Borneo Expedition: 3 Weeks

Spend time exploring one of the world’s most stunning natural gardens – Borneo. A unique ecosystem of vibrant jungle and unexplored tropical wilderness, teeming with exotic wildlife. Work side by side with the local community on projects that help transform lives.

  • Location Borneo, Asia
  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Expedition Type Impact

Experience the diversity of Borneo’s’ changing landscapes as you travel from the hustle and bustle of Kota Kinabalu to the lush peaceful regions of Bongkud and Tinangol. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of this fascinating country as you visit the Kundasang War Memorial and learn about the famous gong making cottage industry of Kampung Sumangkap. Spend time working alongside the local community on vital projects – learning an abundance of new skills and making life long friends.

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A fully supported expedition, from start to finish

Your expedition cost is comprehensive and covers the incredible activities you’ll be taking part in, as well as the extensive support you’ll receive in the lead up to, and during, your expedition.

Don’t forget you’ll also need your vaccinations, visas, kit and some spending money. You can find guidance on all of these on your personal Traveller Gateway once you sign up.

  • Expedition Leader
  • All meals in camp
  • Unlimited drinking water
  • Accommodation
  • Local Transfers (excluding to and from Australian airports)
  • Project costs and management
  • 24 hour support throughout expedition

This sample itinerary will give you an insight into what you’ll be getting up to. Please note, the exact projects, activities and camps may change closer to the time of your expedition.

Day Activities More details
Day 1 Arrive in Kota Kinabalu On arrival at Kota Kinabalu, you will be met by a member of our awesome Camp Borneo crew and will travel to Camp Tinangol. When you arrive at camp, our Camp Manager will run an arrival briefing, camp orientation and tour of the local village. You will then enjoy a tasty homecooked dinner before settling down for a good night’s sleep in your traditional long house accommodation.
Day 2 – 6 Community Project Work You will spend the next few days volunteering on projects that will provide local people with much-needed facilities. You’ll work alongside local people and skilled tradespeople who will teach you traditional skills and give you an insight into the challenges that the villagers of Tinangol face, helping you understand the impact of your work here.
Day 7 Kampung Sumangkap – The Gong Making Village Explore the village of Kampung Sumangkap, famous for its gong-making cottage industry and learn how these important cultural musical instruments are made. You may even be treated to a musical demonstration.
Day 8 Transfer to Camp Bongkud This morning you will travel to Camp Bongkud, our flagship Bornean camp. On the way there, we’ll make a short stop at the Kundasang War Memorial where you will learn about the fate of British and Australian soldiers during WWII. Once you reach camp, you’ll have time to settle into your accommodation before enjoying a delicious evening meal and a cultural welcome performance from the local community.
Day 9 Sunrise walk Today you will have an early start as you take a walk up Bongkud hill to enjoy a spectacular sunrise across the surrounding countryside – it’s well worth getting up early for! In the afternoon, we’ll start on project work in the community, helping to improve the infrastructure and facilities for the rapidly increasing population in Bongkud.
Day 10 – 14 Community Project Work Over the next few days you will be continuing your project work with the local community. In the evenings you will have the chance to get involved in some cultural activities and sports with the locals.
Day 15 Poring Hot Springs After finishing off your project work in the morning you will head to Poring Hot Springs. Here you will get a stunning view of the jungle as you walk high above the trees on the canopy walkway. When you return to camp, you will enjoy a traditional dinner and cultural farewell from the Camps crew and local community.
Day 16 Into the Jungle Today you will set off early to the jungle region of Batu Puteh. Here you will be met by the team at KOPEL, a local environmental organisation – who will explain the projects that you will be involved with over the next few days. In the afternoon you will travel along the river to our jungle camp where you will spend the night sleeping in hammocks under the stars.
Day 17 – 18 Forest regeneration work Over the next few days, you will be getting involved in vital forest regeneration work such as seed collection, forest restoration and learning about ethnobotany. You’ll also have the chance to spot some incredible wildlife on a river safari.
Day 19 Orangutans and sun bears Today you head to Sepilok to visit the Orangutan Sanctuary and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where you’ll get to see these incredible animals up close and learn about the important conservation work that is taking place to protect them. In the afternoon you will visit the Sandakan War Memorial before checking into a hostel for the night.
Day 20 Travel to Kota Kinabalu This morning you will say your goodbyes to the team as you head back to Sabah’s capital city, Kota Kinabalu. If time permits, you will get to enjoy a tour of the city before heading out for dinner.
Day 21 Departure It’s time to bid goodbye to Borneo and say your final farewells to the team before you head to the airport for your flight home.

How you’ll make a difference

You’ll work on a range of projects throughout your expedition, each aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and designed to make a significant and lasting impact on the region’s most critical issues.

Village enhancement projects

Borneo – Village enhancement projects

You’ll get involved in a number of projects to improve facilities for the rapidly growing population of Bongkud. Projects may include constructing a youth centre, improving the drainage system to ensure cleaner and healthier living and establishing a community farming programme to improve food security and encourage self-sufficiency within the village, without needing to transport supplies from larger towns.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
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Zero hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

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Good health and well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

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Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

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Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Community care construction

Borneo – Community centre construction

Community centres (‘Balai raya’ in Malay) are commonplace in Sabah and form an integral part of village life. A well-used and maintained community hall is often a good indicator of the health of the community itself. You’ll be getting involved in a long-term project to construct a community centre for the local community, who currently do not have one.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
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Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

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Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Experience the local way of life in our authentic camps

Our camps are the heart of our expeditions. Built and staffed by locals in the traditional style, and located within the heart of communities, they are the perfect place to relax after a day of project work. You’ll get to stay in a number of camps during your expedition, which could include those featured below.

Camp Bongkud

Camp Bongkud

Set in the shadows of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, Camp Bongkud is surrounded on all sides by lush picturesque scenery. Its hillside location gives it a pleasant breezy climate which makes it the ideal hillside retreat after a hard day’s project work.

Being in the heart of the village also has its advantages; all your project sites are only a short walk away and you can challenge the locals to a friendly game of volleyball on the community court during your downtime.

  • Location: 127 km (3-3.5 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 160 km from Kudat
  • Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses
  • Bed type: Comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net.
  • Toilets: Flushing toilets,
  • Showers: Cold water showers & sinks
  • Power: Mains electricity backed up by generator (between 18:00 – 22:00). British 3 pin power sockets
  • Social area: Chilling hut, volleyball court, badminton & board games
  • Signature dish: Banana fritters & steamed banana cake
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Camp Tinangol

This charming camp is situated just beyond the rural Rungus community of the same name and is in keeping with the rest of the village, giving you a really authentic experience and immersing you fully in the local culture. In no time at all this will feel like your home away from home and the hospitality and friendliness of the locals will make you not want to leave!

Each longhouse has a corridor running the length of the structure. On one side there is communal space for chilling out and socialising, on the other side are sleeping rooms. Traditionally entire families would live in a single longhouse that may be up to 100 ft long.

  • Location: 150 km (3 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 40 km from Kudat
  • Accommodation: Traditional longhouses
  • Bed Type: Comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net
  • Toilets: Flushing toilets
  • Hygiene: Cold water showers & sinks
  • Power: Mains electricity. British 3 pin power sockets
  • Signature dish: Sweet & Sour seafood dishes/BBQ
  • Social area: Volleyball court, badminton & board games. Small community shop nearby
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Camp Batu Puteh

Batu Puteh is all about getting back to nature! Our jungle camp is set in the heart of one of Borneo’s most ancient forests along the banks of the Kinabatangan river where you’ll get the chance to live alongside elephants and orangutans for an experience that’s hard to beat.

Our camp offers three types of accommodation and you’ll hopefully get a chance to try them all:

Jungle camp: Get back to basics and experience true adventure. Learn how to rough it in the jungle with local guides accompanying you and showing you the ropes. Sleep in a hammock and cook over a camp fire before falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest.

Eco camp: A little more luxury but still an exciting wilderness experience. This camp offers raised camping platforms where you can enjoy camping in the great outdoors.

  • Location: 350 km (6 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 60 km from Lahad Datu
  • Accommodation style Jungle Camp: Hammock, tarpaulin & mosquito net. No toilet or washing facilities – completely back to nature!
  • Accommodation style Eco Camp: Tents with comfy mattresses & bedding. Flushing toilets, cold showers & sinks
  • Power: Gas lighting available in eco camp
  • Signature dish: Local cakes – Linggang & Gelang

Throughout my Borneo trip all the camps staff made me feel as though I was at home, there was not one point on the expedition where I wished at was at home. Camps international made me build confidence, integrity, kindness and leadership within myself. This expedition gave me a new outlook onto things and memories to never be forgotten. I would recommend any expedition with camps international to anyone, it was truly the best thing I have ever done.

Sophie, Camp Borneo 2018

Our local camp legends

Our camps are staffed by members of the community who will make you feel like a local in no time. These legends will make your expedition spectacular and will show you the very best of their home country.

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As a Camps traveller, you’ll get to learn about our rich Bornean culture and experience its spectacular beauty – from mountains to coasts and jungles full of flora and fauna. Many people in rural villages in Sabah don’t have the opportunity to travel to other countries, so having travellers come to stay at camp is an amazing opportunity for cultural exchange (both ways!) and inspires the younger generations to study hard and see the world.

Interested in this expedition?

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