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Educational Visits

No gasp of sunlight goes untrapped. Light is a thick yellow vitamin they would kill for, and they do. One of the first truths one learns in the rain forest is that there is nothing fainthearted or wimpy about plants.

−Diane Ackerman - The Rarest of the Rare

Tour Details

We offer a variety of educational tour products to suit all ages and disciplines, ranging from primary school students to postgraduates. Each itinerary is tailor made for your group, and we have listed some sample itineraries below to give you an idea of what is available. All school tours are available with English, Malay or Mandarin-speaking guides. We can also accommodate French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean speakers at a modest surcharge.

We can also arrange volunteering programmes for older students (and non-students). These can include orangutan rehabilitation, marine conservation, wildlife monitoring and community volunteering. Please contact us for further details.

Introduction to the Rainforest - 4 Days 3 Nights

This is a very interesting and affordable tour targeted at older primary and younger secondary school students, especially those from urban environments who have had little opportunity to explore nature in the raw.

Day 1 – Arrival – Kuching City Tour: Arrival at Kuching International Airport late morning or midday. Meet and greet by your local guide and transfer to your city centre hotel for lunch. Your visit will start with a history lesson on a private tour of Kuching City and its many places of interest, including the Cat Monument, the Chinese Temple, Chinatown and the famous Sarawak Museum. After dinner, enjoy an entertaining film show and lecture on the rainforest. Overnight in Kuching

Day 2 - Kuching – Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre – Bidayuh Longhouse – Matang Wildlife Centre (B L D): Today’s syllabus includes two visits to Sarawak’s orangutans. proceed first to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to observe the semi-wild orangutans during feeding time. Over 20 rehabilitated and locally born orangutans roam this forest reserve, and many still return for extra feeding at the stations. When feeding is finished, go for a guided walk through the Centre’s Ethnobotanical Garden to learn how rainforest plants are used by the indigenous people. Continue your journey to Annah Rais, a well-preserved Bidayuh (Land Dayak) longhouse where you can view the longhouse way of life and learn how the people use rainforest plants such as bamboo, rattan and pandanus to build their longhouses and create amazing handicrafts. Return to Kuching for lunch, then proceed to Matang Wildlife Centre to learn about the wildlife rehabilitation process and view young orangutans and other wild animals being rehabilitated. Return to Kuching for dinner and overnight.

Day 3 - Bako National Park (B L D): Today we focus on biodiversity, exploring seven tropical ecosystems in a single day on a trip to Bako National Park. The journey is 30 minutes by car to Bako Jetty, followed by a fascinating 20 minutes boat ride. Your guides will lead you along fascinating jungle trails trails, exploring seven distinct plant ecosystems and discovering strange geological formations. Picnic lunch will be served in the rainforest. Return to the Park HQ mid-afternoon with time to relax or swim at Bako’s white sand beach. After dinner at the Park Canteen, take a guided night walk through the rainforest in search of nocturnal animals. Overnight at the Park Hostel (basic hostel accommodation).

Day 4 – Bako National Park – Transfer Out: Your final wildlife experience is all about evolution, adaptation and specialization. Get up early to explore the mangroves, and discover how these remarkable trees survive in such a challenging environment. Along the way,look out for the bizarre Proboscis Monkey - perfectly adapted to life in the mangroves – as well as the dainty Silver Leaf Monkey, also unique to Borneo. Return to the hostel to freshen up and enjoy a late breakfast before boarding your boat for the journey back to Kuching. Free at leisure in Kuching until your transfer out to the Airport.

Health & Fitness: This tour requires a moderate level of fitness. It may not be suitable for children who are severely obese or have poorly-controlled asthma. Children with severe allergies should see their pediatrician before venturing into any strange environment.

Park Guides: Children learn little about the rainforest if they cannot see and hear what their guide is describing. Therefore we insist on splitting groups up into manageable parties of 12 students maximum when in the rainforest, and on using licensed and accredited National Park Guides who have specialist knowledge of the local ecosystem. It costs a little more, but it ensures that all students actually learn something from their visit  also enjoy the experience as much as possible. Group organisers will need to ensure they have sufficient teachers or other carers to accompany each party.

Living by the Rainforest: Introducing the Iban - 4 Days 3 Nights

The Iban or Sea Dayak are Sarawak’s best-known indigenous group. This tour is designed for secondary school students aged 13-19 and visits an Iban longhouse on the Batang Lemanak, a fast-flowing tributary of the main Batang Lupar river. The people here grow traditional hill-paddy and use the surrounding rainforest for many of their everyday needs, especially food, medicine and construction materials. They still practice many ancient traditions, including elaborate tattooing, and are renowned for their warm hospitality. A visit to a longhouse is an unforgettable experience, as well as a great opportunity to learn how people live in harmony with nature.

Day 1 – Arrival – Sarawak Cultural Village – Kuching (L D): Arrival at Kuching International Airport in the morning. Meet and greet by your local guide and transfer to the Sarawak Cultural Village for lunch. After lunch, explore this world-famous, multiple award winning  “Living Museum”.  The village is made up of authentic replica houses complete with residents who portray and interpret the cultures and lifestyles of Sarawak’s many ethnic groups. Try your hand at blowpipe shooting or top spinning, and be entertained by breathtaking cultural dance and music performances. Return to Kuching for dinner at your hotel, then enjoy an entertaining film show and lecture on the peoples and cultures of Sarawak. Overnight in Kuching.

Day 2 – Kuching – Semenggoh Orang Utan Centre – Lemanak Longhouse (B L D):  It’s not only the Iban who earn their living from the rainforest, therefore our first stop is Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to observe the semi-wild orangutans during feeding time. Over 20 rehabilitated and locally born orangutans roam this forest reserve, and many still return for extra feeding at the stations. Next stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, to see the amazing range of local rainforest produce offered for sale. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse.   Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts.  About 90 minutes after lunch we arrive at the Lemanak River jetty and board our native longboats  for a 40-60 minute river journey in the shade of overhanging ensurai trees, before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

As we enter the 200-metre longhouse we will see smoke-blackened head trophies hanging from the rafters, antique Chinese jars, and some 20 or more families living together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah, and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before joining our host family for a splendid dinner of fresh native produce.  After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music and cultural dances (with home-made tuak rice wine for the adults), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the adjacent guesthouse, which offers basic but clean hostel-style accommodation.

Day 3 – Farm Visit and Upriver by Longboat (B L D) After an early breakfast, we accompany our hosts on a walk through the forest to their paddy fields, rubber garden or pepper garden (depending on season) to learn about farming on the edge of the rainforest. Paddy fields are sacred places to the Iban, so we will be asked to observe certain taboos, such as not speaking loudly to frighten the rice spirits. We then board native longboats to explore the upper reaches of the Lemanak cruising through shallow rapids enclosed by steep tree-lined river banks. We arrive at a pebble beach formed by river erosion, known as a kerangan in Iban, where the boatmen prepare our lunch while we bathe in the river or explore the nearby forest and pepper gardens. After a feast including jungle ferns and manok pansoh (chicken steamed in bamboo tubes over an open fire), we head back downriver to our longhouse for a practical demonstration of Iban arts and handicrafts. Dinner is once again served by our host family, and afterwards we are free to sit on the ruai (inner verandah) and spend a pleasant evening chatting with the residents. Overnight in guesthouse.

Day 4 – Lemanak – Kuching – Transfer Out (B L): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. This is followed by a brief jungle walk to the Iban graveyard, learning about animal trapping and edible and medicinal plants along the way. We will depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We arrive in Kuching by mid-late afternoon. If your flight is in the early evening, proceed directly to the airport for the flight home. If you have a late evening flight, visit Main Bazaar for last-minute souvenir shopping, watch the sunset from the Kuching Waterfront then proceed for dinner in a local restaurant before transferring to the airport for the flight home.

Health & Fitness: This tour is suitable for any able-bodied student and even those with mild to moderate physical impairment, although wheelchair access is poor. Children with severe allergies should see their pediatrician before venturing into any strange environment.

Borneo Ancient & Modern - 4 Days 3 Nights

This tour is perfect for older high school students with an interest in archaeology, biology, chemistry, history and geography. It includes the oldest human habitat in Southeast Asia, as well as one of the most high-tech industries – oil and gas – while also spending time in the world’s most diverse rainforest ecosystem.

Day 1 – Arrive Miri – Niah National Park (D): Arrive Miri airport in the early afternoon. Meet & greet by our local guide then transfer to  Niah National Park (1½ hours approx). Take a short boat ride across the Niah River to check in at the park headquarters (comfortable hostel accommodation). After dinner, take a night walk along the banks of the Sungai Subis in search of nocturnal animals and bizarre luminous mushrooms. Overnight in park hostel.

Day 2 – Niah National Park (B L D): After breakfast, take a walk through beautiful primary rainforest to the top of Bukit Kasut to enjoy the sweeping panoramic views of the rainforest canopy. Then proceed for a short briefing at the park museum, which reveals why Niah was nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status in 2010. After lunch, a 1-hour walk along a plank walk brings you to the mouth of the Niah Great Cave, one of the birthplaces of human civilization, yielding the oldest human remains in Southeast Asia along with many other relics of prehistoric man. The Cave is home to bats, swiftlets and other specially adapted forms of life. Local people also venture into the dark interior to collect guano (bird and bat droppings used as fertilizer) and bird’s nests. Proceed to explore the Great Cave, followed by the Painted Cave, whose wall-paintings depict the boat journey of the dead into the afterlife. As you leave the caves around sunset, you will see two great black clouds intermingling. This is the nightly ‘changing of the guard’ – half a million swiftlets are returning to their nests, whilst half a million bats fly out to forage in the forest. Return to the park headquarters via the plank walk, keeping an eye open for interesting plants and wildlife. Dinner and overnight at the park hostel.

Day 3 – Lambir Hills National Park (B L D): Depart Niah after breakfast for Lambir Hills National Park, probably the world’s most biologically diverse rainforest ecosystem. Proceed on a 3-4 hour jungle trek (complete with picnic lunch in the rainforest) to discover the park’s remarkable plant and animal life, including pitcher plants, gibbons and many rare bird species. Return and check into the park hostel in the afternoon, then and enjoy a refreshing jungle shower and swim at the Latak Waterfall. BBQ dinner and overnight at Lambir.

Day 4 – Miri – Petroleum Museum – Sarawak Shell Berhad – Departure (B L): Today’s activity traces the history of the oil industry in Sarawak. After breakfast, leave Lambir for a short souvenir and photo stop at Taman Muhibbah, a colourful native market selling exotic fruits and vegetables, handicrafts and produce from upriver areas, followed by the Miri Handicraft Centre, showcasing the ethnic arts and crafts of Northern Sarawak. Then proceed up Canada Hill to visit the Grand Old Lady – the first well to strike oil in Miri in 1910. Visit the adjacent Petroleum Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of displays tracing the history of the oil and gas industries in Sarawak. Lunch will be hosted by Sarawak Shell Berhad at their headquarters in nearby Lutong, followed by a fascinating presentation on the oil industry by Shell scientists and engineers, complete with question and answer session. Free at leisure until transfer to airport for flight home.

Health & Fitness: This tour requires a moderate level of fitness. It may not be suitable for students who are severely obese or have other health problems.

Universities & Colleges

We have considerable experience at arranging tours and study programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate groups as well as individual researchers. These can range from fun educational activities, such as adventure caving at Mulu Caves, to highly specialized study tours focusing on a single species, society or ecosystem. We have excellent links to local universities and research institutions throughout Sabah and Sarawak, so we can easily arrange the kind of specialist expertise, knowledge, access and resources that you need to make your study tour or research programme a resounding success. Please contact us with your requirements and we will ensure that you spend your time in-country studying and researching, not filling out paperwork or hunting for guides and equipment.

Special Needs Students

We love hosting groups comprising or including students with special needs. Many destinations in Sarawak are accessible to physically, visually or intellectually challenged students, as long as we inform the local community or relevant authority in advance and make the necessary arrangements. Local interest groups and associations are usually very happy to make specialized wheelchair transport available to visitors, and also to provide experienced volunteers to help out. Specialist medical support can also be arranged where necessary. Please contact us with your requirements and we will do our very best to assist.

Optional Extensions

We have a host of add-on extensions for school groups who want to discover even more. Possibilities include Irrawaddy Dolphin Watching, Crocodile Watching, Kayaking or even viewing giant Rafflesia flowers in bloom. Most of these options depend on time of year and weather conditions, so please contact us for further details and possible alternatives.

Hints & Tips

• Mosquito screens are provided at the Bako National Park Hostel and mosquito nets are provided in the Longhouse Hostel. Nevertheless, you should cover up or apply mosquito repellent to prevent getting bitten when outdoors. There is no risk of malaria at any of our schools destinations.

• Don’t wear your best shoes. If the water is low, you may get your feet wet .

• There is no hot water in the longhouse. Be prepared for cold showers, or bathe in the river like the Iban do.

 • The cockerels usually crow all night. If you are a light sleeper, bring some earplugs. We recommend the soft foam type, available from most pharmacies.

• It is extremely impolite to refuse any food or drink by waving it away. If you are full or don’t like the look of something, just touch the offered plate or glass with your fingers.

• Please don’t give any money, sweets or gifts to children. Anything you may wish to donate should be passed to the longhouse chief for equal distribution amongst all families. Your guide will advise.

• Please carry small change and low value notes to buy drinks and souvenirs.

• If you are vegetarian/vegan or have any food allergies, please let us know when you book so we can make the necessary arrangements.

Further Information

Read our FAQ and don’t forget to check the small print.

Tour Price Includes: 

• Accommodation  as indicated

• Meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

• Transfers to/from overnight accommodation (unless otherwise indicated in the tour description). 

• English/Malay/Mandarin-speaking tour guide(s).

Tour Price Does Not Include

• Flights/transport to/from departure point (Kuching or Miri, Sarawak)

• Tipping for guides, drivers and boatmen

• Alcoholic beverages (except those poured for ADULT guests as part of a traditional ceremony)

Tour Location & Route

 

Make the rainforest your classroom environment

Learn about nature at first hand with our fascinating student tours.

All photos on this page were taken in Southwest Sarawak and are a fair representation of what you may expect to see. All images © Sarawak Tourism Board.