Highlights of Borneo group tour

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Highlights of Borneo group tour


In 2012 oil palm and timber interests started looking towards Ulu Sungai Menyang landscape at Batang Ai with an eye to develop large swathes of the region as palm oil plantations. Our local agents work with 4 Iban communities in the area and through this alliance discovered the existence of over 200 orang-utans living outside the official boundary of the already protected Batang Ai National Park. Our agents initiated a series of meetings with stakeholders and it was decided to conduct and fund orang-utan surveys to provide proof that orangutans lived in the area. Tour guides and community partners took part in a series of surveys in 2012 and 2013 and this research confirmed the presence of up these 200 orang-utans. As a result the Sarawak Government announced that the Ulu Sungai Menyang would be protected.

Today our agents periodically take part in orangutan surveys with partners such as Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia and Sarawak Forestry. Some guides and their guests also record orangutan sightings on tours with the information collected - date and time of sighting, GPS location, name of the observers, name of guide and type of tour - passed to researchers at WCS Malaysia. On-going guide training about the importance of the sighting recordings is undertaken.

You will also visit Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Founded in 1964, the Centre was established to rehabilitate orphaned and often injured orangutans and rehabilitate them back into the wild. Located on the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve, the facility provides medical care for orangutans and other wildlife species including gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and the occasional injured elephant. The Centre works like a halfway house for the orangutans: it provides a semi-wild haven in the protected reserve outside the confines of the Centre but twice a day meals are provided for those animals who feel the need for it. Entrance to the Centre for these feedings is chargeable and all funds go back to the Centre to help fund the important work they are doing here. The Centre is also an important education tool for visitors to learn about the orangutans and the Centre’s work and help promote it to possible future visitors.

During the visit, guests stay in eco jungle lodges such as the Abai Jungle Lodge which uses many environmentally friendly practices including the use of biodegradable and environmentally friendly shampoo and soaps in guestrooms, rainwater collection and a reverse osmosis water treatment system which purifies the water in an energy efficient and cost effective way. The lodge also introduced their ‘tree planting and lunch with the villagers’ programme where for every person who partakes in this activity, a donation is made to the village as well as the tree itself which helps generate an extra income for the village. Over the years the lodge owners have also donated useful items such as motor and fibreglass boats to the villagers.


Our local Borneo ground agents employ only local guides and drivers thereby keeping all moneys paid to staff in the local community. Where possible, food served to guests at all the lodges is sourced locally thereby providing a further income to local residents.

The Nanga Sumpa lodge in Batang Ai National Park is a comfortable base for a range of nature-based activities and excursions providing visitors the chance to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the Iban community who live in the nearby longhouse. This partnership between the tribe and our local agents provides an important, sustainable source of income for the Iban community and was developed with the key objective of involving the longhouse community in a meaningful way.

Visitors stay as guests of the longhouse-dwelling Iban people, who benefit economically by providing a range of tourism services. This is a partnership which has lasted for over 27 years and between the years of 2007 and 2011 our local agents provided MYR1.8 million to the community for tourism related services. This does not include the extra income generated by the sale of handicrafts, tips and gratuities. In addition to creating and sustaining employment and economic opportunities, our local agents regularly donate money and goods in kind to the community for development projects, community initiatives or medical treatment as well as offering a long-established micro-finance project and interest free loans for villagers.

Abai Jungle Lodge is located next to Abai village en-route from the Sulu Sea to Sukau. In conjunction with the Abai villagers, the Abai Jungle Restaurant was built with food sourced from Abai village and their fishermen. A donation is made for each diner towards the Abai Homestay Development Fund to go towards the upgrading of village facilities with the provision of household goods, school uniforms, seeds etc.

In conjunction with Orangutan Appeal UK and the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, for every booking to Borneo we adopt our chosen Sepilok orangutan, Gelison, in your names for a year. Orangutan Appeal UK works to support the orangutans of Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. Funds from the adoption costs go towards funding the Centre’s work providing food, medical care and a safe refuge for the orangutans as well as being an important educational tool for visitors.

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