Borneo Family Adventure Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

Trip code : FTMFG
Trip length : 12


  • Explore Borneo's wild side with a night at a jungle camp
  • See playful orang-utans at Sepilok
  • Enjoy idyllic beaches in Pulau Tiga National Park

Take the kids on a magical journey to explore the natural wonders of tropical Borneo. Be enchanted by the ancient legends and traditions of Sabah, enjoy a relaxing soak in Poring Hot Springs, make local friends on a village homestay, experience a night in the wild on a jungle camp, get up close to gentle orangutans, explore an incredible underwater world in Pulau Tiga National Park. Round up the family and jump on board this excellent family holiday into the heart of Borneo.



Kota Kinabalu

After your overnight flight, you'll be met on arrival at the airport and taken to your hotel. You will then have some free time to relax and freshen up after your flight, before the welcome meeting in the evening. Details of where and when this will take place will have been left with the hotel's reception.

Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, is an intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea. Having recovered from World War II bombings, 'KK' now possesses a gateway charm that can only be found in a frontier town. If you have enough free time, why not immerse yourself in local history at the Sabah State Museum, visit the Monsopiad Cultural Village (once home to a notorious headhunter), or explore the islands off Kota Kinabalu - excellent for swimming or snorkelling (all at additional charge).

Shangri La Hotel (AAA) - 1 night


Kinabalu NP

Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you'll head for the hills and the beautiful Kinabalu National Park. Arriving in time for lunch you have the afternoon to stretch your legs and take in the mountain views on many of the numerous walking trails - keeping an eye out for birds, snakes and the odd little leech. There is plenty to see and do here. The Mountain Botanic Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the Park has been replanted here.

The afternoon is free for you to relax here. The next day you'll get up early to catch glimpses of this mighty monolith before the cloud rises for the day, before you take a day trip to Poring Hot Springs (approx. 1 hr), where you have time to soak in the famous thermal pools, take in the trails that abound within the reserve, or have a refreshing swim in a nearby waterfall. You can spend time exploring the butterfly farm, the orchid garden, or traverse the canopy walkway (all additional charge) where you can view the jungle as the birds and monkeys do.

Sabah Tea Gardens - Longhouse (A) - 2 nights (Bx2)


Kinabatangan Jungle Camp/Homestay

Today you'll journey by local bus (approx. 5 hrs) to Kinabatangan. Your hosts for the next 2 nights are the local ecological organisation, MESCOT, who's aim is to provide villagers with environmental education and the means of making a living from their forests, without the need for its destruction. Part of the program is to develop an ecologically sound wildlife and ecotourism centre, owned and operated by the villagers themselves.

After you arrive in the afternoon, you head by boat (approx. 30 minutes) into the jungle where you'll stay by the beautiful Oxbow Lake - the best way to experience untamed Borneo. Wild elephants are rarely seen but you will hopefully find crocodiles, macaques, wild orangutan and the freaky looking proboscis monkeys, as hornbills fly in the skies overhead. Be prepared for an adventure!

Your stay in the jungle is in simple huts where sleeping and bathing facilities are basic, with only cold bathing available. You will pack an overnight bag for the jungle camp and leave your main luggage at the MESCOT office.

On the following day you return to a local Malay village where you will be invited into the lives and homes of the local people. This is an amazing privilege and your leader will explain local cultural expectations to ensure that we get the most out of your stay.

Your accommodation tonight is a home stay experience where you'll be split into different homes throughout the village with different families. Accommodation is traditional but simple and you should expect Asian toilets and cold water bucket showers.

Please note that the order of the above days may be occasionally reversed depending on seasonal variations and if the weather is bad, we may not be able to visit the jungle stay.

Out of respect for your Muslim hosts, alcohol is not to be consumed.

Jungle huts (A) - 1nt (BD) & Homestay (A) - 1nt (BLD)


Sepilok Orangutan Reserve

We head to Sepilok, a 2 hour drive by minivan, where you will have some free time to settle in to your guesthouse to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. This afternoon, you will visit the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, where you will have an opportunity to see these famous monkeys – found only on the island of Borneo – feeding with their different family or bachelor groups. If you are lucky we might also see a hornbill or two...

You will visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre - a reserve set up to help re-introduce these wonderful creatures back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. To aid the orangutans adaptation to the wild, a supplementary diet of bananas and milk is laid out on feeding platforms twice a day. From the viewing platform, visitors may watch and photograph these charming creatures as they swing into view on ropes and vines. You are not permitted to hinder the orangutans as human contact must be kept to a minimum.

There is also a short film to watch in the reserve's interpretation centre about the orangutan rehabilitation process.

Your afternoon is free to relax or return to the reserve for the 2nd feeding of the day. There is also the opportunity to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre, a centre for environmental education situated within the famous Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. The 147m long, 28m high steel canopy walkway enables spectacular views of beautiful rainforest giants like the Mengaris tree, there are also 250 species of bird to look out for - experience forest life high in the canopy.

For these 2 nights you will stay in family multishare accommodation with private amenities. The guesthouse is located in Taman Jilil, a local recreation area.

Please note due to limited space on transport to Pulau Tiga tomorrow, you will take overnight bags only, dropping your main luggage off at your mainland accommodation on the way. You will need to pack tonight for your beach trip.

Sepilok Jungle Resort - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2)


Pulau Tiga National Park

Your early morning transfer takes you to Sandakan Airport where you'll catch your flight to Kota Kinabalu (please refer to the 'baggage' information for details on flight luggage restrictions). From here you will drive approximately 2.5 hrs, dropping off your extra luggage on the way, to Kuala Penyu, from where you will travel by speedboat (approx. 30 mins) to your secluded, rustic hideaway on 'Survivor Island'.

Pulau Tiga played host to the first-ever series of 'Survivor' - an American television program that was filmed on the island in 2000. The island is full of mud volcanoes, great jungle walking tracks and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and amazing snorkelling opportunities. The waters surrounding the island are home to over 132 species of fish, as well as sea turtles, whilst the island wildlife consists of proboscis and macaque monkeys, flying foxes, bats and monitor lizards. Keep an eye out for the hornbills overhead on their flight for the day's food.

Arriving in the afternoon we will spend the night on the island. After settling into your accommodation, you can take a walk through the jungle to visit one of the mud pools where we can wallow in the mud like buffaloes, then walk back to the beach for a swim in the sea. Weather permitting, you will take a boat for a trip to Snake Island, home to the yellow-lipped sea krait who use the island as their breeding ground.

Tonight you will stay in very basic family multishare accommodation with private amenities. The resort offers the opportunity to sight the morning hornbills on their flight for the day's food.

Pula Tiga Resort (A) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (BD)


Kota Kinabalu

Today you say goodbye to your patch of paradise and head back to Kuala Penyu and on to our seaside guesthouse on the mainland where you will spend the next two nights. You travel via speedboat (approx. 30 mins) to the mainland where you transfer to a minivan (approx. 2 hrs) to take you to your final destination by the beach.

For the next two nights you have the opportunity to relax in this peaceful beachfront resort. Clean, comfortable twin share bedding with private facilities including air-conditioning, TV, restaurant and pool.

Langkah Syabas Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2,L)


Tour ends

The tour ends for land only passengers. (B)



Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for a fun, informative experience.

  • A number of included activities
  • Tourist class, family-run hotels
  • Various meals included throughout
  • Public & private transportation

This tour is operated by our partners The Adventure Company


Transport - In country flight, private charter vehicle, boat, local bus

Accommodation - Hotel/guesthouse (8nts), Jungle eco-camp (1nts), Homestay (1nt)

Meals - 10 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 3 dinners


Take the kids on a magical journey to explore the natural wonders of tropical Sabah. Learn how orphaned orangutans are rehabilitated back into the wild, swim among colourful fish and spot wildlife in steamy jungles. Along the way, make friends with local villagers, try delicious cuisine and enjoy plenty of time to kick back and relax. Round up the family and jump on board this excellent adventure into the heart of Borneo.


Anyone in good health should be able to go on this trip as there is no real physical difficulty involved, although you will be doing a fair amount of walking in some places and heat and humidity can be tiring. There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air conditioning. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. Triple share accommodation is rare in Borneo, so in these instances fold our beds are commonly used. Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only. Minimum age: 5 years.


This trip is operated by our sister company Intrepid. You may find there are international travellers on the holiday and a varied age range.


For your comfort we recommend you travel as light as possible; many airlines impose a maximum weight limit of 20kg – we advise you to take 10kg as you will be on the move a good deal! For domestic flights using light aircraft the usual weight limit is 15 kg.

One main piece (a soft bag or rucksack, not a hard suitcase).
A daypack (25-30 litres), large enough to carry what you need for the day including camera, water, etc.
Overnight bag for stays such as the jungle camp and Homestay. In this you will need to carry a change of clothes, torch/flashlight, toiletries, warm clothes and any other essentials.

Please note: the maximum luggage allowance for the flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu is 15kg maximum. The Adventure Company will not cover the cost of luggage weights that exceed this amount.

Travel tips

Make sure you take a sunhat for the journey to the longhouse – and trousers you don’t mind getting wet. It’s a great journey, but if river levels are low it could take a little longer than expected and you may need to get into the river to push the boat!

Suggested Reading:
Into the Heart of Borneo – Redmond O’Hanlon
Kalimantaan – C.S. Godshalk
Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo – Birute M. F. Galdikas
The Follow – Linda Spalding
Your Child’s Health Abroad - Matthew Ellis and Jane Wilson-Howarth, (Bradt publications).
Travel with Children – Maureen Wheeler (Lonely Planet

For Younger Readers:
Explorers Wanted! In Deepest Borneo – Simon Chapman
Among the Orangutans: The Birute Galdikas Story – Evelyn Gallardo

Useful phrases:
Thank you (very much).
Terima Kasih.
Do you have vegetarian food available here?
Adakah makanan sayuran/vegetarian disediakan di sini?
The dinner was very nice, thank you.
Teima Kasih, untuk makan malam itu, sedap betul.
I would only like one glass of rice wine, thank you, because it is very strong.
Saya Cuma mahu satu gelas tuak sahaja. Terima Kasih. Sebab ia sangat kuat.
How much does that piece of fruit cost?
Berapa kah harga sebiji buah itu?


Rooming Arrangements

For most trips prices are based on sharing a twin room. Therefore, if you’re a solo traveller you’ll be paired with someone from the group of the same sex, unless you decide to pay a single room supplement. Details of this supplement can be found on the Extensions & Extras tab on our website. Occasionally we use multiple-share or dormitory accommodation – particularly when stating in remote places.

Rooming arrangements – Family trips

If you’re a family of 2 you’ll be accommodated in a twin room. If you’re a family of three you will usually be accommodated in a triple room. If you’re a family of four you’ll probably be accommodated in two twin rooms and we’ll do our best to ensure they’re as near as possible. We cannot always guarantee a triple room. If a triple room is not available, an adult from your family will automatically be roomed with a fellow adult member of the group of the same sex. If you prefer to have a room of your own we can sometimes offer a single room for the entire trip or on selected nights within a trip. However a single room supplement applies, look on the Extensions & Extras tab on our website or ask our Travel Consultants for details.


Local Costs - Malaysia

Approximate costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.
Coffee/tea UK£0.30
Soft drink £0.30
Medium beer £1.60
Local snack lunch £3.00
3-course dinner* £7.00
*reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant.


Visas & Permits - Malaysia

Holders of UK & IRL passports do not require a visa. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of the trip. Nationals of all other countries should contact their local embassy or consulate. Information can also be found at
This information is given in good faith, but may be subject to change without warning. Please note that, where appropriate, obtaining a valid visa is ultimately your responsibility. Please consult a visa agency or the consular authorities 4-6 weeks before departure for the most up-to-date information.


Vaccinations - Malaysia

The following are recommended:
† Hepatitis A † Tetanus † Diphtheria † Malaria † Typhoid †Polio
NB: Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory if arriving from an infected area.

For detailed information and advice concerning vaccinations go
Vaccination requirements change periodically so we advise that you check with your nearest specialist travel clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to get up-to-date information.

International rules for carrying medicines vary. Some countries do not allow certain medicines to be imported, or require official documents, such as a doctor’s letter, to prove drugs have been prescribed by a doctor and obtained legally. It is sensible to contact the relevant embassy or high commission of your destination to check what their drug transportation rules are before you travel.




At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.


Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

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