Family Wildlife Adventure

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

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 that has been destroyed due to mass deforestation. Working alongside the local tribe people, 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. 

To round off the tour, after the project work, volunteers are taken to visit the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center to witness the endangered apes up close in their natural habitat.

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. 

Suitable for


Typical day

Volunteers and families make a difference to the reforestation of the rain forest, through such tasks as planting trees to preserve the remaining wildlife and biodiversity in these sanctuaries. The wildlife sanctuary that acts as the project base is home to singing gibbons, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears, hornbills and the pygmy elephant, and there is a chance to experience these animals up close on a guided jungle trek. Families will spend time spotting and surveying the incredible wildlife around the village and on river cruises during the project.

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. In the afternoon you will begin your volunteer activities which you will continue for the next 4 days. Please see the activities tab for more information. Accommodation here will be in a beautiful Bornean B&B.

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.

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
18 years
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
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

Do you have any questions concerning this volunteer opportunity in Malaysia? Volunteer World directly connects you with The Great Projects

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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.



What's included?
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
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Airport Pickup

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
1 week (min. stay)

You can volunteer at the project site in Sabah/Malaysia between 1 weeks and 1 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
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.

Get ready to volunteer in Malaysia

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Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Malaysia. Please check the visa regulations for Malaysia.
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Malaysia.

What's next?

The nearest airport is Sandakan (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.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Malaysia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malaysia.
Packing List
Packing our bags is important to prepare your trip, but often turns into a last minute horror. Make sure you don't forget the essentials by creating a personalised packing list for your volunteer program in Malaysia upfront.
Sabah, Sabah, Malaysia