Borneo, Malaysia

Rainforest Revelation

Even 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.


21 to 28 October 2018


Sachin Rai

Why go on a Toehold Tour?

Planned to maximise

photo opportunities

Led by ace


Over 100 years'

collective experience

Hands-on assistance

on and off the field

Image reviews

and presentations

Photography gear

on rent

Tour Highlights

  • A riveting seven-night/eight-day adventure in the oldest rainforest in the world
  • Optional pre- and post-Tour extensions for the most comprehensive experience
  • A productive excursion to one of Earth's richest biodiversity hotspots
  • 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 photography-assistance
  • A wealth of learning on photography and natural history under the tutelage of Skipper Sachin Rai

How is it?

Borneo is Earth's last secret.

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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.

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About your Skipper

Sachin Rai

An uncompromising reverence for nature and an unfailing eye for unique perspectives underline Sachin's journey as an ace naturalist and eminent wildlife photographer with over a decade's experience in excellence.

For a nature lover seeking solace in the wilderness, dreams galore, expectations are very high. For him the itenary running at pace, guidance, information on field, the whole experience of being one with nature matters a lot. - Dilip Prashanth, Bengaluru
In the last one year that i have picked up a camera..and travelled with a couple of groups, the instant bond that created with the participants was magical. We felt a bond with toehold ... as we parted .. and im sure many of us will be there for more trips in future. - Neelu Bhatt, Bengaluru

Please note: This Tour has a pre-Tour and post-Tour extensions. The Core Tour begins at the Sandakan Airport on the afternoon of Sunday, 21 October, and end after breakfast on Sunday, 28 October. Travel between your home and Borneo is not included in the Tour cost or itinerary.


DAY I   20 October 2018, Saturday: Arrival and Overnight in Sandakan

Upon our arrival in Sandakan airport we're met with and transferred forthwith to our hotel, where we check in pronto. After we're refreshed, we're briefed by the Skipper on what to expect on this extension as well as the rest of the Tour, before dining and retiring.

DAY II   21 October, Sunday: Birding in Rainforest Discovery Centre

We spend the morning and much of the afternoon birding at the Rainforest Discovery Centre until we're joined by the participants of the Core Tour.


DAY 1   21 October 2018, Sunday: Arrival and Check-in, Welcome Briefing and Overnight in Sandakan

After reaching and settling in the resort in Sandakan, 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, rife with excitement about what's to come.

DAY 2   22 October, Monday: Labuk Bay and Gomantong; Overnight in Kinabatangan

This morning, after breakfast, we check out and drive to Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary for the eponymous primate. We observe the feeding session scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and enjoy any other photography opportunities, including macro subjects, on offer nearby.

After lunch at a local cafe, we undertake a 90-minute drive to Gomantong Cave in Kinabatangan. Once we've explored the lower cave chambers of Simud Hitam and the surrounding areas, we depart by 5:00 p.m. to the Sukau village half an hour away, where we board a small river-boat to be taken across the river to our lodge in a spiffing place for a night of well-earned rest on a pillow supporting the reservoir of our animated dreams.

DAY 3   23 October, Tuesday: Whole Day Exploration in Sukau; Overnight in Kinabatangan

We set out to explore the area of Sukau in Kinabatangan where we will do the morning, afternoon and night cruises. Starting at 06:00 in the morning, we return by 09:00, setting out again at 3:30 p.m. and returning at 06:00 p.m., before enjoying a post-dinner cruise from 08:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Our stay will be at Bukit Melapi Lodge, Kinabatangan this night.

All the while Skipper Sachin Rai will render extensive guidance in the areas of both natural history and photography to help you enjoy a transformative experience.

DAY 4   24 October, Wednesday: Morning and Afternoon Exploration around Sukau; Overnight in Kinabatangan

We spend another day exploring the wonders of Sukau, enjoying two cruises. Having already spent a day here, we will see what different experiences we can enjoy and images we can produce before we retire for another night in Melapi Lodge.

DAY 5   25 October, Thursday: Morning River Cruise and Transfer to Danum Valley, Night Drive to Explore Nocturnal Animals; Overnight in Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL)

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. Following this, we 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 and return to the lodge for a night's sound sleep.

DAYS 6 and 7   26 and 27 October, Friday and Saturday: Exploration of Endemic Wild Beings on Morning and Afternoon Treks; Night Trek/Drive to Explore Nocturnal Creatures; Overnight in BRL (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, soaking in an incomparable experience before returning to BRL for shuteye.

DAY 8   28 October, Sunday: Morning Trek; Check out after Lunch and Transfer to Lahad Datu for Dispersal

After an early breakfast, we check out and travel by road to the Lahad Datu to board homebound flights. If you've availed of the optional post-Tour extension, which we strongly recommend, you're transferred to Tabin for a blissful three more days in Borneo.


DAY 8   28 October, Sunday: Transfer to and Overnight in Tabin Resort

After completing our registration formalities in Lahad Datu, we drive 90 minutes on a gravel road to Tabin Wildlife Resort, where, upon reaching, we unwind and rest. Followed by this will be a scrumptious dinner, an introduction to Tabin, and then a night safari to look for nocturnal wildlife.

DAY 9   29 October, Monday: Tabin Wildlife Reserve

We undertake a morning birding-walk to discover some of Tabin's rich avian life.

After breakfast we drive to the core area to spot animals, beore trekking through the lush green rainforest famous for its astonishing diversity of flora and fauna. While we're there, we go on to visit the beautiful Lipad Waterfall.

In the afternoon, we indulge in a bit of hedonism by trying the Tabin Rainforest Foot Soak that's made with a natural blend of herbs perfectly designed to relax tired muscles after long jungle treks, which is just what we'll need then.

Later at dusk we drive out to look for more animals and birds active during these crepuscular rush hours of Nature.

Then after dinner, a night walk along the trail near the resort in search of nocturnal wildlife, before retiring at the end of what will undoubtedly have been an extremely eventful day.

DAY 10   30 October, Tuesday: Transfer to Lahad Datu; Tour Ends

Following a parting breakfast, over which we shall certainly ruminate over the many memorable moments we've enjoyed, we are transferred to Lahad Datu airport for our flights back home.

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.

Main Tour

USD 4,490 *
Couples ††
USD 8,780 *
USD 4,300 *

Post-Tour Extension

USD 1,840 *
Couples ††
USD 3,580 *
USD 1,690 *

Pre-Tour Extension: USD 450* per person

* 5% GST Extra | Per Person on Twin Shared Accommodation | †† Per Couple on Twin Shared 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
  • 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
  • USD 1000 booking amount (non-refundable)
  • Remainder before 15 May 2018 for confirmation
  • USD 1000 on or before 19 May 2018
  • 100% on or after 20 May 2018

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.
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