Sun Bear Encounters SBE28 ~ Ape Malaysia

The programme will start at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) where you will work with Malaysian bear keepers to improve conditions of the sun bears living at the centre. You will work on husbandry and enrichment for the smallest bears in the world as you learn about sun bears in various stages of rehabilitation and the process of releasing them back into the wild. After spending time understanding sun bears at BSBCC, you will head to the Lower Kinabatangan River to help replant habitat for orangutans, pygmy elephants and other animals. You will stay with the gentle and friendly Orang Sungai or "People of the River" during this part of the programme.

Programme Objectives

  • Improve conditions of sun bears in captivity and rehabilitation through creating environmental and food enrichment;
  • Work alongside keepers to raise the quality of current enrichment standards in Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre;
  • Learn about sun bears in the stage of rehabilitation and process of releasing them back to the wild;
  • Understand and compare situation of captive/rehab sun bears and those with threatened habitats;
  • Raise awareness on responsible living and travelling among tourists, local community and students.
  • Carry out habitat restoration at the Lower Kinabatangan floodplains where flora and fauna are abundant but threatened by diminishing habitat;
  • Conduct wildlife population density data gathering under the auspices of the Sabah Government;
  • Observe and appreciate the orang-utans, pygmy elephants and other endangered species, understand their life cycles and the intricate biodiversity roles;
  • Work with the local community and students in conservation;
  • Raise awareness on responsible living and travelling among tourists, local community and students;
  • Understand the threats to habitat and wildlife and to make a personal impact, bringing positive change.

Note: Programmes are subject to change depending on community and/or BSBCC calendar.

Project Site

The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, better known as BSBCC, is based approximately 19km from Sandakan town. It is located next to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and is also linked to existing forest trails and boardwalks.

The centre currently has 2 bear houses that are housing 28 bears as well as 1.14 hectares of natural forest enclosure where the bears can roam free during the day (and night). There is also an observation platform for visitors to spend time learning about the bears through personal observation and sharing of information by the staff of BSBCC.

This project takes place in a little village within a beautiful wildlife sanctuary along the Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

You will live within the community of the village, dine with the gentle Orang Sungai or "People of the River" and wake up to the sounds of the rainforest. You will help in the restoration of wildlife habitat and contribute towards the environmental education of the local school children while on this programme.

The entry point to the Lower Kinabatangan is the quaint town of Sandakan, approximately 30 minutes by flight and 6-8 hours overland from Kota Kinabalu, state capital of Sabah. You can also get direct flights into Sandakan from Kuala Lumpur

Programme Details Expected Programme Activities
Number of days Programme Location(s) Internal Flight Requirement Wildlife Observation Working With Animals Tree Planting Community Interaction Education
28 BSBCC + Sabah
~ N/A ~ Y Y Y
N/A = Not applicable. Y = definitely included unless impacted by weather / disasters / community calendar. M = may be included

Sun Bear Encounters

Prices are subject to change according to exchange rate fluctuations.

All prices are inclusive of 6% Goods & Services Tax which will be reflected on the invoices.

All invoicing and payment to be conducted in Malaysian Ringgit

Placement reservation fee of RM600 per person per project applies.

Cancellation fees and late payment charges apply.

Single room option at MYR1,400 per person

Other Information
Minimum Pax: 1
Minimum Age: 18
Experience: Not required
Toughness: Very Easy 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Very Tough
Level of Supervision: Fully supervised programme
Personal Insurance: Copy of policy required prior to start of programme
Vaccinations: Tuberculosis & Hepatitis. Copy of doctor's letter / vaccination record required prior to start of programme. Original to be sighted on 1st day of programme
Note Please check with medical practitioner on other required medication / vaccinations
International Flight Destination and Departure Details
ARRIVAL Airport DEPARTURE Airport Internal flight requirement
City Code Arrival Time City Code Departure Time No internal flight
Sandakan SDK Best if before 1600 hours Sandakan SDK Best if after 1100 hours


Day Programme Meals Details
1 ARRIVAL & WELCOME D Arrival at Sandakan Airport. Welcome dinner & briefing.
2 ORIENTATION B, MA Transfer to Project Site: BSBCC. Orientation, health and safety talk & tour of centre.
3 - 16 PROJECT DAYS MA Working hours at BSBCC: 0800 hours - 1700 hours. 4 days off
17 TRANSITION DAY D Welcome dinner and briefing for the second part of the project
18 - 26 PROJECT DAYS B, L, D Transfer to Project Site; Sukau. Short orientation followed by health and safety talk
27 DEPART SUKAU B, L "Visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre and Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilition Centre. Transfer to Nak Hotel
28 DEPARTURE B Check out and transfer to Sandakan Airport

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, MA = Meal Allowance


~ The Sandakan Airport is not an international airport. You will have to fly via Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA/KLIA2) or Kota Kinabalu

International Airport to reach Sandakan Airport (SDK).

~ Airport code for Sandakan is in airline booking systems. ACCURATE flight details (flight number, airline, departure city, time of departure and arrival) are crucial to ensure pick up at the correct time.

~ Customs and Immigration coupled with the journey and/or traffic from Sandakan airport to the dormitory takes approximately 40 minutes, sometimes more.

~ Volunteers should have the emergency numbers [+60-(0)3-7724 2272 or +60-(0)19-899 4398] handy in case they face delays in the airport such as flight postponed or missed, lost luggage, quarantine etc.

~ Kindly take note of flight changes on the actual day of the volunteer arriving in Malaysia. It is crucial that we are informed of the change in flight time as early as possible to ensure correct pick up arrangement is made. Failure to do so will result in extra charges for the additional transfer that will be arranged for the second pick up time. Extra charges for these transfers will be chargeable to the volunteer.


Please be aware that programme and days are subject to change – this itinerary is meant as a guide only.

Note: Itinerary is subject to change without prior notice.

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, MA = Meal Allowance

ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION: Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Husbandry This involves cleaning cages and feeding. You will rotate working with different sun bears depending on the needs of the bears. You may not work with sun bears on a daily basis. Some daily maintenance work such as general maintenance (eg: painting) may be included.
Enrichment The idea of enrichment is to stimulate the animals and improve their living conditions as much as possible to mimic their natural habitat. Volunteers will be involved in designing & preparing enrichment. The effectiveness of the enrichment items on the sun bear behaviour will then be observed.
Construction You may be asked to design and work on small construction projects to improve the night dens / enclosures. This may include assisting in building new exhibits and extensions to improve the facilities, or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture / painting.
Education There is an education centre and library at BSBCC. Volunteers may be asked to talk to school children and visitors at the centre about sun bears. You may also be asked to prepare displays and update the blog or do data entry of the Bear Behaviour Record & the Weekly Record.
Wildlife Population Observation This entails cruising on the river to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks. A lot of time is spent observing wildife 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 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 Programme Half a day will be spent with school children working on conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis. You will be provided with a framework and the facilitator 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 requires for their daily livelihood and maybe assist them as well.
Rumble in theJungle 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 programme. 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.


Not all activities will be included on your itinerary. Changes to the activities will occur subject to weather conditions, school calender, community and project requirements. Activities not listed above may also be addedd if deemed suitable / necessary by the programme coordinator.

Paganakan Dii Shared dormitory style 2 to a room. Shared warm water showers and toilets. Communal kitchen and basic cooking facilities. Washing machine available
Sukau Greenview B&B
Village style B&B. Shared room 2 - 3 persons to a room. Ensuite showers and toilets
Nak Hotel
Shared room 2 - 3 persons to a room. Ensuite showers and toilets.

Accommodation is subject to change without prior notice


Inclusions :

~ Conservation contribution to the project;

~ English-speaking programme facilitator;

~ 27 nights at designated accommodation;

~ All activities, materials, tools & equipment included in “Project Days”;

~ Meet & greet at Sandakan Airport (SDK), Malaysia;

~ Arrival transfer from Sandakan Airport to project accommodation;

~ Welcome dinner on arrival day in Sepilok;

~ Induction & orientation at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre;

~ Programme introduction & orientation in the village;

~ Boat & river transfers on "Project Days";

~ Departure transfer to Sandakan Airport in Sabah, Malaysia;

~ Accommondation is shared throughout programme;

~ Meal allowance & selected meals for all Project Days as indicated on itinerary / self-catering with basic cooking facilities provided.

Not included :

~ Cancellation fees and late payment charges apply.

~ International and internal airfare, camera fees, visa application/fees, drinks, private transfers, meals and accommodation when travelling independently or on Off Days, insurance, personal incidentals and any item not stated in the list above.