Borneo is made up of three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. It is the largest island in Asia and third largest island in the world. The primary land coverage is ancient rainforest home to the endangered orangutan, Sumatran rhino, sun bear and clouded leopards. Coastlines are made up of peat swamp forests and mangroves. Borneo has been a keystone location in the discovery of evolution processes as well based on its unique, isolated habitats with a range in biodiversity from mountains to lowlands. The nations comprising Borneo have about 288 mammals (including 10 species of primates), 600 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and 394 freshwater fish. There are an estimated 15,000 plant species as well, in which up to 1,000 species of insects can be found on a single tree.
This course is located within the Sabah Forestry Department’s ranger station in Sepilok’s mangrove forest, just outside Sandakan. Mangroves are coastal forests made up of specially adapted trees that thrive in low oxygen and high saline water in tropical and subtropical regions. These forests protect the inland jungle from tides and provide shelter and nurseries for hundreds of aquatic species. Your lessons will take you trekking through the mangrove forest and into the surrounding jungle.
The capitol of the Sabah region is Sandakan. Sandakan is known as the “Nature City” where tribal people had close religious ties to nature and wildlife. The city is famous for its fresh range of seafood as well and includes Sim Sim Water Village, a fishing village constructed right on a community of docks. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre’s canopy walk are also popular attractions that you will visit during this course.
You will fly into the Sandakan Airport before you meet up for this expedition.
The main language of Sandakan, Borneo is Bahasa Malay. This differs from the Malay on the western coast, which resembles Bruneian Malay. Many people here also speak English, especially those of the younger generations.
The currency in Sandakan, Borneo is the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). You can get cash from ATM’s or do a currency exchange with Bornean banks at the airport in the public area of the departures terminal. If you have a Visa or Mastercard, those will usually be accepted at businesses, hotels and some taxis.
Note: When searching for travel trips on Borneo on travel websites, search for Brunei, Malaysia, or Indonesia, as it is actually made up of 3 countries
For more information on the specific expedition location please see the itinerary and accommodation page.
Sabah Forestry Department
Governmental department committed to the management and development of forests under sustainable conservation guidelines. Management methods also ensure socio-economic benefits of the forest resources for long-term use. The department promotes the rehabilitation of natural forests alongside plantations and strives to protect biodiversity, soil and water.
Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok
An education center managed by the Sabah Forestry Department in the Kabili-Sepilok Virgin Jungle Reserve. This location is also home to the orangutans from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The RDC features an exhibition hall about native plants and animals, a garden and hiking trails, including a canopy walk that is popular with birders.
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Located within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, the center is committed to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned orangutans. Orangutans can be viewed by visitors off a boardwalk through part of the forest surrounding the center, at a feeding platform and an outdoor nursery. Food is supplemented to the resident orangutans while they must primarily learn to rely on what they can forage from the forest.
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Located directly across from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of the world’s smallest bear. The center provides large, forested enclosures with natural resources to help the sun bears recover and be able to transition back into the wild.
All Conservation Field Safety Expeditions (CSFE) work in a realistic field study environment where we employ our time studying the local fauna with some key species relevant to the environment and employ conservation skills in a real time study. All information recorded during our expeditions is made available to our conservation partners at the end of the trip.
Whilst conducting this research, we learn and put into practice field safety skills and procedures, again, relevant to the environment.
On day one you will be met at the Sim Sim Water Village café and jetty and from here transported by boat to the expedition location. On arrival at the ranger camp, (see accommodation) we will get acquainted and settle in, conduct initial briefings, and enjoy an evening meal. The journey time is approximately 1.5hrs
Day 2 – 8 will be spent training and putting into practice the many aspects of conservation and field safety in a jungle environment. These will include, but not be limited to:
Conservation Skills and Techniques.
On the final day, we will pack up and depart in time for your flights home or to book into your accommodation in Sandakan.
Detailed itineraries can be discussed by phone or email and full written itineraries will be made available on receipt of an expedition deposit. You will also receive a full printed program on arrival at the ranger’s station.
For the expedition we will be based at the Sabah Forestry Department’s ranger camp in Sepilok’s mangrove forest, which is surrounded by pristine primary jungle (see above and gallery). We will also camp under tarpaulins in hammocks and mosquito nets in the nearby jungle (these will be supplied by CSFE). The majority of meals will be taken at the ranger camp.
The camp is ideally situated to take in mangrove, swamp and primary jungle environments and take walks into all of them, from where we will learn our jungle skills. There is also an elevated walkway that we can take night walks along and observe the sights and sounds of the jungle and mangrove in a controlled and safe way under the cover of darkness, a truly unique opportunity and experience. We will also go by boat and discover the creeks and rivers of the mangrove by day and night to observe and research the flora and fauna of the mangroves, unique to this area.
Meals will be prepared by local rangers and their families and will consist of local SE Asian fare. All dietary types can be catered for with prior arrangement.
Dates: 10th March – 16th March 2024
Price: $2395.00 (USD)
Nb. US dollar/Sterling exchange rates (where applicable) will be at standard rate on the day of any bank transfer. All monetary dealings will be in US Dollars.
Please note: 10% of your expedition cost will be requested on agreeing with and signing our terms and conditions which include our cancellation policies.
These terms and conditions are sent to potential expedition members after your initial expression of interest via the booking form.
The Price Includes:
The Price Excludes:
Full terms and conditions will be emailed on your initial expression of interest via the booking form.
(Note: When searching for travel trips on Borneo on travel websites, search for Brunei, Malaysia, or Indonesia, as it is made up of 3 countries)
Visa: Check with your country’s government travel website to see if you need a tourist visa. Most countries do not need one up to 90 days.
For all other nationals, visit https://www.travisa.com/Visa_Search for travel requirement tips or visit your government’s travel website.
Be up to date on all your routine vaccinations as well as:
Yellow Fever is only recommended for travelers coming from endemic regions of Yellow Fever
Talk to your doctor about other health needs for your trip. Other recommended vaccines:
A packing list will be provided.
The level of intensity for this course is Medium. Expect to hike up and down steep terrain within a jungle, as well as navigating over large roots of trees in a mangrove swamp.