Borneo birding tour

August 27–September 6, 2024

The Sabah province of Malaysian Borneo holds some of Asia’s most famous birding sites, including the Danum Valley and the fabled Mount Kinabalu. From lowland and montane rainforests to mangrove swamps and wetlands, Borneo hosts a captivating mix of typical Southeast Asian birds, several rare species, and Bornean endemics. As if this weren’t enough, it is also one of the best places in Asia to enjoy rainforest mammals, including amazing creatures such as Orangutan, Bornean Gibbon, and Leopard Cat! Join the ABA and Rockjumper for an awesome, exotic blend of fabulous birds, mammals, and amazing scenery!

Malaysia is a developed Asian nation offering first-class facilities, an extensive range of well-serviced national parks and nature reserves, and a bounty of quality birds and mammals; simply put, this is the perfect destination for a birding and wildlife tour!

On this adventure, we focus on the Sabah province of Borneo which holds some of Asia’s most famous birding sites, including the Danum Valley – protecting the largest rainforest in Southeast Asia, the Crocker Range, and the fabled Mount Kinabalu. Habitats range from lowland and montane rainforest to mangrove swamps and wetlands and these host a rich mix of typical Southeast Asian birds as well as several rare species and Bornean endemics. As if this wasn’t enough, it is also one of the best countries in Asia to enjoy rainforest mammals and we can expect some incredible creatures, including Orangutan, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Bornean Gibbon, Mouse-Deer, Leopard Cat, and if we are lucky, we might even encounter rare species such as Bornean Clouded Leopard or Marbled Cat! Join us for what is sure to be an awesome, exotic blend of fabulous birds, mammals, and amazing scenery!

Day 1 27 Aug 2024 Arrival in Kota Kinabalu
Day 2 28 Aug 2024 Mount Kinabalu day trip
Day 3 29 Aug 2024 Crocker Range day trip
Day 4 30 Aug 2024 Klias Peatswamp, Aru Beach day trip
Day 5 31 Aug 2024 Mount Kinabalu day trip
Day 6 1 Sep 2024 Kota Kinabalu, flight to Lahad Datu, transfer to Danum Valley
Day 7, 8, 9 2, 3, 4 Sep 2024 Danum Valley
Day 10 5 Sep 2024 Danum Valley, transfer to Lahad Datu, flight to Kota Kinabalu
Day 11 6 Sep 2024 Departure

Dates: August 27—September 6, 2024

Number of days and nights: 11 days / 10 nights

Start and end point:

  • Starting: 27 August 2024, Kota Kinabalu (BKI)
  • Finishing: 6 September 2024, Kota Kinabalu (BKI)

Group size:

  • Minimum number of participants: 17
  • Maximum number of participants: 40

Guides and ABA staff: Depending on the number of participants, 3 to 5 Rockjumper leaders, and 1 to 2 ABA staff



Birding pace:


Photography opportunities:


Physical difficulty:

  • This tour requires a fair level of fitness, and participants should be in good general health as most of the birding will be done on foot and may require walking for several hours at a time. Some trails can be slippery, especially after rain.
  • During our time in the Danum Valley, you will be 2 hours away from modern medical facilities.


Accommodation throughout the trip is of a generally high standard and the hotels and resorts that we make use of range from comfortable to rather luxurious. There is no camping on this trip.

It is important for the comfort of your fellow travelers that you do not over-pack. Kindly stick to 20kg (44lb) for check-in luggage and 8kg (+-18kg) for hand luggage.


Note that the price of this tour also depends on the rooming configurations at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, where several rooming options exist. All bookings will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis. The single supplement cost for this tour will be charged if you wish to have single accommodation. If we cannot provide you with a rooming partner for these nights although you choose to share, the single supplement will become applicable. We will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that a rooming partner is found if you do wish to share.

  • Jungle Chalets: US$7,350.00 on a twin/sharing basis. Single supplement: US$630 (limited to 5 rooms, only)
  • Premium Deluxe Jungle View Chalets: US$7,600.00 on a twin/sharing basis. Single supplement: US$630 (limited to 8 rooms, only)
  • Premium Deluxe Chalets: US$8,250.00 on a twin/sharing basis. Single supplement: US$720 (limited to 10 rooms, only)
  • Premium Deluxe (Single Story): US$8,800.00 on a twin/sharing basis. Single supplement: US$560 (limited to 2 rooms, only)
  • Premium Deluxe (Double Story): US$9,050.00 on a twin/sharing basis. Single supplement: US$514 (limited to 1 room, only)


  • All meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 11;
  • Bottled drinking water;
  • All lodgings;
  • All ground transportation during the tour;
  • All reserve entrance fees;
  • 1x night drive to 4 km mark in Danum Valley;
  • 2x night walks in Danum Valley;
  • Return flight – Kota Kinabalu / Lahad Datu;
  • All guiding services;
  • Tips for local guides, drivers, and services.

Not included:

  • Visa fees;
  • Any international flights;
  • Any beverages (including mini-bar charges at hotels);
  • Optional excursions;
  • Special gratuities;
  • Telephone calls, laundry, and other items of a personal nature.
  • Tipping: As noted above, gratuities (drivers, hotel staff, restaurants etc.) are included on this tour. However, this does not include your ABA/Rockjumper leader/s. If you feel that they have given you excellent service, it is entirely appropriate to tip them at your discretion.


The above information in respect of arrivals and departures is a guide only. Precise arrival and departure information will be sent to you in your Tour Confirmation package once the tour has been officially confirmed. If you wish to arrive early and/or depart late and would like assistance in this regard, kindly contact the Rockjumper office.

Visa requirements differ by country, nationality of the traveler and duration and purpose of your intended stay. It may be necessary to obtain a visa or an electronic travel authorization in advance of your travel. It is therefore vitally important that you check with your travel agent/consulate/embassy for exact visa requirements. The following website provides detailed information about visa eligibility and assistance with online application options where viable: Visa HQ for Travel.

DO NOT book any flights until the Rockjumper Team has officially confirmed the tour.

Bookings for this tour are collected by Rockjumper:

Kota Kinabalu area

A newly discovered species in the Kota Kinabalu area is the extremely range-restricted and scarce Malaysian Plover and we will be sure to stop in at the site where a pair of these much sought-after plovers have been residing the past few years.

Prince Philip Park

This park provides excellent chances for finding several interesting species, many of which will not be seen again on the trip. Highlights may include Nankeen and Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Tern, Pacific Reef Heron, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Collared Kingfisher, Olive-backed Sunbird, Blue-naped Parrot, Crested Myna, White-breasted Woodswallow, Chestnut Munia, and the handsome but introduced Java Sparrow.

Crocker Range

The forested hills of this mountain range are home to an exciting array of localized endemic birds, many of which are extremely difficult to find on the nearby Mount Kinabalu, several of which are completely absent from the accessible section of Kinabalu. We’ll spend the entire morning working flocks along the road that winds through the mountains for specialties such as Mountain, Bornean and Golden-naped Barbets, brilliant Bornean Leafbird, scarce Pygmy Ibon that roam around in small flocks, the nomadic Fruithunter, gaudy Long-tailed Broadbill, noisy Bornean Treepie, Bornean and Cinereous Bulbuls, Mountain Black-eye, Chestnut-hooded, Sunda and Bare-headed Laughingthrushes, Black-sided (Bornean) Flowerpecker, Temminck’s Sunbird and the vociferous but shy Dark Hawk-Cuckoo. Two of Borneo’s most elusive and sought after endemics, the spectacular Whitehead’s Broadbill and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, are both found in these vast forests and we will try our best to see these great birds during our time here. As the day progresses, we should find several species of raptor soaring overhead and these may include Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle and Crested Honey Buzzard, and if we are extremely fortunate, we may even find the very rare Mountain (Kinabalu) Serpent Eagle soaring above the forest.

Mount Kinabalu

The pristine, montane forest that cloaks the lower slopes of Mount Kinabalu — Borneo’s highest mountain at 13,435 feet (4,095 m), is home to some of Borneo’s most prized birds that includes a multitude of localized mountain endemics. Some of the many fine birds to be sought here include Sunda Cuckooshrike, Golden-naped Barbet, the

sensational Bornean Green Magpie, noisy Bornean Treepie, resident Dark Hawk-Cuckoo and Sunda Cuckoo (a recent split from Oriental Cuckoo), Indigo Flycatcher, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Bornean Whistler, Chestnut-hooded, Sunda and extremely scarce and shy Bare-headed Laughingthrushes, Bornean Whistling Thrush, the delightful Bornean Forktail (recently split from White-crowned), Black-sided (Bornean) Flowerpecker, Eyebrowed Jungle

Flycatcher, Bornean Swiftlet, Temminck’s Babbler, the miniscule Bornean Stubtail, Mountain Wren-Babbler, the exquisite Temminck’s Sunbird and Black-capped White-eye, as well as some star birds such as the rare Fruithunter, an endemic, canopy-dwelling thrush, Crimson-headed (now considered to be a kind of pheasant called a Bloodhead) and Red-breasted Partridges, the rare and near-endemic Sunda Owlet, the very rare and furtive Everett’s Thrush, extremely rare and seldom seen Mountain (Kinabalu) Serpent Eagle, nomadic and unpredictable Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch and the local, recently split Crocker Jungle Flycatcher. While walking the park’s trails and access road, we may also encounter Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Checker-throated and Maroon Woodpeckers, Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongos, Yellow-breasted and Mountain Leaf Warblers, Sunda Bush Warbler and White-browed Shortwing.

A 19th-century naturalist called Whitehead spent many months on the mountain and three very special birds, restricted to Mount Kinabalu and the highlands further south in Sabah and Sarawak, are named after him: Whitehead’s Broadbill, Spiderhunter, and Trogon. We will put in much time and effort on the forest trails in an attempt to locate these rare beauties. However, one must be aware that all three of these species occur at extremely low densities on Mount Kinabalu and are usually very tricky to find. We will therefore require a fair amount of luck, coupled with hard work and good field craft to locate them! Whitehead’s Pygmy Squirrel, a tiny creature with ear tufts nearly as long as its body, is another endemic creature we hope to encounter during our time in the park.

Poring Hot Springs

On the second visit to Mount Kinabalu groups will have the option of visiting Poring Hot Springs. The site does require extra driving to reach but for those who are keen we can explain more about how this option would work on the ground. The hot springs are surrounded by superb, mid-elevation forest that contain a range of different species more typically associated with lowland forest such as Black-and-yellow, Green and Banded Broadbills, Oriental Dwarf

Kingfisher, the endemic White-crowned Shama, Golden-whiskered, Blue-eared, Red-throated and Brown (a recently recognized Bornean endemic) Barbets, the brilliant Violet Cuckoo, Yellow-eared and Spectacled Spiderhunters, Dusky Munia, Scaly-breasted, Streaked and Spectacled Bulbuls, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and the scarce and extremely local Grey-headed Babbler. If we are fortunate during our time here, we may hear about a flowering Rafflesia (news of these in flower spreads quickly), affording us the opportunity to see this floral wonder.

Danum Valley

The Danum Valley has lush and verdant lowland rainforest which we’ll bird along the network of forest trails, the access road, lodge grounds and a canopy walkway. Some of the area’s very special birds that we will search for during our time here include the bizarre Bornean Bristlehead (currently placed its own monotypic family), Dusky Broadbill, Bornean Black Magpie), Crested Jay, scarce and unobtrusive Bornean, Black-throated and Striped Wren-Babblers, Rufous-tailed and White-crowned Shamas, Bornean and Sunda Blue Flycatchers, the scarce, primary forest specialist Finsch’s Bulbul, elusive and unpredictable Chestnut-naped Forktail, endemic and minuscule Pygmy Ibon and White-fronted Falconet.

The lodge grounds themselves offer superb birding and here we may find species such as Bold-striped Tit-Babbler, Long-billed, Yellow-eared, Bornean, Little and Spectacled Spiderhunters, Red-throated, Plain, Purple-naped, Van Hasselt’s and Crimson Sunbirds, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers, the immaculate Whiskered Treeswift, Dusky Munia, Large Woodshrike, Lesser Cuckooshrike and very attractive Blue-throated Bee-eater. The Danum River that meanders lazily just below the lodge often harbors Lesser Fish Eagle, Great-billed Heron, the once common but now very rare Straw-headed Bulbul, and in the evenings, Buffy Fish Owl. Other exciting species that we may very well see during our time in the valley include Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle, Diard’s, Red-naped and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, the inexplicably scarce and shy Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Green Imperial Pigeon, Common Hill Myna, Maroon-breasted and Rufous-winged Philentomas, Wreathed, Wrinkled, Rhinoceros, Bushy-crested, Black and the awesome Helmeted Hornbills, Black-capped, Short-tailed, Scaly-crowned, Sooty-capped, Ferruginous, Rufous-crowned and Horsfield’s Babblers, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Black-throated Oriole, Spotted Fantail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, the unimpressive Brown Fulvetta, striking White-crowned Forktail, Charlotte’s Bulbul (recently split from Buff-vented Bulbul as a Bornean endemic), Grey-rumped Treeswift and Rufous-chested Flycatcher. 

Danum is a pitta paradise with a staggering six species recorded here (including four spectacular species endemic to Borneo: Black-crowned, Blue-headed, Blue-banded, and Bornean Banded Pittas)! The other two pittas include the widespread Hooded and the very rare Giant Pitta. We will endeavor to find as many of these as possible but, given their retiring and unpredictable nature and the dense habitat, we will need a large dose of patience and luck to see these shy avian jewels. 

Another of Danum Valley’s great attractions is the amazing Great Argus, a huge, long-tailed pheasant; we are likely to hear the males bellowing their far-carrying calls but we’d need to be extremely lucky to encounter one along the forest trails since they’ve stopped visiting their traditional display sites for the past few years. The lodge here also has its own canopy walkway and we will spend some of our time high in the trees, scanning for the aforementioned species amongst many others.

One of Danum’s prized mammals is the highly endangered Orangutan – fondly referred to as the “Old Man of the Forest”. We usually succeed, with the help of the excellent local guides, in tracking down these regal primates, and staring into the eyes of these magnificent creatures is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of the entire trip.

We will also undertake a night drive on one of our nights here and this provides a superb opportunity for seeing a range of secretive forest mammals. Species that are regularly seen include Sambar and Southern Red Muntjac, Greater and Lesser Mouse-Deer, Thomas’s and Red Giant Flying Squirrels, Malayan Colugo (Flying Lemur) and Common Palm and Malayan Civets. Rarer species that do occur include Asian Elephant (sometimes split as Bornean Pygmy Elephant), Leopard Cat, Bornean Clouded Leopard, the near-mythical Marbled and Bay Cats, Banded Palm Civet, Malay Badger, Thick-quilled Porcupine, Slow Loris, Western Tarsier and the strange Binturong (Bear Cat) but we’d be very lucky to encounter any of these extremely scarce forest denizens during our limited time in the Danum Valley.