Borneo vacation, Land below the wind

“Sabah contains some of Borneo’s most dramatic scenery and this week long tour takes in its exotic flora, lush landscapes and easily spotted wildlife.”

Highlights

Sabah | Kota Kinabala | Mahua Falls | Kibandi Butterfly Farm | Rafflesia Forest Reserve | Hike in Mount Kinabalu National Park | Sabah Tea Plantation | Sunset cruise on Kinabatangan River | Kinabatangan night trek | Gomantong Caves | Sun bear sanctuary | Sepilok orangutan sanctuary

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Date
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26 Dec 2019
US $1400
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15 Jan 2020
US $1450
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12 Feb 2020
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03 Mar 2020
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05 Apr 2020
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28 May 2020
US $1450
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02 Jul 2020
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30 Jul 2020
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20 Aug 2020
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01 Oct 2020
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29 Oct 2020
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26 Nov 2020
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25 Dec 2020
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

This is a 'small group adventure' - you will be sharing your experiences with like minded people. Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 12 persons, a genuinely small group. Experience has taught us that smaller groups are less intrusive to local cultures and environments whilst allowing more interaction with local people. Furthermore it means greater flexibility on a day to day basis and on a social level it proves to be fun. Whether you are traveling alone or with friends/family its good value, and a great way to meet new people! The intention is to travel as a group of friends rather than a typical tour group, so don't expect stick-on name badges or any following the umbrella.

Responsible tourism

Borneo vacation, Land below the wind

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Information: Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travelers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices.

Destinations: We combine the well known tourist sites with many off-the-beaten-track, rarely visited destinations thus diverting tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited.


Local Awareness: By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect. We carefully select the places we visit to ensure that none are involved in exploitative practices of people or animals.

In addition, some of the specific initiatives for this tour include the following: We work closely with The Penang Heritage Trust to organize our tour of some of the sites of Chinatown. The Heritage Trust provides a sensitive look at the culture and the history of the region. By our continued patronage of the service we contribute to the upkeep of the organization, which helps preserve the country's culture and educates its visitors to understand the genuine Penang.

We fully support the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok by sending our guests there for a visit. The center’s primary function is to create public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. This is one of the projects developed by the Sabah Forestry Department. The minimal entrance fee paid helps in funding the center.

We also visit and contribute to Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, considered to be the largest orang-utan rehab sanctuary in the world. The entrance fee our guests pay goes to the badly needed fund to run this huge operation of saving and rehabilitating orphaned and confiscated orang-utans, in the hope that one day every single one of them be released to the wild. Even sun bears, gibbons, Sumatran rhinos and elephants get treated here.

The Kinabatangan Nature Lodge in Bilit, Sabah, as part of their ongoing contribution to the environment, is possibly the only lodge in Asia to use FSC-standard certified timber (recycled wood) for building their facilities! (FSC is Forest Stewardship Council). The lodge have environmentally aware and environmentally friendly policies on amongst other things, waste disposal, reusable materials, involvement of the local community and care for the environment. They are also a partner of the ‘Corridor Of Life’ vision project, brainchild of the WWF-Malaysia. This project, formulated towards sustainable development, addresses the issues of reforestation, protection and management of the lower Kinabatangan (among their chosen locations). The lodge is also very actively involved in and committed to raising funds for the Voluntary Conservation Levy to establish fund to finance the cost of protecting and reforesting the area. They are also in the process of setting up a Grey-water Project to use recycled bath water for gardening. In our continual support for all these endeavours, we are sending clients there.

We stay at, and support, the Sabah Tea Plantation and learn about it’s organic, pesticide-free tea production. We are happy to use their accommodation, restaurant and guides as well as educating our travelers as to the methods of producing organic tea.

We participate in tree replanting scheme in the Kinabatangan River. Deforestation due to the rapid recent increase in planting palm trees for oil has meant that many of the natural flora is being destroyed along with wildlife habitats of more than just the orangutans. Tree planting is very labour intensive and the locals need all the help they can get, so tour participants dig a hole and plant a sapling.

Use of local transport (bus) for most part of the tour. The production of the tour is assisted by a small, locally based operator and using native Sabah guides only.

Community

Group Sizes: By limiting groups to small sizes we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater genuine interaction with said communities. It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.

Local Products: As much as possible we aim to employ local personnel, (guides, drivers, agents etc), use local restaurants and smaller privately owned accommodation. Customers are also encouraged to buy and use local products and services as much as possible in order to support and stimulate the local economy. They are also advised against buying prohibited items and products made from parts of wild animals or plants.

We have included destinations not part of standard itineraries. In this way we spread responsible tourism into areas which do not get much income from tourism or awareness of responsible tourism practices. .

13 Reviews of Borneo vacation, Land below the wind

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 05 Dec 2019 by

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


To see the the rain forest and all the biodiversity, the tall trees, all the vegetation on the different levels, impossible to photograph as good as the picture can
be. The incredible camouflage of animals from the largest ones to the insects, frogs, lizards ....The canopy walks that alow to see the forest from above
And of course the orangutans (2 were just a few feet away- that was really amazing), and the probiscus monkeys. The Mkinabalu, MKNP, park is worth a visit and, if possible, the climb to the top, or at least to the refuge at about 3,000 m,

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


take binoculars, and just watch and enjoy. Be prepared for hot days, sweat, and some rain.

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


Just for buying the tour alone we help the locals, in the sense that it help them to have a job in a direct or indirect way. Visiting the conservation center and be able to see the animals in a natural habitat give us the notion of the importance, and the responsabillity, that we can have in preserving species. Despite being a reminder of the importance of biodiversity and conservation of species, whether or not in extinction, the mere presence of tourists, with the resulting internal displacement, by car and by plane, does not reduce environmental impacts...

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


Great vacation, It is certainly a recommended destination.

Reviewed on 26 Nov 2019 by

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


Seeing a herd of pygmy elephants in the wild - our guide reckoned it was probably a 10% chance

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


Just go with the flow. Take the time to absorb the people, cultures, flora and fauna

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


Yes. We did our best to avoid the tourist traps and instead visited the local markets

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


Really good!

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2019 by

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


Our guide Edwin was fantastic! This was a vacation of a life time seeing the orangutans and the elephants in the wild.

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


To go for it! Even if you have little ones! You will not be disappointed.

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


I think it supported conservation by us learning more about palm oil and visiting the sanctuaries

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


This vacation was literally a vacation of a life time! Fantastic company to book through and our guide was just fantastic. Couldn’t ask for a better service!

Reviewed on 14 Aug 2019 by

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


Seeing an orang-utan and Pygmy elephant in the wild.

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


It’s very hot and humid so plenty of clean clothes. You cannot prepare yourself for the humidity. Take a copy of your itinerary to make sure it’s the same as your guides. Take good mozzie spray with you and use liberally. Extend your stay by going to Manukan island, you will not be disappointed.

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


Benefited local people as it was a local guide, although all the tours used local people other than that, not really

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


Highs and lows. We had a different itinerary to our guide which lead to some misunderstanding at the beginning as it came across to us that he possibly hadn’t done it before (he had it wasn’t until we compared itineraries we realised the misunderstandings!). Do feel we could’ve been given more helpful information for transfers (when transferring to Manukan
island they had no booking for us, except they did but it was booked under Big Adventure (think it was) and not the operator).
Luckily everyone over there are so nice, kind and willing to help so it got sorted but it was unnecessary stress we could’ve done
without.

Reviewed on 05 Oct 2018 by

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


The whole trip was wonderful but my highlight was the second day at the Bilit Adventure Lodge. We woke up early to the sound of the jungle and had a cruise along the river. The light quality at that time was really beautiful and we saw a surprising number of animals. We came back had a delicious breakfast and then
went for a walk through the jungle. We'd done a Night Walk the previous
evening so it was interesting to see the contrast. We didn't see a lot of wildlife
but the complexity of the jungle and the sounds and smells were so enjoyable - even on trails that were very well worn. We had some free time to relax on the sun deck that afternoon and then had another trip on the river. Due to the excellent skill of our river guide, Kalo, over the whole stay we saw orangutans, an elephant, crocodiles, a gibbon, macaques, proboscis monkeys, rhinoceros hornbills and many more animals. Due to Kalo's reaction I think we were particularly lucky to see so much but just traveling down the river is a joy itself. We stayed on the river until sundown and saw the most spectacular sunset (that was a real 'pinch me, is this real?!' moment), and then celebrated the day with a bottle of Merlot back at the lodge. An unforgettable day.

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


Bring binoculars, a couple of long sleeved tops and full legged trousers. We were lucky to see a lot from the boat with the naked eye but binoculars would allow you to see a bit more detail. Although it was very hot in September under the canopy of the trees it was a lot cooler and the protection of long clothing just gave me a bit more confidence when walking through the foliage.

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


Yes definitely. All of our guides, drivers and our tour leader lived in Borneo. They were able to give us a much more authentic view of the country and they were all so helpful that I was happy to tip almost everyone. Tipping is not a common
custom but is appreciated from tourists. Our guide advised around 5 ringgit but some of the people were so helpful I gave up to 50.
Our leader encouraged us to reduce our plastic use for the tour - there is a lot of plastic in the water surrounding the island and it's only recently become an environmental concern for the country so it was stressed to us that we should play a part. Most of the hotels had kettles so it's easy enough to boil some water, leave it to cool and refill bottles for the day ahead.We drove through a large area of palm oil plantations and our leader gave us a lot of information on the industry and the impact it has had. It's definitely encouraged me to be more aware of the ingredients in the products I use now I'm back home and I encourage others to do the same. All the interactions we had with wildlife were done respectfully and on the river our guide was very aware of not stressing any of the animals and
moving away if our presence was causing upset.

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


I can't rate this vacation, the company, our tour leader or the country highly
enough. I had an unforgettable time and would have done the whole trip all
over again without any hesitation. When I'm traveling to this part of the
world again I will definitely travel with Responsible Travel and this company.

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2018 by

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


Seeng the Orangutans in their natural habitat. Also the lucky sighting of the Borneo Gibbon and Pygmy elephant.

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


Read up about your itinerary and enjoy every minute.

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


Our vacation was certainly environmentally friendly. We tried to support local activities as far as possible and bought their produce when available. I was aware of the impact of the Palm Oil industry but I am certainly leaving Borneo with a more informed commitment to avoid products containing Palm Oil.

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


I had planned this vacation for post retirement and to see my adopted Orangutangs. The vacation far surpassed my expectations- and this was made so special by Sheila (our leader)’s passion and commitment to her “work”.

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2018 by

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


Probably seeing orang-utans in the wild and up very close at Sepilok rehabilitation center but the whole trip was both memorable and exciting!

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


No need for any warm clothes. The temperature doesn't drop much at all at night. Shorts are fine most of the time - we took too many long trousers.

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


Definitely supported local people and that was stressed by our guide. although our guide encouraged us to refill our water bottles - which we did when we could - there were always extra plastic bottles available in the rooms. Water coolers in all hotels/lodges would be better.

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


Wonderful! A really inspiring, eye-opening trip.

Reviewed on 07 Mar 2017 by

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


Seeing endangered orangutans up close in the sanctuary and watching their interactions. Visiting the sun bear sanctuary to watch the bears. Cruising up the Kinabatangan River seeing monkeys and hornbills in the trees. The night walk with Jasper, one of the guides at Mulu, with his infectious humour and enthusiasm! Watching the nightly exodus of 5 million bats from the caves in Mulu. Snorkelling with beautiful and extraordinary fish on the reefs off Manukan island.

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


Travel light, bring long sleeves and long trousers. Enjoy squelching through the mud on the night walks at Kinabatangan, for which you rent wellies! Keep close to the guides on the walks, or you won't see the wildlife and you won't hear what they say.

Deet spray works well if you have a leech you want to remove. Although there weren't many leeches apparent, leech socks probably saved a few bites and the guides wear them too. Talk to the national park guides, they are interesting people.

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


It was great to be in a tiny group and not to feel we were 'invading' in a large group, so having a much smaller impact. Visiting the national parks and small enterprises provided funding to support them. We stopped en route to shop from local people for snacks, drinks, etc. We were able to support the orangutans through various projects there. I was shocked at the degree of destruction of the rainforest and the massive impact of the palm oil plantations on the wildlife and their habitats.

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


Very enjoyable! Fairly much on the go most of the time, which suited me, until the free time on the island. Transport and transfers were seamlessly efficient. Our guide was cheerful and sociable and did his best to keep us happy. A couple of our events (Garden of Eden trip and the BBQ) were cancelled and one of our meals was very poor, but the company more than made it up to us when we contacted them.

Reviewed on 23 Oct 2016 by

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


Trekking through the Borneo rain forest and the boat trips to looking for
the wild life. We saw many variety of monkeys, birds and also orangutans
one of which was feeding outside our jungle lodge. Our guide was also
EXCELLENT


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


Take loads of insect, repellent a good camera and binoculars . And be
prepared for an adventure, if you want a quite relaxed vacation then you've
picked the wrong trip!!

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


Yes, our guide, transport and meals were all provided by local people.

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


THE TRIP OF A LIFTIME. EXCELLENT (feels like a massive
understatement)

Reviewed on 11 Jul 2012 by

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


It was all interesting and exciting in many different ways.

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


Not to expect to be slumming it. And to be prepared for hot and humid conditions.

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


I feel that tourism is the saviour of the remaining wildlife. Otherwise probably the last remnants of native vegetation would be replaced with palm oil palms. Other than that, of course locals benefit by having employment.

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


It was very good. I would particularly like to comment on our guide Henry, who was with us every step of the way. He was everything one could wish for in a guide.

Reviewed on 17 Aug 2011 by

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


Seeing the wild orangutan and the feeding at Sepilok.

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


Pack plenty of long sleeved shirts and never underestimate the effects of humidity on the system.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I hope so, but hard to say.

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


A blend of the wonderful and the difficult, but overall a great experience.

Reviewed on 21 Jul 2011 by

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


So many fabulous experiences to choose. Loved Lankayan Island, and the Danum valley lodge. Homestay on the Kinbatangan river was very interesting and a totally unique experience, as was watching turtles lay eggs at Selingan.

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


Having a guide with us made the whole trip so brilliant, it meant we always ate well as Lee found good places and helped order. I think we got to know Borneo, people and wildlife so much better because of his knowledge.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Parts of it definitely, the homestay particularly as although, for example, the car ride from Sandacan to Billit (2=hours) was in a ridiculously small car for 6 people and luggage, it meant the "village" got the money for the transfer.

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


It was absolutely fantastic, full of variety, we enjoyed so many new experiences, and were looked after above and beyond the call of duty by our guide who became part of our family. Borneo is a great place for a family adventure vacation.

Reviewed on 26 Sep 2010 by

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


The whole vacation was amazing from start to finish but the most exciting was spotting a wild orang in the jungle. Our guide Alex was truly fantastic and made our trip a true adventure. Danum valley is an incredible place and not to be missed by anyone traveling to Borneo. The time spent at the Nature lodge on the Kinabatangan river was very special as this is run by the local people and the passion they have for their jungle will stay with us. If you are planning a trip to Borneo then I would recommend this trip 100%

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


Pack light, take and wear your leech socks, don't miss a trip each one is different and worth the early starts. Talk to all the local people they have so much passion and many stories and history to tell.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes 100% all of our guides and drivers where local people and they loved showing us there country.

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


This was an amazing trip well paced and shows all of the best parts of Sabah, We were fortunate in that there was just the two of us so having Alex all to ourselves he made us feel like royalty. All the things we experienced just confirmed the need to help the local people in their quest to preserve this very special place. I would like to think that the way these trips are organised does help.

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