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School Expedition to Borneo

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A school expedition to Borneo offers your students the opportunity to learn more about traditional tribal life, and to find out more about local wildlife conservation!

You’ll visit Sabaha, a northern state in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo. As well as enjoying the incredible scenery, from the jungle to the breathtaking views from the Tip of Borneo, your group will have the chance to explore local life.

Highlights of the trip will include staying overnight with an indigenous ethnic group, visits to orangutan and sun bear rehabilitation centres, and the chance to visit the majestic Mount Kinabulu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Suggested Itinerary (11 days/9 nights)

Community-Based Project at Kiau Taburi Village

Community-Based Project at Kiau Taburi Village

Immerse yourselves in the life of a rural village at the foot of Mount Kinabulu. You’ll be welcomed into the homes of your host families on arrival to enjoy a traditional lunch.

You’ll then visit a pineapple farm before heading into the jungle, to forage for wild herbs. Before you head back to the village, you’ll pick some locally grown vegetables. Everything you bring back will be used in the traditional dinner served to you in the evening, before you learn a traditional dance.

The following day, you’ll visit the Skull Sanctuary, which is believed to be a remnant of the headhunting era, before bidding farewell to your hosts having enjoyed an authentic experience of Bornean tribal life.

Did you know? Kiau is a Dusun tribal village. The Dusun, along with the closely-related Kadazan, are the largest ethnic group in the state of Sabah.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

The centre was founded in 1964, to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans and is on protected land on the edge of the Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve.

There are currently around 25 orphaned orangutans living at the centre, along with up to 80 adult individuals living freely in the reserve.

The centre’s aim is to rehabilitate orangutans so that they can be released back into the wild. The food provided is monotonous, to encourage them to forage. And youngsters are paired up with older orangutans to learn important skills from them, as they would from their mothers in the wild. Plus, although visitors are invited to see the orangutans, they are not permitted to approach or interact with them, to ensure that they do not become tame.

Did you know? We humans share about 97% of our DNA with orangutans, meaning that they’re one of our closest living relatives. In fact, the word ‘orangutan’ means ‘man of the forest’ in Malay.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Sun bears are only found in Malaysia and are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Their existence is threatened by illegal hunting for the traditional Chinese medicine trade, poaching for the pet trade and forest degradation.

Many sun bears end up captive in poor conditions and the conservation centre provides those that are rescued with a safe and more appropriate environment, with a view to rehabilitating them and, eventually, releasing them back into the wild.

Since the centre opened in 2008 it has rescued 61 bears and released 7 back into the wild. There are currently 43 bears residing at the centre.

Did you know? The sun bear is the smallest species of bear, growing up to 5 feet and weighing up to 150 pounds. Despite its name, the sun bear is nocturnal – it actually gets its name from the crescent of lighter fur on its chest.

Day 1

Morning

N/A

Afternoon

Flight from UK.

Evening

Overnight to Kota Kinabalu.

Day 2

Morning

Arrive in Borneo. 

Afternoon

Transfer to your hostel and check in.

Enjoy an afternoon to relax at your leisure. 

Evening

Take in the sunset on Tanjung Aru Beach.

Day 3

Morning

After breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Kota Kinabalu and its main sights before stopping at Signal Hill for a spectacular view of the city and nearby islands. 

Afternoon

Visit the Mari Mari Cultural Village - visit the traditional houses of five tribes, see demonstrations of past daily life and find out how their descendants are keeping their traditions alive. 

Evening

Enjoy a sumptuous high tea with local delicacies before returning to the accommodation. 

Day 4

Morning

Enjoy some adventure on a Tembara River Tour. 

Enjoy cycling in Serusup before enjoying lunch. 

Afternoon

Kayak to the lagoon and to Kg. Suang Bungan and take a walk along the jetty by the mangrove forest. 

Depart for Tembara jetty and enjoy refreshments on arrival. 

Enjoy a river cruise with crab catching and a beach visit.

Evening

On return to Tembara enjoy a local dinner at the Riverside Café before an evening cruise in the mangrove forest to see the fireflies in action. 

Return to the accommodation. 

Day 5

Morning

After an early breakfast, transfer to Kudat, which is approx. 3 hours' drive through paddy fields and palm plantations. 

Visit a bee farm en route, Sumangkap village, famous for gong making, and Bavanggazo village to see a traditional longhouse, home of the Rungus people.

Afternoon

Enjoy lunch before proceeding to Tanjung Simpang Mengayau or the Tip of Borneo. 

Witness the beautiful views of the South China Sea and Sulu Sea meeting. 

Evening

Return to Kota Kinabalu with the evening at your leisure. 

Day 6

Morning

Enjoy a community-based project at Kiau Taburi village. 

Taking part in these activities puts back into this Dusun tribal community. 

Take the 1.5 hour trek with your local guide to the village where you'll be given lunch by a host family on arrival. 

Afternoon

Visit a pineapple farm before a 2-hour trek to search for wildly grown herbs. 

Gather locally grown vegetables at a nearby farm and cook them in the Dusun Way. 

Try your hand at basket weaving and beading with the villagers.

Evening

Enjoy dinner with a musical bamboo performance and dance. 

Try for yourself the Sumazau dance. 

Overnight at the Kiau Taburi homestay.

Day 7

Morning

After breakfast visit the Skull Sanctuary to see remnants of the headhunting era. 

Say goodbye to your hosts and continue to visit Mount Kinabalu. 

Visit the WWII Memorial Park and the Desa cattle dairy farm. 

Afternoon

Visit Poring hot springs with its special healing properties, as well as its 20m high canopy walkway. 

Transfer overland to Sepilok through oil palm plantations and little villages. 

Evening

On arrival, check in and relax. 

Day 8

Morning

After breakfast, head to the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. 

Join a briefing on this beautiful creature before taking a boardwalk through the lowland forest to see them feeding. 

Continue on to see your next Bornean resident at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Afternoon

Head to Bilit Rainforest Lodge for briefings on the programmes with your local guide. 

Take a cruise along the Kinabatangan River to discover Proboscis monkeys and other wildlife. 

Evening

Return to the lodge at sundown and enjoy a relaxing dinner. 

Day 9

Morning

Early cruise to an ox-bow lake for bird watching. 

Enjoy a short jungle walk before breakfast. 

Spend the rest of the day exploring and enjoying these beautiful surroundings. 

Afternoon

Late afternoon boat cruise for more flora and fauna spotting. 

Evening

Evening meal at the lodge. 

Day 10

Morning

Depart early morning and visit the Gomantong Cave, famed for its edible birds' nests. 

Explore the cave network on its boardwalks. 

Afternoon

Return to Sandakan to take your flight back to Kota Kinabalu. 

Evening

On arrival, transfer to your hotel for an evening at leisure. 

Day 11

Morning

Today is at leisure until your departure. 

Afternoon

Flight back to the UK. 

Evening

N/A

  • tick icon24-hour assistance from Halsbury Travel in the UK
  • tick iconAccommodation for 9 nights with meals as shown
  • tick iconAir-conditioned coach
  • tick iconAirport tax and passenger duty at current rates
  • tick iconComprehensive travel and medical insurance
  • tick iconEnglish-speaking guide
  • tick iconEntrance to visits and attractions as per itinerary
  • tick iconFree staff place ratio 1:10
  • tick iconInternal flights in Borneo
  • tick iconReturn flights from the UK

Educational activities and visits

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Find out about this centre's important work protecting the Sun Bears who are threatened by… Read more

Community-Based Project at Kiau Taburi Village

Community-Based Project at Kiau Taburi Village

Stay with host families and immerse yourselves in rural Bornean life at this tribal… Read more

Gomangtong Cave

Gomangtong Cave

This intricate cave system is most famous for two of its residents – swiftlets and… Read more

Mari Mari Cultural Village

Mari Mari Cultural Village

The Mari Mari Cultural Village offers a fascinating insight into the history of the indige… Read more

Poring Hot Springs

Poring Hot Springs

Stop off at Poring Hot Springs to enjoy the thermal waters that are said to have therapeu… Read more

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Find out about the important work being done by this rehabilitation centre to help orpha… Read more

Accommodation

Bilit Rainforest Lodge
Dock In Hostel
Sepilok Jungle Resort
Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Stay at this world-leading eco lodge on the bank of Sabah’s longest river, the Kinabatangan. There is a huge variety of birdlife to see here, as well as pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, macaques, orangutans and Sumatran rhinos. You’ll stay in air-conditioned chalets with private bathroom facilities.

Dock In Hostel

This modern hostel in Kota Kinabalu offers minimalistic yet chic and comfortable rooms, a 24/7 reception and a great social lounge with computers, charging ports, lockers, printers and big screen TVs. There’s also a great on-site café serving locally grown coffee and locally baked goods.

Sepilok Jungle Resort

This wonderful jungle resort will let your group really get back to nature. Just beyond the resort’s own beautiful landscaped gardens are thousands of acres of tropical rainforest. Most of the rooms are air conditioned, with the rest cooled by fans and there’s a lovely swimming pool to enjoy too.

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Launching your trip

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After your trip

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Need help?

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Very happy with the service again and the trip was very successful. Would not change a thing about it. — Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, September 2018

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