Ultimate Borneo & Cambodia
– Duration: 3 months –
Get off the beaten track and experience what’s really special about Southeast Asia on this action packed 3 month programme. Living alongside rural communities in our traditional camps, you’ll gain a unique insight into the fascinating cultures of Borneo and Cambodia and experience some of the most stunning landscapes, from remote tropical islands to the depths of the jungle.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty as you work on a range of projects. You’ll contribute to vital conservation efforts in some of the world’s most important natural habitats, helping to tackle deforestation and protecting the homes of endangered species such as orangutan. You’ll also provide much-needed support to communities living below the poverty line as you help to develop infrastructure that will create sustainable long-term change.
There will be plenty of time to explore too – kayak and snorkel in the crystal clear waters off the Bornean coastline, enjoy a river safari and trek through the jungle before slinging up your hammock to sleep under the stars. Also, explore the ancient temples of Angkor Wat as you learn about Cambodia’s rich history and culture.
There is no better way to experience the wonders of Southeast Asia whilst making a positive impact on the people and places you visit.
This programme is designed to impact the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The impact that you'll make
Water Security & Kindergarten Development (Tinangol)
Tinangol and surrounding villages are unable to afford mains controlled water and so they’re solely reliant on pumping fresh water from the valley below and storing it through the year. The local kindergarten also needs refurbishing. You’ll help by improving the water systems in the village and constructing a play area for the kindergarten.
Community Infrastructure Improvements & Food Security (Bongkud)
Bongkud village has been established for over 90 years and its population is rapidly increasing. Projects here help to improve community facilities and include building a youth centre, improving the drainage system to ensure cleaner and healthier living and establishing a community farming programme that will re-introduce native trees, improving the air temperature and water quality in the area.
Developing Community Ammenities & Marine Conservation (Mantanani)
The community of Mantanani is now struggling with sudden influx of foreign tourists and development that comes with it. Like most coastal villages, Mantanani faces challenges in trash accumulating on the beaches, threatening the marine life and environment. You’ll help through beach clean-ups and sustainable waste management solutions alongside an NGO, as well as working to improve buildings in the village using up-cycled materials. We are also helping the school to build a block to accommodate 2 classrooms and a row of stalls in front of the school to encourage entrepreneurship.
Habitat Conservation (Batu Puteh)
Batu Puteh is an incredible haven for a large majority of Borneo’s wildlife including orangutans, elephants and proboscis monkeys, and is one of the world’s most important natural habitats. However, it’s also one of the most threatened. You’ll get involved in activities to help safeguard this wildlife paradise for future generations by helping to tackle deforestation.
Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods (Beng Mealea)
Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Seasonal food shortages and lack of employment opportunities leave rural people very vulnerable to continued and increasing poverty. Our projects here focus on food sustainability initiatives such as building chicken houses and water pots and working on a jungle garden. You may also get involved in improving the infrastructure at the local school.
Housing and Sanitation (Beng Pae)
In the village surrounding Camp Beng Mealea, many people live below the poverty line and homes do not have basic facilities which are vital for health and sanitation. You’ll help to improve living conditions by building wells to provide water access to the village and constructing toilets for local families.
This charming camp is situated just beyond the rural Rungus community of the same name and is in keeping with the rest of the village, giving you a really authentic experience and immersing you fully in the local culture. In no time at all this will feel like your home away from home and the hospitality and friendliness of the locals will make you not want to leave!
Each longhouse has a corridor running the length of the structure. On one side there is communal space for chilling out and socialising, on the other side are sleeping rooms. Traditionally entire families would live in a single longhouse that may be up to 100 ft long.
Location: 140 km (3 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 15 km from Ranau
Accommodation: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Flushing toilets, cold water showers & sinks
Power: Mains electricity. British 3 pin power sockets
Signature dish: Sweet & Sour seafood dishes/BBQ
Social area: Chilling hut, volleyball court, badminton & board games. Small community shop nearby
Set in the shadows of the mighty Mount Kinabalu, Camp Bongkud is surrounded on all sides by lush picturesque scenery. It’s hillside location gives it a pleasant breezy climate which makes it the ideal hillside retreat after a hard day’s project work.
Being in the heart of the village also has its advantages; all your project sites are only a short walk away and you can challenge the locals to a friendly game of volleyball on the community court during your downtime.
Location: 140 km (3-4 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 30 km from Kudat
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Flushing toilets, cold water showers & sinks
Power: Mains electricity backed up by generator (between 18:00 – 22:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Chilling hut, volleyball court, badminton & board games
Signature dish: Banana fritters & steamed banana cake
For those who love white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and their own remote tropical island (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), Mantanani might just be the perfect location.
The island lies about 80km north of Kota Kinabalu and is home to around 800 permanent residents. The surrounding coral reef and lagoon are home to juvenile turtles, rays, a variety of tropical fish and even the occasional dolphin passes by.
The camp itself is set right on the beach a little way from the main village where many of our community projects are based, allowing you to feel part of this amazing community for the time that you’re here.
Location: 80 km north of Kota Kinabalu. (around 1.5 hrs drive from KK to Kuala Abai Jetty, then 1 hr boat ride to Mantanani Island)
Accommodation style: Beautiful open sided driftwood bunk houses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Asian style toilets, cold water showers & sinks
Power: Generator (between 18:00 – 06:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Beach, campfire, volleyball courts
Signature dish: Stewed beef in soy sauce & pumpkin in coconut milk
Camp Batu Puteh
Batu Puteh is all about getting back to nature! Our jungle camp is set in the heart of one of Borneo’s most ancient forests along the banks of the Kinabatangan river where you’ll get the chance to live alongside elephants and orangutans for an experience that’s hard to beat.
Our camp offers three types of accommodation and you’ll hopefully get a chance to try them all:
- Jungle camp: Get back to basics and experience true adventure. Learn how to rough it in the jungle with local guides accompanying you and showing you the ropes. Sleep in a hammock and cook over a camp fire before falling asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest.
- Eco camp: A little more luxury but still an exciting wilderness experience. This camp offers raised camping platforms where you can enjoy camping in the great outdoors.
- Homestay: Live with one of the friendly local families in their home and experience what daily life is really like. Meet the children, eat the same meals together and sleep in a nice comfy bed!
Location: 350 km (6 hours drive) from Kota Kinabalu Airport & 60 km from Lahad Datu
- Jungle Camp: Hammock, tarpaulin & mosquito net. No toilet or washing facilities – completely back to nature!
- Eco Camp: Tents with comfy mattresses & bedding. Flushing toilets, cold showers & sinks
- Homestay: Guest room in family home for 2-3 volunteers with comfy beds and bedding
Power: Mains electricity in homestay only (British 3 pin power sockets). Gas lighting available in eco camp
Signature dish: Local cakes – Linggang & Gelang
Camp Beng Mealea
This delightful rural camp is set on the outskirts of Teuk Lich village within Beng Mealea commune. Accommodation is in the form of traditional Khmer stilted longhouses positioned in the shade of large banana and papaya trees. The camp is surrounded by paddy fields and pretty amazing views on all sides. On a clear day you can see the impressive ridge line of the Kulen National Park from your longhouse. And if that isn’t enough, there is the ancient ruined temple of Beng Mealea to explore only a short walk away, as well as a large ornate pagoda where the Buddhist monks live. You’d be hard pushed to find a more authentic Cambodian experience!
Location: 75 km (1.5 hours drive) from Siem Reap International Airport
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Composting toilets, cold water showers & wash basins
Power: Generator (06:00-07:00 & 18:00-22:00). British 3 pin power sockets
Social area: Chill out zone, camp fire, hammocks
Signature dish: Amok – Mild curry usually eaten with chicken or fish
Camp Beng Pae
Beng Pae is a lovely woodland retreat located in the village of Ta Lek and within the Beng Pae Wildlife Reserve. Surrounded on three sides by a very impressive pine forest, the camp is designed and built in the local hill tribe house style.
The camp is set at the edge of the village and so all your project sites are only a short walk away, allowing you to become a local in no time!
Location: 220 km (3 hours drive) from Siem Reap International Airport
Accommodation style: Traditional longhouses with comfy mattresses & bedding including mosquito net. Composting toilets, bucket showers & wash basins
Power: Generator (06:00-07:00 & 18:00-22:00). British 3 pin power socket
Social area: Chill out zone, camp fire, hammocks
Signature dish: Beef Loklak
Day to Day
Welcome to Borneo
Arrive in Kota Kinabalu, where you will be met at the airport by a member of our Camp Borneo team and transferred to your accommodation in the city. Here you will meet our Country Manager who will run an arrival briefing for you and your group before your welcome dinner.
Head to Camp Tinangol
After a much-needed sleep and a good breakfast, we will transfer you to Camp Tinangol. Our Camp Manager will show you around and give you an overview of what your time here will involve. Then it’s time to choose your bed in your new traditional longhouse home.
Chill out weekend
Weekends are the perfect time to relax and experience some of the beautiful sights that Sabah has to offer.
Community development projects
You’ll spend the next few days volunteering alongside the local community on projects that will provide local people with much-needed facilities, such as creating a water feed system for the village and constructing a play area for the kindergarten.
Chill out weekend
After your hard work on projects this week, take a well-earned rest and spend the weekend relaxing at camp, catching up on your travel journal, playing sports with the locals or exploring more of the local area.
Continue community projects
Get stuck back into your project work for the next few days.
Explore the vibrant town known as KK. There’s plenty of shops, restaurants and culture to enjoy over the two days you spend here.
Back to Camp Tinangol
Today we’ll leave KK and head back to camp.
Complete community projects
Spend the next few days putting the finishing touches on the project work here before handing this back to the local community.
Into the jungle
Set off first thing this morning for the 7 hours transfer to the incredible jungle region of Batu Puteh. Spend your first night here in a homestay for a true taste of local life in the jungle.
Enjoy an early morning river safari along Kinabatangan River where you’ll get the chance to spot some incredible wildlife, including pygmy elephants. You’ll also participate in our environmental project work here, helping to reforest areas where the jungle has been destroyed.
Tree nursery project and jungle night walk
Today you’ll get stuck into vital reforestation work at the local tree nursery, collecting seeds from mother trees in the jungle and planting them in the nursery. After dinner, we’ll head out on an adventurous night walk through the jungle before slinging up your hammock for a night sleeping under the jungle canopy – a truly incredible experience.
Forest restoration project
We’ll continue our environmental work, planting trees to help protect the habitats of the jungle wildlife.
Orangutan & Bornean Sunbear Day
Today you’ll visit the Orangutan Sanctuary at Sepilok to explore the rainforest and see orangutans up close in their natural habitat. After lunch we’ll take you to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre – the only one of its kind in the world – where you can learn about the conservation work taking place to protect these unique bears.
Back to Kota Kinabalu
We’ll take you back to KK where you’ll spend the night and enjoy a local meal and drinks.
Welcome to Camp Mantanani
After a much-needed sleep and a good breakfast, you will be transferred to the beautiful island of Mantanani by boat. Meet the Camp Mantanani team, including your Camp Manager, who will give you a tour of the island and a briefing on what your time here will involve. Then it’s time to choose your bed in your new beach longhouse home.
Marine conservation and community projects
Enjoy waking up in your new island home before we get stuck into a project orientation where we will explain the work you will be getting involved with. Underneath its picture-perfect surface, Mantanani faces challenges with poor waste management and trash accumulating on the beaches, which threatens marine life. The local people also struggle with a lack of funding for community and education facilities. You will be helping to support them on these key issues throughout your time here.
Soak up island living
What better place to spend a relaxing weekend? Kayak, snorkel or sunbathe on the beaches and watch the most amazing sunrise and sunsets you’ve ever seen.
Project work continues
Spend the next few days continuing your project work with the local community.
Transfer to KK
Say your goodbyes to the community in the morning then depart by boat back to the mainland and on to KK. You’ll spend a night in a hostel here before we head to our next camp in the morning.
Head to Camp Bongkud
After breakfast, we’ll hit the road and travel to Camp Bongkud, a traditional longhouse camp located just next to the Poring Hot Spring in Ranau. You’ll be greeted by your Camp Manager who will show you around your new home before you settle into your accommodation for the night.
The weekend is the perfect time to relax and experience some of the beautiful sights that Ranau has to offer.
Community project work begins
Today you’ll meet the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which we are helping to support them. You’ll be helping to improve the infrastructure for the rapidly increasing population here, providing much-needed community facilities.
Explore the local area, relax at camp and take a well-earned break before continuing with our projects tomorrow.
Continue community projects
Continue working on projects at Bongkud over the next few days as we finish up our project phase here.
Transfer to Kota Kinabalu
We’ll head back to KK for your last night’s stay in Borneo, a chance to reflect on the amazing experiences you’ve had during your time here before transferring to the airport in the morning to start your independent travel between Borneo and Cambodia.
Independent travel days
Whilst you are travelling between these two amazing destinations, you have the choice to either travel directly to Cambodia or spend a couple of additional days exploring on route. Our team will be able to advise you on potential routes and any additional pit stops you could add in to your journey. As it’s your choice which route you take, please note this transfer and couple of days is at your own expense.
Welcome to Cambodia
Arrive into Siem Reap where you will be met by one of the Camps crew who will take you to your accommodation in the city. Here you’ll have an arrival briefing and enjoy a welcome dinner with your group.
Head to Camp Beng Mealea
You’ll be transferred to beautiful Beng Mealea where you will meet the team for an overview of what your time here will involve. Then it’s time to choose your bed in your new traditional longhouse home.
Sustainable livelihoods projects
Spend the next few days volunteering alongside the local community, helping to support sustainable livelihoods. Your work could include building a chicken house or water storage pot for a local family or improving infrastructure at the local school.
Welcome to Camp Beng Pae
Say your goodbyes to the community in Beng Mealea this morning as we head to our next home, the charming Camp Beng Pae, stopping at lake side restaurant for lunch on the way. You’ll be greeted by the Camp Manager who will give you a tour of the camp and brief you on the projects you’ll be getting involved in here.
Community development projects
You will spend the next few days working on local project initiatives such as building wells and constructing sanitation facilities for local families. You will also have plenty of time to spend with the local children and community.
Discover Cambodia’s past in Phnom Penh
Today we’ll hit the road and head to the bustling city of Phnom Penh. Enjoy a group dinner on your first night and spend the next day exploring the city and surrounding area. We will take you to visit the Royal Palace in the heart of the city. You will then visit the S21 museum and Killing Fields, Choeung Ek, an opportunity to learn about the Khmer Rouge regime – a significant legacy from Cambodia’s past.
Explore Siem Reap
Head to Siem Reap and take a visit to the nearby floating village on the Ton Le Sap Lake. There’s dinner in the city before the Cambodia Circus Show that evening – an awesome performance that brings to life Cambodia’s rich culture.
Ancient temples and Angkor Wat
Learn more about Cambodia’s ancient past as you explore the fascinating and iconic temples of Angkor Wat Temple and Ta Prohm (where Tomb Raider was filmed!).
Return to Camp Beng Mealea
After an action-packed few days in Cambodia’s cities, we’ll return to Beng Mealea today to continue with our project work.
Complete project work
Spend another few days working on the community projects before handing these back to the community and saying your final goodbyes to the locals.
Spend your final couple of days exploring the vibrant city of Siem Reap. There’s lots to do here, with plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy on the famous ‘pub street’ and bustling markets where you can pick up some souvenirs.
Goodbye Southeast Asia
Say your final farewells to your team before we transfer you back to the airport in time for your flight home.
Top up your trip
If you’d like to add in some extra adventure, we offer the opportunity to book some exciting add-ons which can be included within your trip duration or added on to the start or end of your journey. Speak to our team to find out more about how to add these awesome adventures to your programme.
Trek Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu (or Mt K as the locals call it) stands at an impressive 4096 metres above sea level and is the highest point in South East Asia. The views from the summit are utterly...Find Out More
Tropical PADI Scuba
If you’re interested in exploring life under the water and gaining your PADI dive qualification, why not consider adding one of our diving add-ons to your programme? Run through our awesome dive partners at PADI...Find Out More
Don’t forget… flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations. Please note, you must be over 18 years old at time of departure.
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