Borneo In-Depth (3 weeks)

This itinerary includes both Sabah and Sarawak and allows you to travel at a relaxed pace, gaining an in-depth experience of the island with time on the beach. As with our two-week suggested itinerary, you explore with a driver guide and an itinerary similar to this one can be adapted for children of all ages.


  Spot proboscis monkeys in Bako
  Caves and canopy walk at Mulu
  Visit two orangutan sanctuaries
  Learn about head-hunter culture
  Spot turtles on Selingan Island

21 days from £2,500 pp

Plus international flights from £800

A three-week holiday in Borneo for a family of four usually costs £10,000 – £15,000 plus flights depending on the type of accommodation used.

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Borneo In-Depth (3 weeks) day-to-day itinerary

Day 1 Kuching
Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by a Stubborn Mule Travel representative and taken to your hotel on the beach. The rest of the day is free for you to relax.

Day 2 Bako National Park
After breakfast you depart for Bako National Park, the smallest but oldest of Sarawak’s national parks. It is located on the coast in a particularly picturesque area of lush mangroves, thick jungle, secluded beaches and sharp rocky outcrops and is home to a wide variety of wildlife including monitor lizards, wild boar and the rare proboscis monkey. You will also see the insectivorous pitcher plant.

During the day you can explore the park by boat and on foot. 

Day 3 Damai
Take a small boat into the Damai River estuary to look for the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. Although sightings are not guaranteed, the beautiful mangrove forests, shallow coastal waters and river estuaries are one of the best places in Sarawak for sightings.

Later visit the Sarawak Cultural Village before taking an afternoon river cruise in search of proboscis monkeys. As the sun sets, fireflies will begin to dance over the river.

Day 4 Damai – Semenggoh – Batang Ai Longhouse
Visit the Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary. This is the biggest rehabilitation centre in Sarawak and is home to many injured or orphaned orangutans as well as those that have been confiscated from owners keeping them as pets.

The orangutans are fed between 9am and 10am so you will arrive in time to witness this from the viewing platform. Please note that the animals roam wild within the reserve, which is quite extensive, so although you are extremely likely to see orangutans at feeding time, this cannot be guaranteed. Many of the more confident animals are able to forage for themselves in the forest and do not relying on the feeding.

From here you will continue en route to your overnight stay in an Iban Longhouse. The journey is partly by vehicle and partly by boat. When you arrive your guide will take you for a tour of the longhouse and the surrounding village. This evening there is a performance by the local villagers of their traditional war dance. Although this is performed for tourists we find that children are fascinated by this experience.

Overnight in very simple longhouse accommodation.

Day 5 Batang Ai
You spend the morning learning about the head-hunter culture of Sarawak. The children will enjoy learning how to use the blowpipe, the traditional head-hunter weapon. You have lunch on the riverside before travelling to Kuching.

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Day 6 Kuching – Mulu
After breakfast take a short flight to Mulu National Park. This vast national park is a World Heritage Area and undoubtedly one of the highlights of Borneo. It is home to ancient tropical rainforest, huge limestone cave systems, strange rocky pinnacles, cascading crystal-clear rivers and deep gorges. The views throughout are absolutely spectacular.

In the afternoon you head to the Deer Cave, the longest cave passage in the world, and follow a trail through the cave. Overhead you will catch a glimpse of more than 3 million wrinkle lipped bats that make the cave their home. As the dusk settles, the bats all fly out of the cave in search of water and food, an impressive spectacle to watch.

You will also see Lang’s Cave, a smaller but beautiful cave where the bats are closer and you will be able to see them clearly. 

Day 7 Mulu – Hike
In the morning take a longtail boat to the source of the Clearwater River and visit the Cave of Winds with its slender stalagmites and stalactites. You will have a picnic lunch and there is also the chance to swim in the river as it exits the cave.

After lunch you take a boat to Long Lutut to start your 8km hike through the jungle. The trail is fairly flat and goes through thick forest and across a couple of rivers on traditional rope bridges. You will spend the night in a basic camp in a stunning location right in the heart of the jungle, by the Melinau River gorge. When you arrive you can take a cooling dip in the river.

Day 8 Mulu – Kinabalu Homestay
This morning you retrace your footsteps back to Mulu and board a flight to Kota Kinabalu. From here head into the foothills of Mount Kinabalu to a small village homestay. Accessed via a bumpy track, the village is not visited by many tourists and will give the children a unique insight into the way of life in rural Borneo.

The accommodation is simple (although very clean) but the village is in the most stunning location with incredible views towards the mountains. There is a river running through the valley just below the village where you can swim, have a picnic and clamber over the boulders. There are also the most wonderful walks in the valley of varying durations, including a two hour walk (each way) to a waterfall where you can take an ‘open air shower’ in the pool at the base of the falls

You can join your host family to help with the cooking, perhaps making spring rolls with the children, and can also learn how to make animal traps or head into the fields to see how to tap rubber or plant rice depending on the season.

Day 9 Kinabalu Homestay
A full day at the homestay to explore, go hiking, have a picnic at the river, swim and generally enjoy life in the village.

You spend a second night at the homestay.

Day 10 Kinabalu National Park – Tea Plantation
Drive to Kinabalu National Park where you will follow the botanical trail through the lowland rainforest of the park. There is an abundance of wildlife around so keep your eyes peeled for deer, snakes and birds as well as the insectivorous pitcher plants. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are stunning views towards Mount Kinabalu.

In the afternoon you visit Poring hot springs where hot sulphurous water has been channelled into several tiled pools and tubs. Whilst the area can get busy, a soak in one of the tubs is good fun if you can put up with the smell!

Day 11 Sabah Tea Plantation
The tea plantation is in the most beautiful area. This morning you can take a tour of the colonial-era tea factory. You can then spend the day exploring the surrounding countryside, perhaps taking a hike up picturesque Kamunsu Hill, walking through the tea plantations to a nearby river where you can swim and also learning basic jungle survival skills.

Day 12 Sabah Tea Plantation – Bilit
Today you drive through rural Borneo to Bilit on the east coast of Sabah. The drive takes around 4-5 hours but you can stop along the way to stretch your legs.

You spend two nights in a wonderful rainforest lodge on the edge of the Kinabatangan River, in the heart of one of the richest eco-systems on the planet. In the afternoon you will start to explore the jungle on foot and by boat.

Day 13 Bilit
Take a boat to the Ox-bow lake (a crescent shaped lake that lies alongside the river) to look for the animals that come to the banks to drink. Both pygmy elephants and wild orangutans are frequently seen in this area. In the afternoon you take a river cruise along the Kinabatangan River and will be able to see proboscis monkeys playing in the trees on each side of the river as well as kingfishers, hornbills and a wide variety of other birds.

Day 14 Sepilok
After breakfast drive to Sepilok where you visit the Sepilok orangutan sanctuary. This is a world-renowned centre for rehabilitating orangutans that have been rescued from captivity or displaced by logging activities. The animals are kept here for up to seven years until they are fit for release back into their natural habitat. The children will be entranced watching the baby orangutans swing on the climbing frame and munch their way through a bunch of bananas.

In the afternoon visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Here you follow nature trails through the reserve and can walk along a 147m walkway through the forest canopy. This offers stunning views of the huge trees that make up much of the rainforest. There are also a wide variety of bird species so keep your eyes peeled.

If you are interested, we could also add a visit to the new sun bear sanctuary.

Day 15 Sandakan
A free morning to relax or visit the orangutan sanctuary again. At lunchtime drive to Sandakan and have a walk through Sim Sim village where all the houses are built on stilts over the water.

In the afternoon take a firefly tour off the coast of Sandakan. This starts with a boat journey to a nearby island, which you can explore. After stopping for tea with the village headman you continue by boat through the mangroves where there are good chances to see proboscis monkeys. After it gets dark, lots of fireflies come out and ‘dance’ over the river. You then return to the mainland and can get dropped at a local (but fabulous) seafood restaurant. 

Day 16 Sandakan – Selingan
After breakfast take the boat to Selingan Island. The afternoon is free to enjoy the beach or perhaps go snorkelling.

Later you have ‘turtle time’ during which you watch a mother turtle laying eggs and then see some of the newly hatched baby turtles being released into the sea. The exact programme depends on what the turtles are doing and when they come ashore – this could at any time of night.

The British FCO are currently advising against travel to some of the islands off the east coast of Borneo. Please discuss this with us at the time of booking.

Day 17 Selingan – Beach
Today you will return to the mainland take a short flight to Kota Kinabalu.

There are many beach resorts you could choose from for your four nights on the beach. Perhaps stay in a simple lodge on Pulao Tiga or alternatively treat yourselves to a few nights at somewhere more upscale like the Bunga Raya or the Rasa Ria. We will be able to advise what will suit your family.

Days 18-20 Beach
Three full days to relax and enjoy the beach. Find a quiet spot and laze in a hammock, sip a cocktail, have a swim and drink in the views.

Day 21 Kota Kinabalu
Transfer back to Kota Kinabalu for your flight home.


Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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