Postcard From Our Traveler: Exploring Borneo’s Jungles and Seas

One of the highlights of our Borneo tour was the time we spent snorkeling near Mabul Island. Mabul Water Bungalows’ guide, Jovi, took the two of us to the leeside of Sipadan Island, off the southeast shore of Sabah, Borneo, to snorkel among the rich marine life. While exploring the coral we saw what looked like a grey wall in the water. As we approached, the wall resolved into a school of Jacks—maybe a thousand of them, swimming in a lazy gyre twenty feet tall.  We joined in and swam with them—they were perfectly willing to let us join the ranks of their silver circle.


– Catherine


During our trip to Borneo, one of the most unique experiences was when our Tour Leader, Barry Davies, our Borneo Rainforest Lodge guide, Theodore, and the two of us walked up the Coffin Trail overlooking Borneo’s Danum Valley.  On the way up, we found a pristine Bridal-veil Mushroom. At the time, a large black-tailed butterfly was feeding on the top of it. This mushroom spreads its spores the way flowers spread their pollen—not on the wind, but on the wings of their insect visitors. We passed it again on the way back down the trail but by then it was already starting to collapse.


– Steve


Catherine and Steve embarked on our Small Group Borneo Tour The Wild Jungles of Borneo with a Custom Extension to Mabul Island to partake of the region’s fabulous snorkeling. Asia Travel Specialist, Pat O’Connell, planned their itinerary. This was their second trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys.

WWF Announces $2.8M Indonesia Debt Swap

Forests of Borneo
WWF joined The Nature Conservancy and the Indonesian and US governments to sign a debt-for-nature swap agreement that will result in a new $28.5 million investment to help protect tropical forests in three districts on the Indonesian side of Borneo (Kalimantan).

This achievement is the result of two years of hard work and persistence by a joint US and Indonesia team.  Special congratulations is due to our Conservation Finance team of Esteban Brenes and Eric Swanson, who provided superb guidance and unrelenting energy, and to the Heart of Borneo team here and in Indonesia, namely Ginny Ng, Adam Tomasek, and Wisnu Rusmantoro, as well as to the leadership and vision of WWF Indonesia’s Budi Wardhana and Nazir Foead.

Other parts of the WWF network also contributed signficantly. WWF-NL and WWF-Germany joined with us to co-invest $2M as WWF’s aggregate contribution and co-financing of this program.

The funds from this debt swap will address the threat of deforestation and help reduce carbon emissions in Indonesia. It will invest in improved land-use planning to direct development toward already degraded lands; in improved management of protected areas, and other critical measures to reduce forest destruction; and also in supporting “green” Indonesia travel initiatives, other economic development opportunities, and local communities.  The swap will focus investment in three critical Districts, Kutai Barat and Berau in East Kalimantan and Kapuas Hulu in West Kalimantan province.

Notably, this swap also sets a major precedent, as it is the first debt swap under the U.S. Government’s Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) to have a major and explicit focus on averting climate change through tropical forest conservation.

Congratulations to all!

Tom Dillon
Sr. Vice President
Field Programs
World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US)


Asia Transpacific Journeys offers several trips to Indonesia and Borneo. In June, Asia Transpacific Journeys teams up with WWF for our Into the Heart of Borneo small group trip. Learn more about travel to Borneo by contacting a Travel Specialist at 800-642-2742.

How to Travel to Borneo

Visit Borneo, the exotic island dense with tropical rain forests and teeming with rare and diverse wildlife. Traveling to Borneo is less complicated than you may think, and we would love to help you get there in style.

Asia Transpacific Journeys offers unrivaled Small Group Trips to Borneo, or can assist you in creating your own Custom Journey. Explore clear waters that host thousand of reef fish as you snorkel in the warm waters of Brunei Bay, hike to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu followed by a soak in the Poring Hot Springs, explore underground caves in the Gunung Mulu National Park, or embark on one of many exhilarating treks through the Borneo jungle.

You can always expect a balmy, tropical climate in equatorial Borneo. However, plan your trip between March and October if you prefer the best weather. Our Travel Specialists are always happy to work with you to make your journey as effortless as possible.

Lastly, be sure you have a valid passport that it is good for 6 months beyond your travel dates. If you need to, apply for a passport or renew yours as soon as possible. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens.

Call Asia Transpacific Journeys and talk with one of our travel experts about the range of exciting options. As always, rest assured that Asia Transpacific Journeys is committed to working only with partners in Borneo that have exhibited the best practices to care for Borneo’s precious wildlife and resources.

Asia Transpacific Journeys: How to Travel to Borneo

A perfumed symphony of life awaits in the lush foliage of Borneo.  From vivid colors to enchanting scents, traveling to Borneo affords you the chance to explore one of the most bio-diverse locations on Earth.

Borneo travel does not have to be complicated, and following some simple strategies makes travel to Borneo easy and accessible. The remote location and mysterious wildlife make southeast Asia a legendary exotic destination, yet upscale eco-resorts make for wonderful creature comforts. With the right preparation, and the help of seasoned Asia travel experts like the professionals at Asia Transpacific Journeys, you can feel confident and excited about your Borneo vacation.

First, do your homework. Get familiar with Borneo and all it has to offer by visiting the Asia Transpacific Journeys website. Note the places you need to see and things you want to do. Borneo wildlife tours are a great way to get up close and personal with orangutans and to experience the wild side of Borneo. Booking with an experienced tour company can enhance your trip and provide you with unique experiences other travel companies just can’t offer. The caves at Mulu are an incredible piece of natural architecture, and travelers can release baby turtles to the sea on Selingan Island. If hiking Borneo is something you dream of, Borneo rainforest tours bring you into the heart of the enigmatic island on foot.

Second, determine the length of your stay, and compare it to your activities list. Decide whether you want to stay busy or keep a more relaxed schedule. The experts at Asia Transpacific Journeys can help you budget appropriate time for activities. Organizing your trip to Borneo with them will mean you’ll experience the Borneo you’ve always imagined.

Lastly, collect all necessary documentation well in advance of departure. Passports, and all immunization records for entry into and out of Borneo must be current. Local travel clinics can advise which shots and medications you need. Travel with copies of your shot records alongside your passport.

Start planning today and soon you’ll be confidently enjoying the wildlife and wonders of Borneo vacations!

A Once in a Lifetime Trip to Borneo

Presented in conjunction with the Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Heart of Borneo with the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Usually offered exclusively to members of the Harvard Museum of Natural History, we have a few spots open for our October 23, 2009 trip to Borneo. Start off by visiting Borneo’s must-see orangutan sanctuaries, wildlife preserves and wilderness areas. Next journey to Borneo’s furthest reaches on a private 9-day boat trip aboard a beautiful restored barge up the Heart of Darkness rivers to rarely visited, remote regions. This unique cruise along the Rajang River, Malaysia’s longest river, will reveal the lush scenery, local cultures, and profuse wildlife for which Borneo is renowned.

You will travel in the company of a special naturalist, a veteran Asia Transpacific Journeys tour leader, and an expert from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Visit our site for a full itinerary or contact a Travel Specialist today ( or 800-642-2742) to reserve your space.

Southeast Asia, Off the Beaten Path

An article in Forbes Traveler by Don Willmott.

“Where can you experience authentic Southeast Asia without sharing it with busloads of other travelers?

The answer is simple: Find the places that fewer people know about. Throughout Southeast Asia, it’s easy to find viable alternatives to the wonderful but overcrowded destinations to which throngs of travelers typically flock.”

To read the entire Forbes Traveler article, visit

To learn more about travel to Southeast Asia, visit our site.

Celebrate The World’s Most Pristine Forests on Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share an excerpt from a recent article from Travel + Leisure, The World’s Most Pristine Forests, featuring the best preserved forests in the world. We were asked to provide tips on how to best experience travel to these amazing ecosystems.

Kayan Mentarang National Park, Indonesia
“Kayan Mentarang, on the verdant island of Borneo, is one of the last remaining homes to the rhinoceros hornbill and strange primates like proboscis and leaf monkeys. The big draws for tourists (and poachers) are the adorably petite Sumatran rhino and the Borneo pygmy elephant.

How to Go: Asia Transpacific Journeys suggests a six-day itinerary beginning at the village of Long Layu. Local Dayak tribes still live in communal dwellings and guests do, too, as there is no accommodation in the park.”

Daintree National Park, Australia
“At 160 million years old, this UNESCO World Heritage–listed spot in Oz’s far northeast region is one of the oldest undisturbed forest ecosystems on earth. It’s also a birder’s paradise—more than 430 avian species live in the forest, including 13 found nowhere else on Earth. And it’s home to the weird and wonderful peppermint stick insect: colored like candy, the creature creates a peppermint aroma to ward off predators. The Maardja Boardwalk (an easy stroll even for a lethargic walker) displays the transition from freshwater rainforest to saltwater mangroves.

How to Go: Asia Transpacific Journeys guests stay at Daintree Eco Lodge, a luxury treehouse set high in the canopy.”

Once in a Lifetime Trips

Asia Transpacific Journeys is featured in the new book Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences by Chris Santella

In Once in a Lifetime Trips: The World’s 50 Most Extraordinary and Memorable Travel Experiences, Santella features fifty extraordinary vacations, each designed with a particular passionate pursuit in mind, from the most luxurious to incredible cultural trips.

Devising an off-the-beaten-path vacation can take tremendous research, since the most exciting trips are ones that few know about. Santella has done the detective work by canvassing experts (such as Town & Country‘s Pamela Fiore and Asia travel pioneer Marilyn Downing Staff of Asia Transpacific Journeys) to spark the reader’s imagination with some of their favorite trips—from visiting dinosaur excavation sites in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to an elephant-back safari in Botswana to a wildlife tour of Borneo.

About the Author: CHRIS SANTELLA writes regularly for the New York Times, Forbes Traveler, and has contributed to numerous other publications including The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, and Golf.