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Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River | 3 or 4 Day | Sabah, Borneo

(2 customer reviews)

From: RM895

This unique 3D2N Trip brought to you by Borneo Dream combines two popular activities in Borneo, jungle trekking and wildlife spotting, in two amazing locations – the protected Sepilok Forest Reserve (also known as Kabili-Sepilok Virgin Jungle Reserve) and the mighty Kinabatangan River. Both are recognised for their amazing diversity of flora and fauna. This trip is packed with many delights for the nature lover – trekking through pristine rainforest (graded easy), river cruises along the Kinabatangan River, visiting Sepilok Sanctuary, Gomantong Cave, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and more! You can also add on extra night at the Kinabatangan River to include more river cruises and wildlife encounters. A trip suitable for many – whether you’re a couple, family, or group of friends.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Visit a feeding session at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary for the chance to watch these very special monkey's close up. The visit to the Sanctuary happens during the afternoon on the last day of the trip.

Extra night

Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Add on a visit to the Borean Sun Bear Conservation Centre as part of your trip. You will visit the Sun Bear Centre after the visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Cruise – 3 or 4 Day Rainforest & Wildlife Adventure, Sabah, Borneo

The trip is ideal for nature lovers wanting to experience trekking through the primary rainforest (where you’ll probably be the only trekkers) combined with relaxing river cruises in search of wildlife. This 3D2N trip ticks both boxes with a trek through the beautiful Sepilok Forest Reserve (also known as Kabili-Sepilok Virgin Jungle Reserve – a Class IV Virgin Jungle Reserve) and an overnight stay at a Lodge along the banks of the Kinabatangan River.

On the first day of the trip, you will complete the Sepilok Forest Reserve Trek and visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre. The trek is ~ 9km and starts at Sepilok Laut Base Camp and ends at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. The trek will take 3 – 4 hours depending on pace. Sepilok Forest Reserve is home to tropical highland forest, lowland forest and lowland mangrove swamps. The Forest Reserve is famous for its amazing diversity of flora and fauna with 100’s of tree species, bird species and many different types of mammals. During your trek, your Nature Guide will help you learn more about the rainforest and the fascinating plant life found here. As your trek is during the day the wildlife found in the Forest will be resting – lucky for you, you’ll have the following two days filled with wildlife view activities.

Wildlife and Rainforests – Sepilok Primary Rainforest and the Kinabatangan River

Over the next two days of your Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Trip, you’ll get to see some of the amazing wildlife found in Sabah. You’ll visit Sepilok Sanctuary, home to Orangutans undergoing rehabilitation, and Gomantong Cave which is the largest sandstone cave in Sabah. Alongside this, you’ll stay overnight along the banks of the Kinabatangan River at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge. During your stay at the Lodge, you’ll join two river cruises and a night trek in search of wildlife. The Kinabatangan River is one of the most popular locations in Sabah for seeing wildlife. During your 3D2N trip, you will be escorted by an experienced, passionate and knowledgeable Licensed Nature Guide (English speaking) who will help you get as much from your trip as possible.

If you would like to add on more wildlife spotting opportunities why not add on an extra night at the Kinabatangan River on to this 3D2N Trip – Create a 4D3N Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Trip. This would include one more night at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge and two extra river cruises (1 x late afternoon, 1 x early morning), one extra night trek and a trek to the Oxbow Lake.

This Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Cruise trip can also work well with the 2D1N Turtle Island Trip helping you also experience the magic of watching a Turtle nest.

Itinerary – Sepilok Forest Trek, Kinabatangan River & Wildlife Adventure, Sabah

Day 1 (Meals: Packed Lunch, D)

08:00hrs: You will be collected from Sandakan Airport or your hotel in Sandakan and transferred to Sabah Forestry Jetty.

08:30hrs: You will join a boat transfer to Sepilok Laut Base Camp.

09:30hrs: Arrive at Sepilok Laut Base Camp. You will complete your registration for the trek and collect your packed lunch and drinking water. You will start your trek from Sepilok Laut Base Camp to Rainforest Discovery Centre. The trek is ~ 9km and is undulating – your Guide will make stops along the way to brief you about interesting plant life and if they spot some of the many bird species found in the Forest Reserve. There are three resting ‘huts’ along the trek for you to take a breather, have a drink and take in the natural beauty around you.

~ 12 noon – 1:00 pm: Arrive at Rainforest Discovery Centre, the endpoint for your trek. You will be transferred to Nature Lodge Sepilok, a ~ 10-minute transfer, where you’ll check in and have a chance to freshen up and relax after your trek.

2:30 pm: You’ll have the option to visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre. During your guided tour you’ll visit the Plant Discovery Garden and learn more about the plant life endemic to Borneo (with hopefully several species of orchids in bloom) followed by a walk along the raised canopy walk. After your visit, you’ll be transferred back to Nature Lodge Sepilok.

7:00 pm: Dinner at the Lodge. The rest of the evening is free to relax.

Overnight at Nature Lodge Sepilok in a private room (twin / double share).

Day 2 (Meals: B, L, D)

Today you will visit the morning feeding session at Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where you will have the chance to get up close with the critically endangered Bornean Orangutan and learn about conservation efforts to protect them. After lunch at a nearby cafe to Sepilok, you’ll be transferred by minibus to the Kinabatangan Lodge, a ~ 2-hour transfer. After a welcome briefing at the Lodge, and time to check in to your Chalet, you’ll join a late afternoon river cruise along the Kinabatangan River (from ~ 4 pm – 6 pm). After dinner at the lodge, you’ll join a night trek in the secondary rainforest behind the Lodge in search of nocturnal wildlife (the night trek will last 1 – 1.5 hours).

For a more detailed itinerary check out day 1 of the 2D1N Kinabatangan River Cruise Trip.

Overnight at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge in an Agamid Chalet (twin beds, aircon, ensuite shower room).

Day 3 (Meals: B, L & D)

06:00hrs: Join an early morning river cruise (~ 1.5 hours), a chance for more wildlife encounters along the Kinabatangan River. Return back to the Lodge for breakfast at 0800 hrs.

09:00hrs: After breakfast, you will start your trek through the nearby secondary lowland rainforest to the nearby Bilit Ox-Bow Lake. You will be led on the trek by your Nature Guide who will explain more about the plant life and insect life found in the rainforest in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

11:30hrs: Return to the Lodge for lunch at 1200 hrs.

13:00hrs: You now have a chance to rest and chill out at the Lodge before your late afternoon river cruise.

16:00hrs: Join another late afternoon river cruise (~ 2 hours) along the Kinabatangan River for more wildlife sightseeing.

18:00hrs: Return to the Lodge and time to freshen top before dinner.

~20:00hrs: Join a guided night trek following a different trekking route behind the Lodge.

Overnight at the Kinabatangan Nature Lodge.

Day 4 (Meals: B)

At 6:00 am you’ll join an early morning river cruise along the Kinabatangan River. Upon returning to the Lodge after your river cruise you’ll have breakfast, check out of your chalet and depart the Lodge at ~ 09:15hrs. On your transfer back to Sepilok you will visit Gomantong Cave, home to millions of swiftlets and bats. As well as a guided walk inside the cave (on a raised boardwalk around the cave wall) you could be lucky and spot a wild Orangutan near the cave entrance – a fairly regular occurrence! After your visit to Gomantong Cave, you’ll travel on by road to Sandakan. You will be transferred to your drop off location in Sandakan by around 12 noon – 12:30 pm. If you are catching a flight from Sandakan Airport it is recommended you book a flight departing from 2 pm onwards.

If you choose to book the 3-Day Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Trip then the outline itinerary for day 1 and day 2 would remain the same. The last day of your tour would be Day 4.

Trip Pre-Requisites

You should be in good health and physically able to trek at a gentle pace for a few hours in tropical heat (with rests along the way). Whilst there is no minimum age for children joining this trip, children will need to be comfortable trekking in a humid, hot climate.

Trip Inclusions

  • Road transfers during the trip
  • 1-way boat transfer from Sabah Forestry Jetty (in Sandakan) to Sepilok Laut Base Camp.
  • 1 x English speaking qualified Nature Guide looking after you during your trip.
  • 1 x Sandakan Forestry Ranger to escort you during the Sepilok Forest Reserve Trek
  • Visits to (and entrance fees) – Sepilok Laut, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok Sanctuary, Gomantong Cave
  • At the Kinabatangan River, you will join 1 x afternoon river cruise, 1 x morning river cruise and 1 x night walk. The Kinabatangan River cruises included with this trip will travel as far upstream as ~7km to Pontian Point and downstream a maximum of ~ 10 km to Tenegang Besar Point.
  • 1 night at Nature Lodge Sepilok in a private room with air-con twin/double bed, ensuite external shower area.
  • 1 night at Nature Lodge Kinabatangan in an Agamid Chalet (twin/double/triple beds, aircon, ensuite shower room)
  • Meals: 2 x breakfast, 2 x lunch (one is a packed lunch), 2 x dinner.
  • 6th May 1st March 2019.

Trip Exclusions

Camera/video camera fees at Gomantong Cave and Sepilok Sanctuary. Soft drinks or alcoholic drinks during meals, or drinks at other times (not part of meals). Porter service for the Sepilok First Reserve Trek (additional RM120.00/maximum weight: 15kg). Extra boat transfer from Sepilok Laut to Sandakan Sabah Forestry jetty will be an additional charge (unless it is for ‘emergency medical evacuation’). The new Tourism Tax – the Tourism Tax is currently set with a flat rate of RM 10 per room per night and will be charged to Non-Malaysian or Foreign tourists from 1st September 2017. Flights Travel insurance and personal spend.

Recommended Packing List For The Trip

For the Sepilok Trek: small rucksack with plastic bag liner (Max. 15kg when packed), comfortable trekking shoes, water bottle (min. 1.5 litres, recommended 2 litres), comfortable trekking clothes suitable for a tropical, humid climate (lightweight trousers, long sleeve cotton top, leech socks), insect/mosquito repellent, sun protection cream, sunglasses with a cord attached, trekking hat, rain jacket, camera.

For the rest of the trip: raincoat, cap/hat, insect repellent, comfortable walking shoes, comfortable cotton T-shirt, long sleeve top, long or short trousers, binocular for observing wildlife, head torch for night trek, camera and personal medications (if needed), camera, sun hat and sun protection cream, personal spend, change of clothes, toiletries for overnight stay. Please take your passport with you on this trip – your passports will be checked at the Kinabatangan Lodge.

Notes – Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River Cruise Adventure

Minimum 2 persons per booking. The trip price is based upon twin / double sharing a room and is valid for trips up to 31st December 2022. Please note the timings in the above itinerary are typical timings. The exact timings during your trip can vary due to weather, traffic etc.

All tours are subject to weather conditions and your safety. There is no refund in case any activity is cancelled due to bad weather or natural disaster.

2 reviews for Sepilok Trek & Kinabatangan River | 3 or 4 Day | Sabah, Borneo

  1. Mikael K (TripAdvisor)

    Above all expectations – excellent service, good value for money – We were gathered from our hotel in Sandakan just in right time, we were well informed by the company and got several updates like the transfer might be ten minutes delayed etc.
    we were friendly met and were transported to the Andakan harbour where the company arranged everything, also storage of package without fuss.
    We were boated to Selingan Island where we were informed, shown around and accommodated. All meals are included and the food on Selingan was fantastic. We had all day for snorkelling and enjoying this serene island.
    After supper we all awaited our guide to collect us to see turtles landing, and it was with great amazement we followed the laying of eggs, collecting and catalogization of eggs, release of baby turtles etc. fireflies lit the dark of the forest line after a magnificent sunset.
    Breakfast and trip to Sandakan by boat, a two hour transfer with air conditioned minibus to Sukau, from where we were transported by boat to Rainforest Lodge. On our way we made stop at Sepilok orangutan sanctuary and got acquainted with these intelligent and boisterous red “ tree-men”. Great fun and extremely exciting to follow these human like creatures living their daily life in the tree tops. After a cosy and delicious three course lunch at Borneo Dream Travels Sepilok office restaurant we were transported to Sukau, where Our fantastic guide Mouhammad presented himself with a clear and confident voice. We were gathered, informed and shown to our chalets. So the adventure went on with a late afternoon boat trip. We saw the majestic Kinabatangan River, Hornbills, Proboscis monkeys, red Langurs, shadow langurs and the rare and secretive Pygmy elephants, first one and then a vast number appearing from the deep lush vegetation by the river banks. Totally 20 elephants having a late afternoon sun dinner, loudly trumpeting in the waning sun. Our guide Mouhammad was respectful and stopped the engines and he was very considerate and really put effort so everyone got to see and photograph these rare animals.
    Dinner was excellent and tasty, we had a short rest and were gathered tonight walk during which we saw a number of birds and frogs: kingfishers, Pittha and others.
    Next morning misty morning trip and a joyous and touchy rejoice with the elephants, now very close by. The mist vanished and we saw numerous species and enjoyed our trip greatly.
    After breakfast, there was trekking tour to Oxbow Lake, and a trip back to lodge. We saw nests of orangutans, several species of birds and animals. Our guide MouhMmad explained a lot of different species and talked about what is was like to grow up as a member of River People, we learned a lot of medicinal plants and others, migration routes of the elephants, and were having a good glimpse of rain forest and how it is like habitat for human beings and animals.
    Luncheon, rest and afternoon trip to Kinabatangan by boat, again we saw the elephants, apes and birds and I promise there were great cheering and smiles, tears eyes in the presence of great nature experiences and concentrated silence admiring the miracles of nature.
    Tasty dinner, recap and many discussions with other quests, everyone happy and contented. Great satisfaction all around.
    Last boat trip, elephants again!!! And a vast multitude of birds, thanks to MouhMmads trained eye and respect for animals.
    Checkout, a trip to Gomantong Caves- awesome experience. Mouhammad explained and answered questions, leaving a place for silence and amazement.
    After a stop by Sepilok office, we were transported to Sandakan airport just as committed and I can just say one thing. DO IT!
    Good value for money, efficient, secure, entertaining, we were well treated, informed, well fed and get to see it all. I would not hesitate to redo our trip straight ahead!
    Thank you Borneo Dream Travel& Tours, you made our trip a greater one!
    Two satisfied travelling companions from Scandinavia,
    Søren and Mikael.
    Ps: all our hopes and wishes were fulfilled, this was a childhood dream come true for both of us!

  2. Kerry Senior

    Josh and I loved the 3 day excursion! We saw some amazing wildlife and were really impressed with the accommodation at both Sepilok and at the Kinbantangan River. Our guide Herman was lovely and we would highly recommend this trip to our friends. Thanks for a wonderful experience.

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Kinabatangan River

  • How do you get to the Kinabatangan River?

    At 560 kilometres long, the Kinabatangan River is Sabah’s longest river with the lower reaches of the River being home to a rich concentration, and diversity, of wildlife. This makes the Kinabatangan River one of the most popular places for tourists to visit during their holiday to Borneo. The simplest way to get to the Kinabatangan River is too join an organised tour. As the Kinabatangan River is located towards the east coast of Sabah the starting point for most tours to the River is from Sandakan (Sandakan Airport or from a hotel in Sandakan). 

    How do you get to Sandakan?

    Sandakan is a middle-sized city located on the east coast of Sabah and well connected to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur. The main ways to travel to Sandakan from within Sabah are by plane, by public bus or by private transport.

    By plane

    Internal flights operate daily from Kota Kinabalu (BKI) and Tawau to Sandakan Airport. Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines operate daily flights from these airports to Sandakan. You can also fly direct from Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL) to Sandakan Airport on a daily basis. Flying to Sandakan is an easy, quick option and if flights are booked well in advance you can typically pick up low price tickets with the airlines.

    By public bus

    A slightly cheaper option than flying is to catch a public bus to Sandakan Bus Station. You can catch a public bus from bus stations in Kota Kinabalu, Semporna or Tawau to Sandakan. The most popular bus route is from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. In Kota Kinabalu, you will need to go to the northern bus terminal (located in Inanam). There are several buses here going to Sandakan on a daily basis. We’d suggest you try and catch the first buses to depart in the morning as it’s a long journey to Sandakan bus station (a ~ 6 – 7 hour journey). 

    By private transport 

    This includes hiring a car to drive to Sandakan, using a local taxi or via an organised private coach transfer. 

    How do I get to the Kinabatangan River Independently?

    For independent travellers wanting to arrange their own way to the Kinabatangan River, there aren’t any direct public transport services to the two main villages on the river which provide access to Lodges on the Kinabatangan River – Bilit & Sukau. You would need to use local bus service and ask to be dropped off at Sukau Junction, followed by catching a transfer with a local van from Sukau Junction to either Bilit or Sukau (a ~ 45km journey). For this option, you still need to have booked a stay at a Lodge near the Kinabatangan River and arranged a transfer with the Lodge from your drop off point. This option may be a cheaper alternative to an organised tour but is a lot more hard work and involves more time for the amount you may save.   

  • Where can I see pygmy elephants in Borneo?

    The pygmy elephant (or Bornean pygmy elephant) are the smallest elephants in Asia and are endemic to Borneo. With only about 1,500 Bornean pygmy elephants left on Borneo, they are classified as critically endangered. For those visiting Borneo to see wildlife, the Bornean Pygmy elephant is likely to be in your top 5 of things to see. Encountering a herd of these elephants is unforgettable, and often once in a lifetime, experience. Whilst Borneo is big (it’s the third-largest island in the world) the pygmy elephant can only be found in a limited area in the forests of northeastern Borneo (with most found in Sabah, Borneo). The pygmy elephants migrate throughout the year, following a traditional corridor, and the top three places to see pygmy elephants in Sabah, Borneo are as follows:-

    Kinabatangan River

    The Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is a narrow corridor of Protected lowland rainforest along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Herds of the Bornean Pygmy elephant migrate through this sanctuary and when they are passing through they can be seen for a few days along the banks of the river as they forage for food. If you are lucky to be visiting the Kinabatangan River whilst they are in the area you will have the privilege of being able to watch the elephants during morning and afternoon river cruises. As with all wildlife encounters, sightings cannot be guaranteed but the more days you spend at a Lodge on the Kinabatangan River (and therefore more river cruises you join) the increased chance of seeing the rarer wildlife finds like the pygmy elephant. 

    Danum Valley

    Danum Valley, or Danum Valley Conservation Area, is one of the largest protected areas of primary rainforest in Sabah and offers a ‘safe-haven’ for the pygmy elephant and other wildlife found here. Elephants can often be seen along the access roads into Danum Valley, as well as roaming through the forest. There are two locations tourists can stay at in Danum Valley to see wildlife – Borneo Rainforest Lodge and Danum Valley Field Centre. At both locations, you are able to join guided treks into the forest, and guided night drives, in search of wildlife including the Bornean pygmy elephant.

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve

    Tabin Reserve is considered to be the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia and covers an area of lowland forest of approximately 300,000 acres. It is home to the Bornean pygmy elephant as well as many other endangered wildlife species. Similar to Danum Valley, the access roads and guided treks into the forest provide the best opportunities to see pygmy elephants. There is one location tourists can stay at in Tabin Reserve – Tabin Wildlife Resort.

  • Where can I see orangutans in Borneo?

    Seeing an orangutan in its natural habitat is one of the top reasons for coming to Borneo. In Borneo, there are around 11,000 orangutans in Sabah and 1,600 in Sarawak. In Sabah, the top three places to see orangutans in the wild, along with other wildlife encounters on offer, are the Kinabatangan River, Danum Valley and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. 

    Kinabatangan River, Sabah

    the Kinabatangan River is one of the best wildlife-watching destinations in Southeast Asia. If you spend a few days here joining river cruises you will have a very good chance of seeing an orangutan in the wild. Wildlife watching on the Kinabatangan is done from boats making this location suitable for a range of ages and fitness levels. The Kinabatangan River is the easiest and most ‘comfortable’ option in Borneo for seeing Orangutans in the wild.

    Danum Valley, Sabah

    Danum Valley is the best place to see wild orangutans in pristine, undisturbed forest. Sightings are not ‘guaranteed’ but there is a pretty good chance of seeing an orangutan if you spend a few days at Danum. You will join guided treks into the forest in search of wildlife (including orangutans). The trekking is relatively easy so you don’t need to be super fit. 

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

    Tabin Wildlife Reserve is a large protected forest area covering 122,500 hectares. At Tabin, there are reasonable chances of seeing an orangutan by joining guided treks into the forest but they are not as high as Danum or the Kinabatangan. 

    Alongside these ‘seeing orang-utans in the wild’ options, you also have the chance to see orangutans at the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. At Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre illegally captured, orphaned and injured orangutans are taught to survive in the wild again. The Centre has two feeding sessions a day which is open to the public during which you can go to a raised platform to watch the orangutans come in from the surrounding forest to be fed.

    Which one of these options is best for you for seeing orangutans in Borneo depends upon your budget, how to fit you are, how much time you have and the way you want to go in search of orangutan (by foot, boat or 4WD safari). Choose one, or more, of the above options to have the best chance of seeing an orangutan in Borneo.

  • How far is Kinabatangan River from Sandakan Airport?

    The journey from Sandakan Airport (SDK) to Kinabatangan River (Bilit) is 156 kilometres and takes 1 hour 57 minutes approximately. The route it takes is:

    Follow Jalan Airport and Jalan Lintas Labuk to Jalan Ranau – Sandakan/Jalan Sapi Nangoh/Route 22 for 8 min (5.1 km)

    Follow Jalan Ranau – Sandakan/Jalan Sapi Nangoh/Route 22 and Jln Sandakan-Lahad Datu/AH150 to Kinabatangan for 1 hr 13 min (73.9 km)

    Take Jalan Sukau to Jalan Kampung Bilit for 32 min (36.8 km)

  • How far is it from Kinabatangan River to Danum Valley Feild Centre Office in Lahad Datu?

    The route to the Danum Valley Feild Centre Office in Lahad Datu is 124 kilometres and takes approximately 1 hour 54 minutes. Here is the normal route:

    Take Jalan Sukau to AH150 for 32 min (36.8 km)

    Follow AH150 to Lorong Fajar 1 in Lahad Datu for 1 hr 19 min (87.0 km)

    Take Lorong Fajar 2 and Lorong Fajar 6 to Lorong Fajar 9 for 2 min (190 m)

  • Is Kinabatangan River safe to visit?

    As far as we know looking at local papers and government announcements There has never been any history of a security or criminal acts in the Kinabatangan area. This also includes Danum Valley, Tabin, Selingan island and Lankayan Island. However, there was a very small isolated incident on the outskirts of Sandakan.

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