Travel Blog - Borneo Bound

Borneo Bound

Borneo Bound

Our Intrepid Explorer is Borneo Bound

So our Intrepid explorer, Charlotte (pictured right, she won't like us adding that in!) is currently on her way to Borneo for her 21 day adventure with Intrepid!

After a train down to London Heathrow, an overnight stay in luxury at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport Hotel with room service and then up early with a limo taxi (only £8!) to the terminal; she checked-in her bags and headed straight to the airport lounge for complimentary breakfast and drinks. We think an airport lounge is a must on these trips as its nice to relax before the flight.

She is due to arrive in Kuching on 30th March to start her 21 day trek.

TOP TIP: Grab an airport lounge before your flight so you can relax with free drinks and snacks and start your holiday early!

Her itinerary is as below:

Day 1: Kuching | Day 2: Bako National Park | Day 3: Kuching | Day 4: Iban Longhouse | Day 5-7: Mulu National Park | Day 8: Headhunters' Trail/Limbang | Day 9-10: Kota Kinabalu | Day 11: Dusun Village | Day 12-13: Mt Kinabalu | Day 14-15: Mt Kinabalu / Poring Hot Springs | Day 16: Kinabatangan River | Day 17: Sandakan | Day 18: Turtle Island | Day 19: Sepilok Orangutan Reserve | Day 20-21: Kota Kinabalu

Wednesday 29 March 2017
So after travelling for 12.5 hours from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur onboard the enormous A380 plane and a 2 hour stop over, our intrepid explorer arrived in Kuching at 06:25 local time. However, our explorer realised that chilling in the nearest seating area on the stopover without checking the actual size of the airport, meant a mad dash for her connecting flight.

What should have happened is that she should have ventured into the main part of the airport to familiarise herself with the various terminals and their distances!

Once her hold bags where collected and checked sleeping bag was still thankfully attached to her luggage, our traveller went to immigration to leave the airport. After checking her passport she was quizzed of how she arrived in Kuching – then took to one side as it was apparent our explorer had not realised she needed to go through immigration at Kuala Lumpur (and get her passport stamped) before boarding her next plane! After a series of questions our traveller was eventually released with a stark warning of how to enter and leave airports – good tip for any new travellers!

Thursday 30 March 2017
A transfer was waiting in the arrivals lounge with her name on a board and the rest of the journey to the hotel went smoothly; phew! After checking in at the hotel and receiving her complimentary gift of a bag of limes (its called the Lime Hotel so we guess you understand), our traveller was informed she would be sharing a room with another fellow lone traveller, yet to arrive.

Once settled in a very nice hotel room our traveller soon made acquaintance with her travel companion and also met another Intrepid explorer who had also just checked in. With some time to kill before the welcome meeting, our new acquaintances went to explore of the city in the very humid and hot weather. They visited the Waterfront, Indian and Chinese street markets and the Lake reserve park. Then back to the hotel to freshen up ready to meet the rest of the group and of course the Intrepid group leader at the welcome meeting at 6pm to discuss their exciting itinerary and plan for the next 20 days! Hopefully with no more mishaps!

Friday 31 March 2017
So, today our intrepid explorer has been out trekking all day including a boat journey down the river to Bako National Park, waded through the sea a little, has seen loads of different types of monkeys (all very angry who tried stealing their food) and also enjoyed a stunning night time hike.

TOP TIP: Make sure you take appropriate footwear and clothes that you don't mind getting a little wet. High heels or an expensive designer t-shirt are out!

Saturday 01 April 2017
No April fools jokes today we promise! Perhaps the highlight of today for her was the visit to the Orangutan Sanctuary (lead blog pic) where she witnessed these majestic creatures swing through the trees with their young clinging to them. The Orangutan is endangered due to habitat loss in these areas and there is alot of conservation work being done to support their survival in the remote locations. The tour group tonight stayed in a hostel in Baku and her comment about this was "It's lush!"; a great and detailed review for us. We've been told pictures will follow tomorrow. In the meantime, below are some amazing pictures she took from Friday's trekking!

Sunday 02 April 2017
Today Charlotte had to rise at 5.30am to catch a flight to Miri and join up with the Head Hunters tribe too! Today was the markets in Miri where, strangely, they bought a snake so they could release it back into the wild. Apparently, these snakes are endangered and they are trying to stop locals catching them and selling at the markets so thats her good deed for the day. She then stayed in the Iban village with the Iban tribe and enjoyed some time in the amazing long house with a nigh time culture show and a visit to the awe-inspiring Niah Caves. Her comments were: "Words cannot describe how good this was". Tonight she stayed in a traditional family homestay with her hosts.

Monday 03 April 2017
A short flight today from Miri to Mulu National Park which was her home for 2 nights discovering the bets of this stunning Park; plenty of amazing walks and home to the world’s longest tree based canopy walkway. She also stated today that she had "Lots of big walks and a banquet meal"; we've also heard she had some rice wine which was very nice!

Tuesday 04 April 2017
Today charlotte took an amazing boat trip down the river, swan in a local waterfall and ended the night with a night walk looking for some amazing creatures. On the night walk, a couple of new friends she has made and her were ahead of the group and found a really strange looking bug (exactly as it was described to us) which they took a photo of very close up. When the leader caught them up he stated "Don't go near them they are highly dangerous and venomous" - lesson learnt I think! Anyway, she is having an amazing time and shared some more images for you as above and below. Tomorrow she begins one of 2 big hikes through the jungle; the first is 8.5km and then Thursday an 11.5km one before she starts to think about next week and the big climb ahead.

Wednesday 05 April 2017
Today the explorer took a boat from Mulu National Park down to a little village that had a lovely local small market full of delicious local produce. She visited even more caves today (we think she's seen a lot of caves) and then further down the river to start the camp trek ready for 'The Climb' not the song, the Mount Kinabalu climb to watch the sunrise! The walk through the jungles to Camp 5 was a little scary in places as there was a rickety old rope bridge over a fast flowing river. On arrival at camp 5, the facilities were as you would expect, mattresses on the floor and an open long house to sleep in; but thats trekking for you. Todays hike was a mere 8.5Km, thats nothing that!

Thursday 06 April 2017
Today was a big one, 11.5km in wet and slippy jungle terrain in very humid hot weather. Not many pictures today, more important to stay on your feet! But, after the trek, there was a stunning 2 hour boat ride again down the river with a stop at a local village where she 'chilled with the locals'. Dinner this evening was at a little local market and Charlotte said it was amazing and well worth the wait.

Friday 07 April 2017
Today the group got the ferry over to Labuan which was full of shops and very much like a duty free shoppers heaven. Our intrepid explorer told us she also had the largest iced coffee she has ever seen. After a delicious Indian style lunch they had time to explore the island for a couple of hours before heading over to Kota Kinabalu by ferry. Charlotte loved this city and said it too was 'amazing'. The streets were cool, the fish markets were enormous, the fishing boats sat right behind the market and the buildings and people were fantastic. So our top tip today is:

TOP TIP: Visit Kota Kinabalu sometime its amazing

Charlotte met the 2nd group today as the first group (on the first 10 days of the tour) had left and a new group, who would be accompanying her up the mountain, arrived. To finish the night, we heard that our explorer had Cocktails and Pizza as a treat!

Saturday 08 April 2017
Today was a bit of free time to explore this great city doing some shopping, exploring the sights and stopped at a 'locals' cafe for lunch were the cutlery was their fingers. An authentic experience and one she wont forget.

Sunday 09 April 2017
Today they arrived for their 2nd homestay in a little village en-route to the mountain. The fun part here was showering with a giant millipede who was obviously a little hot too! She spent the day swimming in the river and watching a show from the local village people at the community centre which was fantastic. Tomorrow, the journey begins!

Monday 10 April 2017
Well here we are; the mountain climb begins. This morning we have had a call from our intrepid explorer, excited and a little nervous for the climb ahead. The drive this morning took her to Kinabalu Park the National World Heritage Site at around 1500m high. Thats higher than any mountain in the UK already! Wow! And tomorrow the hike begins with a 6km trek; upwards. Followed by the final 4K push to the top on Wednesday at 2am to watch the sunrise over the mountains. This itself will be worth every ounce of energy and breath taken to reach the top. A group who had been up this morning commented on return to the base 'Its out of this world. There were no clouds and the view was stunning'.

Tuesday 11 April 2017
The Ascent has Begun! We received a message this morning stating: "That was the hardest thing I have ever done". She still has to do the final ascent to the top at 2am so we hope that's easier. The walk began around 9am and the group arrived at the hostel at 3pm after walking over 6km and rising to a height of around 3200m. To put that into perspective for you, that's 2 miles high, already higher than many mountains found throughout the Alps. We wish her luck for the final climb that will provide her with what some people call, the greatest sunrise on earth.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

ON TOP OF THE WORLD - need we say more...

Thursday 13 April 2017
Today is a chilled day after the climb up Kinabalu and back down so the hot springs are being bathed and relaxed in whilst the legs recover from the epic journey up the mountain. Well done Charlotte, you should be proud of yourself and thanks to Intrepid for taking her to the top for what will provide her with memories that will last a lifetime.

Friday 14 April 2017
Well back at ground level, it was time to explore Sandakan and take some more time to relax and enjoy a bit of Borneo Culture. Also, as our intrepid explorer travelled around, there were some strange creatures lurking about (no not the ones on the sunbeds!).

Saturday 15 April 2017
Today after another river adventure, road journey, some more amazing sights, sounds and creatures, its a rest before tomorrow's amazing trip over at Turtle Island to see the conservation of these amazing amphibians and a little treat for our explorer's little sister! Read on...

Sunday 16 April 2017
So the day has arrived for what Charlotte later calls 'The best day of my life, so amazing'. Turtle island is where green and hawksbill turtles come ashore to lay their eggs every night of the year. In the evening, she was touched by the sight of giant green turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs under the moonlight, and watched the researchers as they release protected hatchlings and guide them in their frantic dash to the ocean. It was a moving experience and one that makes you think more than twice about trying illegally traded turtle egg delicacies.

Oh yes, her sister back at home. Well, as a surprise gift for her (and the fact her sister is mad about animals of any kind) she adopted 95 Hawksbill Turtle eggs that will hatch in around 30 days in her name. Once hatched, pictures of these tiny, cute little creatures will be sent back and peace if mind that more of these delicate sea creatures will be protected from poaching or illegal trading. The nest that she adopted houses the rarer turtles as many are Green Turtles so even better!

Monday 17 April 2017
More relaxing, we are starting to think that there is a lot of paradise, relaxing, chilling and sandy beaches to explore in this part of the trip, take a look at the pictures below! There was also time to see the stunning Orangutans and Sun Bears at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

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