Birds of Borneo Tour – Visit Three of the Best Birding Locations in Borneo
Borneo is a world-recognised birding hotspot with an amazing 688 resident and migratory bird species found here, including 60 endemic species. It’s the combination of the amazingly rich birdlife, alongside known locations for perfect birding opportunities, that attracts birders to Borneo. The Birds of Borneo 3-Day Tour includes visiting two famous birding locations found on the east coast of Sabah – Rainforest Discovery Centre and the Kinabatangan River. The Birds of Borneo tour has been created to offer you the best birding experience in Borneo with a focus on quality observations (including private boats for the extended river cruises), and all activities are led by a Birding Specialist Guide who is an expert in the bird species found in the Sepilok and Kinabatangan River areas.
Rainforest Discovery Centre is the first and last location you’ll visit during the Birds of Borneo tour. The Rainforest Discovery Centre located in Sepilok-Kabili Forest Reserve is one of the most accessible natural rainforests in Sabah and home to an astounding 300 species of birds recorded in the area. The canopy walkway at the Rainforest Discovery Centre, a 620-Meter-long and 25-meter-high metal platform and walkway, is the longest in Sabah. It offers great birding opportunities to find canopy birds at eye level and is one of the Birds of Borneo Tour highlights. Some of the bird species prefer habitats in the understorey and forest ground, so you will have the chance to explore the well-marked jungle trails too. Some of the Birds of Borneo species found here include the Black & Crimson Pitta, Blue-headed Pitta, Giant Pitta, Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, kingfishers – the Hooded and Black-and-Crimson Pitta, Scarlet Minivet, Red-bearded Bee-Eater, Banded Broadbill, Diard’s Trogon, Malkohas, Leafbirds, Spiderhunters, Crested Jay, Woodpeckers, and Bulbuls. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the iconic Bornean Bristlehead. Find out more about birds of Borneo spotted at the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
Kinabatangan River and the Rainforest Discovery Centre – Home to Many of the Amazing Birds of Borneo
The Kinabatangan River is the longest river in Sabah, flowing 560km to the Sulu Sea on the east coast. The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Lower Kinabatangan River area and is home to 200 species of birds. The main activity you’ll join at the Kinabatangan River during the Birds of Borneo tour will be private river cruises which offer a very relaxing way to go birding. The Kinabatangan River is a birders’ paradise where you can find some of the most sought-after birds of Borneo, including Storm’s Stork, Dwarf Kingfishers, Wallace’s Hawk-eagle, the Malaysian Flycatcher, Oriental Darter, and several species of Hornbills including the Rhinoceros Hornbill, the Asian Black Hornbill and the Oriental Pied Hornbill. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the White-fronted falconet, the smallest raptor in the world at ~ 14cm and the endangered Storm’s Stork. Find out more about birds of Borneo spotted at the Kinabatangan River. Don’t forget, during your rivers cruises, you’ll also get to see wildlife which can provide highlights during the Birds of Borneo tour alongside the birding finds, especially if you are lucky enough to come across a wild Orangutan or a herd of the Bornean Pygmy Elephants.
The third location you’ll visit during the Birds of Borneo tour is Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. Explore Labuk Bay’s enchanting mangroves in Sabah and discover a haven for diverse bird species. Witness vibrant kingfishers darting above the water, elegant egrets wading gracefully, and elusive Oriental-Pied Hornbills making appearances. The sanctuary offers a unique opportunity to observe these feathered wonders thriving in their coastal habitat from the elevated boardwalks that meander through lush mangrove forests, offering intimate encounters with these unique inhabitants.
If you’d like to explore more famous birding locations in Borneo alongside this Birds of Borneo Tour, then we can help you add on a trip to Danum Valley or Tabin Reserve, both famous birding locations in Borneo.
Trip Itinerary – Birds of Borneo Tour (3 Days) | Kinabatangan River & Rainforest Discovery Centre
Day 1 (Meals: L & D)
05:00hrs: You’ll be collected from your Hotel in Sandakan or Sepilok area and transferred to Rainforest Discovery Centre. You’ll arrive at the Rainforest Discovery Centre by ~ 05:30 – 05:45hrs, a perfect time for spotting birds of Borneo as they wake and start feeding. You will spend the rest of the morning at the Rainforest Discovery Centre.
By 12 noon: You will go to a nearby lodge for lunch with a choice of tasty local dishes.
12.30hrs: After lunch, you will be transferred by road to a Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge called Nature Lodge, which is located in the Lower Kinabatangan River Sanctuary. The journey will take approximately 2 hours, passing by Kota Kinabatangan town and also oil palm plantations. Once you arrive at Kampung Bilit, you will transfer to Kinabatangan Nature Lodge, just 3 mins by boat transfer across the River.
~ 14:30hrs: On arrival at the Kinabatangan Lodge, you will have a welcome briefing and then check into your chalet within the Agamid Wing of Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.
15:30hrs: Join your first of four extended river cruises in search of Birds of Borneo along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. This afternoon, you’ll join a 3-hour river cruise on a private boat for Birders. Embark on a Kinabatangan River cruise and enter a world of avian wonders. Observe majestic eagles soaring, colourful kingfishers skimming the water, and elusive owls gracing the treetops. The journey unveils a captivating symphony of birdlife against the lush backdrop of Borneo’s rainforest.
19:00hrs: Enjoy dinner at the Lodge restaurant in the midst of the Kampung Bilit secondary jungle.
20:00hrs: Join a night trek (with a private Guide) in the rainforest behind the Lodge. Look out for sleeping birds and nocturnal creatures of the jungle.
Overnight at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge in an Agamid Chalet (with twin or double bed, aircon and ensuite Shower Room). Click here to see photos of the accommodation for the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge trip.
Day 2 (Meals: B, L & D)
06:00hrs: An early start for your first extended early morning river cruise (2 hours, private boat for Birders). The early morning is a great time for seeing many species of the birds of Borneo.
08.15hrs: Back at the Lodge for breakfast.
09.15hrs: Join a trek through the nearby secondary lowland rainforest to a nearby Oxbow Lake trek offering the chance of bird sightings along the trek and at the lake. The return trek will take ~ 3 hours.
12.30hrs: Lunch at the Lodge. After lunch, you can rest and chill out at the Lodge before your late afternoon river cruise.
15:30hrs: Join your second extended late afternoon river cruise along the Kinabatangan River. The river cruises will be alternated between upstream and downstream (3 hours, private boat for Birders).
19:00hrs: Dinner at the Lodge.
20:00hrs: Join a night trek following a different trekking route behind the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.
Overnight at the Lodge – stay a second night in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary as part of your Birds of Borneo tour.
Day 3 (Meals: B, L)
06:00hrs: Join your last extended early morning river cruise as part of your Birds of Borneo tour (2 hours, private boat for Birders). Hopefully, you’ll get to see more amazing bird species to tick off your Birds of Borneo dream list.
08.15hrs: Breakfast back at the Lodge.
09:00hrs: Check out of the Lodge and start your transfer by minibus back to the Sepilok area.
~11:30hrs: Arrive at a lodge near Sepilok, where you will have lunch.
~12 noon: Time for a relaxing lunch, with time afterwards to check out your photos to see what Birds of Borneo you have ticked off your list.
14:00hrs: Visit nearby Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary for an early afternoon feedback session. The mangrove forests here are home to an array of wildlife. Alongside the proboscis monkey family groups, you’ll be able to watch birdlife from the raised boardwalks, including Oriental-Pied Hornbills, which are regularly seen here.
16:00hrs: Visit nearby Rainforest Discovery for a second time from mid-afternoon to dusk, an ideal time for birdwatching.
~18:00hrs to 19:00hrs: Your Birds of Borneo tour has come to an end. You’ll be transferred to your drop-off location by the latest 19:00hrs (a Hotel in Sandakan Town, Sepilok Area, or Sandakan Airport – recommended flight is the last flight departing at 9.10 PM to BKI). We hope you’ve had many birding highlights during your Birds of Borneo tour.
Trip Inclusions – Birds of Borneo Tour
The Birds of Borneo tour includes the following:-
- Return road transfer from Sandakan or Sepilok area and return boat transfers to the Lodge from Kampung Bilit.
- Meals (2 Breakfast, 3 Lunch & 2 Dinner)
- Visit (and entrance fees) to the Rainforest Discovery Centre and to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
- At the Kinabatangan River: 4 x extended river cruises in private boats for persons booked on the Best of Borneo trip (2 mornings & 2 late afternoons), 1 x guided trek to an Ox-Bow lake, 2 x Guided night walks.
- Two nights’ accommodation in an Agamid chalet (twin/double/triple beds, ensuite shower room and toilet, aircon) within the Agamid Wing of Kinabatangan Nature Lodge
- Guiding throughout your trip by an experienced, English-speaking licensed Birding Specialist Guide (private Guide for persons on the Birds of Borneo tour)
- Access to free-flow coffee/tea and fresh water at the restaurant at the Kinabatangan Lodge
- 0% Sales & Service Tax on the tour price as applicable from 6th May 2019.
Trip Exclusions – Birds of Borneo Tour
The Birds of Borneo tour excludes the following:
- Camera/video conservation fee at Sepilok Sanctuary (RM10 per item), Sun Bear Conservation Centre (RM10 per item) and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary (RM30 per item).
- Soft drinks or alcoholic drinks.
- Flights (Domestic & International).
- Personal travel insurance.
- Tourism Tax which is currently set with a flat rate of RM 10 per room per night (you will pay this at the Kinabatangan Lodge).
Recommended Packing List – Birds of Borneo Tour
To get the most from your Birds of Borneo Tour, it is recommended you bring the following with you:-
- Clothing suitable for a tropical rainforest climate, e.g. raincoat, cap/hat, comfortable cotton T-shirt, long sleeve top, long trousers (long trousers are required for the Oxbow Lake trek), long shorts
- Insect/mosquito repellent
- Sun protection, including sun cream, sunglasses and a trekking hat
- Good walking shoes (with a change of shoes for wearing at the Lodge)
- Binoculars for observing birdlife
- Head torch for a night trek
- Camera equipment suitable for close-up and longer-distance photography
- Personal medications (if needed)
- Please take your passport with you on this trip – your passports will be checked at the Kinabatangan Lodge.
Notes – Birds of Borneo Tour
Leeches are found on all trails in the rainforest. It is recommended you use leech socks during trekking activities.
If weather or other factors (e.g. landslide), makes an activity unsafe, the Lodge will adapt the trip itinerary for safety reasons. There will be no refund if a trip itinerary needs to be adapted on the day due to safety reasons.
The Birds of Borneo tour price is valid for trips up to 31st December 2024.