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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Borneo: Sabah

Mount Kinabalu, Kinabatangan River, Tabin Reserve, and the Danum Valley

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.   The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course, supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office. 

ENTERING MALAYSIA:  U.S. citizens are required to have a passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry and with at least one blank page for an entry stamp. Visas are not required for a pleasure or business trip of 90 days or less. 

Proof of yellow fever immunization is required for people coming from countries where the disease is endemic.  No other immunizations are required for entry. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Malaysia at

PACE OF THE TOUR:  The average distance covered during our days in the field is a bit more than a mile per “birding period”. Our pace is very slow, of course, but on some days we may walk up to two and a half miles.  Since there is a lull in the bird activity in the middle of the afternoon, midday breaks are usually scheduled.  The mornings will be early (as early as 5:45 AM departures from the hotel in some places).  

At Mount Kinabalu we will break in the mid-mornings for breakfast (logistical reasons dictate this); elsewhere we will take breakfast before dawn. Our proximity to the equator means the days are 12 hours long year-round so dawn and dusk are around 6 am/pm respectively. Evening or early morning owling is offered where possible for those who want to participate.  Most of the trails are undulating, and steep but short uphill climbs are necessary for some places.  Susan will inform the group of trail conditions ahead of time so that if anyone who wants to opt out has that opportunity. 

 HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

Malaria: The CDC recommends a malaria prophylaxis.  

Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever protection is not recommended by the CDC but is required for entry into Malaysia if you’re coming from a country where the disease is endemic. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at . 

Elevation: The maximum elevation we will bird at is approximately 5,900 ft/1800 m at the Timpahon Gate on Mount Kinabalu; our accommodation there is at approximately 4200 ft/1300 m. Our time at Kinabatangan is at sea level, while Danum Valley is in the foothills with an elevation of 980-1600 ft/300-500 m.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous:  Malaysia is remarkably free of intestinal complaints.  Malaysians are very particular about their drinking water and drinking water in a restaurant or cafe will have already been boiled. 

It is likely that we will find mosquitoes in some forest areas. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. 

CLIMATE:  At Mount Kinabalu, the daytime temperature ranges from about 70°F (mid-day) to the mid-50s F at night; while in the lowlands it reaches about 90°F.  Night time temperatures will be correspondingly higher, as well.  The humidity is quite high, averaging about 80% year-round, which may make it seem hotter.  Rainfall can be expected at any time in brief, heavy downpours.  Total annual rainfall averages between 200 and 260 cm (between 77 and 100 inches), the wet season typically runs from October to March, while the “not so wet” season is from April to September. There is always the chance of rain on any given day at any given time in Borneo. 

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley is an upmarket wildlife lodge (along the line of the world-renowned Tiger Tops in Chitwan National Park in Nepal) with fan-cooled rooms with private facilities and hot/cold water showers. It is considered by many to be one of the best lodges of its kind in Asia. 

Bilit Rainforest Lodge is an award-winning ecotourism lodge, with twin-bedded rooms with air conditioning; private bathrooms with solar-powered hot water; 24-hour electricity provided by solar-powered cells, supplemented by generators as needed.  

Tabin Wildlife Resort consists of 10 units of authentic Borneo timber bungalows with a standard floor area of 17.5 ft x 17.5 ft. Each bungalow is a twin-bedded or double-bedded room with en-suite bathroom, hot water shower, private balcony overlooking hillside forest or the Lipad River, air conditioning and a ceiling fan. They are linked by an inter-connecting timber boardwalk to the Sunbird Café.

The accommodation at Kinabalu Park is very comfortable, also with private facilities. 

Our hotel in Kota Kinabalu is a fairly typical large western-style hotel.  

WiFi, Internet and Cell Phones:  In the hotels in the main towns free wifi is generally available. Wifi is now available at the remote Borneo Rainforest Lodge but it is a satellite signal so can be capricious. Wifi is available only in the common areas at Bilit Lodge.

Cell phones can be useful while on tour but keep in mind that many countries operate on a different cellular technology than US or Canadian carriers. Your phone may be incompatible with the local system, so please check with your local carrier.  

FOOD:  The food in this part of Malaysia is generally delicious and varied with a combination of Chinese, Western and local Malaysian and Sabahan dishes. At the lodges, the evening meals are in the form of buffets. The food in this part of the world has a reputation for being spicy but in Malaysian cuisine, chili or “sambal” (similar in some ways to salsa) is usually added to the meal at the table and is thus optional. 

Drinks: Bottled water will be available in the field (we’ll keep a box full on the bus) except in the Danum Valley where you will receive a complimentary bottle to fill up with filtered water supplied by the lodge. At meals, either bottled or filtered water will be available. 

Food Allergies / Requirements:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION:  Land travel will be in an air-conditioned minibus and the occasional eight-seater microbus. At Sukau, for the purposes of wildlife watching, small boats (no canopy) with a combination outboard/electric engine will be provided by the Bilit Rainforest Lodge management.

Updated: 23 September 2019