This company has operated on responsible tourism values since its inception. From an environmental perspective, our initiatives extend from our company offices to our tours. A local green energy provider powers our head office and stores, we encourage cleaner transportation methods for staff, and purchase all supplies from a local green business supplier. Our office is as paperless as possible and our brochures use 100% PEFC certified sustainable paper. We offset emissions from all corporate flights and our marine vessel, and encourage our travelers to do so by providing an online platform through Sustainable Travel International.
Tour leaders provide travelers with information about local environmental issues in their respective regions, and provide suggestions of how we can best protect the local environment and culture. To reduce the amount of waste created on tours, tour leaders also encourage travelers to use refillable water bottles instead of disposable plastic, cotton tote bags, reusable batteries, etc. We also include destination-specific information in our guidebooks, which are provided to each traveler including information particular to the local culture and environment and tips on how to be a responsible traveler.
Low Impact Accommodation: Accommodations used throughout this trip are hill lodges, jungle camps and national park/mountain huts that are designed to have a low impact on their surroundings. This is a major contributor to the sustainability of a trip because other types of vacations where the majority of the trip is spent in a large foreign-owned resort that means very little income stays in the local economy and usually has a large impact on the natural area’s water use, energy use, waste production as well as contrasts with the natural environment.
Nature & Wildlife Protection: On this adventure it is time to get back to nature. This trip affords countless opportunities to contribute to wildlife conservation by visiting national parks where some of the world’s most incredible natural attractions can be found. National parks and private reserves protect the world’s last remaining large tracts of natural forest, wildlife refuge and the planet’s biodiversity. Visiting national parks is an important way to contribute to conservation because entrance fees are the core method of funding many parks, from maintenance to security and protection from poaching. Visitors help the parks to pay staff and keep the park and wildlife in it protected.
We pass through primary rain forest & Sabah's arable farming areas, which is predominately palm oil & rubber plantations on route to the Sepilok Orangutan Centre. Sepilok is one of the highlights of the trip where you'll get to meet the adorable 'wild men of Borneo'. Orangutans and their human like features are a truly unforgettable experience. The centre is an excellent example of active conservation, re-introducing domesticated, injured and orphaned orangutans back into the wild. There are walking trails where you can see not only orangutans, but also several species of macaque & a host of other birds & wildlife roaming freely. It must be remembered the reserve is primarily set up to help re-introduce orangutans back into the wild after a life of domestication or having been orphaned. As we walk into the reserve to see the semi-wild orangutans it is essential that we follow the parks instructions. We are not permitted to interfere or touch the orangutans, as human contact must be kept to a minimum.
In Sukau we stay in the jungle and get to observe a vast array of insects, birds and animals in their native environments. Walking along jungle trails and traveling by boat along the river you regularly see king fishers, hornbills, macaque, and proboscis monkeys. Very occasionally you may get lucky and see elephants, wild boar, otters, orangutans and other reclusive species.
We also visit Mt. Kinabalu National Park, home to the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. We stay at the foot of the mountain in a national park hut and there are some beautiful nature walks around the headquarters and at Poring Hot Springs, through lowland tropical forest on well marked trails.
Learn more about precious the region’s marine environments by snorkeling or diving in Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park. The park is 49 square kilometers made up of sea, coral reefs and five islands. Gaya, the largest island in the park is home to the Marine Ecology Research Centre. The virgin rainforests and healthy reefs make this park a marine paradise to be explored and protected.
Supporting communties is and always has been at the heart of our tours. We provide business opportunities to local people by employing local guides and tour operators. The majority of accommodation used on our tours are small-scale, locally-owned hotels. Our tours mainly use public transportation wherever possible and are small in size to keep our impact on fragile sites and communities as minimal as possible. We monitor the sustainability of our tours through traveler evaluations in order to allow for continuous improvement. We support the local economy and business initiatives by visiting locally-owned shops, restaurants, and markets on our tours.
Many tours incorporate community projects as a way of supplementing community income and supporting community development projects. In 2003 we founded a non-profit organization as a way for our travelers and our company to give back to the people and places we visit. We develop community projects around the world in the areas of health, education, small business development and environmental conservation. Funds are raised through traveler donations and fundraising. The company pays all administration fees which means that 100% of each individual donation goes directly to the community projects. Each year, we continue to support and develop new partnerships with more community projects and community-based tourism initiatives worldwide, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Supporting local culture and businesses: In Sandakan, we visit the small but informative Memorial Museum on the site of a former Japanese POW camp, which highlights Borneo's involvement during World War II, infamously remembered for the 'death marches'. We may have time to take in some of the sights of the city, go shopping & experience the hustle & bustle of the waterfront markets. Making choices to eat at locally owned restaurants and purchasing handicrafts are ways to help ensure more tourist dollars stay in the local economy - a vital way for tourism to make a positive impact.