- Take a sunrise hike to the summit of Mount Batur, a live volcano
- Soak up the wildlife and jungle scenery of Ubud, Bali’s cultural soul
- Learn the secrets of Balinese cuisine in a local cooking class
- Unwind on the powdery white beaches of Gili Air, a tiny coral island and tropical paradise
- Snorkel the coral reef around a World War II shipwreck
- Stay at a unique wellness retreat with tropical pools and yoga classes to restore your soul
Get up close with wild orangutans and meet Malaysia’s endangered sun bears. See monkeys, elephants and more on a river safari before taking to the waters to kayak through the rapids and travel deep into the Borneo rainforest. You’ll also sample city life in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, go caving in Mulu National Park and bed down in remote jungle camps. And then the perfect end to this tropical adventure: feeling the sand between your toes as you witness an epic beach sunset over the sparkling South China Sea.
Brace yourself for our adventure around Borneo, it’s not for the fainthearted. We’ll get up close with endangered wildlife, kayak rainforest rivers and venture into the heart of the jungle in a traditional longboat while searching for wild elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and more. But to really capture the magic of this wild slice of Malaysia we’ll be heading deep into the country’s dense interior jungles and passing through some of the oldest remote rainforests in the world on foot. The temperatures are tropical, the humidity is no joke, and we’ll spend our nights hopping between plush boutique hotels and rugged jungle camps where it’s all about getting back to basics. If you’re looking for a fly and flop vacay this isn’t it, but if you’re ready to tick Borneo’s thrilling junglescape off your bucket list you’ve come to the right place! We’ll begin our 13-day adventure touching down in the dynamic city of Kuching, before heading straight into the jungle for a spot of rainforest kayaking along languid rivers and through adrenaline-pumping rapids. We’ll go seriously off-grid travelling deep into Borneo’s Ulu Ai region, spotting wild orangutans and spending time with the Iban community of Nanga Sumpa, before bedding down in longhouse jungle camps with the sound of the rainforest to lull us to sleep. We’ll test our stamina while caving deep in Mulu National Park, then hop from one side of Borneo to the other, sampling city life in Kota Kinabalu and visiting the sun bear sanctuary in Sandakan. We’ll take to the water for a river safari to spot wild proboscis monkeys, more great apes, shy pygmy elephants and a cacophony of colourful jungle birds, before rounding off the trip with a taste of Bornean beach life and epic sunsets on the edge of the South China Sea. Flashpackers, welcome to the jungle…
- Spot wild orangutans on epic jungle treks through the rainforests of Sarawak and Sabah
- Go seriously ‘off-grid’ travelling along the Ulu Ai and deep into Borneo’s interior regions
- Spot monkeys, pygmy elephants, crocodiles and more on river safari through the Rainforest
- Meet the locals in Nanga Sumpa and get a rare glimpse into traditional Iban life
- Stay in beautiful rainforest retreats and bed down in rugged in jungle camps
- Watch an epic sunset with the sand between your toes at Borneo’s famous Tanjung Aru luxury beach hotel.
- Kayak through the jungle tackling thrilling water rapids and go caving deep in Mulu National Park
- Get up close with rescued sun bears and orangutans at Borneo’s precious wildlife sanctuaries
Day 1: HELLO KUCHING
Touch down in Kuching and spend the day exploring Borneo’s most dynamic city before we head into the rainforest tomorrow. Get your first look at the winding Sungai Sarawak, soak up the bustle and culture of the Capital, and then get to know your fellow Flashpackers over a beer at a local bar.
Step off the plane into the heart of Kuching, the capital city of Malaysia’s Sarawak state, and prepare for an adventure into the wilds of Borneo. No matter what time you arrive there’ll be a private transfer waiting to whisk you from the airport to your boutique hotel steeped in Kuching history—this is your home for the next two nights. If you touch down early start exploring Borneo’s most dynamic city with your fellow Flashpack early birds. Soak up the Capital’s prime location sandwiched between dense jungle and the winding Sarawak River, get your first taste of the bustle of Kuching’s city life, and adjust to the humid tropical heat. Later, meet up with your full Flash Pack gang and get to know each other over beers at a local bar.More +
Day 2: FIRST JUNGLE FORAY
Start the day getting up close with orangutans at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, then prepare for your first foray into the jungle as we kayak along the Semadang river tackling thrilling water rapids, before cooling off with a swim in fresh mountain waters and a riverside picnic.
Rise and shine Flashpackers, it’s your first full day of adventure in Borneo. We’ll kick things off with breakfast at the hotel then travel the short distance from Kuching to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a rehabilitation reserve that’s home to over 20 orphaned or rescued orangutans. See these incredible apes swinging through the rainforest and if you’re lucky, dropping in for a free meal at one of the reserve’s feeding zones. Next, it’s time to buckle up and grab your paddle as we pump up the adrenaline on a 11km river kayak. We’ll drive 30 minutes to the village of Kampung Bangoh for a peaceful start along the Semadang river, this is your chance to savour the beauty of the jungle and dense canopy as you glide along languid waters, before working up a sweat as we tackle the river’s thrilling bursts of energetic Class 1 and Class 2 rapids. We’ll stop at a Bidayuh village along the way where you can cool off with a swim in fresh mountain waters and tuck into a tasty picnic lunch, before we finish our water ride downstream at the village of Kampung Semadang. Once we’re on dry land we’ll head back to the hotel where you’ll have the chance to relax, before heading out for a group dinner at a nearby restaurant in Kuching. You’ll have no doubt worked up quite the appetite so get ready to feast on delicious Malaysian cuisine.More +
Day 3: JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF BORNEO
Prepare to go seriously off-grid as we swap city life in Kuching for the beauty of Borneo’s remote interior region. Kick back as we hit the road to drive four hours to Batang Ai, where we’ll hop aboard a longboat and glide deep into Iban heartland. Bed down in a jungle lodge on the banks of the Delok River, and fall asleep to the sounds of the rainforest’s nightlife.
Flashpackers, prepare to go seriously off-grid. Today we’ll be travelling up river and up country heading into Borneo’s forested interior regions and deep into the heartland of the Iban community, where we’ll spend the next few days exploring the beauty of the Ulu Ai (Ai River), spotting wild orangutans and getting a rare insight into Iban local life. Our journey begins with a four-hour drive from Kuching to Batang Ai. Along the way we’ll stop off to explore the bustle of local bazaars and tuck into lunch at one of the market towns scattered along our route, but this is a great opportunity to kick back with a good book and just enjoy the ride. Once we’ve arrived at Batang Ai we’ll jump aboard a longboat and travel along the river for another 1.5 hours. You’ll want to pack away your book for this part of the journey–however gripping it might be! We’ll glide past incredible views of the rainforest and junglescape, watching the tree-lined river narrow as we get closer to Nanga Sumpa. Here we’ll bed down at an incredible jungle lodge on the banks of the Delok River, which sits alongside a traditional Iban longhouse. The rooms are quad-share, and come with western-style toilets and showers, mosquito nets and fans. We’ll share a dinner of chicken, fish, rice noodles and fresh jungle vegetables, before drifting off to the sounds of the jungle’s nocturnal choir.More +
Day 4: WILD ORANGUTANS & JUNGLE FORAGING
Rise early in Nanga Sumpa and head out to spot wild orangutans in search of their breakfast. Catch a longboat upriver to Lubok Kasai, one of Sarawak’s most incredible beauty spots—you’ll want to keep your camera handy here. Embark on a jungle forage for your evening meal, head deeper into the jungle to spot more great apes, then enjoy a sundowner like no other in the heart of Borneo’s rainforest.
Rise early Flashpackers, today is all about heading deeper into the jungle for a glimpse of wild orangutans. We’ll head out just after dawn and follow a local guide into the thickets of the rainforest to see if we can spot the region’s great apes crossing the canopy to gather fruits, juicy vines or verdant leaves for their breakfast feast. Afterwards, we’ll head back to the lodge, tuck into our own early morning meal and then pack up our gear; it’s time to move on and head further up river to our next jungle camp. We’ll hitch a longboat and ride 30 minutes upstream to Lubok Kasai. After checking in and enjoying a group lunch at one of Sarawak’s most beautiful riverside spots, we’ll follow a jungle expert into the forest where it’s time to forage for your own dinner. From wild ferns and bamboo to ginger shoots, we’ll gather up a crop of fresh jungle delicacies—if you’re a big eater you’d better bring your eagle eyes. Afterwards, we’ll head back into the rainforest in search of more wild orangutans, passing the Lalang River and Enseluai waterfall, perfect for a dip if you’re feeling the jungle heat. Come evening we’ll feast on the rewards of our jungle forage, then enjoy a sundowner like no other in the heart of Borneo’s rainforest. Tonight we’re staying in the heart of jungle. The camp offers western-style toilets rooms separated by partitions and each bed has its own mosquito netting.More +
Day 5: RETURN TO KUCHING
Make the most of your final morning on the Ulu Ai by watching a sunrise from the rainforest and getting another glimpse of the jungle wildlife. Hop aboard a longboat and begin the journey back to Kuching, putting your photography skills to the test as we glide past spectacular views of jungle canopies, lush green forest and winding waterways.
Make the most of your last morning in the depths of inner Borneo with an early morning walk through the jungle, and if you’re lucky another glimpse of wildlife at play in the pinkish morning light. We’ll head back to the jungle lodge and enjoy a final breakfast in Lubok Kasai, before hopping aboard a longboat and beginning our journey back to Kuching. If you’re yet to commit the spectacular beauty of the jungle to pixels, this is your chance to put your photography skills to the test as we glide downstream through the narrow jungle waterways along the Ulu Ai. After three days spent deep in the rainforest, the evening is yours to explore more of Kuching’s city life. We’ll return to our trip’s first boutique hotel, perfectly located for an exploration of Kuching’s diverse eateries and buzzy watering holes. Take an evening stroll along the picturesque esplanade then delve into the city’s tasty Sarawak-style cuisine. To eat like a local try fried tapioca leaves, indigenous dishes like ayam pansuh (seasoned cuts of chicken cooked inside bamboo stalks), or a hearty laksa, rice noodles cooked in a spiced coconut milk and prawn broth.More +
Day 6: WELCOME TO MULU
Today we’re on the move once more. After breakfast catch a local flight northeast from Kuching to Gunung Mulu National Park, a protected expanse of Borneo rainforest. Check in at your park chalet, tread a plank walk across peat swamp and past an ancient tribal burial site, to arrive at the gigantic Deer Cave. Explore the Garden of Eden and capture the immense sight of a bat exodus from the cave come sundown.
Time to pack up Flashpackers, today we’re on the move again. After breakfast at the hotel we’ll head to the airport and grab a local flight from Kuching heading 1.5 hours northeast to the incredible expanse of Gunung Mulu National Park. Flanked by a trio of rugged mountains—the Mulu, Api and Benarat—this World Heritage listed park is a protected slice of dense rainforest, home to thriving mix of huge jungle plants, monkeys, deer, Malayan sun bears, bats and the intriguing hornbill. Check in to your park chalet and set off on a short 3km walk through the rainforest to our first Mulu bucket list site—the Deer Cave. Have your camera handy, along the way we’ll tread a plank walk over acidic peat swamps, pass incredible jungle streams, giant limestone formations and even an ancient burial cave of the Penan tribe. The world’s biggest cave passage, Deer Cave is quite the spectacle with its main chamber climbing 122 metres high and leading onto to Borneo’s Garden of Eden; an area of thriving green plants bathed in sunlight thanks to an opening in the cave’s roof. Afterwards, we’ll head to nearby Lang’s Cave, which although smaller in size boasts impressive stalactites and stalagmites, bats and even cave snakes. As evening draws in we’ll head back to Deer Cave and wait for the spectacular sight of over a million bats all flying from the depths of the cave in a mass exodus for their nightly feeding forays.More +
Day 7: DEEP ADVENTURE CAVING
Today’s the day you get to tick adventure caving off your bucket list. We’ll trek into the rainforest and descend into the depths of one of Mulu’s less-visited caves. Climb, crawl and clamber your way through crevices and along challenging rock formations, before exploring a nearby Penan village. Come evening kick back at your jungle chalet.
Flashpackers, today’s the day you get to tick adventure caving off your bucket list. Our spelunking adventure starts with a short trek back into the rainforest, where we’ll venture deep into one of Mulu’s less-visited voluminous caves. While we won’t abseiling our way into the depths Mission Impossible style, expect to get hands on and mighty grubby as we crawl, climb and squeeze our way through rock formations and crevices, hopping over streams and wading through underground rivers. Mulu’s adventure caves are always challenging, so expect to work up a sweat on this thrilling underground clamber. After an adrenaline-fuelled morning, we’ll head back to our park chalets for a quick lunch and change of clothes, before heading to explore a nearby village that’s home to a community of Sarawak’s indigenous Penan tribe. Afterwards, the evening is yours to kick back and relax. Swot up on your local knowledge at the Mulu Discovery Centre, stock up on souvenirs and local handicrafts at the gallery, or pull up a seat at the cafe’s outdoor patio and enjoy an ice cold beer with an epic view of the jungle at sunset.More +
Day 8: CAVE SWIMMING & KOTA KINABALU
Head up river to explore the dramatic King’s Chamber, climb the stone staircase jutting through the jungle to marvel at Clearwater Cave, then cool off with picnic on the banks of an idyllic swimming spot. Grab a flight to Kota Kinabalu, check in at your boutique hotel then head out to explore the city.
There’s no late start to be had today Flashpackers as we’ve got another jam-packed schedule exploring Borneo and Mulu National Park. Kick off the day by hopping aboard a longboat and heading upstream along the Melinau River to Wind Cave. We’ll pass through the impressive King’s Chamber at the belly of the cave and then it’s time to feel the burn as we face the sheer climb up 250 concrete steps that ascend straight through the rainforest to the entrance of our next stop, Mulu’s Clearwater Cave, which at 107 km is the longest in the whole of Asia. While an underground river runs right through Clearwater swimming isn’t permitted inside the actual cave, but don’t forget your trunks as we’ll head just a little further upstream to an idyllic cave water pool shaded by the giant boughs of overhanging rainforest. Stop here to take a refreshing dip, tuck into a delicious picnic with your fellow Flashpackers and of course, snap a selfie amongst this small slice of paradise. Later we’ll say farewell to Mulu and grab a flight to Borneo’s Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah state. Check in at your boutique hotel, a magnificently restored Colonial building in the city centre, then you’re free to explore Kota Kinabalu’s diverse dining scene and buzzy nightlife.More +
Day 9: JET TO SANDAKAN
Grab a short flight across the northern tip of Borneo and touch down in the city of Sandakan. Visit the serene gardens of the Sandakan Memorial Park, before hopping aboard a boat to the Sukau Rainforest. Take to the river to spot orangutans, monkeys, elephants and crocodiles, then bed down in a luxury jungle lodge.
Rise early Flashpackers, we’ve got another fantastic day ahead of us. First up we’ll head to Kota Kinabalu airport and grab a flight that’ll speed us across the northern tip of Borneo to the city of Sandakan, which sits on the opposite side of Sabah. It’s a short jaunt only taking 45 minutes in the air, but is just enough time for a power nap should you need a little extra shut eye. After touching down we’ll head to the Sandakan Memorial Park, where serene gardens and a small museum pay tribute to Australian and British soldiers held at the city’s prisoner of war camp during World War II. Afterwards, hop on a boat and glide along the Kinabatangan River to a luxury rainforest lodge, our home amongst the wilderness for the next two nights. Once we’re all checked in, take to the river once more for a first river safari along the banks of the Sukau Rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled as the Sukau is one of the best places in all of Borneo to catch a glimpse of orangutans and proboscis monkeys, plus elephants, crocodiles and hornbills. Later, we’ll head back to the lodge for a group dinner, then you’re free to soak in the incredible jungle views.More +
Day 10: RIVER SAFARI & RAINFOREST REPLANTING
Rise early and set off towards the nearby Pitas oxbow lake, a photo opportunity in itself, to watch for over 200 species of colourful birds taking flight through the rainforest. See the impressive work being done to regenerate destroyed orangutan habitats and then set sail on a river safari to spot monkeys, elephants and more.
It’s another early start today Flashpackers as Sukau is teeming with wildlife not to be missed. We’ll kick things off by heading to the nearby Pitas oxbow lake where bird lovers are in for a real treat, you’ll find over 200 different species in this region alone from hawks, heron and hornbills, to colourful kingfisher and the rare oriental darter. After breakfast back at the lodge we’ll head out to a rainforest replanting area to see the impressive work being done to regenerate destroyed orangutan habitats, before setting out for another afternoon of exciting wildlife spotting. You’ll want to keep your camera handy and your fingers poised; from herds of shy pygmy elephants crossing the water, to monkeys and orangutans sitting and swinging high up in the canopy, there’s an animal extravaganza to be seen from our unique river position. Once we’re back at the lodge take to the sun deck to relax on a lounger surrounded by towering jungle trees, enjoy a stroll along the leafy boardwalks, a must for any nature lover, or grab a refreshing sundowner at the jungle restaurant.More +
Day 11: ORANGUTAN SANCTUARY & SUN BEARS
Travel back to Sandakan by boat and get up close with rescued Malaysian sun bears, before visiting the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, your last chance to see these magnificent apes up close in the wild. Grab a flight back to Kota Kinabalu then check in at your beachfront hotel overlooking the sparkling South China Sea.
Enjoy a slightly later start this morning, unless of course you want to catch one last chance to watch a hot pink sunrise from the deck of our rainforest lodge—a golden ‘no filter’ selfie opportunity if we’ve ever seen one. Travel back along the Kinabatangan River and return to Sandakan, where we’ll browse the colourful local markets then check in at the MY Nature Resort, a spread of luxury eco-chalets nestled next to the Sepilok forest reserve, one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world. After lunch we’ll head to the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, just a short drive away and home to 44 rescued Malayan sun bears—the world’s smallest bear and a species under threat from poaching and deforestation. Next up is the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, your last chance to see these magnificent apes up close in the wild. The centre’s reserve is thought to now be home to over 200 wild orangutans, with several being regulars at the feeding platform; an ideal place to get one more snap (or a 100) of these supersized locals. Later, we’ll grab a short flight from Sandakan airport and touch down just 45 minutes later in Kota Kinabalu, where we’ll check in at our beachfront hotel overlooking the sands of Tanjung Aru and the sparkling South China Sea.More +
Day 12: KICK BACK IN TANJUNG ARU & BEERS AT SUNSET
It’s your penultimate day in Borneo and after a jam-packed schedule of rainforest exploration, river safaris, orangutan spotting and adventure caving, today is yours to spend as you wish. Kick back on the golden sands, lounge in the infinity pool or hit the spa. For those with itchy feet there’s snorkelling, water sports or boat trips to be booked, before our final Flash Pack dinner and beers and sunset.
Flashpackers, it’s your penultimate day in Borneo and after a non-stop schedule of rainforest exploration, river safaris, wild orangutan spotting and adventure caving, it’s time to slow down the pace. Our hotel is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy Borneo’s beach life. Pull up a lounger and rest your well-travelled body overlooking the golden sands, find respite from the heat in the hotel’s outdoor infinity pool, or book yourself into the spa for a little end of trip pampering. If you’ve got itchy feet the resort’s marina offers an impressive menu of water sports, ocean kayaking and diving classes, or jump aboard the shuttle boat to explore and snorkel the clear blue waters of nearby islands and the corals of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Come evening we’ll regroup at the Sunset Bar to toast an epic adventure with cocktails as the sun goes down—the golden-hued sunsets are one of Tanjung Aru’s biggest selling points,so make sure you’ve got a front row seat. Then enjoy one last group feast at the al fresco Coco-Joe’s Bar and Grill. Expect delicious fresh seafood, grilled meats marinated in tasty Malaysian sauces, Asian barbecue skewers, nasi lemak (Borneo’s take on coconut rice) and an ice cold beer to wash it all down.More +
Day 13: WAVE GOODBYE TO BORNEO
The time has come to bid your Flashpackers farewell (until the next time) and say goodbye to Borneo.
It’s over to you to organise your taxi to the airport and depart at your leisure. Wherever you’re headed to next, you’ll be sure to have made memories you’ll never forget. We’ve kayaked along the rapids of the Semadang river, travelled deep into Iban heartland in search of wild orangutans, and bedded down in jungle camps and rainforest lodges. You’ve sipped sundowners under the jungle canopy, hitched a longboat along the Ulu Ali and travelled deep into Mulu National Park. You’ve marvelled at over a million bats streaming from Deer Cave at feeding hour, spotted monkeys, sun bears, elephants, apes, wild birds and more deep in the jungle, watched an epic sunset with the sand between your toes at Tanjung Aru, and successfully conquered an adventure cave. We’d call that a bucket list adventure done well!More +
Fly into: Kuching International Airport (try to arrive before 2pm)
Fly out of: Kota Kinabalu International Airport
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh.
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