Family Wildlife Adventure

founded in 2003
The Great Projects
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Coordinator | Lauren
Coordinator | Lauren
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
Travel to Borneo, aid orangutan conservation and meet indigenous tribes people on this exciting wildlife safari. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the Project

A rare opportunity to experience the majesty of the Borneo rainforest and its wealth of fascinating species, this project allows volunteers to take part as a family, working towards the conservation of this section of the rainforest which has been destroyed due to mass deforestation. Working alongside the local tribespeople, families will take part in tasks that benefit the natural environment and the species that can be found within it, including orangutan and elephant.  With the stunning scenery of the ‘corridor of life’ as a backdrop, this is truly a life-changing experience that can now be enjoyed as a family. 

The main part of the program is spent in the beautiful Sukau village, working on activities conducted in this area, or along the mystical Kinabatangan River. Volunteers have the chance to live among the wonderfully friendly Orang Sungai or “People of the River”, the indigenous community that call this village home. Every evening, volunteers and villagers eat together in a local home, which provides the perfect opportunity to learn first-hand about the indigenous culture .Families also spend one afternoon assisting in community projects at the local school.  

As volunteers on this project you will have a positive and constructive impact on the surrounding environment, by restoring destroyed habitats around the village, thus contributing towards the reforestation of the Corridor of Life. This is mainly achieved by planting trees to preserve the remaining wildlife and biodiversity in these sanctuaries, and clearing areas of forest destruction. The project facilitator is always at hand throughout the project to help you better understand the local threats regarding orangutans, pygmy elephants and other animals and to answer any questions you may have.

The final part of this project includes a trip to the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre for you and your family. Whilst on the project you hope to see wild pygmy elephants and orangutans, your visit to Sepilok will offer a great opportunity to see them up close and understand how different conservation efforts are working to ensure critically endangered orangutans have a future in Borneo.

Prior to Arrival

There is no visa required for most nationalities to enter Malaysia, which requires purchase prior to arrival. A tourist visa is provided upon arrival at the airport for a period of 90 days, however, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.

No Contact Policy

We are often asked whether or not volunteers will have the chance to touch or play with the orangutans whilst on this project. Our answer to this question is, and will always be no, and this is for good reason. 

Orangutans are highly susceptible to human diseases and something as minor as the common cold can prove fatal to these Great Apes. An orangutan is also around 7 times stronger than an adult male human so a no contact policy is just as crucial for your wellbeing as orangutan welfare.

That is not to say that as a volunteer you will have no interaction with the orangutans, it simply means that you will have no direct contact with them. You will still hope to observe them whilst in the corridor of life and see them at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. 

Please note

The minimum age for the children to take part in this project is 8 years old. 

Typical day

Day 1: You will arrive into Sandakan International Airport where you will be met by the project facilitator and take a private transfer to your first nights accommodation. This will be in a longhouse style accommodation in Sepilok with unobstructed views of the surrounding forest. You will spend the night learning about the Corridor of Life and the project's aims. This is also where you will enjoy a welcome dinner with your project facilitator.

Day 2-5: Today you will transfer to the project site at Sukau where upon arrival you will have a health & safety briefing, followed by an orientation and tour around the village. Accommodation here will be in a beautiful Bornean B&B. In the afternoon you will begin your volunteer activities which include the following:

Wildlife Observation:

This entails cruising in a boat along the river and its tributaries along the 'corridor of life', to observe the endangered wildlife roaming the forest along the river banks. On these trips you will always be on constant look out for pygmy elephants and orangutans.

Guided Jungle Trek:

The magical tropical rainforest of Borneo is the perfect setting for a family trek. The trek you will join involves an introduction to the flora and fauna of the rainforest and to what the rainforest traditionally offers the inhabitants in terms of medicine, food and survival. This is a great chance to ask questions and learn from an extremely experienced local guide.

School Interaction:

As a family you will spend half a day with local school children working on conservation issues that the children deal with on a daily basis. You will be provided with a framework and the project facilitator will guide you in the planning of this session. The idea is to share information about conservation activities, both in Borneo and in your home country and also to give the local school children and yours a chance to interact and understand different cultures.

Cultural and Community Interaction:

Living and contributing to the Sukau community is a big part of this project. As most lunches and dinners will be served in the homes of individual villagers and local families 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.

Community Development:

This involves the development of a continuous project, working with the community of the local village. This offers another fun way to interact with the community on various levels whilst working on a conservation project.

Day 6: After saying goodbye to the local people of the Orang Sungai whom by now you will all know well you will travel from the project site at Sukau to the Rainforest Discovery Center for a chance to put your recently acquired knowledge to the test before travelling to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. This will be an incredible chance to see orangutans up close and a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Your final evening can be spent resting and relaxing in a comfortable city hotel in the heart of Sandakan.

Day 7: This will be your last day on the project and so you will take a private transfer from your hotel in the city to Sandakan Airport for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans.

Free-time activities

In your free time you will often join local families to cook and eat with them. The tour itself involves a lot of trekking and physical activity as it is. Also you will be able to do Yoga with locals if you please.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
There are also no specific skills required in order to join – all that we ask is that you come with a willingness to get your hands dirty!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

What's Included

Services by The Great Projects

A monetary contribution to the project itself - Transfers to and from the airport - Full orientation and support from the project facilitator - Accommodation and meals as indicated - Entrance fees to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Rainforest Discovery Centre

Airport Pickup at Sandakan Airport

You will need to arrive into Sandakan International Airport before 4pm on the start date of your project. You will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred by road to your first night's accommodation. The next day you will travel to the project site at Sukau.

On your final day please book your departing flight for after 11am.


Sepilok (first night): For your first night in the rainforest you will stay in a traditional longhouse with shared facilities. At approximately 18:00 you will enjoy a welcome dinner and project introduction from your facilitator.

Sukau (project days): During the project, you and your family will stay in a comfortable and authentically Bornean, village-run B&B within walking distance of the centre of the village and the village jetty. Bedrooms have attached toilet blocks and cold-water showers. Everyday breakfast is served in a common area overlooking the river.

At Sandakan (final night): For your final night, you will stay in a comfortable hotel room in the equivalent of a 3 star hotel in Sandakan town. The hotel is within walking distance of the Promenade and many quaint little shops and eateries. The town has internet cafes, a supermarket, restaurants and food stalls serving local and western foods. There is also a beautiful rooftop restaurant and bar nearby.

Guesthouse Hotel Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

All meals are included and during your time in Sukau on the project they will be prepared and eaten in the homes of village locals. There are always vegetarian options available and any extra drinks and snacks you would like can be purchased in the nearby towns.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Sandakan Airport (SDK) in Sandakan. We assist you to find cheap flights to Malaysia.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Malaysia provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Malaysia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malaysia.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

This project takes place on the 11th of every month, excluding December. Please contact us to find out whether your preferred start date is available.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 1 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
1 week (max. stay)
Average fees
$1,002 /week

The organization charges its fees in GBP. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. The Great Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Family Wildlife Adventure

Travel to Borneo, aid orangutan conservation and meet indigenous tribes people on this exciting wildlife safari.


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