The lower Kinabatangan floodplains are abundant in wildlife, such as Orangutan, Pygmy elephants and Sun bears. You can spend time not just admiring this amazing landscape, but helping to protect it by restoring habitats and conducting wildlife population surveys. You will observe these endangered species in their natural environment and learn about their life cycles and their interconnected biodiversity roles. You will get immersed in the local community, the gentle ‘People of the River’ (Orang Sungai in Malay): visiting them in their homes, buying and planting saplings from their nurseries and contributing to environmental education for the school children in the village. You will gain a greater understanding about truly responsible tourism, by making a personal impact and maybe pushing your own limits in the tropical rainforest landscape.
Day 1: Arrival in Sandakan, Sabah
Your starting point for this trip is Sandakan, the second largest town in Sabah, located about 30 minutes by air and 6 – 8 hours overland from the capital Kota Kinabalu. It is a quaint port town and tha airport also has flights direct from Kuala Lumpur in West Malaysia. You will be met by a team member and transferred to dormitory-style accommodation. In the evening, there will be a welcome dinner and an introduction to the programme.
Day 2: Transfer to project site in Kinabatangan river valley
After breakfast, you will travel to the project site located in a small village in the Sukau area of the Kinabatangan river. You will be shown your accommodation (with either shared or ensuite warm water showers and toilets). There will be an orientation around the village and a Health and Safety briefing. All your project activities will be accompanied by an English-speaking programme guide.
Day 3 – 10: Project Days
The project involves diverse activities, which may vary depending on the weather and other local conditions. These will include:
- Wildlife observation to collect important wildlife population data. You will use the local small river boats to cruise along the river and record your observations of the local wildlife species and their habitat. This data is used for population density surveys.
- Habitat restoration work involves tree-planting and maintenance activities at high priority areas. It involves generating saplings in the nursery and then planting, mulching, clearing invasive species and collecting data on tree growth. These are crucial in connecting fragmented forest in the area to encourage healthy orang-utan and pygmy elephant populations.
- Community and Education programmes involve interaction with the villagers and the students of the village school to promote conservation. The programme guide will assist you in preparing this session.
- Habitat knowledge: You will go on a jungle trek to learn about the various aspects of the rainforest habitat and its resources for the inhabitants in terms of shelter, food and medicine.
- Community impact: In order to give back to the community, you will be hosted for most of your meals by the villagers, which will not only provide them with some income, but also allow you an insight into their lives and culture based around the river and the rainforest.
Day 11: Travel to Sepilok
Depart for Sepilok. Walk through the Rainforest Discovery Centre to reinforce what you have learned about the rainforest the last few days. After lunch, visit Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre where you will learn about the challenges of orang-utan rehabilitaion. After this learning session, you will head into Sandakan. Check into accommodation. Free at leisure. Try to catch the sunset from the rooftop bar.
Day 12: Depart from Sandakan
Check out and transfer to Sandakan airport. Suggested departure before 17.00 hrs.