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Whitehead's BroadbillBORNEO!
Sabah, A Natural Paradise

May 20 - 30, 2023
Plus extension to Borneo Rainforest Lodge May 30 - June 3, 2023

Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!

Trip Cost & Travel Planning>    Registration Form (pdf)>
Tour Registration, Terms, Cancellation Policies>


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 luxuriant and rich in nature and a must visit destination for anyone interested in birds and wildlife.

Our itinerary will focus on the northern state of 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. This is a birdwatcher's paradise, with easy road-side birding and many boat trips. In fact we compare the first part of this tour with our very popular Brazilian, Pantanal tour, so if you been there with us then you are going to love this trip.

Among the many birds we can search for are brightly colored Pittas and Broadbills, the extraordinary Great Argus, Bornean Bristlehead, Whitehead’s Trogon, Whitehead's Broadbill, Storm’s Stork, plus exciting reptiles, unusual plants and many sought after mammals that include Proboscis Monkey and the wonderful Orangutan.

We start off birding around Kota Kinabalu before moving to the Rafflesia Reserve in the Crocker Mountain Range for our first endemics. We will then move on to the famous Mount Kinabalu and its National Park. After several very exciting days here we will visit Poring Hot Springs before descending into the lush forests around Sepilok. We then move to Kinabatangan for some wonderful river birding.


For those that wish we are offering a short extension to the famous Borneo Rainforest Lodge in the Danum Valley. This is a luxury lodge set in a private area of bird rich forest with many incredible and desirable species.


Join us for an exciting, bird-filled trip into Sabah with Steve & Gina in search of many beautiful birds, stunning endemics, plus an enviable list of other magnificent creatures while in the hands of our fantastic local guide. After Gina & Steve’s first tour to this wonderful tropical country with superb food, excellent accommodation and unbelievable wildlife, we can’t wait to return. 2019 Trip Report>

Join us to experience the magic and wildlife of Borneo!

ITINERARY, Main Tour, May 20 - 30, 2023:

Day 1: Arrival
Plan on arriving at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Airport code: BKI) in the morning of Saturday, May 20, 2023. Most flights will go overnight to Kuala Lumpur and then an onward short connection to Kota Kinabalu, where you will be met at the airport and transferred to a hotel in the Nankeen Night Heronstown. Our plan is to fit in some local birding in this afternoon. Then we join for dinner for the official start of the tour. Overnight Kota Kinabalu. Dinner included (D).


Day 2: Kota Kinabalu
Just 30 minutes from our city hotel we can visit an area of coastal wetlands where our main target will be the Malaysian Plover. There should be plenty of other water birds here including Terek Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover and a chance to compare both Greater and Lesser Sandplover. We will also check an area of reedy ponds where we will look for Nankeen Night Herons, White-browed Crake, Wandering Whistling Duck and in the surrounding scrub and trees the endemic Dusky Munia, plus a few other species such as Collared Kingfisher, Lesser Coucal, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Ashy Tailorbird, Brown-throated Sunbird and maybe even our first Blue-throated Bee-eater. There may be time to also check out some fields where we could hopefully find a few shorebirds such as Long-toed Stint plus Oriental Pratincole, Intermediate Egret, Javan Pond Heron, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, and possibly Buff-banded Rail. Later we will return to our hotel. Overnight Kota Kinabalu: B,L,D.

Day 3: Rafflesia Forest Reserve
RafflesiaToday we will have an early morning start to visit the Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve. Situated in the Crocker Mountain Range and named after the Rafflesia, one of the world's largest and most magnificent flowering plants. Rafflesia flowers have leathery petals that can reach up to three feet across. This unique flower is pollinated by flies and gives off a strong smell of rotting flesh. It only blooms for a few days, so if we are lucky and there is one around to be seen we will of course take a look.

Bornean Green MagpieIn the stunning forests of Tambunan Rafflesia Forest Reserve, we will search for our first endemic birds which may include Mountain Blackeye and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, plus other superb species such as, Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush, Bornean Green Magpie, Bornean Leafbird, Indigo Flycatcher, Sunda Bush Warbler, Bornean Bulbul, Pygmy White-eye, Bornean and Mountain Barbets, Jerdon’s Baza, Mountain Serpent-Eagle, and both Gold-whiskered Barbet and with luck we will try for Red-breasted and Crimson-headed Partridges. We will then transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kinabalu National Park for a three night stay: B,L,D


Days 4 – 5: Mount Kinabalu Park
Crimson-headed PartridgesWe will have 2 full days to explore this fabulous park. Dominated by the 4,101 meter Mount Kinabalu and surrounded by lush forested slopes, this habitat 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. In the highest parts, we will search for more endemic and near endemic birds including 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.


Chestnut-capped LaughingthrushAlong the numerous park trails we could also find species such as Mountain and Bornean Barbets, Bornean Green Magpie, Eye-browed Jungle-Flycatcher, Bornean Whistler, 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, Golden-naped Barbet, Snowy-browed, Indigo and Little Pied Flycatchers. We may even get lucky with the elusive White-browed Shortwing. Our days here will be well spent with many great birding opportunities.
Nights Kinabalu Park: B,L,D


Black-and-yellow BroadbillDay 6: Poring Hot Springs – Sepilok
This morning we will depart for some lowland birding and totally different species at Poring Hot Springs. Here we have chances to see Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Banded Kingfisher, Rufous Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Short-tailed Babbler, Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher and Bornean Spiderhunter. With luck maybe even White-tailed Flycatcher or Chestnut-capped Thrush.

We will then make our way to another site where we can look for Bornean Forktail and Bornean Barbet among others. After some final birding we'll drive east to Sepilok for a two-night stay. We should arrive in time for some initial exploration around our jungle lodge. Both Sunda Scops Owl and Barred Eagle Owl live in the area so let’s see if we are lucky. Night Sepilok Jungle Resort: B,L,D


Day 7: Sepilok Rainforest Reserve
The Sepilok Rainforest Reserve is just a short distance from our lodge and offers fabulous opportunities to get into the heart of a tropical jungle. Well managed paths give way to more remote trails and the canopy walkway offers unprecedented views of the tree tops and surrounding forest, as well as eye-level views of some of the wildlife. This is lowland Rufous-collared Kingfisherprimary forest and as such it holds numerous species such as Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Banded Kingfisher, Bushy-crested and Black Hornbill, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Scarlet-rumped and Diard’s Trogon, Black-and-red Broadbill, Red-billed Malkoha, Violet Cuckoo, the tiny White-fronted Falconet, lots of woodpeckers and several species of colorful sunbird.

A large pond often hosts Stork-billed Kingfisher. Around the large pond we often see a variety of swiftlets, plus Grey-rumped Treeswift and Silver-rumped Spinetails coming down to drink, and the nearby tall trees can hold Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle or the huge Rhinoceros Hornbill. The list of birds seen here goes on with Thick-billed, Little and Spectacled Spiderhunters, Buff-rumped, Crimson-winged and Rufous Woodpecker, Red-throated, Ruby-cheeked and Van Hasselt's Sunbird, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Hairy-backed Bulbul and Black-capped Babbler.

OrangutanProtected patches of forest are home to many other creatures and in particular one that everyone wants to see, the amazing Orangutan. There should also be Pig-tailed Macaques and the strange looking Colugo, described as a flying lemur. We will concentrate our efforts on finding specialties such as the Bornean Bristlehead and Black-crowned Pitta. Mixed species flocks could include Red-naped Trogon, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Raffles's and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Green Iora, Banded, Maroon and Checker-throated Woodpeckers, the tiny Rufous Piculet, Greater and Lesser Green Leafbird, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds, White-crowned Shama, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Olive-winged Bulbul, and Bornean Black Magpie. We may be able to do 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 8 - 9: Sepilok – Sukau, Kinabatangan
Gomantong CaveAfter a final morning's birding on one of the forest trails we will set off and head south to Sabah’s longest river the Kinabatangan. Along the way 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 sustainably 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.

Continuing on we will eventually arrive at a small dock on the river where we will then be transferred by boat to our lovely riverside lodge. We will have some time today and a full day tomorrow to explore this wonderful area by boat where we will navigate the wide open river and many of its smaller winding tributaries. There are many excellent species to find such as the superb Rhinoceros Hornbill, and in fact all of Borneo’s eight species of hornbill can be found here.

Stormís StorkOn the narrow channels we should be able to get close to the elegant Hooded Pitta, but we would need an awful lot of luck to even glimpse the rare Bornean Ground-Cuckoo. On the tree tops, the endangered Storm’s Stork perches overlooking the river, while Lesser and Gray-headed Fish-Eagles, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Oriental Darter, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Oriental Dollarbird and Blue-throated Bee-eaters vie for attention. The forests here are not only full of birds, but also plenty of really interesting mammals including many primates with numerous large troops of the odd looking Proboscis Monkeys as well as Pig-tailed and Long-tailed Macaques, Bornean Gibbons and, with luck, Orangutan. This is also one of the best places to see Bornean Pygmy Elephant which visit the river edges every 10 days or so, and again with luck we might come across a herd while we are searching the river. We have organized a night boat trip which we will hopefully find a few nocturnal residents such as Buffy Fish Owl, Oriental Bay Owl and possibilities of a Flat-headed or Leopard Cat. 2 Nights Borneo Nature Lodge: B,L,D



Day 10: Kinabatangan – Lahad Datu
Today after some final morning birding along the river we will have lunch and then head to the town of Lahad Datu where we will spend the night. Night Lahad Datu.

Day 11: Lahad Datu. End of Main Tour
Those finishing our main tour will transfer this morning to the local airport for a flight back to Kota Kinabalu where their tour will end.

LEADERS: Local Guide plus Gina Nichol & Steve Bird


Days 11 - 13: Lahad Datu – Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Bornean Banded PittaFor those that are continuing on our extension we will leave early and make the journey of several hours through wilderness until we reach the unbelievably luxurious Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Set in the heart of the wonderful Danum Valley, we will stay here for three nights. The 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 of our lovely cabins to begin our adventure. Searching around the lodge grounds and along the entrance road, as well as excellent forest trails will produce too many species to mention here, but some of the highlights we will be looking for include Great Argus and Crested Fireback, Blue-headed, Black-crowned, Hooded and Bornean Banded Pittas, and maybe with luck even the elusive Giant Pitta or difficult Blue-banded Pitta.

Bornean BristleheadWe have another chance for the Bornean Bristlehead plus Rhinoceros, Bushy-crested, Wreathed, Helmeted and Wrinkled Hornbills, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Rufous-collared and Blue-banded Kingfishers, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Diard's and Red-naped Trogons, Chestnut-naped and White-crowned Forktails, 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.

In forest clearings we will check the canopy and dead tree tops for pigeons, with a good chance of the rare Large Green-Pigeon among the more common Thick-billed, Pink-necked, Cinnamon-headed, Little Green-Rhinocerous Hornbillpigeons and Jambu Fruit-dove. We also have more chances of Wallace's Hawk-eagle and White-fronted Falconet. We will keep a look out for mixed species flocks that could hold both Green, Dusky 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, Spectacled, Yellow-eared, Long-billed and Thick-billed Spiderhunters, Pygmy White-eye, Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler, and Rufous-chested Flycatcher.

Blue-headed PittaBLyth's FrogmouthLower in the understory birds such as Black-capped and Short-tailed, Horsfield's, Ferruginous, Sooty-capped, Chestnut-rumped, Chestnut-winged, Scaly-crowned and Rufous-fronted Babblers, Striped, Bornean and possibly Black-throated Wren-babbler, Striped and Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers. Near the river maybe Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Brown Fulvetta and Spotted Fantail among others, and if we are really lucky maybe the spectacular endemic Bornean Ground-Cuckoo. We have arranged additional night drives which might give us an opportunity for the Oriental Bay Owl, plus Reddish Scops-owl, Bornean Wood-owl, Buffy Fish-owl or even Gould’s, Blyth’s and Large Frogmouths. We will also try spotlighting some of the shyer mammals found here such as Horsfield's Tarsier, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Greater and Lesser Mouse-Deer, Common Palm Civet, Colugo, Banded Linsang or even a Leopard Cat. If the gods were smiling we even connect with the rarely see Marbled or Clouded Leopard. Wow! 3 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 15: – END OF TOUR
Today you will take your international flight. B

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

May 20 - 30, 2023
Plus extension to Borneo Rainforest Lodge
May 30 - June 3, 2023

Registration Form>    
Contact [email protected] to reserve your space!

MAIN TOUR GROUND PRICE: US $4495.00 per person based on double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Airport code: BKI). 
Single Supplement:
US $795.00 per person subject to availability.  Price based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below).

BORNEO RAINFOREST LODGE EXTENSION PRICE: US $3995.00  per person based on double occupancy from Lahad Datu. Note the extension begins in Lahad Datu and ends in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Airport code: BKI). Single supplement for the extension: US $695.00 per person.

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 [email protected] 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 Day 1 to breakfast on Day 11, 1 domestic flight for those on extension, all community fees, park entrance fees, transportation throughout, boat trips, night boat trips, night drives, drinking water and services of leaders.

Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.  Also, any and all costs arising from pandemic or Covid-19 related issues are not included in the tour cost and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. These include, among others, the costs of Covid treatment, hospitalization, medical fees, transport, meals and accommodation in case of illness or quarantine, and the costs of any Covid tests needed before, during and after the tour.

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.


NOTE: This tour is being run in association with Bird's Wildilfe & Nature Tours of Plymouth, England.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour:

1) Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected] to confirm availability and hold your place.

2) Review the Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)>

3) Complete the Registration & Release Form (pdf)> and mail it with your deposit of US$1000.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC within two weeks to secure your place. 

>Download & print the Registration Form (pdf download).
Instructions are on the form.

Reservations are held with a paid deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.

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 January 20, 2023.

**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:
Please review our Terms and Conditions of Booking (pdf download)> prior to registering for this tour. All cancellations must be made in writing. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. 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.

Sunrise Birding LLC strongly recommends that you consider purchasing a travel protection plan to protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected in case of delay, injury or illness prior to or during a tour. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Loss and Delay, Emergency Medical Transportation, Pre-existing Conditions, and more.


There are many trip insurers. Here are two options to consider:

CSA Travel Protection
CSA offers coverage for pre-existing conditions if you purchase your policy before making your final payment for a tour.
Please be sure to use Sunrise Birding's producer code: 20201123
when purchasing your policy.
Insure My Trip is a web site that allows you to compare trip insurance plans
to find the right plan for you.


  • Insurance policy requirements vary and the timing of your purchase can affect coverage. Some insurance providers require that for coverage of pre-existing conditions, a policy must be purchased within 7-14 days of booking. Others, like CSA, offer policies that cover pre-existing conditions as long as the policy is purchased prior to making your final payment for the tour.

  • Trip insurance policy premiums may be non-refundable, but they may be able to be amended or transferred. Check with your insurer. It is important to be sure that the tour is sufficiently subscribed to operate before you purchase trip insurance.

  • Pay attention to coverages provided by your policy. Be aware of the requirements of country or destination can change, so check often. Some policies are now offering Covid related coverages so check with your insurer.

  • US medical insurance plans (including Medicare) often do not provide coverage outside the US. The US State Department strongly advises Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Consult with your insurer prior to your trip to ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider directly or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Be sure to get and keep all documentation of any expenses incurred.


Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at [email protected].com 
Phone: 203.453.6724