Preparations

Our Borneo itinerary

We flew into Kuching in Malaysian Borneo and arrived in Kota Kinabalu 4 weeks later. You can see the route in the image below. The following stops are marked on the map:

1) Kuching with Bako and Kubah National Parks
2) Sibu
3) Kapit
4) Bintulu and Similajou National Park
5) Miri and Niah National Park
6) Gunung Mulu National Park
7) Banda Seri Begawan in Brunei
8) Kota Kinabalu and Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park
9) Mount Kinabalu National Park



We went by boat from Kuching (1) to Sibu (2), then onwards to the small town of Kapit (3) and back to Sibu. Then we took the bus to Bintulu and Miri (4). We had to take a domestic flight to reach Gunung Mulu National Park (6). We spent another day and Miri, then went to BSB in Brunei (7) by bus. From there we took the boat to Kota Kinabalu (KK, 8) , changing boats at Pulau Labuan. We went to Mt. Kinabalu National Park (9) and back to KK by bus. The islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park can easily be reached via boat from KK.

My packing list for 4 weeks in Borneo

Ok, here is my packing list for 4 weeks in Borneo. I knew I wanted to spend a lot of time in National Parks when I made it and it wasn‘t my 1st visit to South-East Asia but still some things could have been improved – see the comments below. :)

Essential stuff
* passport
* cash card
* credit card
* cash, 150 Euro pp
* flight reservation numbers, copies of passports
* money belt / secure money storage
* scuba diving license

Photography
* DSLR Body (Nikon D7000)
* all-purpose lens: Nikkor 18-200 mm f 3.5-5.6
* bright lens: Nikkor 50mm f 1.8 [Brought for dark situations in the rainforest, hardly used]
* charger, replacement battery, 4× 16 GB SD cards
* small backup camera for girlfriend: Canon Powershot SX 110-IS, 2× 4GB SD cards
* power adapter (Malaysia uses UK style plugs) and multiple socket [the latter was hardly used]
* waterproof disposable camera [for snorkeling]
* camera bag
* freezer bags / plastic bag [rain protection for the camera]

Daypack / Travel / Cabin luggage
* small backpack
* 2 good books
* music / MP3-player
* sun glasses
* guide book (lonely planet, rough guide or whatever)
* pocket tissue
* batteries
* battery charger [too heavy, requires power, should have bought new batteries there instead]

Health / Personal care / Drugs
* travel toilet bag
* travel towel
* tooth brush, tooth paste, shampoo, …
* mosquito repellent
* sunscreen
* contact lenses, solution
* antimalarial medication (e.g., Lariam)
* anti-diarrhoeal drug

Trekking / National Park stuff
* knife
* head torch [caving + climbing in the dark]
* very bright torch (e.g., Fenix LD20) [caving, night trails in the rainforest]
* travel binoculars (e.g., Nikon TraveLite 10×25) [wildlife in the rainforest in far up in the trees]
* camping cutlery
* compass [not used, very tough in the rainforest]
* mosquito-net + line [not used]
* hut sleeping bag, cotton [great and cheap, also replaces questionable blankets in cheaper hostels]

clothes
* biodegradable washing powder
* trekking trousers long x1 [good for night trails or when walking in dense vegetation, warm though]
* trekking sandals [used as walking shoes for the city]
* sneakers, socks x3 [for jungle trekking. ordinary trekking boots are far too heavy and warm]
* hat / head wear [sun protection for trekking, canoeing etc]
* underwear x7 [less would have done it, you can wash it yourself everywhere, dries fast]
* shorts x2 [I brought these army cargo shorts. they felt too heavy and I kept searching stuff in all the pockets. hmm.]
* swimming shorts x1 [I also used them for trekking a few times]
* divers mask [snorkeling rocks]
* synthetic trekking t-shirts from outdoor shop x2 [fast-drying but they smell like hell after 1 day and are too expensive, not worth it imo]
* light cotton t-shirt x4 (including a very old one for snorkeling) [smells less, cheaper, better. 6 t-shirts total were too many btw.]
* small umbrella x1 [no joke, I used it, even in the forest! yes, it rains like hell in the rainforest. forget about rain wear, it’s way too hot!]
* pullover / hoodie x1 [for buses, boats and buildings with insane aircon only, or if you are going into the mountains >=2000m]