It was not so very long ago that the possibility of seeing many of the World’s rarer, more elusive and most exquisite mammals was considered the realm of BBC cameramen and extremely patient researchers. Perhaps not for the two-week tourist! However the past few years have seen a realisation that we can indeed find ways of seeing those incredibly shy and well-camouflaged cats or rare bovids of the forest interior.
Borneo possesses an extremely rich mammal fauna and a large percentage of it is found nowhere else on Earth. This is the primary aim of this holiday, Borneo’s endemic mammals, and in particular the smaller cats which thankfully still occur in the good numbers in some of the more remote parts of Borneo. In fact we believe we can find most of Borneo’s ‘higher’ mammal fauna – perhaps only the Bay Cat remains out of reach at present. It is much easier to find Tarsiers, Civets, and the smaller Cats at night, so on this tour you can expect a rather unusual sleep pattern with nightly excursions of various lengths spotlighting for these enigmatic creatures as well as a reasonable amount of daylight mammal (and general wildlife) watching as well, but rest assured we won’t make it into too gruelling an exercise – there will be plenty of chance to both sleep and relax too.
Deramakot has recently become known as the place in Borneo to see many of the island’s most sought-after mammals. Most of Borneo’s cats are at least partially adapted to live in trees but the Marbled Cat is perhaps the most arboreal of all of them. It is both rare and supremely elusive and until recently there wasn’t a single locality known where sightings were regular. All that has recently changed with a spate of sightings in Deramakot. Of course it (probably) won’t be easy, we’ll likely to have to put many hours into the quest, but a whole week at Deramakot certainly gives us a great chance. And of course there’s so much more to see – not least the Marbled Cat’s larger cousin, the Clouded Leopard, which has also been seen regularly here. On any given night trip at Deramakot we are likely to see a good range of species. Sightings of Binturong and Small-toothed Palm Civets are frequent. So too both Black Flying Squirrel and Thomas’s Flying Squirrel. Banded Linsang has recently been placed in a family of its own and sighting of this beautiful mammal is sure to be a highlight as will be a sight of the rare Otter Civet. The Sunda Colugo, rather improperly but evocatively known as the Flying Lemur, is likely to be seen several times, however Sun Bear… some have seen it here! In daylight the mammal-fest will continue with a range of squirrel species including Ear-spot Squirrel, Plantain Squirrel, Prevost’s Squirrel, Low’s Squirrel and Least Pygmy Squirrel, elegant Yellow-throated Martens, and a range of primates including Proboscis Monkey, Long-tailed Macaque, Sunda Pig-tailed Macaque, Bornean Orang-utan and Mueller’s Bornean Gibbon. We’ll be busy with Red Giant Flying Squirrels and Bearded Pigs whilst Rajah Brooke’s Birdwings and Malay Red Harlequin are just part of a pageant of butterflies. Masked Palm Civets are common and we’ll also find the elegantly-patterned Malay Civet as well as the striking (in more ways than one) Sunda Stink Badger. This is a superb place to see richly coloured Trogons and Pittas, Rhinoceros Hornbills, Western Tarsiers, strange Bornean Bristleheads, Flying Lizards.
The Imbak Canyon is fast generating a reputation for rare mammal-sightings. We’ve a good chance of the special cats again here, and recently groups of Banteng have been spotted on several occasions. The Bornean Slow Loris is commonly encountered here. The strange orange Malay Weasel is likely as are Common Palm Civet, Short-tailed Mongoose and the amazing porcupine-mimic Tufted Ground Squirrel, an extremely rare species that looks like a giant ‘red squirrel’ and which turns its tail into a porcupine when feeling threatened. Also here is the beautiful Horse-tailed Squirrel and ungulates such as Bornean Yellow Muntjac, Greater Mouse Deer and Lesser Mouse Deer.
We’ll visit the Kinabatangan River where boat trips along narrow channels will give us give us a strong chance of close-up encounters with another feline, this time the strange Flat-headed Cat, a species that enjoys the water as much as the trees. The floodplains here support a decent population of the slightly (!) dwarfed form of Elephant prevalent in Borneo. We’ll see up-close Maroon Langurs, six species of Hornbill, the endangered Storm’s Stork and Buffy Fish Owl and have fantastic opportunities to capture great Proboscis Monkey images. Pig-tailed Macaques and Silvered Langurs are also common and we’ll hope to see the enigmatic Hose’s Langur here.
Dates and Prices
10th October - 25th October 2024 (16 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Mammals. Also Birds, Butterflies, Odonata, Reptiles and Amphibians.
The minimum is 4 and the maximum is 7.
All flights. Transport, accommodation and all meals in Sabah. Services of your leaders. Entrance fees to national parks. Please note: Travel insurance, drinks, tips and items of a personal nature, are not included.
Mammal, bird, butterfly, odonata and frog checklists are available.
We start with a night at the excellent Sepilok Lodge before moving to the very comfortable Borneo Nature Lodge, on the banks of the Kinabatangan River for a three night stay. Next are two nights in the Imbak Canyon. The huge ‘hotel’ we stay in here is rather incongruous as its hardly visited even though the complex is huge, and its in the middle of nowhere! The very pleasant rooms have nice balconies and large comfortable beds. Then it is to Deramakot for a seven night stay. Here we are in quite basic accommodation, though the chalet style rooms are en suite. All rooms on this tour are en suite.
Easy for the most part, though occasionally some slippery trails with some uphill sections. Note that at Deramakot we do spend quite a bit of time driving the tracks as well as on foot, day and night! We don’t expect to cover many miles in a day, however it is the timing of the excursions that you need to be aware of – we’ll be spending quite a part of the hours of darkness in the field and so sleep may be at less than usual times!
UK flights are from London Heathrow via Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan return. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
Warm to hot throughout although it rarely exceeds 29°C. Humidity varies from medium to high. There are occasional showers or heavier storms.
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.