London – Kuala Lumpur - Kuching
Take the midday flight out of London Heathrow and you’ll arrive in Bangkok early the next morning. Your connecting flight to Kuching will be met and you’ll be taken to your luxury hotel in the heart of the city, surrounded by buildings that date back to the era of the White Rajahs. From here you’ll be able to browse round the old Chinese temples and the busy markets that await around virtually every corner. There’s a mile-long waterfront promenade and a Main Bazaar that is noted for its Bornean tribal carvings, handicrafts, antiques and offbeat souvenirs. You’ll also have time to immerse yourself in the city’s prodigious museums, including the renowned Sarawak Museum, itself an historical piece dating back to 1891.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Hilton Kuching.
Now is your chance to experience living – or at least staying – in a typical, Bornean-style longhouse. But first you’ll take a leisurely five hour drive to visit a pepper planation and the charming market town of Sri Aman. Then comes Batang Ai where you’ll sail along the Ai River, through extremely photogenic countryside, to Nanga Sumpa. Here you’ll stay in a traditional-style longhouse complete with modern amenities – standing on stilts and reached by a wooden bridge. You’ll gain an insight into village life, as well as having the chance to trek in an unspoilt jungle habitat, take a long canoe upstream for a scenic picnic and make a cultural visit to an Iban chief’s longhouse.
Stay: Two nights at Nanga Sumpa Long House.
Today you drive back to revisit Kuching to snap up the souvenirs you know you should have bought on your first visit!
Stay: One night in a standard room at Hilton Kuching.
A short flight takes you to Mulu where you’ll be taken to your lodge in the heart of unspoiled jungle. A longboat trip and a three kilometre plank walkway through primary rainforest will bring you to Deer Cave. The word spectacular does not do this place justice; St Paul’s Cathedral would fit easily under its entrance. It has a lunar landscape interior and its inhabitants number over two million bats that pour out to go hunting every night. Near Deer Cave is Lang’s Cave, famous for its breath-taking limestone stalagmites and stalactites.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at the Royal Mulu Resort.
Headhunters’ Trail and Gunung Api
The following morning a longboat takes you upriver to see the lace-like stalagmites of King’s Chamber in Wind Cave. If you’re feeling intrepid you can take the plank walkway suspended from the limestone cliffs into Clearwater Cave. It’s worth the walk because you’ll be able to swim beneath towering trees and find plants like orchids, photo-sensitive needle-pointed algae and carnivorous pitcher plants. More adventure awaits the following day as you climb for up to five hours amongst the spiralling limestone pinnacles of Gunung Api. The view – and the sense of achievement – at the summit will give you a natural high!
Stay: Two nights in basic accommodation at Camp 5.
The intrepid adventure part of your tour culminates with a five hour trek through unspoiled habitat to a jetty where you’ll board a boat for your trip by river to either Rumah Penghula or Rumah Bala Lasong. Depending on the river’s water level, your journey takes between two and three hours – but time will pass quickly as there is plenty of riverside wildlife and flora to see along the way. This night you’ll gain another perspective on jungle life; you’ll be staying in an Iban longhouse and sampling local food.
Stay: One night in an Iban longhouse.
Now for some beach time and real relaxation. You’ll fly from Limbang Airport via Miri to Kota Kinabula, arriving in the afternoon. Kota Kinabula is the state capital, but it’s surrounded by the world’s largest rainforest, so you’ll be able to tour a nature reserve and visit an orang-utan education centre. But the beach will also call you; fine sand combines with warm waters, abundant marine life and colourful coral reefs to make an irresistible attraction.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe garden view room at Shangri La Rasa Ria.
Kota Kinabalu – Kuala Lumpur - London
On your final day you’re driven to Kota Kinabulu Airport for your flight to Kuala Lumpur and onwards to London Heathrow, where you’ll arrive early the next morning.
Sara could not have been more knowledgeable or helpful. She was very responsive and really listened to what we wanted.- MN, Ecuador & Galapagos, 2014