– Duration: 2 months –
This 2 month programme is the ultimate Borneo experience. From the tropical island of Mantanani to the deep Bornean jungle, you will experience authentic living in some of the world’s most beautiful natural environments whilst helping to support the people and wildlife who live there.
Help protect the habitats of jungle species, including the endangered orangutan, as you get stuck into vital environmental conservation and reforestation. You’ll get the rare opportunity to see these amazing animals up close as you visit the Orangutan Sanctuary and Sun Bear Conservation Centre and embark on a river safari along the Kinabatangan River, before slinging up your hammock to sleep under the jungle canopy.
Become immersed in local culture as you work alongside communities to develop much-needed facilities and improve the standard of living in these rural regions.
Saying goodbye to the communities of Sabah won’t be easy. You will leave knowing that you’ve made a measurable impact on both their quality of life and Borneo’s fragile ecosystem.
This programme is designed to impact the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:
The impact that you'll make
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Environmental work with PACOS Trust
Today will be spent with PACOS Trust, a local community-based organisation dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in the Sabah region of Borneo. Here we’ll have a cultural orientation and get involved in some volunteering at the Kivatu Nature Farm, before transferring back to KK for the night.
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 begins
Spend the next few days volunteering alongside the island communities and a local NGO on valuable initiatives such as beach clean ups, sustainable waste management solutions and constructing new buildings for the school.
Chill weekend at the beach
Enjoy some well-earned free time this weekend as you make the most of your amazing surroundings.
Last day at project work
Spend your last day helping the community on the island before your transfer to Kota Kinabalu.
Transfer to Kota Kinabalu
Say your goodbyes to the community in the morning then depart by boat back to the mainland and on to the vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu (known locally as 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.
Explore more of the incredible Sabah region on your final few days in Borneo. Take a trip to Ranau town, visit Kundasang War Memorial to learn more about the local history and experience the tree top canopy walk at Poring Hot Springs.
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.
The weekend is the perfect time to relax and experience some of the beautiful sights that Ranau has to offer.
Continue community projects
Continue working on projects at Bongkud, working alongside the local community to improve facilities in the area.
Back to Kota Kinabalu
We’ll take you back to KK where you’ll spend the night and enjoy a local meal and drinks.
Head to Camp Tinangol
Hit the road and head to our next location at Camp Tinangol. Our Camp Manager will show you around and give you an overview of what your time here will involve.
Chill out and explore
Take some time to relax and explore your amazing surroundings and discover some of the beautiful sights that Sabah has to offer. You’ll also have the chance to spend some time at the beach – BBQ included.
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 all your hard work at projects this week, enjoy a couple of days relaxing at camp. Catch up on your travel journal, play some sport with the local kids or just chill out in your beautiful surroundings.
Continue community projects
Get stuck back into your project work for the next few days.
Head back to KK for an overnight stay and some free time to enjoy this buzzing city.
Back to Camp Tinangol
Today we’ll leave KK and head back to camp to complete the final phase of our project work at Tinangol.
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 hour 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 the night 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.
Say your final farewells before we head 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.