This expedition is ideal for those wildlife lovers who have always wanted to explore the remote coastline, islands and waterways of this ecological treasure trove. We will visit some of the key destinations in Malaysian Borneo, from the famous Bako National Park to the remote islands in the Anambas Archipelago. The Semenggoh Wildlife centre for orangutans, near Kuching, provides us with an opportunity to view, first hand, one of our closest relatives. The national parks of Tanjung Datu, Bako and Similajau provide us with a snapshot of the diverse ecosystems that once covered the entire island, and now provide refuge for the abundant wildlife. In addition, a visit to the Sarawak Cultural Village, near Kuching, will expand our understanding of the people of Borneo, and our visit to Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei highlights the diversity of cultures embedded through the island.
Rajahs, Riches, Rainforests itinerary:
Day 1 - Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu is the gateway to Borneo with regular flights to and from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur available.
Day 2 - Klias Wetlands
Located about 120 km from Kota Kinabalu on the Klias Peninsula are the Klias Wetlands, a Mangrove Forest Reserve rich with river wildlife and birds. Among the wildlife that can be spotted on a mangrove cruise on the Klias River are proboscis monkeys, long tail macaques, with some luck silver langurs and of course an amazing variety of birds.
There will be no landings today but still an amazing opportunity to explore the wetlands and spot wildlife exists from our fleet of Zodiacs. A variety of primates should present themselves today and the birdlife is significant as well, including herrons and hornbills.
Day 3 - Pulau Labuan
Pulau Labuan is a tiny island town off Sabah’s coast that was formerly known as Victoria Town. Today, it is a hub for duty-free goods and boasts some nice cultural touches and landmarks. Because of its proximity to Brunei, Labuan attracts many visitors as well as avid scuba divers for its rich marine life. Labuan played a role in World War II particularly during Operation Oboe Six, which was the codename for the campaign by Australian forces to retake Brunei and Labuan island from Japanese forces between 10 June 1945 and the end of World War II. In 1990, it was declared an international offshore financial centre and free trade zone.
Today's activities will focus on the island's history during WWII. Our included tour today will visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery housing the graves of many Australian, Indian and other Commonwealth forces killed during the retaking of Labuan and other parts of the Borneo campaign.
We will also visit the memorial peace park and "surrender point", the location where Japanese forces surrended to the Commonwealth forces at the end of the war. We will also visit the Labuan Chimney, situated on a rise at Tanjung Kubong this famous ‘Chimney’, is a high red brick stack believed to be possibly linked to the coal mining days of Labuan. The Chimney was made from more than 23,000 pieces of red bricks imported from England. The bricks layering and works are typical of British style. The ‘Chimney’ is still very much a mystery until today. Various hypothesis has been put forward to its purpose. Some say it is an unfinished mansion. While others say it was a light house beaconing passing ships.
Day 4 - Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
state located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, between the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah. Brunei has the second highest Human Development Index among the South East Asia nations, after Singapore, and significant economic growth between the 1970's and 1990's (averaging 56% from 1999 to 2008), has transformed Brunei Darussalam into a new modern industrialised nation. Bandar Seri Bagwan is the capital city of Brunei with a population of only 140,000 people. (Please note on south bound voyages departing Kota Kinabalu we will arrive in Brunei the night before for night activity options, north bound trips departing Singapore will see the ship stay in Brunei overnight for those activities departing for Labuan early the next morning).
After docking at the cruise terminal we have an inclusive city tour available this morning. The tour includes the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and if not in use for prayers we will have the opportunity to examine this architectural marvel. We will continue on to the Royal Regalia museum near the city centre which has elaborate displays of gifts received by the Sultan, and to the Brunei Museum on the Kota Batu road which has an excellent display in the Islamic Art Gallery. This tour will also visit Matam fishing village for a look into traditional ways of life in Brunei. A complimentary shuttle bus will run into the city throughout the day for shopping and exploring the city itself. This service will continue into the evening as the city is elaborately light in the night, particularly the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which is a sight to be seen with its decorative illuminations.
Day 5 - Similajau National Park, Sarawak
First gazetted on 1 December 1976 and published to the public on 20 April 1978 with and area of 7,064 hectares of virgin forest, Similajau National Park now comprises 8,996 hectares along a thin coastal strip from the Sungai Likau in the South to the Sungai Similajau in the North.
The flora consists of three main types namely; Beach, Kerangas and Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, which provide home to various species of plants, trees and wildlife. Among the well-known plants found here is the Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longisolia) and Bintangor trees (Barringtonia Asiatica).
The terrestrial fauna of the park boasts 24 Recorded species of mammals, such as gibbons, banded langurs and long-tailed macaques. The Park records the presence of 230 species of birds, which include hornbills and migratory water birds like Storm’s Stork. A very noteworthy reptile found here is the Saltwater Crocodile.
Today Orion II guests will use our fleet of Zodiacs to explore the Sungai Similajau at the Northern extremity of the park. Our late afternoon zodiac voyage will give us an opportunity to sight various bird species including the black and pied Hornbills that are occasionally seen in the region.
If we are lucky we may have the opportunity to spot some of the long tailed macaques and hear the long deep calls of the gibbons that make this national park their home.
Please note that we will not be making any landings within the National Park.
Day 6 - Bako National Park, Sarawak
Bako National Park heralds an early arrival for us as we have no time to waste in experiencing its rainforests, wildlife, jungle streams, interesting plant life, secluded beaches and trekking trails.
Very few places in the world pack so much natural beauty into such a limited area. Bako contains almost every type of plant life found in Borneo, with over 25 distinct types of vegetation from seven complete ecosystems.
A series of walks of varying degrees of difficulty are available today throughout the Bako National Park, providing an opportunity to experience the many different ecosystems that have made this National Park Famous. There is also the chance to view some of the many bird and primate species that may be found throughout the park.
Our transfers to shore will take in the scenic coastal cliffs and rocky headlands that have been carved into sea arches and sea stacks with coloured patterns formed by iron deposition.
We hope to be able to spot the proboscis monkeys, silvery lutungs and macaques that have become less wary of humans since the area was afforded complete protection in 1957.
Day 7 - Tanjung Datu National Park, Sarawak
Tanjung Datu National Park is one of the smallest parks in Sarawak, with an area approximately 14km² (1,379 ha). Half of the peninsula is situated within Sarawak and the other portion lies in Kalimantan.
Described as the ”Heaven of Borneo” by most visitors, its natural features of rain forest and unique coral reefs make it a significant area for its biodiversity. Its mountain ranges and luxurious mixed dipterocarp forest and fauna make the park a fascinating place to visit. Remoteness and isolation makes for a spectacular destination for us in Borneo.
Orion II Zodiacs will land on a sandy beach allowing us to explore the tracks of Tanjung Datu National Park this morning. If we are lucky, the wildlife may surround us as we explore, featuring a great mix of primates and birdlife.
Later in the day there will be the opportunity to explore further into the wildlife reserve by Zodiac for more wildlife spotting.
Day 8 - Kuching, Sarawak (for Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre)
The capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and also the largest city on the Island of Borneo, Kuching is today a vibrant and lively city. Kuching is also home to the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Established in 1975 for the rehabilitation of confiscated and surrendered wild animals, including orangutans, it is located just south of Kuching city and is situated within the beautiful Semenggoh Nature Reserve. The city itself has a bustling China Town district and many delightful buildings such as the palace of the White Rajah along with temples and mosques. We will arrive in Kuching mid morning, staying overnight and into the next day.
This morning we will visit the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and witness the work they do in caring for orangutans and other wildlife of Borneo. For those feeling a bit more independent a shuttle bus will be available in the afternoon to and from the city area and optional tours are available to purchase to further explore Kuching's rich cultural and natural history. A series of optional tours are also available for purchase.
Day 9 - Anambas Archipelago
he Anambas Archipelago (Indonesian; Kepulauan Anambas) is an Island chain containing 283 known Islands. Located in the South China Sea between the Malaysian mainland to the west and the island of Borneo to the east, the Island group is virtually uninhabited. This coupled with the rich warm waters of the South China Sea provide an excellent opportunity for guests to enjoy the abundant coral reefs and diverse marine life that fringe the islands.
With so many Islands to choose from, our destination today will be determined by the prevailing weather conditions. Most likely our destination will be either Pulau Bawah or Pulau Lintang, both uninhabited and unspoilt tropical oases.
Today, we will have the opportunity to explore the fringing reef systems around the Islands. There will be snorkelling opportunities available to satisfy everyone from beginners to the advanced. Should the weather permit our expedition team will conduct snorkel safaris further afield for the more adventurous amongst us.
Taking advantage of the isolation we hope to be able to hold one of our famous beach BBQs ashore at this destination.
Day 10 - Natuna Archipelago
The Natuna Islands (Indonesian; Kepulauan Natuna) are a 272-island archipelago of Indonesia, located in the Natuna Sea between Peninsular Malaysia to the west and Borneo to the east.
This little known Island group is home to the main Island of Natuna Besar (also known as Bunguran Island). There is a small population on the main Island with smaller remote fishing villages located on the outlying Islands.
Its location and isolation maintain a spectacular landscape of towering volcanic domes coupled with white sandy beaches fringed by colourful coral reefs.
With so many Islands to choose from, our destination today will be determined by the prevailing weather conditions. Most likely our destination will be either Pulau Senua or Pulau Tiga, both uninhabited and unspoilt tropical oases.
Today, Orion II guests will be presented with a cultural welcome from the local community and have the opportunity to explore the fringing reef systems around the Islands.
There will be snorkelling opportunities today. Should the weather permit our Expedition Team will conduct snorkel safaris further afield for the more adventurous amongst us.
Day 11 -Singapore – Embark/Disembark
The British East India Company established a strategic trading post on the island of Singapore in 1819, which was to become an important post along the Spice Route. Although a thriving and modern metropolis, remnants of these early colonial days can be enjoyed in many traditional pursuits such as a rickshaw ride and Singapore Sling at the famous Raffles Hotel. A compact and efficient city, Singapore offers easy access from most international airports.
Orion II is a private yacht-like expedition cruise ship built by Cantieri Navale Ferrari of Italy. After a number of years as a private yacht, Orion II was relaunched in 2009 following an extensive technical refit. Little expense was spared with this stylish, Italian built, all-suite Mega Yacht. Orion II now offers the finest standards in small-ship cruise travel. She also has an ice-strengthened hull for voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic and is fitted with stabilisers.
The expedition equipment includes Zodiacs and fast tender to deliver the Orion expedition experience. Combining luxury and service will require staffing by 68 offices and crew to serve Orion II’s capacity of 100 guests. Excellence of design, craftsmanship and quality materials combined with Orion II’s spaciousness and intimate ambience make her ideal for distinctive cultural and expedition voyages.
Length: 88 metres
Beam: 15.3 metres
Draft: 4.5 metres
Hull: Ice- strengthened hull for voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic
Gross Tonnage: 4,077
Engines: MAN B&W Diesel 2 x 2520 KW
Speed: 14 knots. Cruise speed 13.5 knots
Stabilisers: Retractable fin stabilisers
Manoeuvrability: Bow thrusters
Built: January 1991. Refitted 2009
Builder: Cantieri Navale Ferrari (Italy)
Guest Capacity: 100 (twin occupancy).
Regulations: Orion II is built according to the latest international safety regulations, including those of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health, Canadian Arctic Shipping, and St. Lawrence Seaway.
Additional Craft: 6 Zodiac Heavy Duty MK5, 1x36 passenger tender
Communications: Direct-dial satellite telephones; fax; e-mail; Internet access; internal telephone system.