Glen and Dennis did a fantastic job on this tour. Birding in the lowland rainforest looking for Pittas was certainly a challenge! Glen was informative, patient and persistent, and did his best in making sure that the entire group saw these fascinating birds. The itinerary was comprehensive, the accommodations were great and the food was excellent. Overall, a wonderful trip.
This exciting extension takes us deep into the vast and remote ocean of forest that cloaks the Sarawak province of Borneo. There, using recently-made logging tracks to gain access to these forests, we will endeavour to find several of the island’s seldom-seen endemics, including two of the most poorly-known species on earth, namely Black Oriole and Dulit Frogmouth. Fortunately, many of the species we will search for live in healthy numbers in the area, and we have a very high chance of finding such desired specials as Bornean Peacock Pheasant, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, Bornean Barbet, Mountain Barbet, Bornean Bulbul, Blue-banded Pitta, Hose’s Broadbill, Bornean Frogmouth, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Pygmy White-eye, Mountain Serpent Eagle and Bornean Leafbird! And while by no means guaranteed, we also have an excellent chance of finding both the oriole and the frogmouth, despite the fact that the former was only known from specimens until its recent discovery, while the latter has remained almost as poorly-known since 1891! In fact, our previous departures have enjoyed a 100% success rate with these two species, on top of recording all of the above-mentioned species.
On its own, this tour offers a chance at seeing around half of the island’s endemics, while as an add-on to our Malaysia & Borneo – Rainforest Mammals and Birds tour, the combination could add over 90% (all but three) of the island’s endemics to your list!
Black Oriole, Dulit Frogmouth, Bornean Peacock Pheasant, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, Bornean & Mountain Barbet, Bornean Bulbul, Blue-banded Pitta, Hose’s Broadbill, Bornean Frogmouth, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Pygmy White-eye, Mountain Serpent Eagle and Bornean Leafbird.
montane and sub montane forest
cool but comfortable in the higher areas, warmer and more humid lower down. Rain and mist is possible.
moderate pace with up and down walking in mountainous areas
Day 1: Kota Kinabalu to Merarap, via Klias Wetland Park
This morning, after an early breakfast we will depart for Klias Wetland Park in western Sabah. This great little park, set up to protect a patch of the regionally very vulnerable peat swamp, is serviced by an excellent network of boardwalks and even a couple of hides. Although the hides aren’t of much interest, a walk through swamp along the boardwalks is a wonderful way to access this otherwise rather inhospitable environment, and provides us with the opportunity to see some species that can be very difficult to find outside of this habitat. Chief among these are Red-crowned Barbet, Hook-billed Bulbul and Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, whilst other interesting sightings may include Ashy Tailorbird, Green Iora, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler.
After departing from the reserve, we will continue on to the border between the two Malaysian states, where will need to complete a simple formality, before heading to Lawas to transfer to four-wheel drive vehicles. Thereafter, a couple of hour’s drive will take us to Merarap, where we will enjoy a three-night stay.
Days 2 & 3: Birding in the Paya Maga area.
We will enjoy a full two day’s birding in the Paya Maga and Merarap areas, in search of some fabulous endemics. Our key target is obviously the very rare Black Oriole, but we will also have the opportunity to see a good number of other species that are often difficult or impossible to locate in the more-visited Sabah province of Borneo. Species included in this potential bounty include Bornean Leafbird, Bornean, Scaly-breasted and Straw-headed Bulbuls, Bornean and Mountain Barbets, Helmeted and Bushy-crested Hornbills, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Pygmy White-eye, Blue-banded and Bornean Banded Pittas, Black-and-white Bulbul and the rare Mountain Serpent Eagle, to name but a few. More widespread species that we may encounter include the attractive Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush, Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Raffle’s Malkoha, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Red-throated and Golden-whiskered Barbets, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Checker-throated Woodpecker, Spectacled Spiderhunter and Temminck’s Babbler.
Day 4: Merarap to Ba’kelalan
This morning on our Borneo birding tour, we depart on the drive to B’akelalan, gateway to the northern part of Pulong Tau National Park, and situated at about 950m in altitude, in a broad, fertile valley surrounded by forested hillsides. Our key target in this area will be the near-mythical Dulit Frogmouth and we’ll have our first opportunity to look for it this evening. We will spend two nights here at a basic lodge, affording us several opportunities to seek out this very rare and special species.
Day 5: Full day birding in the Bakelalan area
We have a full day of our Borneo birding tour to enjoy birding in this very seldom-visited area. Great species that we may find during our explorations here include the endemic and rarely encountered Mountain Serpent Eagle, Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove (which is probably easier to find here than anywhere else in its range), Oriental Bay Owl, the seldom-seen Bornean Frogmouth, Hose’s Broadbill, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Golden-naped Barbet and Back-throated Wren-Babbler, to name just a handful.
Day 6: Bakelalan to Kota Kinabalu
This morning we will depart on the drive back to Kota Kinabalu, where we will spend one night, before embarking on the Indonesian leg of our journey.
Day 7: Kota Kinabalu to Balikpapan, via Tarakan
Today on our Borneo birding tour, we will fly from Kota Kinabalu to Tarakan, and then onto Balikpapan in Kalimantan, where we are scheduled to arrive in the early evening. After our arrival, we will check into our hotel for a four-night stay.
Day 8 to 10: Sungai Wain Protected Forest
Sungai Wain Protected Forest harbors an incredible selection of Borneo’s lowland specials, more importantly, none more-desired than Bornean Peacock Pheasant and Bornean Ground Cuckoo – both of which we have a good chance of sighting. What’s more is, the reserve lies just a short distance from the town of Balikpapan, affording us the opportunity to make full-day trips from comfortable lodging!
Taking full advantage of this, we have set aside three full days of our Borneo birding tour to explore the forest there, searching for both the pheasant and the ground cuckoo, as well as a supporting cast that will hopefully include Grey-breasted Babbler, Bornean Wren-Babbler, Garnet Pitta, Malaysian Honeyguide, Great Argus, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Banded Broadbill, Rufous-tailed Shama and Large Frogmouth! We also stand a decent chance of bumping into Bornean Bristlehead – in itself, the major reason many birders visit Borneo! On the mammal front, a sighting of Orangutan is not unlikely, whilst White-fronted Langur will be our main mammal target.
Day 11: Sungai Wain Protected Forest and transfer to Tarakan
We will pay one last visit to Sungai Wain Protected Forest this morning, before boarding a mid-afternoon flight to Tarakan, where we will spend the final night of the tour.
Day 12: Tarakan to Kota Kinabalu
This morning we will take one final flight, from Tarakan to Kota Kinabalu, where the tour concludes.
What our clients say about tours to Malaysia & Borneo
- SP, Malaysia & Borneo
We felt that the trip was very well organised and efficient so we could spend as much time in the field as possible. Glen was a terrific guide – excellent birder as well as his concern that everyone was seeing the birds. Glen was very even in his manner at all times and with everyone.JW & MW, Malaysia & Borneo
Our tour was really exceptional, and our guide, Glen Valentine, was fabulous!!! Being in the jungle meant our views were narrowed, but Glen went out of his way to make sure everyone had a chance to see these exceptional birds.CM, Malaysia & Borneo
Dennis’s knowledge & ability to imitate bird calls is phenomenal. He is also an interesting person to travel with. I enjoyed Eric’s humour and felt he handled the group well.M, Malaysia & Borneo