Borneo: Sarawak & Bulwer’s Pheasant

Different from other tours to Sarawak, this short tour will stay only in comfortable accommodation with no camping or sleeping bags required! A prime focus for us will be visiting a new reliable hide for the stunning Bulwer's Pheasant, with the secretive Crested Partridge also in attendance! This site is also excellent for some scarce Bornean endemics like Black-throated Wren Babbler and Dayak Blue Flycatcher. After stopping in some coastal peat-swamp for specialties like Hook-billed Bulbul and Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker we continue to the highlands where Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Banded Pitta, Hose's Broadbill, Black Oriole, Bornean Frogmouth and Dulit Frogmouth will all feature!

Next dates

3-14 July 2023

Tour length: 12 days

Group size limit: 7


Joshua Bergmark and a local guide

Tour full

15-26 July 2024

Tour length: 12 days

Group size limit: 7


Julien Mazenauer and a local guide

Spaces available

Day 1: Arrivals at Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah for an overnight stay near the airport.

Day 2-3: Leaving early we will head towards Trus Madi where a new feeding hide for the mythical Bulwer’s Pheasant has now been reliable for more than two years! Several individuals attend multiple times each day, and we expect the tour to coincide with breeding activity so should see the males in exquisite plumage and maybe even a display. The area also holds Crested Partridge, Dayak Blue-Flycatcher (abundant here but hard elsewhere in Borneo!), and maybe with some exceptional luck Crocker Jungle-Flycatcher or Jambu Fruit-Dove could appear amongst many more widespread Bornean specialties known from the lodge grounds. Other endemics here include Black-throated Wren Babbler, Bornean Banded Pitta, and the scarce Bornean subspecies of White-necked Babbler.

Day 4: After a final morning of birding at Trus Madi we will return to the coast for an overnight stay at Beaufort, hopefully arriving in time for some initial afternoon birding at Klias targeting restricted peat-swamp species like Hook-billed Bulbul, Red-crowned Barbet and Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker. Night in Beaufort.

Day 5: After a morning birding at Klias we continue into Sarawak, heading inland to Ba’Kelalan deep in the Kelabit Highlands. This evening we go in search of one of the most little-known endemics of Borneo, the amazing Dulit Frogmouth. We will have at least six chances for this species between our pre-dawn and post-dusk sessions over the coming days, as well as our first opportunities to try for Bornean Frogmouth. Night at a comfortable guesthouse.

Day 6-7: There is plenty of birding to be done in this rich area, and we will certainly come across a wide range of lovely Malaysian species whilst dedicating most of our time to some major specialties. We will focus on Hose’s Broadbill, Blue-banded Pitta and Bornean Banded Pitta, whilst the monotypic Crested Jayshrike and scarce Mountain Serpent Eagle will also be high on our agenda. There is also a real chance to encounter the magnificent Rail-babbler. More widespread species might include Sunda Owlet, Orange-breasted Trogon, and Black-thighed Falconet. Nights at a comfortable guesthouse.

‍Day 8: Today we will transfer to a pleasant resort in the hills of Long Tuyo, which will be our base for the next three nights.

Day 9-10: Rather than camping at Paya Maga like most tours, we will instead be slowly walking the old logging track each day in search of specialties before returning to our comfortable accommodation each night. There will be plenty of time to go all the way up the the camp (approximately a three hour walk each way at birding pace) to see Black Oriole, which is common around the clearing. We should see this range-restricted species on the first day, after which we will focus on the lower stretch of track which is always very birdy. Possibilities include Rail-babbler, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Dark Hawk-Cuckoo, and Black-throated Wren Babbler. Along with more chances for Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Banded Pitta and Hose’s Broadbill, several other more common Bornean endemics are likely including Bornean Leafbird, Bornean Bulbul, Black-sided Flowerpecker and Pygmy Ibon, along with Grey-headed, Temminck’s and White-necked Babblers, Banded and Rufous-collared Kingfishers, and Black-bellied Malkoha. In the evening we will go in search of the elusive and seldom-seen Bornean Frogmouth if we did not already see it near Ba’Kelalan. Nights at a comfortable resort.

‍Day 11: We depart after a final morning of birding and return to Kota Kinabalu. We may stop at Klias again if we missed anything on our earlier visit.

Day 12: The tour ends this morning with transfers to the airport.

NOTE: It is certainly possible to extend for a few days and target special species in Sabah like Bornean Peacock-Pheasant (visiting a hide at the time of writing) or Giant Pitta (hard to guarantee, but we know some territories). Most birders who have visited Borneo in the past will have missed one or two endemics somewhere between Mount Kinabalu and Danum Valley, so do let us know if there is anything you wish to try for and we will try to coordinate a plan between participants! 

Tour details

$ 3,750
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 250

Please note that the fees to visit the Bulwer’s Pheasant hide are high and we are staying only in comfortable accommodation, which is why this tour may seem to be priced higher than offerings in Sarawak by other tour companies.

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels and guesthouses throughout, all with hot water. No sleeping bags required!

Walking difficulty: Generally easy walking on roads and small forest trails, with some full-day walks at Paya Maga (several kilometers on a gradual incline at birding pace, easily achievable with moderate-average fitness).

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.