2017 Dates: SOLD OUT
2018 Dates: May 15
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KUCHING-MULU-HEADHUNTERS TRAIL-LIMBANG-KOTA KINABALU
Join a team of like-minded women and immerse yourself in Borneo’s varied treasures with this 10-day package encompassing Kuching and the natural wonders of Mulu National Park and World Heritage Area. Sample a taste of adventure by caving, kayaking and trekking through remote rainforest. Luxuriate in nature’s wonders cruising remote riverways by longboat. Experience the heartwarming pleasure of meeting people still grounded in a traditional way of life. And take in natural scenery and wildlife of such magnificence that it will quite simply take your breath away in wonder.
You’ll also have the chance to help protect this incredible place and its people by volunteering as part of your itinerary. It’s your chance to give back, without sacrificing lots of time.
Our tours enable you to connect with the locals, walk the path less travelled and have some flexibility and ‘down time’ not available in mainstream tour packages. But we also include the iconic sights of the region as well. Sound like the trip for you?
The tour starts in Kuching and finishes in Kota Kinabalu, leaving you to explore Sabah or fly direct to a variety of destinations (including Perth).
For some travellers this tour will be a walk in the park literally! For others, it may test your endurance and perhaps your comfort zone. Please make sure you fully understand the physical demands of trekking and travelling in Borneo before booking. You’re most welcome to call or email to talk through your needs or any other concerns you may have.
Additional tours are available on request or if your time is limited you can depart direct from Mulu before the Headhunters Trek.
See HIGHLIGHTS OF SARAWAK for the 7-day itinerary.
Kuching experiences: Bako National Park, Semonggoh Wildlife Centre, kayaking, volunteering with Project Orangutan, Matang Rehabilitation Sanctuary
Mulu National Park experiences: Show cave tour of Deer and Lang Cave, bat exodus, adventure caving in Clearwater Cave, Cave of Winds, Batu Bungan longhouse craft market, night walk and volunteering at local school.
Headhunters Trail experience: trekking, longboat rides, overnight at outcamp and longhouse.
Flights: Kuching-Mulu. Limbang-Kota Kinabalu
Accommodation: Staying in The Mariam Boutique Hostel, Kuching, Mulu National Park, Headhunters Trail (Does NOT include Kota Kinabalu accommodation)
Meals: all breakfasts, picnic lunches when required and some evening meals
Pre tour meeting 7pm at The Mariam Boutique Lodgings on the evening prior to our tour.
Bako National Park
Depart the hotel at 8am. Breakfast on famous Sarawak laksa, popiah or roti at a popular local cafe.
Journey to Bako National Park on a 20-minute boat ride through a stilted water village bustling with local fisherman. As the inlet opens to the calm waters of the South China Sea we pass traditional fish traps, mangroves and islands. Look out for the bottlenose dolphin, crocodiles, water monitors and coastal sea eagles.
Bako National Park provides the perfect introduction to your wildlife encounter with regular sightings of the proboscis monkey, long-tailed macaque, silver leaf monkey and wild boar.
Explore a trail or two and enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to town.
Behind the scenes with Project Orangutan, Matang Rehabilitation Sanctuary
The dedicated staff and volunteers at Matang are committed to the care and rehabilitation of endangered Bornean wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to get behind the scenes and learn what is required to keep this valuable volunteer project at Matang afloat. Warning – you may find yourself smitten by the endearing nature of the resident orangutans.
Project Orangutan is a conservation company helping to save and protect the endangered wildlife on Borneo. They specialise in ethical volunteering and tourism experiences working with the magnificent orangutan and other protected species such as the clouded leopard, binturong, sun bear and false gharial, among others.
As we join the Project Orangutan team for the day we have an exceptional opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes insight into orangutan conservation and rehabilitation.
We will have the chance to spend time with experts in the field, who will be happy to share their experiences and knowledge as they orientate us with the centre’s residents and facilities.
After lunch it’s our turn to help out, whether it’s making ‘toys’ for orangutans, building infrastructure or ‘mucking-out’ living quarters – yep, we roll our sleeves up and get down and dirty in our effort to provide real support to the centre, rather than a tokenistic volunteering gesture.
and River Kayaking
Depart 8am for a full day of Borneo at its best. Kick start the day with a visit to Semenggoh Wildlife Sanctuary to witness orangutans in a relatively natural setting.
Semenggoh was established more than 40 years ago as a rehabilitation center for endangered animals and now has expanded to become a research facility into orangutan biology and behavior, providing vital information to safeguard the orangutans’ precarious future. Semenggoh also provides a successful breeding environment for orangutans unable to be rehabilitated into the wild. We’ll have the chance to see the sanctuary’s semi-wild orangutans, ranging from heart-meltingly cute infants and boisterous adolescents to the powerful male adults, as they enjoy life in a secure natural habitat.
From Semenggoh we venture further out of the city to embark on a kayak journey along the Sungai Sarawak Kiri River, stopping at scenic locations for swimming, sightseeing and a traditional longhouse lunch at a Bidayuh Village. You’ll be amazed at the ambiance, pristine beauty and sense of isolation of this river, only an hour from the State capital.
On our last night in Kuching we’ll share a meal with some of the treasured new friends encountered during our travels in and around Kuching.
This is your chance to enjoy Kuching at your own pace.
Take in the city on a morning bike tour, visit local markets, join a cooking class, visit Kuching's museums and temples or take it easy and indulge in a massage.
Mulu World Heritage Area
Pack your bags and get ready for the next leg of your journey as we fly into the heart of Borneo and Malaysia’s iconic World Heritage Area, Mulu National Park. With no road into this area you can expect a pristine wilderness full of all the weird and wonderful things that awarded it UNESCO’s world heritage status in all four criteria.
Find yourself captivated by enchanting underworlds – enormous caves home to great flocks of bats that cloak the sky in darkness as they swirl through the heavens. Wander through misty rainforest viewing claws of jagged rock and jungle-cloaked mountain peaks through breaks in the jungle canopy. Admire the riot of wildlife – from the tiny pigmy squirrel, to some of the largest insects on Earth. See exquisite orchids emerge from the dense leaf litter cloaking the jungle floor. Fall under the spell of this pulsing, breathing, living utopia.
After arriving at Mulu you’ll have a free afternoon to unpack and unwind. Your accommodation here is perched under forest canopy and embraced by a series of self-guided walks trails through the rainforest.
You may choose to walk, rest or swim. Here’s your chance to breathe out, ah, you’re here, among one of the world’s most treasured natural environments.
In the evening we regroup for a leisurely night walk on the walk trails around camp headquarters. This two-hour guided tour will give you an insight into nocturnal jungle life.
Immerse yourself in the sounds of the rainforest, interpret the cacophony of jungle noises, watch the courtship dance of the firefly, search for luminescent fungi and scorpion and perhaps spot an elusive marsupial or two.
Every night is different and there is plenty of opportunity to take part in a few night walks or venture out on your own while in Mulu.
Volunteer at local school, visit Deer and Lang Cave and witness Mulu's Bat Exodus
SK Batu Bungan School
SK Batu Bungan is home to more than 100 primary school children from remote rivers and tributaries of the region. You’ll have the chance to volunteer here, on projects ranging from tree planting and painting to teaching English. Don the ‘let’s get down and dirty/I’m here to make a difference’ clothing and attitude and let’s get sweaty!
Mulu World Heritage Area
Return for lunch and regroup before our afternoon/evening tour to Deer Cave and the bat exodus.
Take an easy 2.7 km trail to Lang and Deer Caves. As you saunter through the rainforest and by jungle steams your guide will regal you with captivating stories of the plants and wildlife you encounter, and the traditional roles and customs for people who live in the jungle.
Lang Cave is possibly the most stunning cave in Mulu with a low ceiling that makes spotting the swiftlet and bats nesting in the bell-holes easy. It is adorned with lavishly decorated walls of shawls, layers of rim stone pools and spectacular stalagmites and stalactites.
Not far away is the jaw-dropping Deer Cave. With a cathedral-like cavern snaking two kilometres under the earth and a ceiling never lower than 90m high, Deer Cave is the biggest show-cave in the world.
Its cavernous reaches are also home to around three million wrinkle-lipped bats that emerge from the cave most evenings around sunset. We time our walk to witness the phenomenon of these bats streaming from the cave entrance – a stand-out scene in David Attenborough’s Planet Earth series. Watching the bats swirl through the sky in meandering rivers of black is a truly heart-stopping experience.
From within the cave you can also visit the ‘Garden Of Eden’, one of the most pristine collapsed cave systems in the world. Witness its dazzling beauty by peering through a 30-metre column of water streaming from above, like a giant shower for the jungle gods.
It will be late when we return and, although the pathway is lit, the scout and brownie guide rules of ‘be prepared’ are advisable in the jungle, so bring your torch.
Visit a local longhouse handicraft market on the way to adventure caving and a relaxing picnic at Clearwater Cave
We leave the park by longboat at 9.30am and travel up river stopping at Batu Bungan Craft Market. Here you can test your skills with a blowpipe, pick up some local crafts direct from the women who collect and weave the products or try your hand (or should we say nose!), with a Penan nose flute.
As we journey further up the river and out from under the forest canopy you’ll start to see the breathtaking beauty from a different perspective. Any boat ride on these rivers is like a meditation in nature and this one is no exception. You can’t help but feel alive, relaxed and complete as Mother Nature soothes your very soul with her beauty.
Next we travel through an intriguing underworld of cave passages, formed over two million years to create a winding network of tunnels snaking 220 kilometres under the earth.
First, we visit the Cave of Wind to enter the lavishly decorated halls of King Chamber, adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, flowrocks, helitites and rock corals.
From here we set out on a meandering boardwalk perched precariously along the cliffs to Clearwater Cave Picnic Area were we recharge with a light snack and refreshment before venturing through the ancient underground river passage of Clearwater Cave.
You’ll embark on a 200-step climb to Clearwater Cave entrance but the adventure really begins when you step off the show-cave boardwalk and into the cool, clear waters that have been carving out the expansive Clearwater Cave system across the millennia. Depending on the water levels, you will wade, swim and climb to the far reaches of Clearwater Cave and return via the same passage.
The duration of this tour varies considerably due to water levels and the fitness levels of the group.
Hours later, as we venture back into daylight there is time to relax, swim and feast by the cool waters that gave Clearwater Cave its name.
It will be late afternoon before the longboats take us down stream on the Sungai Melinau to Park Headquarters.
The Headhunters Trail
Spend the morning at your leisure. You may choose to offer more time to volunteer, take some downtime or sign up for a canopy skywalk.
Lunch-time departure for Camp 5.
Our last few days at Mulu allow you to journey even further into the remote heart of Borneo as we travel by longboat and remote trails along the historical Headhunters Trail of Borneo.
Averaging less than 200 visitors per year, the Headhunters Trail weaves through a pristine wilderness teeming with animals such as the samba deer, Borneo’s argus pheasant, a variety of monkeys and bird life including the rhinoceros hornbill.
Porters can be pre-booked to carry your backpack (up to 20kg) on request.
10km trek to Camp 5, at the Pinnacles.
Heading up river along the magnificent limestone cliffs of the Melinau formation, it’s time to prepare for our next adventure and the beginning of the Headhunters Trail.
We set off through flat jungle terrain on a 10km trek to Camp 5, the camp most popular for travellers embarking on the gruelling climb to the Pinnacles. The Pinnacles comprise a series of 45m high towers of limestone that piece through the jungle canopy in craggy towers of rock. Camp 5 is nestled at the base of the Pinnacles and alongside the dazzlingly clear waters of the Melinau River. Cool off with a dip under a nearby waterfall or chill out riverside before dinner.
For the super fit, adrenalin-charged traveller we can schedule a Pinnacles climb for you the day before. You’ll be able to share tales about your climb with your fellow travellers awaiting you back at camp, as you join together for your evening meal at Camp 5.
As Camp 5 houses up to 50 fellow travellers, most of whom are climbing the Pinnacles, it’s not unusual for late arrivals and early morning departures. We’ll sleep on basic mats in rooms allocated to 10 people per room.
We start the day early with a seven-kilometre trek enroute to Mentawai Rangers Station. You’ll watch the vegetation change as we emerge from the darkness of the jungle and enter the heath-like kerangas forest where our longboats await.
Relax in the longboat and watch the forest skyline for your last sightings of hornbills and monkeys, or scan the riverbank for sun-baking water monitors.
We spend the night at a modern interpretation of a Sarawak longhouse, complete with running hot and cold water, electricity and shiny tiled living spaces. Your hosts at Medamit will provide a traditional feast for our final night together and a glass or two of tuak. Drinking tuak is part of the traditional culture, but watch out - tuak bites!
The next morning is our last longboat ride past a scattering of longhouses as we draw closer to the town of Limbang. From Limbang we fly to Kota Kinabalu.
We hope that your final days trekking and travelling to Limbang provide the perfect opportunity to reflect on your journey, your contribution to the people, wildlife and lands of Sarawak and to solidify the friendships of the like-minded travellers drawn to Borneo Ethical Adventures. Together we will have enjoyed travel experiences that enrich mind, body and soul, both for travellers and those whose paths we cross.
We look forward to sharing this world with you.
Dates: 15 May, 2018
AU$ 2,450 p/p
Impressions from this tour
Breath the fresh air and take in the sights on the way to Bako National Park, Kuching