Experience the goodness of living amidst nature and get closer to the wildlife in Borneo!
Volunteering Solutions has curated an amazing & affordable Wildlife Volunteering Program in Borneo, Malaysia, which will enable you to experience the goodness of local living, apart from contributing meaningfully towards the conservation of the flora & fauna.
As a volunteer, you'll get to live amidst the mysterious Borneo Rainforests and work at the region located along the Lower Kinabatangan River. This wildlife sanctuary is home to singing gibbons, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and the pygmy elephant as well as a host of other rarely seen wildlife.
The main part of the project will be in Sukau village and you will live among the gentle Orang Sungai or 'People of the River' learning their ways of life and joining them in their homes for meals. You will contribute significantly towards habitat restoration work by planting trees and maintain planting sites important for orangutans and pygmy elephants.
A perfect program for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, one can have a meaningful learning experience as well. It'll be an opportunity for you to get closer to nature, and observe the little things that tourists often tend to miss out.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. You need to have an open mind and a flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference. Participants must be fit and healthy at the time of joining the program. There will be a Skype interview, and only after selection, your application will be confirmed. In case you are not selected to be a part of the concerned program, a full refund will be provided.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
In a span of 12 days, this project will let you have an insight into the lives of the people as well as observe the animals closely. As a part of this program, you'll get to play a significant role in the following areas:
Wildlife Population Observation - This entails cruising along the river to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks. A lot of time is spent observing wildlife and their habitat. This will be done from a boat cruising along the main river and its tributaries within the wildlife sanctuary.
Habitat Restoration - The most crucial activity in ensuring the survival of wildlife. You will take part in tree-planting, nursery care, and seedling generation, sapling maintenance, mulching, composting, clearing invasive species and tree growth data recording.
Education Project - You can spend half a day on school children working on conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis. You will be provided with a framework and the coordinator will guide you in the planning of this session.
Community Development - This involves the development of a continuous project with the community of a local village. You will learn some skills required for their daily livelihood upgradation and maybe assist them as well.
Jungle Trekking - As an introduction to the flora and fauna of the rainforest, you will go for a trek to understand what the rainforest traditionally offers the inhabitants in terms of medication, food & survival.
Cultural & Community Interaction - Contributing back to the community is a big part of this project. Most lunch and dinners will be in the private homes of individual villagers. You may get to hear about their daily lives, chat with the children, learn their family structure and see how the Orang Sungai have been living off the rivers and jungles for centuries.
Note: Not all activities will be included on your itinerary. Changes to the activities will occur subject to weather conditions, school calendar, community and project requirements.
Day 1 - Arrival at Sandakan Airport and transfer to accommodation. Meet all your fellow volunteers during the Welcome dinner. A short Briefing Session will be held on this day.
Day 2 to Day 10 - You'll be traveling to Sukau, which is your Program Location. There will be a short orientation, followed by a health & safety talk. You'll commence your project work under the guidance of your coordinator. It'll be an immensely enriching journey, observing the people and the wildlife, and living amidst nature.
The project involves wildlife observation to collect important wildlife population data. Habitat restoration work involves tree-planting and maintenance activities at high priority areas. These are crucial in connecting fragmented forest in the area to encourage healthy orangutan and pygmy elephant populations. Community and Education programmes involve interaction with the villagers and the students of the village school.
Day 11 - Travel to explore the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sun Bear Conservation Centre & Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
Day 12 - Check out and transfer to Sandakan Airport.
The nearest airport to the Borneo Rainforest is Sandakan Airport (SDK), which is a domestic airport. Hence, you'll have to book your flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA/KLIA2) or Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and then take another flight to Sandakan Airport.
Accurate flight details (flight number, airline, departure city, time of departure and arrival) are crucial to ensure pick up at the correct time.
Make sure that your flight arrives before 4:00 PM on the arrival date, and on the departure date, book a flight that departs after 11:00 AM from Sandakan Airport.
You'll be provided with dorm-style accommodation, where you need to share a room with 2 others, mostly based on the same-gender basis. There are shared warm water showers and toilets. A communal kitchen and basic cooking facilities are available. The washing machine is also available.
At Sukau, you'll be staying at a Village style B&B, in order to get a feel of the local living. You'll be sharing your room with 2-3 other volunteers.
Note: Single Room subject to availability - please let us know beforehand, in case you want a private room for yourself.
Meal allowances will be provided to all the volunteers working for this project.
There will be a detailed Program Orientation, that’ll enable you to know more about the conservation center and what kind of work is carried out there. You’ll also be guided and instructed on the ways in which you need to act and how you can provide your best services while being a part of this project. Our coordinators will be available 24/7, to offer any sort of assistance that you may require.
During your Free Time
During your free time, you can head out and explore Borneo’s wilderness and spend some time hiking through the jungles. Over the weekends, you can plan a trek to Kota Kinabalu and feel the eeriness of the rainforests. You’ll also get to spend time exploring the rural areas, converse with the local people and get to know more about their lives amidst nature. It’ll definitely be worth experiencing.
Please Note: -An application fee of £149 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. Please Note: -An application fee of €169 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment.
What are you Paying for?
- All facilities and equipment for conservation work
- English speaking programme facilitator
- 24/7 In-country coordinators
- Work T-shirts
- Airport Pickup from Sandakan Airport (SDK) and transfer to accommodation
- Transfer to Sepilok Lodging on Arrival
- Departure transfer to Sandakan Airport (SDK)
- Program Orientation
- All overland transfers as per itinerary
- Boat & river transfer on Project Days
- Entrance fees to Rehabilitation & Conservation Centers
- 11 nights shared Accommodation & Food allowance
- Welcome dinner on arrival day in Sepilok
- 100% Financial Protection
- UK Based Support
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- International Airfare
- Visa Fees
- Camera fees or any other extra costs involved
- Medical & Travel Insurance
- Individual transfers (if outside the itinerary)
- Dinner on Day 11
- Any personal expenses
FAQ's Application and Program Details
- The minimum age requirement for the programs in Malaysia is 18 years.
- No previous experience is required, but one must have the zeal to work hard in the outdoors.
- Volunteers need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. They should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
- The participant must be in good health.
- There will be a Skype interview, and only after selection your application will be confirmed. In case you are not selected to be a part of the concerned program, a full refund will be provided.
We encourage our participants to volunteer in a group. We take special care in providing you a placement and also customize your itinerary to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Also, we can design special group programs for groups of 5 or more. Our programs are designed to be safe, affordable and offer a great group volunteering experience to the volunteers.
In our experience of more than 12+ years, we have enabled and facilitated volunteer program placements for college groups, university groups, high school groups, group of families, group of couples as well as groups of colleagues.
You can surely join the program with your friends and family. We would love to host you and your friend(s) at our program locations in Malaysia.
Yes, it would be great if you choose to be a volunteer for more than one program in Malaysia. Since all the programs are related to nature and wildlife, you'll be able to gain a more meaningful insight about the entire work and be able to contribute more effectively if you are staying for longer.
If you are planning to come for multiple programs in your trip, you will have to pay the application fees just once. Your application fee is valid for a year's time (from the date of application). You will not have to pay the application fees again if you come within the mentioned time frame.
For our returning volunteers, $50 discount is provided for the application fee for their next VolSol program.
Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The certificate is provided on request.
As a part of the organization's safety policy, volunteers are not allowed to have direct contact with the animals, however, you'll have ample scope to see the animals in the wild and observe them closely. Know that the animals' behavior cannot be predicted, and thus, we avoid and warm you to get physically closer to them.
Flights and Visa
All travelers need to acquire a visa from a Malaysian Diplomatic Mission in their respective countries unless they are nationals of the visa exempt countries. Nationals of a few countries are eligible to apply for e-Visa. A Malaysian e-Visa is valid for up to 3 months and an e-Visa holder is entitled to stay up to a maximum of 15 or 30 days for each visit in Malaysia.
Health and Safety
We recommend you to consult your physician or travel doctor before traveling to Malaysia. However, we recommend you take general vaccinations such as:
Note: Copy of doctor's letter / vaccination record required prior to start of project. Original to be sighted on 1st day of project.
Yes, for all volunteers it is mandatory to have a travel medical insurance. To provide the best option to our participants, we offer comprehensive insurance coverage in collaboration with a leading insurance provider.
Like all of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is also very safe and forward-thinking country with travelers from around the world paying a visit throughout the year. The volunteers are, however, advised to travel in groups, not venture alone at nights and take the basic safety precautions. All volunteers must consult the coordinators (available 24/7) before planning a night out.
Accommodation and Living
Your coordinator will meet you at the airport and will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to our team and other volunteers. You will then be provided with a detailed Program Orientation. We shall provide you with all the guidance to reach the program location.
Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of GMT (GMT +8).
The country experiences a tropical climate, hence you should be prepared for the rains in Malaysia. With an annual rainfall in excess of 2500mm in many areas, getting wet is inevitable. The wet season (monsoon) lasts from November to March, with November being the wettest month of all. May to September are the summer months and the best time to volunteer. However, you can plan your trip at any time of the year, and experience the beauty of nature!
You will need to carry extra money for personal expenses, add-on tours, eating out while traveling in Malaysia. For basic personal expenses, a budget of 25-35 USD per week is more than sufficient barring the extra costs of add-on activities. If you’re planning on using credit/debit card in Malaysia, it is advised to let your bank know about your travels beforehand so that they don’t suspicious of your account activity. We also advise all our participants to keep an emergency fund of 200 USD only to be used in case of any emergencies, if one arises.