Borneo Real World Studies Expedition

This ten day trip is jam-packed full of adventure, project work and educational content. Using the Real World Studies Pathway, you will be developing your practical skills through projects and will also be exploring the theory and impact behind each project. You will also have the opportunity to experience life in the jungle with a 3 night stay in our jungle camp.

  • Location Borneo, Asia
  • Duration 10 days
  • Expedition Type Real World Studies

Experience true jungle living on this educational and adventurous expedition. Work closely with local people on community projects and learn more about the protection of orangutan habitats. Experience a true insight into the Bornean way of life and help work towards creating a sustainable change.

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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.

  • Ongoing pre-expedition support
  • Flights and in-country transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Food and accommodation
  • Entry costs to places mentioned in the itinerary
  • Real World Studies resources and material
  • Project costs
  • Leader and staff costs
  • Camps t-shirt
  • Orientation and language lessons
  • 24 hour emergency support
  • Reserve location

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 at Kota Kinabalu Fly into Kota Kinabalu International Airport where you’ll be met by one of our friendly Camps crew who will travel with you to our flagship camp – Camp Bongkud. Along the way, you will make a stop at the Kundasang War Memorial where you will learn about the fate of Australian and British prisoners of war during WWII. When you reach camp, you will be greeted by the team and the Camp Manager. You will have the opportunity to settle into your accommodation (a traditional longhouse) before an expedition briefing and a village tour. The evening will be spent enjoying a traditional Bornean dinner and a cultural performance by the local villagers.
Day 2 Introduction to local culture After a much-needed sleep and a good breakfast, you’ll receive a cultural introduction to the Bornean way of life. There will be a chance for you to get in the kitchen and try your hand at making some delicious traditional cuisine. After lunch you will be starting your project work. You’ll be working alongside our locally employed craftsmen learning traditional skills and getting an insight into the challenges that the villagers of Bongkud face.
Day 3 Understanding community issues Today you will be up early to take a walk up Bongkud Hill to enjoy a spectacular sunrise across the surrounding countryside. You’ll then head back to camp for breakfast before settling down for a Real World Studies lesson. Borneo receives significantly less government funding than the rest of Malaysia meaning that teachers are under-qualified, facilities are poor and teacher-student ratios are low. You will learn more about these issues and develop understanding of the education system in Borneo and how project work can have a positive impact on this issue. You will then get to grips with making traditional handicrafts that the community can sell to make an income and following a tasty lunch, you will be back on the project site to continue your work. It isn’t all work and no play – in the evening you will get to know your local neighbours with a variety of fun sports matches and cultural activities. There will also be a chance to reflect on the days activities before you head to bed.
Day 4 Project work After a good night’s sleep, you’ll head over to the project site to continue your work. After lunch at camp, you will be working with your team to prepare an action plan that could be used to improve education within the village. This will be drawing upon everything you have learnt leading up to and during the expedition and putting the theory into practice. In the evening, there will be a chance to play games and host sport matches with the local children before tucking in to a delicious meal cooked by the camp chefs.
Day 5 Poring Hot Springs After breakfast, you will finish off your community project work before heading back to camp to start packing for tomorrow’s journey into the jungle. After lunch, 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 6 Transfer to Batu Puteh 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 head out on a night safari walk before spending the night sleeping in hammocks under the stars.
Day 7-8 Forest regeneration work Over the next few days, you’ll be getting involved in vital forest regeneration work such as seed collection, forest restoration and learning about ethnobotany. You will also be treated to an early morning river cruise with the chance to spot some of Borneo’s incredible wildlife! In the evenings, you’ll enjoy dinner at the jungle camp before reflecting on the day’s projects.
Day 9 Orangutans and Kota Kinabalu There will be an early start this morning as you head to Sepilok to visit the Orangutan Sanctuary and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Witness these incredible animals up close and learn about the important conservation work that is taking place to protect them. You will then transfer to Sandakan airport for a flight transfer to Kota Kinabalu. On arrival in the city, you will spend the afternoon exploring local craft markets before heading to a hostel for the night.
Day 10 Departure Today you will be transferred back to the airport in time 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

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

Habitat conservation

Habitat conservation

Batu Puteh is an incredible haven for a large majority of Borneo’s wildlife including orangutans, elephants and proboscis monkeys, and is one of the world’s most important natural habitats. However, it’s also one of the most threatened. You’ll get involved in activities to help safeguard this wildlife paradise for future generations by helping to tackle deforestation.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
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Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

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Life on land

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

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. It’s 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
Camp Batu Puteh

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: Mains electricity in homestay only (British 3 pin power sockets). Gas lighting available in eco camp
  • Signature dish: Local cakes – Linggang & Gelang

Great experiences, enthusiastic staff and a real passion for making a difference to communities. Students on expeditions have gained the confidence to widen their horizons.

Caroline, Travelling Teacher 2019

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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