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Birds and wildlife Itinerary

Day 1

You will be collected from Kota Kinabalu  airport and transported to a hotel, where we will spend one night.

Days 2-4

Three days will be devoted  visiting the Mount Kinabalu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. The park has a wide range of habitats, from rich tropical lowland rainforest to mountain and sub-alpine forests and scrub vegetation on the higher elevations.  With Mount Kinabalu (4,095) dominating the landscape, the park offers one of the finest birding in Malaysia.   

Here, the temperature is much cooler and a stroll along the network of tracks should produce a selection of Borneo’s specialities, ranging from such spectacular species as Whitehead’s Trogon and Whitehead’s Broadbill to the highly localized Friendly Bush Warbler.   Other equally fabulous birds might include Chestnut-capped, Bare-headed and Sunda, Laughingthrushes, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Mountain Leaf and Yellow-breasted Warblers, White-throated Fantail, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongos, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Bornean Treepie, Grey-throated Minivet, Short-tailed Green Magpie, Mountain Wren-Babbler, Black-sided Flowerpecker, Bornean Whistling-Thrush, Bornean Whistler, Sunda Cuckoo-shrike, Mountain Serpent-Eagle, Mountain Tailorbird, Sunda Bush-Warbler, Eye-browed Flycatcher and many more.   

At a slightly lower altitude, we will encounter a different range of birds, including Banded Kingfisher, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker,  Short-tailed Babbler, Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher, Rufus Woodpecker or Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter.

Apart from fabulous birding, the park is also home to 90 species of mammals and we will be on a look out for species such as Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel, Bornean Black-banded Squirrel, Bornean Mountain Ground Squirrel, Jentint’s and Brooke’s

Squirrel, Lesser Gymnure, Mountain, Smooth-tailed Treeshrew and many more.

The Kinabalu National Park has also been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is home to over 5000 species of vascular plants.  Orchids, of which 1,200 have been described in the park, and carnivorous pitcher plants are amongst the park's most famous plants.  Nepenthes raja, a giant pitcher plant whose bell can hold more than three litres of water, is one of most attractive and endemic to the park. 

In the adjacent Crocker Range National Park, at a slightly lower altitude than Mount Kinabalu, we will have a good chance to see another floral rarity, the Rafflesia.  With a diameter of up to one metre and a weight of up to 9 kg, Rafflesia produces the largest flower in the world but blooms exceptionally rarely and then only for a few days.  The plant though emits a foul smell, reminiscent of rotting meat, so our encounter with it, will be quick!  We have a good chance to see Raflessia in the wild, but we will also visit the Rafflesia Centre. Here, birding is also good and we should be able to encounter Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Mountain and Gold-whiskered Barbets, Ruddy and Little Cuckoo-doves, Bornean Leafbird, Bornean and Cinereous Bulbuls and Temminck’s Sunbird.

Brightly coloured butterflies, including huge birdwings, are another distinctive feature of this extremely diverse park.

Day 5

The morning will de devoted to some birding, but by noon, we will undertake a 4-hour journey eastwards towards Sepilok. 

In late afternoon, we will check in at our tranquil chalets in Sepilok, set amongst the tropical vegetation, huge trees and spectacular display of orchids.  From your private veranda you will be able to enjoy a beautiful view over the surrounding jungle or the lake.  The resort is within walking distance of the world-famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, precious home of the last wild Orang-Utans of Northern Borneo. 

After dinner, we will undertake a walk in search of nocturnal wildlife, which might include Slow Loris, Bornean Tarsier, Lesser Mouse Deer or Malay Civet.  Insects abound here and will serenade us late into the night.

Day 6

We will spend the morning visiting the Rainforest Discovery Centre set in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.  The main attraction here is an impressive canopy walkway, a steel structure 28 m above the ground offering an expansive view over the surrounding forest.  It is the first of its kind in Malaysia and one of only a few such structures in the world.  The forest is dotted with three viewing towers, two of which are connected by the walkway and form a vantage point for excellent birdwatching.   The rarest of birds, Bornean Bristlehead, finds its home here and we have a good chance to see it, together with a great array of hornbills, kingfishers, broadbills and pittas.  Those might include Red-naped, Diard’s, Scarlet – rumped and Cinammon-rumped Trogans, Hooded, Black-crowned and Blue-headed Pittas, Rufous-collared, Banded and Rufous-backed Kingfishers, to name but a few.  There will be good opportunities to see some raptors here and these might include Crested Serpent Eagle, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle or the Oriental Honey Buzzard.   A Spotted Flying Squirrel, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Mouse Deer, tarsiers, large geckos and a variety of insects are all abundant here and will keep us entertained.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

In the afternoon, we will undertake a boat ride to our award winning lodge situated on the banks of Borneo’s most important waterway, the Kinabatangan River.

Days 7-8

The location of our lodge is superb and offers rare comfort in the middle of the Borneo rainforest.  Dinners out on the deck overlooking the river are really special.  But perhaps most memorable will be the boat cruises undertaken in the morning, afternoon and evening in search of wildlife.  It is a peaceful and relaxing way to watch birds and animals lurking by the water or swinging through the trees.  There is so much to look for here that we will devote two full days to explore this fascinating area.

The forest around the lodge is teaming with birds and perhaps the most notable might include Lesser Fish-Eagle, Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Hooded Pitta, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Oriental Bay Owl and many species of woodpeckers, and hornbills.  

It’s one of the best places in Borneo for primates and we will be astounded by good views of large troops of Proboscis Monkey, critically endangered Orang-utans, Maroon Leaf-Monkeys, Bornean Gibbons, Long-tailed Macaques and the iconic Pygmy Elephants, all in their natural environment.   

In one afternoon, we will travel to Gomantong Cave, a huge limestone cavern and home to two million Wrinkle-lipped Bats and smaller number of other bat species.  We will walk through the cave on a boardwalk to witness this amazing sight.  Later in a day, a staggering numbers of both Edible-nest and Black-nest Swiftlets emerge and are often pursued by Bat Hawk, Jerdon’s Baza, Peregrine Falcon or Brahminy Kite.  A spectacle not to be missed!

Day 9

Today, after some morning birding on our doorstep, we will travel to the famous Danum Valley, which encompasses one of the most important nature reserves in Asia.

We’ll spend the next three nights at one of the most delightful lodges in Asia, where you will awake to calls to the Borneo Gibbons and plethora of chattering birds.

Days 10-11

Our lodge is located in the heart of one of the most richest and undisturbed rainforest in the world, where wildlife abounds and great birding opportunities are right on our doorstep. This pristine habitat is home to more than 340 species of birds, 124 species of mammals, 72 species of reptiles, 56 species of amphibians and a staggering 200 species of plants per hectare.

In search of this amazing wildlife we will undertake walks and wildlife drives.  Our chances of spotting some of the most sought after species will be enhanced by taking a stunning tree top walkaway suspended 40 metres above the ground, offering a very rare opportunity inside the rainforest canopy.

The bird list here should include species such as Crested Fireback, Great Argus, Pink-necked and Thick-billed Green-Pigeons, Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Diard’s and Red-naped Trogons, Crested Jay, Black-backed Dwarf and Rufous-collared Kingfishers,  Long-billed Spiderhunter, Rufous Piculet, Bornean Black Magpie, Green Broadbill, Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, five species of malkoha, and many species of barbets and woodpeckers.  Pittas are notoriously difficult to see, but here we should add to our list two of the most beautiful members of this family, Blue-headed Pitta and Black-and-crimson Pitta.

The chances of seeing wild troops of primates, including gibbons or Orang-utans, are good here and we will be unlucky not to encounter them during our three-night stay here.

Pre-dinner walks or spotlighting drives will introduce us to the whole array of nocturnal animals and these might range from small amphibians such as Harlequin Tree Frog, Fire-eared Frog or Bornean Angle-headed Dragon to the much bigger Buffy Fish-Owl, Malay Colugo, Banded Linsang, Bearded Pig, Malay Civet or Lesser Indo-Malayan Chevrotain.

Day 12

After some early morning birding on our doorstep, where there is always a chance to see something exciting or rare, we will depart for Lahard Datu to undertake an hour flight to Kota Kinabalu and then an onward flight to the UK. 

For more pictures of the trip please visit the Gallery.

Trip report  2015

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Canopy walk in borneo

Banded Pitta in Borneo

Scarlet-rumped Trogon in Borneo

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Rufous-backed Kingfisher in Borneo

Ruddy Kingfisher in Borneo

Black-and-crimson Pitta

Oriental Pratincole in Borneo

Blue-throated Bee-eater


Red Leaf Monkey

Long-tailed Monkey

Proboscis Monkey in Borneo

Black-bearded Frying Dragon Draco melanopogon

Rafflesia pricei

Harlequin Tree Frog in Borneo