In July/August 2013, working as an Expedition Leader for Outlook Expeditions, I lead an expedition to the Sabah region of Borneo with a group of girls from across the UK. For them this three-week expedition is the culmination of a two-year Leadership and Personal Development programme.

Our itinerary includes working with a local community project, MESCOT, a visit to an Orang-Utan sanctuary, a high altitude mountain trek to over 4,000m, a jungle camp experience and snorkelling and relaxing on the TAR islands.

For photographs of this expedition see Borneo

This expedition is arranged by Outlook Expeditions

After a long international flight from London, via Hong Kong, we arrive in the coastal city of Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Malaysian Borneo. We transfer to our accommodation and then change funds into local currency and confirm our itinerary plans with our in-country contacts. We then explore the town and find somewhere to eat.

Next we travel to the MESCOT project situated deep in the rainforest in central Sabah. Our work here involves restoration of the community forest, destroyed in the fires of 1998, removal of invasive plants and simple building projects such as board-walk construction. We observe amazing wildlife on river boat safaris. During our time here we are guests of the local people in their home-stays.

Next we travel to and base ourselves in accommodation near to the Sepilok sanctuary. From here we visit the orang-utan sanctuary, proboscis monkey sanctuary and hike the forest trails which range from 250m loops up to 4km loop, some have observation towers which allow us to look out above the forest canopy.

We then travel to the Mt. Kinabalu National Park and settle into our accommodation and confirm everything for our two day ascent of the mountain.

At 4,095m, Mt. Kinabalu is the highest peak in SE Asia and often features high on the priority list of many serious trekkers and mountaineers. We begin the ascent from park HQ on day one, stay overnight in the mountain lodges at 3,400m and make the final ascent to the summit early the following morning. We then have the rest of the second day to make our way back down.

A guided jungle experience is next where we live deep in the forest. Our the time here involve day and night hikes, trap building, blowpipe practice and learning the 101 uses of bamboo. We cook on fires and camp out in basic jungle shelters/lodges.

We travel back to KK and stock up with supplies before catching a morning boat out to the nearby TAR islands. Here we camp on two of the five islands and explore the others by boat excursions. We walk the forest trails, go snorkelling over coral reef, and relax on the white sandy beaches and in the warm waters (28 degrees) all of which makes this a fantastic place to R&R.

Finally we travel back to the mainland to do some last minute souvenir shopping and in the evening head out into town for a final celebratory team meal.

The next day we return to London and disperse. As always saying goodbye to my team is hard after all we’ve done but the thought of a warm shower, clean sheets and a comfy bed at home makes it easier!


Steve holds the prestigious International Mountain Leader Award and also the Summer and Winter Mountain Leader Awards. He is a full member of BAIML and an adviser to Mountain Training UK&I. Steve has travelled extensively on six continents and has a wide experience, gained over more than thirty five years, of explorations and leading expeditions in remote environments on land – trekking in mountains, jungles, deserts and safaris and on water – rafting and canoeing. He works with his own clients and travel companies and takes adults and children on amazing adventures around the world. He has trained at and been assessed by Britain’s National Mountain Centres who are world class in the instruction and coaching of outdoor professionals. Steve is a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Accredited Expedition Assessor. He trains, supervises and assesses candidates on Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE Expeditions. He is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, has an enhanced DBS disclosure and his own public liability insurance.