This entails cruising in a boat along the river and its tributaries along the 'corridor of life', to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks. On these trips, you will be on constant lookout for pygmy elephants and orangutans!
This will involve tree-planting, nursery care and seedling generation, clearing invasive species, and also tree growth data recording. This is crucial as currently along the banks there are areas with very few trees, so it is difficult for animals to pass from one section to another and if they do, it leaves them vulnerable. Therefore, tree planting will take place in sections identified as high priority, and you will work towards the creation of corridors to allow wildlife to move from one section to another.
Guided Jungle Trek
The tropical rainforest of Borneo is the perfect setting for a family trek. The trek involves an introduction to the flora and fauna of the rainforest, and to what the rainforest traditionally offers the inhabitants in terms of medicine, food, and survival. This is a great chance to ask questions and to learn from an extremely experienced local guide.
As a family, you will spend half a day working with the local school children on conservation issues that they deal with on a daily basis. You will be provided with a framework and the project facilitator will guide you in the planning of this session. The idea is to share information about conservation activities, both in Borneo and in your home country, and also to give the local school children and yours own the chance to interact and understand different cultures.
Cultural and Community Interaction
Living and contributing to the Sukau community is a big part of this project. As most lunches and dinners will be served in the homes of individual villagers and local families, you may get to hear about their daily lives, chat with the children, learn their family structure, and see how the Orang Sungai have been living off the rivers and jungles for centuries.
This involves the development of a continuous project, working with the community of the local village. This offers another fun way to interact with the community on various levels whilst working on a conservation project.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive into Sandakan International Airport where you will be met by the project facilitator and will take a private transfer to your first night's accommodation. This will be in a longhouse-style accommodation in Sepilok with unobstructed views of the surrounding forest. You will spend the night learning about the Corridor of Life and the project's aims. This is also where you will enjoy a welcome dinner with your project facilitator.
Day 2-5 - Project Days:
Today you will transfer to the project site at Sukau where, upon arrival, you will have a health & safety briefing, followed by an orientation and tour around the village. In the afternoon, you will begin your volunteer activities which you will continue for the next 4 days. Please see the above tab for more information. Accommodation here will be in a beautiful Bornean B&B.
Day 6 - Sepilok Orangutan Centre:
After saying goodbye to the local people of the Orang Sungai, you will travel from the project site at Sukau to the Rainforest Discovery Centre for a chance to put your recently acquired knowledge to the test, before travelling to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. This will be an incredible chance to see orangutans up close, and a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Your final evening can be spent resting and relaxing in a comfortable city hotel in the heart of Sandakan.
Day 7- Final Day:
This will be your last day on the project and so you will take a private transfer from your hotel in the city to Sandakan Airport for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project.
It may be possible to join this project outside of the specified dates as part of a private tour (families/groups of 6 or more) however, this is dependant on availability and may incur additional fees. Please enquire for further details.
Updates & Outcomes
The aim of this project is to maintain and develop an area known as the 'Corridor of Life' that sits alongside the Kinabatangan River in Sabah. The area in which volunteers are based has been deemed a high priority conservation area, requiring concerted efforts to ensure that the wildlife here has a protected habitat, especially given the ongoing deforestation.
The area has been severely damaged by logging and plantations and requires urgent replanting to restore the habitat of over 250 birds and 50 mammals.
The plots of land that those involved in the project help to restore will create corridors of greenery for orangutans, pygmy elephants and other wildlife to move between.
During the project, families live alongside the Orang Sungai village people, being immersed into their way of life. Working with the local community is an integral part of conservation and the most successful and sustainable conservation efforts are those that bring the indigenous people into the project itself.
Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. Little do people know, the cultivation of this product has caused a colossal, detrimental impact upon endangered species, as well as the rate of deforestation, climate change and more! Read up to find out more, and view a list of palm oil free alternatives!
With winter creeping ever-closer, we're all dreaming about next year's summer holidays...so what better time than the present to start planning your next Great Escape!?
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Is this trip for you?
Sepilok (first night): For your first night in the rainforest, you will stay in a traditional longhouse with facilities to be shared amongst all participating families (please note that this extends to dorm rooms, as well as bathroom facilities.) At approximately 18:00, you will enjoy a welcome dinner and project introduction from your facilitator.
Sukau (project days): During the project, you and your family will stay in a comfortable and authentically Bornean, village-run B&B within walking distance of the centre of the village and the village jetty. Bedrooms have attached toilet blocks and cold-water showers. Each day, breakfast is served in a common area overlooking the river.
At Sandakan (final night): For your final night, you will stay in a comfortable hotel room in the equivalent of a 3-star hotel in Sandakan town. The hotel is within walking distance of the promenade and many quaint little shops and eateries. The town has internet cafes, a supermarket, restaurants and food stalls serving local and western foods. There is also a beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar nearby.
All meals are included and, during your time in Sukau, they will be prepared and eaten in the homes of village locals. There are always vegetarian options available and any extra drinks and snacks you would like can be purchased in the nearby towns.
The work involved in this project is not physically exerting, but there are short jungle treks during the week, so a moderate level of fitness is required. There are also no specific skills in order to join – all that we ask is that you come with a willingness to get your hands dirty!
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each individual. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check NHS Fit for Travel’s website. The Great Projects are not qualified to provide medical advice, therefore it is vital that you speak with your own doctor.
We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst on this project. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason.
Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these Great Apes. An orangutan is also around 7 times stronger than an adult male human so a no contact policy is just as crucial for your wellbeing as orangutan welfare.
That is not to say that as a volunteer you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still hope to observe them whilst in the corridor of life and see them at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. For more information please view our article on hands on contact with orangutans here
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
There is no specific best time to join this project as wildlife is visible all year round. With that in mind, the only differing factor is the weather.
Based on weather, most people suggest between February and October as the rainy season hits between November and January.
You will need to arrive into Sandakan International Airport before 4pm on the start date of your project. You will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to your first night's accommodation. The next day you will travel to the project site at Sukau.
Please book your departing flight to leave on your final day after 11am.
you would like help booking your flights, please visit our
flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team
will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia, which requires purchase prior to arrival. A tourist visa is provided upon arrival at the airport for a period of 90 days, however, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information. Visas are the volunteers own responsibility.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is approximately 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD. To see up-to-date exchange rates, please visit www.xe.com
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project facilitator
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
- Entrance fees to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Visas if required
- Soft drinks, wines and spirits