Borneo Scuba Expedition

Experience the magic of scuba diving, learn about orangutan conservation and work hand in hand with Bornean communities on projects that help improve lives.

  • Location Borneo, Asia
  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Expedition Type Scuba

Journey from the white-sand beaches of picture-perfect Mantanani island, to the lush green landscapes of Sabah – a beautiful region in Malaysian Borneo. Get up close to colourful marine life and incredible orangutans, enjoying the abundance of biodiversity whilst learning about sustainable conservation. You’ll play a vital part in environmental and community projects before taking on the challenge of learning to scuba dive on a PADI Open Water Dive Course. This incredible expedition to Borneo is jam-packed with adventure and impact.

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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
  • In country transfers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Food and accommodation
  • Adventure challenge
  • 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 Leave for Borneo This morning you will make your way to your designated meeting point ready to embark on your journey to Borneo.
Day 2 Arrive in Kota Kinabalu Fly into Kota Kinabalu International Airport where you’ll be met by one of our friendly Camp Borneo crew who will travel with you to your first camp. When you reach camp, you will be greeted by the team and the Camp Manager, before settling into your traditional longhouse accommodation. You’ll enjoy a tour of the village and an expedition briefing so you know what to expect over the next few weeks. The evening will be spent enjoying a traditional Bornean dinner and a cultural performance by the local villagers.
Day 3 – 8 Community project work Over the next few days you will be getting stuck into some community project work. You could be getting involved in helping to build classrooms, constructing and refurbishing community buildings and installing water storage systems. Whichever project initiative you work on, you’ll be working hand in hand with locals to tackle real needs. During the evenings, you’ll get to experience more of the local culture, with language lessons and cultural dance sessions (be prepared to show off your best moves!).
Day 9 – 15 PADI open water scuba diving Today we’ll hit the road and head to the coast where you will be spending the next few days while you complete your PADI Open Water Dive course. You’ll meet your dive instructors who will give you a full briefing, before getting stuck in, with a mixture of theory and practical lessons. Over the coming days, you will progress to open water dives where you’ll have the chance to see an array of colourful marine life.
Day 16 – 20 Environmental project work Over the next few days you will be based at our environmental camp where you will learn more about the Borneo jungle and the challenges faced in this important habitat – home to many species including orangutans. Project work will include working on reforesting the area by growing and replanting native trees. You will also visit the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to see these amazing creatures up close and personal in their natural habitat. We’ll also take you to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre – the only one of its kind in the world – where you can learn about the conservation work happening here protect these unique bears.
Day 21 – 26 Community project work After travelling to your next camp, you will get stuck into some more community project work that is designed to benefit the local school and wider community. This could include low level construction, painting, plastering and brick laying. You will also have the chance to learn about local arts and crafts from the community.
Day 27 Explore the city of Kota Kinabalu Today you will head back to Kota Kinabalu for some sight-seeing and last-minute souvenir shopping. Depending on time, you may also get to spend some time by the coast, taking in the white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters before checking into your hostel for the evening.
Day 28 Goodbye Borneo After breakfast at the hostel, it’s time to say your final goodbyes to the Camp Borneo crew and head 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. 

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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

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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

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Ecotourism and recycling initiatives

Waste management is a big problem for the small island of Mantanani, and the natural environment is suffering as a result. You’ll work with a local NGO on a recycling centre which gives local people a place to recycle plastic waste so it doesn’t end up on the beaches. You may also participate in constructing eco-tourism stalls and structures to raise awareness of environmental issues.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
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Quality education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

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Community care 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 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 two 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
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 Mantanani

Camp Mantanani

For those who love white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and their own remote tropical island (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), Mantanani might just be the perfect location.

The island lies about 80km north of Kota Kinabalu and is home to around 800 permanent residents. The surrounding coral reef and lagoon are home to juvenile turtles, rays, a variety of tropical fish and even the occasional dolphin passes by.

The camp itself is set right on the beach a little way from the main village where many of our community projects are based, allowing you to feel part of this amazing community for the time that you’re here.

  • Location: 80 km north of Kota Kinabalu (around 1.5 hrs drive from KK to Kuala Abai Jetty, then 1 hr boat ride to Mantanani Island)
  • Accommodation style: Beautiful open sided driftwood bunk houses
  • Bed type: comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net
  • Toilets: Asian style toilets
  • Showers: cold water showers & sinks
  • Power: Generator (between 18:00 – 06:00). British 3 pin power sockets
  • Social area: Beach, campfire, volleyball courts
  • Signature dish: Stewed beef in soy sauce & pumpkin in coconut milk
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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
  • Showers: 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

The most breath-taking, life changing and beautiful month of my life. We were able to experience different cultures amongst many other activities like Scuba Diving. As well as experiencing a range of work which was a great privilege to be able to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Not only did Camps allow us to meet friends for life but also gave us memories that will last forever.

Sarah, Camp Borneo 2016

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. 

Eve

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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