Borneo is one of the world’s greatest wildlife watching destinations and despite the ongoing deforestation around the island for the palm oil plantations there are still many areas of wonderful wilderness left. Including places which are currently unknown to the wider world and several locations which are just coming to prominence now. Tawau Hills National Park is one of these newer places, for the last couple of years scientists, conservationists and researchers have been travelling here and have found a wealth of wildlife and recorded many species which were before then unknown from this location.
What makes the Tawau hills so special is there rugged and pristine terrain, the hills have made sure that the large hard wood trees have remained free from logging for centuries and in fact the world’s tallest tropical tree in the world is known from here. These pristine forests are home to incredible wildlife and that is what we are here to see. There are several targeted species here but all will require a good amount of effort and luck. One of the top potential species here is probably the rarest animal in Borneo, the extremely rare and poorly understand Bay cat.
Also in the forested hills here are some other species that are near mythical in their elusiveness, we will try for tufted ground squirrel as well as Hose’s civet whilst here, but all mammals are so little understood that seeing any of them will require a lot of luck.
Muller’s Borneo Gibbon
Kayan Slow Loris
Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel
Destination: Borneo (Malaysia)
Tour Dates: 9/9/2020 – 15/9/2020
Duration: 6 nights
Type / Focus: Rare Mammals & Birds
Tawau Town / Tawau Hills National Park (Lowlands)
Today you will be collect from the airport in Tawau and start our drive towards the nearby Tawau Hills National Park. We recommend you arrive early in the morning as it is a few hours (5-6 hours) hike to get to our accommodation yp the hills today. If we have time we will arrive at the lowland station and rearrange our luggage, sending some up with porters before hiking up ourselves. If we do not have time to make it up there today we will spend the night down in the lowlands and in the evening / night have a night walk around the gardens here which have results in Malay civets, Sunda colugos and a wealth of frogs, snakes and other wildlife after dark.
The walk up the hills is around 10km hike up through the dense forest to the accommodation. Along the way we recommend keeping an eye out for wildlife and bearded pigs, Bornean Muller’s gibbons and various species of birds can be seen on the hike up.
When you reach the top you will rest and settle in before having a night walk around the trails here to see if you can spotlighting some wildlife.
Tawau Hills National Park (Hills)
When in the forested hills for 4 full days we will be deep in the heart of the Tawau Hills, we will walk around 1-2km every day to different areas in the forest which we believe are good areas for wildlife. We will then stake out these places for a few hours to see if any wildlife comes to these places. Several species can be seen around the accommodation including Brook’s squirrel, ear-spot squirrel and Whithead’s pygmy squirrel.
There are many other species here in this forest including gibbons, various civets, many species of birds and also some rare mammals such as clouded leopards and the fabled tufted ground squirrel. Whether or not we find one of the very rare species (including the bay cat) we don’t know but we should see plenty of other wildlife in the stunning and diverse Tawau Hills.
In the late evening or just after dark we will also have the option for night walks, there are a few streams around here which can be very productive for amphibians and reptiles and maybe a very rare mammal (the poorly understood Hose’s civet). There are also other nocturnal species around such as Kayan slow loris and whiskered flying squirrel which can be seen with some effort too.
Tawau Hills National Park (Lowlands)
This morning you will have one more chance for wildlife in the hills of Tawau, before heading back down the hills to the lowland accommodation. On arrival there you will have the rest of the afternoon free to rest and relax and then after dinner you will be taken out for another night walk around the gardens again.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
Borneo’s climate is very tropical. This means one minute the weather is hot and humid, the next it is raining in sheets. However, in general, throughout the year, the temperature during the day remains in between 21-30C. As with all tropical climates, Borneo has a rainy season and a dry season. The dry season lasts from May to September. The wet season however is harder to define and forecast. September is the height of the dry season and this should improve our chances of seeing wildlife. However you should always expect rain in Borneo – at any time of year.
Everything mentioned in the above itinerary is included. Including accommodation, all transfers, guides, activities and most meals are included (however lunches and dinners in towns and cities are often not included). There will be bottled water provided on request throughout the tour.
We will also have our own private vehicles for transfers and excellent local drivers. We also use expert local guides in Tawau Hills National Park who have years of experience working these areas and all safari activities are included. All your park entrance fees are also included. Also included is a good selection of field guides about the local wildlife as well as a selection of documentaries about Bornean wildlife. If you wish to watch any of these they will be available of the tour leader’s laptop and the books are available for you to use on request.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes and also light wicking. Long sleeves are good to keep you out of the sun. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing and if we can send a zoologist escort we will also bring a thermal imaging scope.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
We do not book international flights, however we do recommend certain airlines that have good connections to and from our tour start and exit point. We are based in the UK and so recommend these airlines based on what is best available from our home airports (in London and Manchester for example), however we can recommend flight options for you based on wherever you are travelling from.
Good airlines to get from the UK to Malaysia is KLM or Air Malaysia, both have a few different options for arrival and departure from Kuala Lumpur and provide competitive prices and a good standard of service on board. Flights from KL to Borneo are easy to connect and Air Malaysia and Air Asia run regular flights to many destinations in Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are not required to have a visa issued in advance for Malasyia. You can get a visa on arrival at Kuala Lumpur airport, but it is recommended you seek advance from the Malaysian embassy or consulate in your home country for more information.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Malaysia, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics (although this is not mandatory). Please consult your doctor about your individual requirements for visiting Indonesia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Ms. Grinberga - Latvia
Miles & Ingrid - England, UK
Ms. Ericson - Sweden
Mr. Scharf - California, USA
Mr. Hobbs - California, USA