Rainforest Revelation - Wildlife Photography Tour
Borneo, Malaysia Borneo, Malaysia Borneo, Malaysia Borneo, Malaysia

Borneo, Malaysia
24 to 31 October 2017
Bookings Closed: Please note that bookings for this Tour have been closed. Please get in touch with us if you have questions.


  • A riveting adventure in the oldest rainforest in the world
  • A productive excursion to one of the earth's richest biodiversity areas
  • A possibility to make excellent photographs of the highly endangered Bornean orangutan, pygmy elephant, proboscis monkey, rhinoceros hornbill and many other special species
  • Extensive on- and off-field assistance
  • A wealth of learning on photography and natural history under the tutelage of Skipper Sachin Rai

E This is a Toehold Special Tourven in the midst of uncontained urbanization, there is a haven; and in the wake of uncurbed chaos, an oasis of silence. It is older than the Amazon, larger than France, spreads across two countries and fosters over 18,000 species of life.

It is called Borneo and this Photo Tour is an attempt to revel in its intrigue.

How is it?

Imagine a rainforest 130 million years old and 743,330 square kilometres large enrobing the part-Indonesian and part-Malaysian island in a veil of green, and you begin to envisage the scale, significance and the striking uniqueness of this paradise.

With the South China Sea, Java, Sulawesi and the Philippines as its neighbours, the island stands as the largest in the Malayan Archipelago and the third largest in the world as a paradigm of natural affluence and a paradise for the green at heart.

Composed of a mind-boggling variety of flora, ancient caves, serpentine rivers and endemic faunal species, many of which are being discovered newly even today, mystical Borneo provides, allegorically and literally, a breath of fresh air to the naturalist disillusioned by a world otherwise bent upon self-destruction from the juggernaut of development.

Borneo is the earth's last secret.


Located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, the Kinabatangan is the second longest river in Malaysia, flowing all of 560 kilometers from origin to ultimate destiny and it is renowned for its astounding wildlife and attractions such as the limestone caves at Gomantong Hill, dry-land and riverine and swamp forests, oxbow lakes and salty mangrove swamps near the coast.

It seldom gets better than this.


Situated in Sabah, the Danum Valley Conservation Area is a 438km2 tract of undisturbed lowland forest. With deleterious human activity like logging and hunting virtually absent until it was declared a conservation area, this unique wilderness site located near Lahad Datu is home to a research establishment for scientists and the sublimely located lodges for tourists.

What you will see and photograph:

Literally 'Man (of the) Forest' in Malay, the Bornean orangutan looks like a rather hirsute forest man who took a particular liking for body-dyeing with burgundy as the preferred colour. With arms seemingly longer than those of the law, a flange in many males that is used for vocal performances, and strong sexual dimorphism, this lovable primate is the largest of Asia's Great Apes, and along with its Sumatran cousin, the only one exclusively native to the continent.

And that is enough reason to be excited about our visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, the best place on earth to observe this very special fellow-earthling from close range. Established in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby-Orangutans, the sanctuary is located amidst the lush Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and has a viewing gallery and a feeding platform, from where long-tailed macaques also can be observed to good effect.

A subspecies of the Asian Elephant, the Borneo pygmy elephant constitutes the second major mammalian attraction. Believed to be of a domestic descent tracing back to the Sultan of Sulu, who introduced Elephants to the Borneo jungle in the 18th century, the Borneo Elephant soothingly radiates the same serene and harmonious feel as does Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and a sight of them grazing by the river can help you appreciate the privilege of biodiversity more than ever.

A handlebar nose and a sizeable paunch are seldom more adorable than on the endangered proboscis monkey. Locally known as 'The Dutchman', this stately simian isn't as indolent as you might think, with water sports being counted among its part-time interests. Clearly the most aquatic of the world's primates, it can swim several metres submarine and even cross rivers amid short-haul flights between treetops, proving that a pot-belly is no barrier to an active lifestyle on land, under water and in the air.

The state bird of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the rhinoceros hornbill rules the Bornean skies with its imposing build, robust bill and of course the horizontal horn that, unlike its counterpart on the mammal the bird is named after, appears like some advanced aerodynamic device like a suction duct on a racing car. The sight of a breeding female boxed into a tree-hole while the male brings her food, can tug at your heartstrings and grip you in photographic frenzy.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg; the mere surface of a spring that runs quite deep and supports over an astounding 200 species of mammals and twice the number of resident bird species including specialties like the spectacled flowerpecker and the tarsier, besides the clouded leopard and the gibbon.

Chief bird species include eight species of hornbills, apart from kingfishers, owls, broadbills, storm's storks, hawks and eagles, ospreys, falcons, pheasants, parakeets, woodpeckers, pittas, forktails, warblers, flycatchers, orioles, and spiderhunters, among others.



At Toehold, we are passionate about photography just as you are, which lets us understand your travails and needs perfectly. And we use this insight to specially design our Photography Tours so they give you a toehold to excel at the art and set you up for success.

The Toehold team at your disposal will keep you tuned and geared, so you come in empty-handed but go out with bagful of images and tales of an experience that is better lived than heard.

expand to read more »

Please click on any thumbnail and use the left and right arrow keys to navigate between photos in the gallery.

    Please note: This Tour begins at the Sandakan Airport on the afternoon of Tuesday, 24 October, and end after breakfast on Tuesday, 31 October. Travel between your home and Malaysia is not included in the Tour cost or itinerary.

  •   DAY 1   24 October 2017, Tuesday: Arrival and Check-in, Welcome Briefing and Overnight in Sandakan

    After reaching and settling in at the MY Nature Resort, the Tour Skipper will facilitate a mutual introduction and serve an orientation to the Tour. We then treat ourselves to delicious dinner and hit the sack.

  •   DAY 2   25 October, Wednesday: Morning and Evening Exploration; Overnight in Kinabatangan

    This morning, after breakfast, we visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. We then proceed to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and return to Bukit Melapi Lodge for lunch. We checkout and drive to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, and also explore the area for macro photography. We then continue on a further two-hour drive to Kinabatangan and check-in at Borneo Nature Lodge, where we will have dinner and stay overnight.

  •   DAY 3   26 October, Thursday: Whole Day Exploration; Overnight in Kinabatangan

    We set out to explore the area of Sukau in Kinabatangan where we will do the morning, afternoon and night cruises. We stay at Bukit Melapi Lodge, Kinabatangan, that night.

  •   DAY 4   27 October, Friday: Morning and Afternoon Exploration; Overnight in Kinabatangan

    We set out to explore the area of Sukau in Kinabatangan where we will do the morning and afternoon cruises. We stay at Bukit Melapi Lodge, Kinabatangan, that night.

  •   DAY 5   28 October, Saturday: Morning River Cruise, Arrival in Danum Valley, Night Drive to Explore Nocturnal Animals; Overnight in Danum Valley

    After an early morning river cruise, we return to the lodge for breakfast followed by checkout. We then leave for Lahad Datu and have lunch at a local restaurant. We then proceed to Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL) Office for registration and a briefing session. A 2.5-hour journey to Danum Valley and checkin at BRL later, we will get to rest until dinner. Post dinner, we set out on a night drive in an open-top vehicle in search of nocturnal animals. We stay overnight at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.

  •   DAYS 6 and 7   29 and 30 October, Sunday and Monday: Exploration of Endemic Wild Beings on Morning and Afternoon Treks; Night Trek/Drive to Explore Nocturnal Creatures; Overnight in Danum Valley

    We spend the day in pursuit of the endemic and endangered wild animals, including the orangutan, the Bornean gibbon, and the maroon langur around BRL. For this, we trek in the morning and afternoon to photograph the wildlife in the ancient rainforest. After dinner, with headlamps, we either trek or drive into the forests in search of nocturnal mammals and frogs. We stay overnight at BRL.

  •   DAY 8   31 October, Tuesday: Morning Trek; Check out after Lunch and Dispersal

    We go on a morning trek along lodge trails. We return and after lunch, we checkout and travel by road to the Lahad Datu Airport to catch our homebound flights.
USD 3,990
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
USD 7,780
5% GST Extra
Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons
USD 3,840
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours

  • Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable lodges
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All transfers within Borneo
  • Guide and Photography Skipper services
  • Entrance fees for all listed activities (please see itinerary)
  • All airfare
  • Airport departure tax
  • Camera fees (please see the FAQ section for payable amount)
  • Any extra accommodation availed of
  • Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Vaccination, visa and insurance expenses
  • All applicable taxes
  • Anything that is not included in the inclusions list
Payment Terms
  • USD 1000 booking amount (non-refundable)
  • Remainder before 13 May 2017 for confirmation
Cancellation Fees
  • 25% on or before 5 May 2017
  • 50% between 6 and 12 May 2017
  • 75% between 13 and 19 May 2017
  • 100% on or after 20 May 2017

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Participants who have a medical history of blood pressure, heart-related problems or asthma are advised to seek medical advice before enrolling for this Tour.
  2. Fitness to complete the Tour is the only criterion for participation.
  3. Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. shall not be responsible for injuries, damages, or losses caused to any traveller in connection with terrorist activities, social or labour unrest, mechanical or construction failures or difficulties, diseases, local laws, climatic conditions, abnormal conditions or developments, or any other actions, omissions, or conditions outside the travel partner's control.
  4. All clients travelling with Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. must complete and sign a reservation form and the "Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk & Arbitration Agreement" form.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the requisites to participate in this Tour?

    Apart from interest, a valid visa and related documents, and a minimum level of fitness are essential. Visa assistance will be provided.
  • I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?

    Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold's eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you're not, we suggest you join a Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.
  • By what mode or modes will we explore Borneo? What is the level of physical fitness required on this Photo Tour?

    We will travel between the destinations by road, but most of the photography will be done on foot, which is why a moderate level of physical fitness is required.
  • How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?

    Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. Borneo is a country blessed with the greatest biodiversity, and the destinations we'll be visiting are teeming with wildlife, but since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings of specific species are guaranteed.
  • Are rains predicted during the Tour?

    We will be exploring the rainforests of Borneo, so there are all chances of it raining. Please carry adequate protection from rain for yourself and your camera equipment.
  • What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?

    For birds, a lens with a focal length of around 400mm is essential. For mammals, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 100 to 400mm works very well, but a longer lens is fine too, and macro lens to photograph nocturnal life. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is a must, along with a macro lens for closeup flora work. A tripod and an external flash unit are necessary. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras, lenses and accessories for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Click here to see what we offer.
  • What is the structure of the camera fees in Borneo?

    Please note that the following camera fee structure is not included in the Photo Tour cost.

    The following camera fees apply for usage of fixed-lenses having a focal length of 400mm, 500mm, 600mm and 800mm.

    Sepilok Orang Utan Centre, BSBCC, and Gomantong Cave — RM 1,000 per lens per location
    Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary — RM 500 per lens
    Danum Valley — RM 500 per lens

    Please note that lens fees may change before the Tour without notice.
  • How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?

    Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven't experienced themselves, our Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.

© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.


Borneo, Malaysia


  • Date:
    24 to 31 October 2017

  • Tour Cost:

    Indian Individuals:
    USD 3,990 + 5% GST
    Per person

    Indian Couples:
    USD 7,980 7,780 + 5% GST
    Per couple

    Toehold Patrons:
    USD 3,840 + 5% GST
    Per person

  • Skipper: Sachin Rai

    All fares excluding transport to and from Borneo.


We accept all major credit and debit cards.