Iban women in traditional dress (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 12 March

In the know Borneo: 7 trips that reveal a surprising side of Asia’s wildlife wonderland

Add an exciting twist to your trip to Borneo – maybe a vast cave system, one of the world’s rarest leopards, or an epic jungle railway journey. Come to see the orangutans, but experience so much more

1: Welcome to the Borneo underground

Exploring a cave in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Exploring a cave in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Discover another side of Borneo as you head underground and explore the cave systems of Mulu National Park with The Great Projects.

This three-day tour plunges you deep into a part of Borneo that is often forgotten and under-appreciated. You’ll visit four different cave passages, trek through jungle and peat swamps, and swim in the crystal waters of the Clearwater Cave. Finally, you’ll visit the Batu Bungan Penan Settlement and experience tribal lifestyle firsthand.

From glistening stalactites and picture-perfect waterfalls to a traditional tribal feast and dance, this is a journey jam-packed with incredible sights. 

Trip: Mulu National Park

Who: The Great Projects

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 3 days

How much: From £266 (exc. flights)

2: Let an insider show you Borneo

Kelabit women at work (Dreamstime)

Kelabit women at work (Dreamstime)

Get under the skin of Borneo and gain a real insight into local life on this unique journey through the country’s lesser-known corners with Selective Asia.

It’s a journey that will see you uncovering signs of ancient life in the caves of Niah National Park, trekking into the remote Kelabit Highlands where traditional life continues much as it has for generations, and conquering the summit of Borneo’s highest peak – Mount Kinabalu.

Your adventure concludes on Gaya Island, a beautiful nature reserve just off the Kota Kinabalu coast, surrounded by pristine beaches and thriving reefs.

Trip: An Insider’s Borneo

Who: Selective Asia

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1,879

3: Encounter Borneo’s rarest mammals

A slow loris (Dreamstime)

A slow loris (Dreamstime)

Meet Borneo’s wildlife superstars as well as some of its more elusive species on this journey in search of the island’s rarest mammals with Wildlife Worldwide.

Starting in Sepilok, you’ll visit the world-renowned orangutan rehabilitation centre before moving on to the Kinabatangan River, home to proboscis monkeys, silvery langurs, and Asian elephants. Then, the highlight of your trip: a seven-night stay in Deramakot Forest Reserve, where Borneo's rarest mammals can be found. Expect binturong, marbled cat, slow loris and Malay sun bear, as well as the rarest of all, the Sunda clouded leopard. Despite being elusive and endangered, these cats are seen regularly in this reserve.

Trip: Borneo’s Rare Mammals

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Apr, Aug & Oct departures

How long: 12 days

How much: From £2,395 (exc. flights)

4: All aboard the world’s wildest railway journey

Steam train on the North Borneo Railway (Regent Holidays)

Steam train on the North Borneo Railway (Regent Holidays)

Explore the wonders of Sabah, by 'planes, trains and automobiles’ – and the odd boat trip as well – on this wildlife adventure with Regent Holidays.

First, you’ll ride an ancient steam train through the lush Sabah countryside, passing fertile paddy fields and small villages. Next, you’ll jump into a 4WD vehicle and head to Kinabalu Park, splashing through rivers and tackling gravel roads passing the roaring Kiulu River. After taking a dip in the soothing Poring Hot Springs, you’ll head into the treetops to discover jungle life on the canopy walkway. 

Finally, you’ll cruise the wildlife-rich Kinabatangan River, with an eagle-eyed river guide onboard to point out families of proboscis monkeys, graceful hornbills, herds of pygmy elephants, and (hopefully!) wild orangutans.

Trip: Borneo 4WD & Wildlife Adventure

Who: Regent Holidays

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,995 (inc. flights)

5: Join the tribe on a longhouse homestay

Longhouse in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Longhouse in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Experience traditional life in Borneo on this longhouse homestay with the famous Iban tribe, organised by The Great Projects.

Once fearsome headhunters, the Iban have adopted a peaceful agrarian lifestyle, existing in harmony with the jungle that surrounds them and the amazing wildlife that lives here too. You will be welcomed into the local longhouse, the traditional dwelling of the Iban, then trek along jungle trails with a local as your guide, and take a boat trip to Enseluai Waterfall to learn the Iban skill of net fishing.

This is a unique opportunity to experience a way of life that is disappearing fast, and gain an understanding of a culture that complements the environment rather than destroying it.

Trip: The Great Iban Longhouse Experience

Who: The Great Project

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 3 days

How much: From £395 (exc. flights)

6: Conquer Kinabalu

Trekking on Mount Kinabalu (Regent Holidays)

Trekking on Mount Kinabalu (Regent Holidays)

Climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, on this adventurous walking and wildlife holiday with Regent Holidays.

The initial focus is on wildlife, with a cruise along the Kinabatangan River in search of proboscis monkeys, macaques, crocodiles and a huge array of birdlife. Next, you’ll meet orangutans at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, witnessing the amazing work being done to save this incredible ape.

Next comes the hard work. You'll head to the World Heritage Site of Kinabalu Park, trek through the rich flora and fauna of the park, and spend a night in a mountain hut before rising early to complete the ascent. Your reward? A stunning panoramic sunrise view and a real sense of achievement.

Trip: Borneo Mount Kinabalu Climb Holiday

Who: Regent Holidays

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: £2,895 (inc. flights)

7: Get a taste of the real Borneo

Baby orangutan and mother (Dreamstime)

Baby orangutan and mother (Dreamstime)

Enjoy the best of Borneo’s culture, nature and wildlife on this revealing tour of the island’s highlights with TravelLocal.

After exploring Kuching, Sarawak's vibrant capital which is obsessed with cats, you’ll visit Sabah's coastal city of Kota Kinabalu, then learn about ancient traditions of the indigenous Iban tribes deep in the Borneo jungle. You’ll stay amongst rare and exotic flora and fauna in Kinabalu National Park and visit the Sepilok Orangutan Centre in Sandakan, getting up close to the country's most famous primate. You may even get the chance to see one in the wild, on a nature cruise along the mighty Kinabatangan river.

Trip: A Taste of Borneo

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 6 days

How much: £930 (exc. flights)