Borneo family vacation, tailor made

Departure information

This trip can be tailormade throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
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Vacation type

Tailor made vacation

This trip can be tailor made to create a unique vacation for your individual requirements by travel experts with intimate knowledge of the destination. Sites and accommodations can be arranged to suit you and your budget. This is a comfortable trip that will suit those who enjoy immersing themselves in new cultures and environments before relaxing in comfort in characterful local accommodation!

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Borneo family vacation, tailor made

We work with the Orangutan Appeal UK, the only not-for-profit charity that works directly with the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in Sandakan. For every booking we receive, we ‘adopt’ Beryl, a 3 year old female orphan Orangutan for our clients for 1 year. The money goes directly to the Sanctuary in Sepilok to continue their excellent work. Clients receive an ‘adoption certificate’ and regular email updates on the progress of Beryl and of course if you’re lucky you may see her when you visit the Centre.

On this tour, you will visit the famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, founded in 1964, to rehabilitate orphan orang-utans. The site is 43 square kilometres of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Today around 60 to 80 orang-utans are living free in the reserve. The facility provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated orang-utans as well as dozens of other wildlife species. Some of the other animals which end up being treated at the centre include sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and the occasional injured elephants.

During the tour you have the opportunity to visit The Borneo Sun Bear Centre, a conservation centre with the aim to raise awareness and encourage research on the world’s smallest bear. Found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, the exact number of Sun bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing to reduce pressure on a species that is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve. The BSBCC, the first and only facility of its kind in the world, is a non-governmental organisation set up in 2008 through collaboration of the Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department and LEAP.

Created in 1984, Tabin has been declared a Wildlife Reserve primarily on account of the large number of animals inhabiting its forests, some of which are highly endangered. The three largest mammals of Sabah, namely Borneo Pygmy Elephants, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Tembadau are all found within the reserve; nine species of primate are present, as well as three species of cats all of which are on the protected wildlife list. Of bird species, 42 families representing 220 species have been recorded. The Reserve works alongside Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary near Sandakan - the rehabilitated orang-utans are released into the Reserve. It is twice the size of Singapore so has an enormous potential to allow the wildlife to roam free relatively undisturbed. By visiting the Reserve, clients will be able to learn about the need for the preservation of this important habitat. The Tabin Wildlife Resort believes that research, advocacy and management are the three critical elements contributing towards an effective conservation strategy. The Resort runs many educational programmes including a Rhino Conservation programme whereby volunteers can help the Reserve staff survey and monitor the rhino population. The Resort organises all guests into small groups for all activities to minimise any environmental impart. Kitchen waste generated in the resort is disposed of in a responsible manner and guests are encouraged to recycle waste products by providing recycling dustbins. Tabin Wildlife Resort has a policy of buying local produce and supplies wherever possible and available, ensuring that the local communities benefit, and guests are encouraged to buy local products so that money stays in the local population. The Resort also constantly trains young local guides and staff to provide them with the necessary skills for career advancement.

The Abai Jungle Lodge operates a tree planting and lunch programme with the local Abai villagers as part of your time there. This programme has been introduced by the Lodge as a way to directly contribute money to the local village community, plus it helps guests learn a little about the way this traditional community lives.

Our ground agents only employ local guides to accompany our clients. All food in the lodges is sourced locally wherever possible, helping the local rural communities.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts is a founding member of the Asia Pacific Hotels Environmental Initiative. In accordance with the Group's environmental policy, all Shangri-La and Traders hotels have "Green Programs" to identify ways to reduce wastage, eradicate practices that damage the environment and generally promote environmental awareness.

Reviews of Borneo family vacation, tailor made

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Probably a toss up between the fireflies on the Kinabatangan River or the stay at the Gayana Eco Resort.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Spend more time at the Abai lodge, this was a perfect stepping stone for wildlife. Spend more time in the Sandakan markets. Sponsor an Orangutan. Visit the Sunbear centre in Sepilok. Try and go diving on the East COast of Sabah. Don't expect too much from KOta Kinabalu or Lahad Datu. Expect more from Sandakan that Lonely Planet says. Climbing Mt. Kinabalu is bloody expensive. Expect everything to be punctual. The coffee is horrible but the people are universally friendly.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


This is hard to tell, there was certainly an effort but it is hard to judge how much money trickles down. The work the Gayana Eco Resort is doing the Marine Research Centre is very admirable. I am hoping that the tree planting at the Abai River Lodge is not just a sop to tourists and is having a REAL impact. Can I suggest that an optional tariff is added to trips to benefits endangered species, sustainable Palm oil initiatives and local communities.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We had a wonderful time. A couple of pieces of feedback.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve - You may want to suggest that the memorial to the woman killed by an elephant is repaired or replaced. At the moment it is being used as a default ashtray.
Sandakan - The lunch at the Sabah Hotel was very ordinary, may be suggest lunch in the Sandakan markets, much more exotic.
Operators - The punctuality and friendliness of all the operators was extraordinary. There was not a bad word to say about any of them
Itinerary - Timing was good, not too frenetic, would suggest, if possible to go straight to Abai River Lodge and spend a couple of nights. We loved it there

Reviewed on 15 Jul 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


There were lots of highlights but we particularly enjoyed seeing the elephants swimming across the river and also releasing turtle hatchlings back into the sea. We also loved Abai jungle lodge. Beautiful scenery and wonderful staff.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take a rain coat...... It does rain heavily sometimes and you are in open top boats. Take some binoculars. Make sure you wear trainers and cover up in the bat caves. It is an absolutely fascinating place but if you don’t like insects its not the place for you.

Try and make time to fit in an extra visit to the orangutan sanctuary by yourselves (not with the tour guide). You can hang around longer and we saw the orangutans actually playing in the wild rather than just at the feeding station. If you are staying at the rasa ria resort hotel or selligan island make sure you wear lots of insect repellant as sand flies are a big issue.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely. We thought it was great that we could plant a new tree in land damaged by fire. We thought it was good that you were only allowed to see 1 turtle lay its eggs rather than the 28 that came ashore that evening. They are keeping disruption of the turtles to a minimum. Our thoughts were that the money they get from tourism helps to ensure that lots of baby turtles are given a better chance of survival. All the jungle guides were very keen in conservation and protecting the animals which was good

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


9.5 out of 10. Everything was excellent apart from a couple of niggly things. The accommodation and facilities at selligan island needs to be improved and beware of the sand flies at the rasa ria resort and selligan island.

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