- Work behind the scenes at an orangutan rehabilitation centre
- Track down the endangered proboscis monkey in the beautiful Bako National Park
- Experience tribal life and go in search of wild orangutans
This tour provides you with both the opportunity to learn and the chance to help make a difference to the lives of the critically endangered orangutan population in Borneo. You will spend your time visiting multiple orangutan conservation centres and will also get the chance to visit 3 national parks, where you will take part in a range of exciting activities such as a night time jungle trek through Bako National Park and learning the local way of life through interaction with the native tribes. There really is something for everybody on this tour!
You'll arrive into Kuching Airport, where you will be met at arrivals by your guide before taking a short transfer to the guesthouse for your first night. Here you will settle in and freshen up before having a full tour briefing over dinner with your guide and the rest of your group. Take some time to enjoy the amenities (hot water, air conditioning and a swimming pool) before retiring to bed as it’s back to basics from here on out!
After breakfast, you will make your way to Matang Wildlife Centre, which is situated in Kubah National Park and is home to 30 orangutans, sun bears and many other animals. On arrival, you will receive an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour from the team who run the orangutan conservation project here.
After lunch, you will get involved in an activity such as creating enrichment for the orangutans. This will give you the chance to see what it is like to work with orangutans on a daily basis. Keep an eye out for the centre’s residents, such as the sun bears or the mighty Aman, who is thought to be the world’s largest orangutan!
Spend today getting to know more about the wildlife centre through conversations with members of staff, lectures (subject to availability) and enrichment activities. The process of making and providing enrichment is a key activity when it comes to the rehabilitation process, as it helps to promote natural behaviours, therefore enhancing the potential for release. If there’s time, you may explore the centre’s surrounding areas of Kubah National Park: this will be a gentle introduction to rainforest life, and could be your first opportunity to test out your trekking abilities!
Bid farewell to the orangutans before heading to Bako National Park at midday. This transfer will be split by one hour in a car, and 15 minutes on a boat as you approach the park’s entrance. Bako is the oldest national park in Sarawak, and is also home to the third-largest troop of proboscis monkeys in the world! The park also boasts a number of interesting trails (varying between 2km and 10km each) and tonight you will take a walk along one of these trails in search of nocturnal animals. Keep your head up, your eyes peeled, and your torch shining bright as you walk through the jungle…you might just spot a few pairs of eyes staring back at you!
Wake up to the sounds of Bako National Park. With its abundant wildlife, jungle streams and waterfalls, Bako National Park offers an excellent introduction to the rainforests and coastline of Borneo.
As one of Sarawak's most famous locations for wildlife, Bako will not disappoint. You will spend the morning trekking through the rainforest admiring the interesting flora and fauna and going in search of the famous proboscis monkey. In the evening you will transfer to the Malay community of Telok Serabang.
Take your time getting to know Telok Serabang, as there’s much to do and see! Activities here can include assisting with beach clean-ups and a fledgling turtle conservation project run by the locals (you might even have the opportunity to help out on night patrols!). In addition to enjoying the area’s beautiful beach area, you may spend some time working alongside the local community on a number of activities, such as maintenance, painting of the local school, and crafting traditional jewellery. Finally, you’ll go trekking in the neighbouring national park, Tanjung Dato, where you’ll be on the lookout for wild gibbons, flying lemurs, bearded pigs and other fascinating wildlife!
Say goodbye to Telok Serabang as you transfer to yet another new destination. Your next stop is Padawan, an area which is home to the indigenous Bidayau community. Here, you’ll spend time in a wooden longhouse made from bamboo, which is just one of the ways in which you’ll connect with the Dayak traditions of old! From being taught about the tribe’s history and culture to being encouraged to join in with traditional dancing, you’ll surely feel welcomed by this friendly community.
Another day in Padawan and another opportunity to put your trekking skills to the test! The area is home to a part of the rainforest not often visited by tourists, and during one of the treks, you’ll get the opportunity to see where human skulls are kept. While unusual, these skulls represent a bygone era of cultural significance, so take the time to learn more about this ancient practice. You’ll also learn about the use of bamboo, arguably one of the most integral materials in the lives of the community due to its versatility, and experience just one of its uses by taking a journey down the river atop a bamboo raft! En-route, your guides will collect food and prepare a meal for you in the forest, which will of course be eaten with bamboo utensils!
Your time with the Bidayau community has sadly come to an end, but there’s still much for you to look forward to as you head toward Batang Ai, the largest national park in Sarawak and home to the state’s last remaining wild orangutan population. Your journey is split between bus and boat, civilisation versus pristine rainforest, and whilst the journey is long (approximately 6 hours), you will stop for lunch along the way. The next four nights of the tour will be spent in Batang Ai, with some of your time being spent with another community, this time the Iban tribe. The Iban live across the river from your accommodation and have resided in the area for generations, so there’s always plenty of stories for them to tell about the days gone by.
By the time you arrive in Batang Ai, you’ll have hopefully built up strength to undertake some serious trekking on days 10 and 11. Steep ridges, untrodden terrains and wide rivers are each found across the trails here, and while the treks may be tough, you might be lucky enough to spot wild orangutans or other species native to the area. Keep an eye out for orangutan nests, claw marks on trees, or creatures moving between canopies!
Your time spent in Batang Ai’s raw surrounds has now drawn to a close, so it’s time to head on back to the city. On your way to Kuching, you’ll stop off at Semenggoh Orangutan Centre, Sarawak’s first-ever orangutan rehabilitation centre and home to a number of semi-wild great apes. There are around 20 orangutans here at Semenggoh, each of which is free-roaming, and you may even be lucky enough to spot the residents as they approach their feeding platforms. Your day draws to a close back at the Basaga Guesthouse, where you’ll enjoy a farewell dinner with your group while reminiscing about your time on the tour.
Sadly, your adventure has come to an end! Say goodbye to your new-found friends before being transferred back to Kuching Airport, either to embark your return flight home or to continue with your own independent travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
Tour Comfort: Rustic
This tour has been categorised as Rustic. This is based on the standard of accommodation used throughout the tour, transport involved whilst the tour is in motion, and what modern facilities are available. This is more suited for travellers looking for a cost friendly experience at a basic level.
Night 1 & 13:
During your time in Kuching, you will stay in a boutique guesthouse, located 20 minutes from Kuching Airport (KCH). You will stay in a twin-share room which comes complete with Wi-Fi, television, a phone and an en-suite bathroom with western-style toilet and hot shower.
The guesthouse has a courtyard bar and swimming pool which you can enjoy, or being just 10 minutes from the city centre, shops and restaurants can also be easily reached.
Matang Wildlife Centre
Whilst visiting the Matang Wildlife Centre, you will be staying in a traditional longhouse situated within the grounds of Kubah National Park, which in turn makes for rather an idyllic rainforest setting. The longhouses themselves are original wooden structures from the centre’s construction back in 1997, so please understand that while these may not be the most pristine of lodgings, they are a suitable home for your authentic Bornean experience!
2-4 people share each dormitory style room on a same-sex basis and you will have access to a bathroom complete with western toilets and overhead showers. Please note that there is no hot water here, however, you may find a cold shower to be a welcome respite after a day of work and humidity!
Bako National Park
You’ll spend your fourth night of the trip in the stunning Bako National Park, the oldest national park in Sarawak. While the accommodation itself is basic, it is situated in the very heart of the park, meaning you’ll be always surrounded by amazing flora and fauna – though you will need to make sure that your door is closed at all times, otherwise monkeys may make their way in!
The accommodation is dormitory style with 2-4 people per room sharing on a same-sex basis and the shared bathrooms come complete with western toilets and overhead showers.
These nights will again be spent in a traditional wooden longhouse, but this time alongside a Malay community close to one of Sarawak's secluded beaches.
Again, the accommodation is dormitory style with 2-4 people per room sharing on a same-sex basis and access to shared bathrooms complete with western toilets and overhead showers.
The next two nights of the tour will be spent in rather rustic and traditional accommodation, located in Padawan, Sarawak. You will be living alongside the Bidyau community, spending your evenings in a traditional bamboo longhouse.
The rooms in the longhouse are dormitory style with 2-4 people per room, sharing on a same-sex basis. Here the bathrooms have western toilets and overhead showers.
There are not many opportunities left in this day and age to be completely isolated and cut off from all the trappings of technology and the Western consumerist way of life. This, however, is one of them. Electricity is provided by a generator which runs for 3-4 hours per day. Other than that, there is no power, no telephone signal and no internet. It is you, the jungle, and that is it.
During this time, you will be living in a very basic longhouse and staying in dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms and cold waterfall-fed showers - so get ready to get back to basics!
Tailor My Tour
You will need to arrive into Kuching International Airport (KCH) between the hours of 9am and 5pm on your tour start date. You will be met at arrivals by a representative who will then transfer you to the Basaga Guesthouse (approximately 20 minutes away) for a welcome dinner and your first night’s stay.
If 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 prior visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia as a 90-day tourist visa is granted on arrival. However, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
MEALS AND BEVERAGES
Three meals per day, plus drinks, are provided throughout the tour. Meals typically consist of noodles, rice, vegetables, tofu and meat, and are prepared by local members of staff. Please note that alcohol is not provided but may be purchased at different times throughout the tour.
FITNESS AND SKILLS
This tour does not involve a lot in the way of physical labour but does involve trekking in the rainforest - usually in fairly humid conditions. With treks ranging from 1-4 hours and taking part across slippery mud trails, we recommend a good level of fitness for anyone taking part.
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE RATES
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is around 1 GBP to 5.40 MYR. For up-to-date conversion information click here.
What's included in the price of the Tour?
- Airport transfers
- Overland transportation
- Accommodation and meals
- All travelling activity equipment
- Local guides
- English speaking project leader
- Conservation donation
What's not included?
- All flights
- Travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
No Contact Policy
We are often asked whether or not travellers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst at the wildlife centres. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and there is good reason for this.
Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases, and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these great apes. Also, an environment of constant change, with new people going to the centre every month and being in contact with the orangutans would be very detrimental to the orangutan’s wellbeing. With no consistency in their lives, behavioural problems arise. They also have a tendency to begin to trust humans which is damaging should they be released back into the wild, as they will become easy targets for poachers. Finally, an orangutan is 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 you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still have the opportunity to observe them, either at one of the orangutan rehabilitation centres that you visit on this tour or – if you’re lucky! – out in the wild, and an opportunity to assist with enrichment and husbandry will surely make a difference to their lives. For more information, please read our article on contact with orangutans by clicking here.