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Borneo Safari Holidays

Borneo is one of the world's greatest wildlife-watching destinations; a faraway island blanketed with misty jungles and filled with a honeypot of weird and wonderful biodiversity this unspoiled pristine pocket of life is a paradise waiting to be rediscovered. Consisting of the world's oldest and most revered rainforests, the vastness of dense canopies and rich foliage lets trekkers experience Mother Nature in her full glory.

Shrouding an ethereal world, the sacred trees become an audience to the veritable orchestra of sounds - chirps and clicks, squeals and ticks amongst the constant drone of cicadas. At home in the promised land, sun bears, orangutans, and clouded leopards all form the endless and unforgettable cacophony of the amazing Kinabatangan rainforest.

Borneo safari holidays are a firm favourite for wildlife enthusiasts. The island plays host to an enormous assortment of uniquely endangered wildlife, such as the charming and gentle orangutan, noisy proboscis monkey and diminutive pygmy elephant. Flora and fauna abound on this Eden-like sanctuary, with a staggering 15,000 species of flowering plants and 3,000 tree types, in addition to rare orchid, 12 species of rafflesia (the world’s largest flower) and in excess of 600 bird species. All of this contributes to what is an incredibly diverse area and makes for the ultimate Borneo holiday.

Why NWS for your Borneo safari?

We originally started back in 2005 as World Primate Safaris. Our CEO and Founder, Will Bolsover, spent many years in jungles across the world tracking and guiding primates. Since then, we have gained years of valuable experience designing itineraries that put you in the right place, at the right time for the ultimate Bornean orangutan safaris. Our Borneo holidays have been widely featured in the national press, including Departures Magazine, The Independent and Sunday Times. We have used the same guides in Borneo for years, simply because they are the best at what they do. It takes expertise and patience to find these mesmerising and peaceful animals but our guides have expert local knowledge which they will share with you, teaching you all about your surroundings, from the topography and wildlife to the local peoples and cultures.

We also support the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, which rehabilitates baby orangutans and those found in captivity with the aim of getting them back out into the wild. Visiting the sanctuary is the highlight of many peoples' visit, offering a great opportunity to witness these great apes in a beautiful setting, where they can comfortably coexist.

How Much Does Borneo Cost?

Typically, expect to budget around £8330 per person for a 13-day safari in Borneo. This will generally include charter flights to and from Sandarkan, For a shorter 5-day experience staying at five camps, expect to budget £5500 per person. Journeying through the heart of the oldest rainforests on Earth, luxury eco-lodges and boutique island retreats, combine with jungle exploration for the ultimate island getaway.

ORA St Borneo Orangutan Male Kalimantan Lukas Zeman

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The Borneo Safari Experience

Borneo vacations are a firm favourite for wildlife enthusiasts. A faraway island blanketed with misty jungles and filled with a honeypot of weird and wonderful biodiversity; this unspoiled pristine pocket of life is a paradise waiting to be rediscovered. When travelling the interior, be prepared for the unexpected. There may be times when the experienced boatmen will hold the journey for an hour or two for the roaring river to subside, travellers may have to oblige with the local customs and join in the wedding celebrations or respect taboos following a death in the village. All these contribute to the unique experience of Borneo and the magic she brings to any family, solo traveller, or honeymooner, on your journey through this tropical island paradise.

You may wish to include the following in your Borneo itinerary:

  • Orangutan Watching – visit the Sepilok Orangutan Centre where you can visit with the rehabilitated orangutans
  • River Safaris - cruise along the wildlife oasis of the Kinabatangan River
  • Jungle Adventures - explore forest trails and view the jungle from a towering canopy walkway
  • Night Safaris - enjoy guided night walks to spot nocturnal creatures
  • Jungle Safaris - stay deep in primal rainforest in Danum Valley, home to pygmy elephants, sun bears, clouded leopards and tropical birds
  • Conservation - visit the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary & the Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn about the work done to preserve these endangered species
  • Remote Islands - for relaxation and snorkelling, Borneo’s surrounding islands are not to be missed
  • Mountain treks - Scale Mt Kinabalu with our local guides from one of the leading mountain guiding families in Borneo
  • Whale Shark Watching - Throughout March and April spot migrating whale sharks off of Borneo’s tropical coastlines
  • Hot Springs - Soothe tired or aching muscles with relaxation in Poring Hot Springs

Where to stay in Borneo?

Accommodation in Borneo can vary according to the area and activity, with some lavish and opulent hotels in Kota Kinabalu contrasting with stilted rainforest eco-lodges on the Kinabatangan River or basic rustic camps in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu. On the island retreats of Lankayan and Mataking, you will find chalets and bungalows teasingly close to the pristine beaches, some on wooden walkways out in the ocean.

When to go to Borneo?

Borneo lies within the tropics of Asia, becoming a destination with high humidity and rainfall expected at any time of the year. The best time to spot wild orangutans in Borneo is between April and May, as the wet season begins to end and fruits ripen on trees. In general, Borneo is accessible between March and October, with the wettest months generally between December and February when the Northeast Monsoon hits.

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Borneo Safari Holidays FAQs

Can I drink tap water in Borneo?

The water in many lodges and hotels in Borneo is, in fact, safe to drink, but we don't believe it's worth taking the risk during your safari. Stick to bottled water throughout your trip; it is readily available and inexpensive. The last thing you want on that trip of a lifetime is an upset stomach, when it could have been easily avoided.

How fit should you be to climb Mt. Kinabalu?

To find out more on the fitness and health requirements of climbing Mount Kinabalu get in touch with us.

How Long do I need for a Borneo Safari?

It can be challenging to determine the ideal duration for your stay in Borneo, given the abundance of attractions and activities.

We recommend reaching out to us; discussing this in conjunction with your preferences and expectations for your safari would be most beneficial.

What is the accommodation like in Borneo?

A diverse array of accommodations awaits your Borneo safari, catering to a range of preferences, from rustic jungle lodges to luxurious beach resorts. For wildlife-focused experiences, our priority is optimal wildlife locations rather than exclusively luxury. The Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley offers a unique jungle stay with opportunities for wildlife sightings from your chalet's veranda. Accommodations along the Kinabatangan River lean towards rustic charm, with Bilit being a preferred choice for a more immersive wildlife river safari. Kota Kinabalu provides upscale options, including 4 to 5-star hotels like Shangri-La, which offer pools, beaches, and dining. Notably, Rasa Ria features an orangutan rehabilitation center, introducing you to Borneo's iconic wildlife.

Read our guide to Borneo accommodation for further assistance with selecting a place to stay.

When is the best time to go to Borneo?

Borneo's tropical climate brings year-round rain and high humidity. November to February is wettest, while March to October is ideal for visits with hot, humid weather. July-August are optimal for orangutans, March-May for Whale Sharks, and June-September for turtle hatching. Avoid November-February for Kinabalu climbs, safaris, and beaches due to heavy rains. Discover more in our best time to visit Borneo guide.

Where are the best diving locations in Borneo?

Borneo’s oceans are alive with colour and marine-life, from whale sharks to turtles and everything in between. Get in touch with us to find the best dive spots in Borneo.

What to do in Borneo?

Borneo presents a varied array of activities: wildlife safaris in Danum Valley and along the Kinabatangan River, ascending Mount Kinabalu, diving and snorkelling at Sipadan and Mabul Islands, delving into indigenous cultures, embarking on river cruises, enjoying unspoiled beaches, trekking through rainforests, exploring caves, visiting cities like Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, and encountering exceptional bird watching opportunities.