Day 1 Kota Kinabalu
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city located between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having survived WWII bombings, KK (as it's commonly known) has a charm unique to the frontier town. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5 pm at your hotel. Here you will meet your leader and fellow family travellers. Following the meeting, perhaps head out with your fellow families to the waterfront market. Here you’ll find smoky stalls serving up grilled meat and fish and heaps of local delicacies. If you arrive with significant time before the welcome meeting, you can immerse yourself in history at the Sabah State Museum or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu which are excellent for swimming or snorkelling.
Day 2 Kinabalu National Park
Head for the beautiful Kinabalu National Park. Stretch your legs and take in the mountain views on any of the numerous walking trails. As you walk along, keep a close eye on the sky and on the trees, as there are many exotic birds to spot – the mountain serpent-eagle, Dulit frogmouth and bare-headed laughing thrushes among them. It's also important to keep an eye on the ground for snakes, and you might encounter a leech or two. There's plenty to see and do in this World Heritage-listed park. The Botanical Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, and flora from all over the park has been replanted here. The walk in the park takes about one hour. From here we head to the Poring Hot Springs with a scenic canopy walk and a quick dip in the springs themselves. Tonight you will spend the night in a reconstructed longhouse on the tea plantation. Rooms are twin/triple-share and have fans and shared bathrooms.
Day 3 Kinabatangan River
This morning we visit a Sabah Tea Factory and learn the process of tea leaves before saying goodbye to the mountain and heading into the jungle. Travel by private bus to Batu Puteh, a small village on the banks of the Kinabatangan River (approximately 5 hours). Your hosts for the night are the local community-run conservation organization KOPEL whose aim is to provide villagers with the means of making a sustainable living from the forest. KOPEL are responsible for a reforestation project in which the community are actively involved in growing seedlings and replanting back degraded forested areas. Arrive in the afternoon meet your hosts and learn a little more about KOPELs work, before jumping in a boat and heading upriver to your accommodation in the jungle (approximately 30 minutes). This afternoon, you’ll head out on a sunset cruise up the river in search of wildlife, including macaques, wild orangutan and proboscis monkeys. Be prepared for an adventure! Return to your jungle camp by an oxbow lake, freshen up for dinner and afterwards, let the cicadas sing you to sleep.
Day 4 Kinabatangan River
Wake up to the sounds of the jungle ready for a busy day. After breakfast you’ll head upriver to the village where you take a walk around the village to learn more about the life of the local people. For lunch, it’s all hands-on deck as you partake in a fun traditional cooking class, eating the fruits of your labour for lunch! The afternoon is free to relax, enjoy some boardgames or keep spotting some wildlife. Before heading back on the boat for some more wildlife spotting. After dinner tonight, you’ll don headtorches and head out into the jungle for a night walk in search of insects and nocturnal animals. See what happens to the jungle at night, and what creatures come out to play!
Day 5 Sandakan
Say goodbye to the Eco Camp and take a drive to Sandakan. Arrive in the busy city and notice the strong Cantonese influence, seen in the lively harbourside market, the many Chinese temples and the local cuisine. Here there is free time to catch up on your essentials, like laundry and banking, as well as to explore the city. Otherwise, just spend some time relaxing by the pool!
Day 6 Sandakan/Sepilok
Today is an exciting day and a favourite with the kids – here come the orangutans! It’s a 45-minute drive by minibus to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The centre was set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. From the viewing platform, you can see these charming creatures as they swing into view and eat a supplementary diet of bananas and milk, laid out for them twice a day. Human contact must be kept to a minimum and it's essential that you follow the instructions of the park, as directed by your leader, but you are free to snap plenty of photographs. You will also have the privilege of viewing a nursery where you can view young orangutans as they learn how to climb on a specially constructed jungle gym. The viewing area is behind one-way glass so as not to disturb the animals. If you simply can’t get enough of Borneo’s incredible wildlife, you can choose to visit glossy-coated sun bears today at a recently opened conservation centre, where they have been rescued from mistreatment are cared for. Otherwise, those who have fallen in love with the bulbous noses of the proboscis monkeys can visit a sanctuary dedicated to helping these endangered creatures.
Day 7 Turtle Island
Leave your large bags at the hotel and transfer to a nearby jetty, then board a speedboat bound for Turtle Island. Travel past small fishing villages and bamboo fish traps, arriving at Turtle Island Marine Park after about an hour. The rest of the day is free for you to soak up the island life. Relax on the beach and take a swim or perhaps hire some snorkelling gear and investigate the underwater world. Under the cover of darkness, watch as giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight. Witness the island researchers release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It's a moving experience that is bound to be rewarding for you and your family, but please be aware that this is a very delicate environment and you must follow instructions from your leader and the local rangers to ensure minimal impact on the turtles. Spend the night on this beautiful island – even though the accommodation is quite basic, this will be a memorable experience.
Day 8 Beringgis Beach Resort
Today you will transfer to Sandakan airport and fly to Kota Kinabalu (approximately 1 hour). Keep in mind that the luggage allowance for this flight is only 15 kg, and any excess baggage may incur a further charge. Then drive to the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu to our seaside resort on Beringgis Beach. Take the opportunity to relax, have a swim, enjoy a drink and enjoy the sunset.
Day 9 Beringgis Beach Resort
After breakfast, head out to Dinawan Island. The island is surrounded by reefs and sandbanks, and has pristine beaches, crystal clear water and unexplored forests to discover. You’ll have the full day to experience this slice of beauty, and the best thing is, it’s up to you what you do! Lunch will be included during the day and you’ll all get access to snorkelling equipment. Later in the evening, arrive back to your beach resort for a relaxing night.
Day 10 Kota Kinabalu
Bid farewell to your patch of paradise and head back to Kota Kinabalu. We visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village in the morning and learn about the cultural history and tradition of Borneo’s various indigenous ethnic groups. In the evening, take the opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink and look back on the week's adventures with your family and fellow travellers for your final night.
Day 11 Kota Kinabalu
With no activities planned for today, you and your family are free to depart the accommodation at any time following check-out.