night in Bako is well worth it. More
Mulu National Park
The caves of Mulu are some of the largest in the world and the only ways to get there are on foot or by plane. This remote rainforest is full of walking trails and caves, the latter of which can only be visited with a guide for safety reasons. For the adventurous, serious trekking options exist and for the comfort-seekers, a lovely little resort sits just outside the National Park. More
Batang Ai
Traditional culture is alive and well in Batang Ai where the Iban people still live in communal longhouses. No longer feared headhunters, the Iban have incorporated touches of modernity into their traditional way of life. Trek through the park in search of wild orangutans, walk through the canopy looking for birds, sit down with an Iban chief to learn about their culture, or just look out over the many waters for which the region is named.
Caves of Niah
With evidence of human habitation dating back more than 40,000 years, the Niah caves are a fascinating and beautiful area that can be explored on a day visit from Miri. See etchings on the wall of Painted Cave, traditional ladders for those collecting the nests of swiftlets, and huge caverns as you walk the boards and visit the small museum.
Maliau Basin
The "lost world" of Sabah, the Maliau Basin is a naturally enclosed basin drained by tributaries of the Maliau River. A multi-day trek in this dense rainforest is a challenging and rewarding way to get up close and personal with an extremely wide array of plants and animals. More

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