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Showing reviews for Trails of Borneo

Number of Reviews: 22 Overall score: *****
Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

Our Borneo Adventure

4
Overall our trip was fantastic and a really good experience for both of us. We traveled as a couple on this trip and were well accommodated for in the hotels we stayed at and also on any transport we used whilst in Borneo. To keep this review concise we will break it into a few sections. Accommodation: Overall the places we stayed at on this trip were good. There was a lot of variety, everything from basic longhouse or camp stay all the way up to hotel and resorts. Personally, on both the stay at the longhouse and the night we spent at Camp 5 in Mulu National Park we didn't get particularly good nights sleep. We did not expect much from these places, but overall they were alright pretty basic. We opted not to make use of the shower facilities there out of personal preference, as it would only be a few hours before we would be checking into another place with better facilities. On the other end of the scale the hotels and resorts we stayed at were quite good. The Dreamtel in Kota Kinabalu was very good and we spent an extra night there due to changes in our itinerary because of the earthquake at the time. The main highlight with accommodation was definitely the Myne River Resort. The location was great and it was a pleasant place to stay. The room we stayed in was basic, but practical with everything we needed for a comfortable stay. There was a good selection of food there to choose from, usually in the form of a buffet or having several dishes place on the groups table and helping ourselves. It was a great place to stay for 2 nights and enjoy all the wildlife river cruises. Transportation: On this trip there was A LOT of travelling around, but it is the only way you are going to get to see all the great things that Borneo has to offer. We used a variety of minibuses on this trip, all of them had air conditioning and were pretty simple. We did have a larger bus in Sabah for a long trip, which was a much comfier option. There were also 2 ferry journeys on this trip, both taking place on the same day. Again they were pretty simple, but comfortable. The second of them was about a 4 hour trip in total. We also had 2 internal flights, which were both under 30 minutes each and pretty hassle free. Food: The food in Borneo is very good and tasty with a relatively high standard of preparation. However we did find it quite repetitive after a while. One of us is vegetarian and found most of the options available were very bland and the selection was not that varied. Some of the best food we actually had was in Mulu National Park. The Café there had a pretty decent selection of food there with very cheap prices. It was also the best place we had breakfast at. We are not big fans of having rice or noodles for breakfast and Mulu offered some great pancakes for breakfast. Our guide took us to all sorts of places each day. He helped with ordering the food and ensuring that what we had ordered was suitable for a vegetarian. He took us to a lot of places ranging from outdoor markets where we sampled the excellent street food in Limbang, all the way up to eating in nice hotels and resorts. We had a couple of nights in the City of Kota Kinabalu due to itinerary changes and on both nights we opted to venture out on our own to find somewhere to eat by ourselves. We found a nice place called Little Italy, which was something we had been deeply craving. We ended up eating there both times we were in the city and both the food and staff were excellent there. As all our breakfasts were included on this trip we only had to buy lunch and dinner where it was not provided. Depending on where you are staying you can expect to pay about 25 to 50 Rm per day. We opted not to buy alcoholic drinks until the end of the trip when we were at the final resort so we had better control on our money. The very first place we ate out in Miri I recall it being about 16 Rm for a large bottle of Tiger Beer that one of our members bought. Money: We opted not to exchange money at the airport in Kuala Lumpur as our operations executive stated to us that we could change money at the hotel we were staying at on the first night in Miri. However they did not offer this service to us and we had to go elsewhere to change money. We went to a local mall where the people behind the counter were less than helpful. The were very particular on the notes we presented to them (US Dollars). They pretty much threw back any note that had a mark on it or wasn't pristine in condition. This led to a lot of frustration on our side after a long journey. We eventually got our money changed there, but had only changed enough for the days we would spend in the National Park, which was about 400Rm, some of which went into the tipping kitty so we had less still for those 3 days. We managed very well with this money in the National Park though as the food on offer in the café was very cheap. When we got to Limbang we went in search of another money changer to get enough for the rest of our trip. There were plenty there, but it took a while before we found a place we could actually use. The first place would only accept $50 or $100 notes, which we did not travel with. The second place only exchanged Brunei Dollars, which we had been warned about. But the final place we checked was excellent. They changed our money without any hassle and spoke perfect English. So we recommend you change your money in Kuala Lumpur Airport before you leave for Borneo. In total we exchanged about $400 each, which covered all of our food and drinks we had to get plus souvenirs. It also covered the amount we put into the tipping kitty and the tip we made to our guide at the end of the trip. We still had quite a bit of money left over at the end of the trip so you can get by pretty well without spending a lot of money in Borneo.
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Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

Trails of Borneo

5
A wonderful trip. The forest lodges were amazing, the treks through the rainforest really got us, up close and personal with the forest surrounded by all the forest noises. the boat trips along the forest rivers allowed us to see the wild life, at home, and not bothered by the boats. The climb up Kinabalu was relentless but, gave a sense of achievement at the summit and a sense of relief whwn down again
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Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

AOB - Trails of Borneo - April 2015

4
I don't think this is a trip that can be summarised easily. The organisation and itinerary aside, I'm afraid I left Borneo with some misgivings about its long term future as a wildlife tourist destination and the experience was tinged with some sadness at the level of deforestation already evident across the country. On a couple of occasions we drove quite some distance, perhaps 2 - 2 1/2 hours through nothing but palm oil plantations as far as the eye could see and the level of rainforest destruction is sadly also visible whenever you take to the air. It seems Borneo is now around 30% covered in Palm Oil, with only around 15% of the forest remaining that sadly seems too fragmented to support good populations of wildlife in many places. The first part of the trip takes you into Mulu national park, which was undoubtedly beautiful and a proper immersive experience in the rainforest, but we were advised early on that we shouldn’t expect much wildlife here, or indeed across Sarawak generally, and that Sabah (along the Kinabatangan river) would be a much better bet, which did indeed prove to be the case. However, the trekking we did here was wonderful and accompanied by the sounds of the rainforest, in stifling humidity, is something I will never get bored of. There are plenty of easy to follow paths around the lodge that you can explore yourself and the accommodation is very good. The two full days trekking along the head hunters trail, via camp 5, are, because of the heat, surprisingly tougher than you would imagine, but again, you feel you’re right in the middle of the forest, and are two walks I really enjoyed. We then spent some time travelling to Sandakan in Sabah, a journey that in fact takes over two days. The first overnight in Limbang is just to facilitate catching the ferry the following day, and is of little interest. I’ve seen other comments within the reviews about the ferry day, and I was looking forward to a different mode of transport – as I do find too many internal flights very disruptive to the holiday. However, my visions of cruising down the river on the deck of a comfortable ferry watching the world go by didn’t materialise as the ferries are fast ferries, enclosed, with portholes too small to see anything out of, so were actually little different to flying. The stopover at Labuan island is rather superfluous, as there do seem to be direct ferries to Kota Kinabalu. Although this would have increased the single journey time, when we did arrive in KK, there was time to visit the craft market and have a few drinks along the waterfront. As we had to be up at silly o’clock the next day for the flight to Sandakan, a few extra hours in KK in the afternoon might have been better if a direct ferry could be arranged. The flight to Sandakan was one of the easiest I have ever done, as it seemed like only a couple of hours since leaving the hotel, we were out of the airport the other end and on our way to Sepilok for around 8am. The rehabilitation centre is quite a setup and although you are sharing the experience with a lot of other tourists, all jostling for the best position, the young Orang Utans are adorable and put on quite a performance. It is of course a shame that you have to visit a facility like this, however, to be able to see them, given their rather precarious position in the wild and the ongoing destruction of their habitat. There is also a sun bear centre across the road that is worth a visit, but again, heart-breaking to read about the stories about how they arrived there. The lodge in Sandakan was as promised, the place to see wildlife. On the various boat trips we were rewarded with plenty of Macaques, Proboscis monkeys, snakes & Hornbills. We even managed to see the Bornean Pygmy elephants, and a large male Orang Utan feeding along the river. Again, the accommodation was of a very high standard, however, do be aware that they struggled with the credit card connection so make sure you have enough cash with you to cover any bills. The tea plantation was interesting, particularly the accommodation, which was in traditional, but surprisingly comfortable, bamboo huts. There was also the chance to have a few cold beers within sight of Kinabalu and have a swim in a local river. Next stop of course is Kinabalu. The nature centre you stay in prior to the climb is very pleasant and comfortable. The food is included, but the drinks were prohibitively expensive which meant we were all well behaved that night, probably a good idea as the climb up Kinabalu is pretty tough. The first day walk up to the hut was still very hot, and although you take a longer route (+ 2km) you realise on the way down that this route is much quieter than the shorter route, and very picturesque. The climb is pretty relentless, being steps most of the way. Laban Rata guesthouse is a bit of a madhouse, but when you realise that everything has to be carried up by porters, including the large bottles of water, is quite an achievement to keep it going day after day and the food is plentiful and tasty. You sleep in dorms of 12 people in bunk beds, and I think most of us got enough sleep as there were no particularly disruptive snorers on the group, thankfully. It’s another slog up to the summit at around 2am, but again, was not particularly cold. I only really got cold when I stopped and the sweat started to cool down, but I managed fine with a thermal top and small fleece, only putting my coat on when we stopped for breaks. You will have to pull yourself up by ropes for short sections of the climb, when gloves are useful, but this isn’t a problem as you just follow everyone else and there are plenty of guides to give you any encouragement you need. Sunrise at the top was pretty special as it’s the first time you really get a look at the summit of the mountain, which is a huge granite slab that curves away towards the layers of clouds below and is worth the effort climbing up and you’ll want to spend some time up there taking plenty of photos as the sun creeps across the mountainside. As with all mountains, the return journey is very tough on the knees, but you break up the descent with a hearty breakfast back at Laban Rata before continuing back down to the bottom. We were very lucky as we were hit with a huge deluge that lasted a couple of hours only minutes after we’d got back in the vans for the short trip to the restaurant for lunch. I can imagine the climb being a very different experience under those conditions. The last day in the beach resort was a real pleasure, having the whole day to yourself, although drinks are again very expensive. Our guide, Rony, stopped en route to allow us to buy a few tins of beer which were drunk enthusiastically throughout the final day before the very early trip to the airport the following morning to end what was a very busy, interesting and eye-opening holiday.
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Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

Trails of Borneo

4
This holiday certainly provided many amazing, once in a lifetime experiences, but I have to take issue with the difficulty grading in the brochure. In 2013 we did the Canadian Rockies walking holiday which was graded challenging. Trails of Borneo is graded moderately challenging suggesting it's easier. Yes, there were less treks involved but all other aspects of the trip were significantly more challenging. The heat, humidity, food and internal travel were pretty uncomfortable on occasions, and around 1/4 of the small group of 8 became unwell at different times. In my case it was heat exhaustion from hiking the headhunters trail and then sitting in an open long boat for 3+ hours in hot sun. The overall environment was way more alien to me than Canada, but it was my first trip to the Far East. Having said all that, the scenery and wildlife (both large and small) were fantastic, from giant insects to pygmy elephants, orang-utan, proboscis monkeys, snakes, bats, crocodiles and birds. The other group members, guides and support staff were also very good. The itinerary at times, particularly the travel arrangements, felt like they needed some fine tuning. Before we went, I read one review criticising the amount of internal flights. Well thanks a bunch! Exodus obviously took heed and threw in a day of cramped ferry travel instead, which was very unpleasant when suffering from heat exhaustion. Cheap internal flights would have been much better. There also seemed to be a lot of 'optional' side trips, which cost extra, which everyone did. Why not just include them in the main itinerary?
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Exodus Response

We would like to thank Malcolm for his review. Further to previous clients’ feedback we swapped one of the internal flights for a ferry journey as we felt that this would give our clients the opportunity to see more of Borneo, including a stop at the Labuan war memorial. We were sorry, however, that Malcolm feels that the flight may have been the better option.
Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

TRAILS OF BORNEO

4
It is  a trip with a lot of variety.  If you have never been to a rainforest or seen similar wildlife than you will enjoy the trip.  It is not strenous except for the climbing of Mt Kinabalu and if you follow your guide you will make it.
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Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

TRAILS OF BORNEO

5
This trip has it all...from trekking through the rainforest, to seeing the orang utans and a vast array of wildlife on the Kinabatanagan River and, of course, climbing Mt Kinabalu.
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Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
***** Written
Trails of Borneo

TRAILS OF BORNEO

5
Fantastic trip and we covered so much of what Borneo has to offer.  The climb to the summit of Mt Kinabalu was definitely challenging, but worth ever minute.  The opportunity of seeing wildlife up close in their natural environment was definitely a highlight.
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