Sunrise Birding LLC - Birding & Wildlife Tours
Home | Tours | Trip Reports | News |  Team |  Calendar | Links | Contact | Store | Mailing List
Sabah, A Natural Paradise

August 20 - 31, 2019

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>    Registration Form>

Contact to reserve your space!


The Malaysian state of Sabah occupies the northern part of the tropical island of Borneo and is famous for the country's highest peak, Mount Kinabalu. This rainforest-cloaked island is one of the most biodiverse places on our Earth and a must visit destination for naturalists and bird and wildlife aficionados. Our tour will concentrate on Sabah, which harbors large remaining tracts of lowland and montane rainforest and is home to vast array of wonderful birds including more than 40 endemics. Sabah is a bird watcher’s and naturalist’s heaven, where we can search for brightly colored Pittas and Broadbills, the extraordinary Great Argus, Bornean Bristlehead, Whitehead’s Trogon, Storm’s Stork, plus exciting reptiles, unusual plants and sought after mammals that include Proboscis Monkey and incomparable Orangutan.


Our itinerary features Rafflesia Reserve in the Crocker Mountain Range, the famous Mount Kinabalu and its National Park, Poring Hot Springs, the lush forests around Sepilok and Sukau, Kinabatangan for some river birding. Finally we will spend three nights in the famous Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley.


This sensational, bird-filled trip into Sabah in search of many beautiful birds, endemics and other tropical Asian species, plus an enviable list of other magnificent creatures will undoubtedly be the trip of a lifetime.


Join us to experience the wonders of Borneo!


Day 1:
ARRIVAL, Aug 20, 2019: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Plan on arriving at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Airport code: BKI) in the morning of Tuesday 20th August 2019. Most flights will go overnight to Kuala Lumpur and then an onward connection to Kota Kinabalu, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to a hotel in the town. If time permits we may be able to fit in some local birding. Overnight Kota Kinabalu. D.


Mountain BlackeyeToday, we will have an early morning start to visit the Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve. The Reserve is situated in the Crocker Mountain Range and named after the Rafflesia, one of the world's largest and most magnificent flowering plants. The leathery petals of Rafflesia can reach over 90 centimeters across and the plant is pollinated by flies and gives off a strong smell of rotting flesh. This stunning plant only blooms for a few days in each year so if we are lucky and there is one around to be seen, we will of course take a look.
In these stunning forests we will search for our first endemic birds which may include Mountain Blackeye and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, plus other superb species such as, Bornean Leafbird, Bornean Bulbul, Pygmy White-eye, Bornean and Mountain Barbets, Jerdon’s Baza, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Mountain Serpent-Eagle, and both Gold-whiskered Barbet and Ruddy Cuckoo-dove. Later on, we will then transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinabalu National Park for a three night stay: B,L,D

Days 3 – 4, August 22 & 23, 2019: MOUNT KINABALU NATIONAL PARK
Golden-naped BarbetWe will have two full days to explore this fabulous park. Dominated by the 4,101 meter high Mount Kinabalu and surrounded by lush forested slopes, this area holds an amazing variety of montane and sub-montane fauna and flora. During our time at Mount Kinabalu we will be able to enjoy the cool climate while exploring the extensive trail system and also birding along the open roadsides. Driving into the highlands, we will search for Bornean Whistling-Thrush, Whitehead's Broadbill, Everett's Thrush, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, Whitehead's Trogon, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter or Bornean Forktail and with a lot of luck maybe Red-breasted and Crimson-headed Partridges, Fruithunter or Bornean Stubtail. Along the numerous park trails we could also find species such as Mountain and Bornean Barbets, Short-tailed Green Magpie, Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher, Bornean Whistler, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Mountain Leaf-warbler, Yellow-breasted Warbler, Bornean Crested and Cinereous Bulbuls, Bornean Swiftlet, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Bornean Treepie, Black-capped White-eye, Maroon and Checker-throated Woodpeckers, Black-and-crimson Oriole, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Sunda Cuckoo-shrike, Grey-throated Minivet, Mountain Wren-Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Sunda, Chestnut-capped, and Bare-headed Laughingthrushes, Mountain Tailorbird, Sunda Bush-Warbler, White-throated Fantail, Temminck’s Babbler, Golden-naped Barbet, Snowy-browed, Indigo and Little Pied Flycatchers.

We may even get to a site lower down for White-browed Shortwing and some wetlands and rice fields which could hold Wandering Whistling-duck, Oriental Pratincole, Javan Pond Heron, Cinnamon Bittern and maybe Buff-banded Rail. Our days here will be well spent with many great birding opportunities.
Nights Kinabalu Park: B,L,D


Blue-headed Pitta.Day 5, August 24, 2019: PORING HOT SPRING – SEPILOK
This morning we will depart for some lowland birding and totally different species at Poring Hot Springs. Here we have chances to see the stunning Bornean Banded and Blue-banded Pittas, Banded Kingfisher, Rufous Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Short-tailed Babbler, Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher and Bornean Spiderhunter. With luck we may find the elusive Hose's Broadbill, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher or Chestnut-capped Thrush.

Later on, we'll pack up and drive east to Sepilok for a two-night stay. We should arrive in time for some initial exploration in the lowland primary forest at the edge of the Sepilok Rainforest Reserve. Numerous species occur here such as Rufous-bellied Eagle, Bushy-crested Hornbill, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Black-and-red Broadbill, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Thick-billed Spiderhunter, Red-billed Malkoha, Buff-rumped Woodpecker and Grey-rumped Treeswift, Red-throated Sunbird, Violet Cuckoo, plus many more all within the vicinity of our lodge. Those who wish may have an opportunity this afternoon to visit the nearby Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Night Sepilok Jungle Resort: B,L,D


We will spend today around the Rainforest Discovery Center which protects a patch of lowland rainforest and is home to a huge variety of sought after birds and mammals including wild Orangutans.

Together with the nearby Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Rainforest Discovery Center is an important facility for students, teacher training courses and other environment-related activities. Here we can enjoy birding from one of Malaysia’s only Canopy walkways with two superb large observation towers aptly named Bristlehead and Trogon. Eye level with the tree tops, the towers allow incredible views of many species and, together with the forest trail system and we will be able search for wealth of interesting species.

OrangutanThe incredible Bornean Bristlehead lives here and we will attempt to find this enigmatic bird. Of course, there will be many more species to vie for our attention and among the mixed flocks we could find Red-naped Trogon and Diard’s Trogons, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Long-tailed Parakeet, Raffles's and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Whiskered Treeswift, Buff-necked, Buff-rumped, White-bellied, Maroon, Banded and Rufous Woodpeckers, the huge Great Slaty Woodpecker, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Blue-headed Pitta, Greater Green Leafbird, White-crowned Shama, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, Olive-winged Bulbul, Spectacled Spiderhunter, and Bornean Black Magpie.

With time around our lodge and more open areas we could also add Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Van Hasselt's Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, Dusky Munia, Yellow-bellied Prinia and possibly Silver-rumped Needletails flying over. We can also have an optional night walk where we could encounter some of the forests night creatures such as Slow Loris, Bornean Tarsier, Lesser Mouse Deer, and even Malay Civet. Night Sepilok Jungle Resort: B,L,D


Days 7 – 8, August 26 & 27, 2019:

After a final morning of birding we will head south to Sabah’s longest river, the Kinabatangan. Along the way to our lodge we’ll stop in at Gomantong Cave, a huge limestone cavern that is home to literally millions of swiftlets and bats. The edible nests have been collected as food for hundreds of years, and although we won’t witness it, it is quite a spectacle to see them emerge in staggering numbers at dusk, being pursued by Bat Hawks.

We will have some time today and a full day tomorrow to explore this wonderful reserve by birding around our forested lodge and along trails and by spending time on the river by boat where we will navigate the wide open river and many of its smaller winding tributaries. The reserve protects many excellent species such as the superb Rhinoceros Hornbill, Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Hooded Pitta, Lesser Fish-Eagle, Oriental Darter, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Buffy Fish-owl, and possibly Lesser Adjutants or even Storm’s Stork. These forests are simply full of birds, and also plenty of really interesting mammals including many primates with numerous large troops of the Proboscis Monkeys as well as Maroon Leaf-Monkeys, Bornean Gibbons, Long-tailed Macaques and with luck Orangutan. This is also one of the best places to see Bornean Pygmy Elephant and with luck we might come across a herd while we are on the river. Two Nights Borneo Nature Lodge: B,L,D


Days 9 – 11, August 28 & 29: KINABATANGAN – DANUM VALLEY
Storm StorkToday after some final birding along the river, we will head for our final destination the famous Borneo Rainforest Lodge set in the heart of the wonderful Danum Valley, where we stay for three nights. Danum Valley represents one of the most important nature reserves in Asia and staying at our wonderful lodge located on a bend in the Segama River enables us to search for some of the 270 species of birds including many Bornean specialties that have been recorded here. The lush forest abounds with wildlife and we only have to open our doors to begin our adventure. Searching around the lodge and along the entrance road as well as excellent forest trails will produce too many species to mention but some of the highlights we will be looking for include Great Argus and Crested Fireback, Jerdon’s Baza, Blue-headed, Black-crowned, Hooded and Bornean Banded Pittas, maybe with luck even the elusive Giant Pitta.

We have another chance for the Bornean Bristlehead plus Rhinoceros, Bushy-crested, Wreathed, Helmeted and Wrinkled Hornbills, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Rufous-collared, Black-backed Dwarf and Blue-banded Kingfishers, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Diard's and Red-naped Trogons, Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot, five species of Malkoha including Chestnut-breasted, Raffles's and Red-billed Malkohas, Crested Jay, lots of woodpeckers such as Great Slaty, Maroon, Olive-backed, Orange-backed and Crimson-winged, plus the tiny Rufous Piculet.

Rhinoceros HornbillIn forest clearings we will check the canopy for pigeons that are often attracted to the bare treetops with a good chance of the rare Large Green-pigeon among the more common Thick-billed, Pink-necked, Cinnamon-headed, Little Green-pigeons and Jambu Fruit-dove, plus Wallace's Hawk-eagle and White-fronted Falconet. We will keep a look out for mixed species flocks that could hold both Green and Banded Broadbills, Yellow-crowned, Red-throated, Gold-whiskered and Brown Barbets, Violet Cuckoo, Lesser Cuckooshrike, Little Bronze-cuckoo, Hairy-backed and Finsch's Bulbuls, Streaky-breasted, Yellow-eared, Long-billed and Thick-billed Spiderhunters, Pygmy White-eye, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler, and Rufous-chested Flycatcher and lower in the understory birds such as Black-capped and Short-tailed Babblers, Striped, Bornean and possibly Black-throated Wren-babbler, Horsfield's, Ferruginous, Sooty-capped, Short-tailed, Black-capped, Chestnut-rumped, Chestnut-winged, Scaly-crowned, Rufous-fronted Babblers, Striped and Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers.

Rufus PiculetNear the river we hope to find Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Brown Fulvetta and Spotted Fantail among others, and if we are really lucky maybe the spectacular endemic Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, while an opportunity for a night excursion could produce the rare Oriental Bay Owl, plus Reddish Scops-owl, Brown Wood-owl, Buffy Fish-owl or even Gould’s and Large Frogmouths. We can also try spotlighting some of the shyer mammals found here such as Horsfield's Tarsier, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Greater Mouse-Deer, Bornean Gibbon, Orangutan, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Common Palm Civet, Colugo, Banded Linsang or even a Clouded Leopard or Leopard Cat. Nights Borneo Rainforest Lodge: B,L,D


Today we have a final morning's birding around the lodge or entrance road to look for any new species. And then after lunch we will return to the town of Lahad Datu for our flight back to Kota Kinabalu where we will finish with a farewell dinner in our city hotel. Night Hotel in Kota Kinabalu: B,L,D


Day 13, August 31, 2019: DANUM VALLEY – KOTU KINABALU
Today you will take your international flight. Note most flights tend to go via Kuala Lumpur. B

Leaders:  Steve Bird, Gina Nichol and local guide Lee Kok Chung

Photos, top to bottom:
Whitehead's Broadbill, Orangutan, Mountain Blackeye, Golden-naped Barbet, Blue-headed Pitta, Bornean Bristlehead, Orangutan, Red-naped Trogon, Storm Stork, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Rufus Piculet, Black-crowned Pitta, Red-bearded Bee-eater.  All photos courtesy of Bird Tour Malaysia except Rufus Piculet by Endemic Guides. 

Red-bearded Bee-eater.BORNEO!
Sabah, A Natural Paradise

August 20 - 31, 2019
Registration Form>    
Contact to reserve your space!

TOUR PRICE:  $5895.00 per person based on double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Airport code: BKI). 

Single occupancy tour price:
$6730.00 per person subject to availability.  Price based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below).

Deposit: $1000.00 per person per tour. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise when you have made payment. 

Included in cost: Group transfers on arrival, accommodation based on twin occupancy, meals as stated in the itinerary B,L,D from dinner on 20th Aug to breakfast on 31st Aug, 1 domestic flight on 30st Aug, all community fees, park entrance fees, transportation throughout, boat trips, drinking water and services of leaders.

Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned but there are some uphill treks.  Birding is mostly from open roads, wide tracks and boats. To see a good amount of specialties you need to be prepared for full days. We will generally start early and either have an early breakfast or return for breakfast. Lunches will be either picnic or at the lodges depending on our schedule.

RESERVATIONS: Contact to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit of $1000 per person per tour within two weeks to secure your place. Credit card deposits are possible with no added fees.   Please inquire.   Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download & print the Registration Form 

Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights. Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is due May 20, 2019.

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing. In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur. There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724