Explore Wildlife and Forests of Sandakan

Explore for wildlife and forests of Sandakan and experience the best of Nature in East Sabah with local naturalist / scientist.

Wild and Fun with the Wildlife and Forests of East Sabah

Explore Sandakan wildlife and forests with a forest ecologist-conservationist or his naturalist friends – visit conservation centres in Sepilok and a community conservation program in Lower Kinabatangan. This educational trip is a good opportunity to see the famous wildlife of Borneo in real person, learn about their ecology as well as their interactions with local culture. While learning about the importance of forests and the threats they are facing with their resident wildlife, your contribution also supports their conservation by the indigenous community and the work of this portal.

Sandakan wildlife and forests
River of Life: the Lower Kinabatangan is truly a unique place, where various wildlife of the forest come together.
Sandakan wildlife and forests
Help plant native trees to help restore riparian forest as wildlife corridor with a community in Lower Kinabatangan

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Sandakan – Sepilok
  • Check in to a resort in Sepilok where we will have a trip orientation.
  • Visit to the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) for an introduction to the tropical rainforest of Borneo.
  • Stay back after sunset to witness the spectacle of the giant flying squirrels gliding from tree to tree at the RDC canopy walk.
  • Join a night walk at RDC and look for slow loris, tarsier, among other nocturnal critters.
  • Dinner in Sepilok or Sandakan

Accommodation: Sepilok (TBC)

Day 2: Sepilok – KOPEL, Kg. Batu Puteh
  • Morning walk (by 6am) for birds and mammals.
  • Breakfast at resort followed by visit (by 9am) to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to see and learn more about orangutan.
  • Visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) to see and learn more about the smallest bear in the world.
  • Check out and transfer to Kg. Batu Puteh.
  • Check into KOPEL and late lunch at their riverside restaurant.
  • Boat transfer to Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC), and camp tour.
  • Forest restoration program – tree planting and forest ecology.
  • Sunset wildlife river cruise.
  • Dinner at TREC, and night walk.

Accommodation: Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: KOPEL (assuming changing scene from rainforest to homestay)
  • Sunrise wildlife river cruise.
  • Breakfast, and trekking (or relaxing / fishing by the lake).
  • Check out from TREC, and boat transfer to KOPEL base.
  • Introduce to homestay families, and lunch at homestay.
  • Visit Batu Tulug – an ancient burial cave, and tree nursery of KOPEL.
  • Afternoon sports / fishing with locals.
  • Sunset wildlife river cruise.
  • Dinner and experience with host families.

Accommodation: Miso Walai Homestay (Supu Adventure Camp, Mandaa Stay or continue to stay in TREC, subject to availability)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: KOPEL – Gomantong Cave – Sandakan
  • Breakfast at homestay.
  • Transfer to KOPEL base, and check out.
  • Visit Gomantong Cave for unique wildlife of a limestone cave ecosystem.
  • Learn about the ecology of a sustainable bird nest harvest system, conducted traditionally (usually in April, August, December) by the indigenous people, in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department.
  • Transfer to Sandakan, check into hotel (departure on this day is possible, please discuss for arrangement before booking flight)
  • Food hunt: lunch / tea / dinner / supper (own cost)

Accommodation: Hotel in Sandakan (TBC)
Meal: Breakfast

Day 5: Sandakan
  • Self exploration of Sandakan, continue with trip extension (e.g. Turtle Islands Park, or transfer to next destination / departure.

Trip details

  • Fitness level: Easy
  • Group size: 4 – 16 people
  • Suitable for 10-year-old and above
  • Trip cost: RM2000 per pax (twin-share); please enquire for single supplement or group discount
  • Deposit: RM1000 per pax
  • Start & end point: Sandakan (or Lahad Datu / Tawau if extend)
  • Includes: All programs, transport, accommodation, and meals stated (except for beverages); local guide fees; interpretation; entrance and conservation fees
  • Not included: Airfare, visa fee, insurance, bottled water & beverages, personal tips & expenses (e.g. laundry & souvenirs), special camera fees
  • This itinerary is flexible according to booking and weather conditions: accommodations on Day 2 and 3 may be decided among the four lodgings available at KOPEL, with the activities guaranteed regardless (i.e. minimum three river cruises + two walks, but no guarantee to be led by the trip leader if choose to stay separately); meanwhile the resort on Day 1 and hotel on Day 4 shall be chosen from the best available options

Trip extension – these options can be arranged before or after the trip:

Please write in to discuss possibilities of customization, to help you better explore the wildlife and forests of Sandakan.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre provides opportunity for close encounter with semi-wild orangutan, and to learn more about them.
See a Bornean sun bear playing and climbing at BSBCC, and learn about them from the founder of BSBCC himself (if you are lucky to see Dr. Wong S.T. the Papa Bear).
Sandakan wildlife and forests
The canopy walk of RDC is a great place for bird-watching and photography, and if you are lucky, you might even come across a friendly one on the trail.
Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC) of KOPEL: no AC nor fan but a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sleeping in the cuddle of Mother Nature.
Sandakan wildlife and forests
Tout ce qui est petit est mignon: the rainforest is a different world at night, where one can get up close with the petite ones, much more easily.
Sandakan wildlife and forests
A boat cruise along the Kinabatangan is not complete without the iconic proboscis monkeys, and the red-morph of a silver langur (right).
Explore the unique limestone ecosystem of Gomantong, and discover its extraordinary flora and fauna.
Learn about the ecology and business of swiftlets and their edible nests at Gomantong.
Observe the cycle of life in Gomantong Cave and appreciate the little things that run our world.
The swamp forest surrounding Gomantong Cave is also habitat for wild orangutan, and provides an opportunity to see them up close in the wild..
Join a 4WD safari to Deramakot if the boat safari in Kinabatangan is not enough to satisfy your crave for adventure and big wildlife of Borneo. Photos: You C.W. & Tam Y.C.
The very word “Semporna” means perfect in Malay languages, and these might explain why the water with its archipelago is so.
The Turtle Islands Park guarantees sighting of turtle nesting, and the release of hatchlings almost every night.
The town of Sandakan is not only famous for its history and culture, but also its variety of uniquely local foods.

(All photos and text by Khoo M.S., unless otherwise stated)