Malaysia Birding Tours (Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia)
Malaysia is one of several amazing birding destinations in southeast Asia where we offer a range of exciting small-group birdwatching tours targeting many of the outstanding bird species possible. Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories across two regions separated by the South China Sea. One of these regions is West Malaysia (known as Peninsular Malaysia) and the other is East Malaysia, which includes Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. A large part of the island of Borneo is part of Indonesia (called Kalimantan).
West Malaysia sits at the foot of the longer Malay Peninsula and shares a land border with Thailand in the north, and to the south, separated by a narrow piece of water (Johor Strait), is Singapore. To the west of the peninsula, across the Strait of Malacca (18 miles/c.30 kilometers wide), is the Indonesian island of Sumatra (look out for our new Sumatra tour coming soon). This piece of water is also one of the most important shipping channels in the world. East Malaysia shares land borders with Brunei and Indonesia. Malaysia’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur is located in West Malaysia and is the start point for our tours in the region, and also the best way to get into Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, and East Malaysia for our Bornean birdwatching and wildlife-watching tours. Sabah and Sarawak, along with the other parts of Borneo (Brunei and Kalimantan) are part of the Greater Sunda Islands, these are made up by Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi (the latter three islands all part of the immense Indonesian island chain).
According to the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) Malaysia is home to over 840 bird species, 17 of these are endemic birds and includes gems like Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, Black-crowned Pitta, Dulit Frogmouth, and Malayan Whistling Thrush. A high proportion of the birds of Malaysia are shared with Indonesia and a smaller number with southern Thailand, though the best chance of seeing many of these is in Malaysia itself. BirdLife International recognizes seven Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) and 55 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the country.
Read More About Malaysia (incl. Borneo)
Malaysia is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and has some great habitats, such as staggering lowland rainforest in protected forest reserves such as at Taman Negara (Peninsular Malaysia), Danum Valley (Sabah, Borneo), and Bako National Park (Sarawak, Borneo). These forests are home to a variety of birds like pheasants, pittas, hornbills, scops owls, babblers, trogons, and many other gorgeous birds. Dense mangrove forest still exists, such as at Kuala Selangor Nature Park and Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, these support Mangrove Whistler, Mangrove Pitta, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, and other specialists. A few beautiful hill stations surrounded by montane habitats can be found, such as at Fraser’s Hill, where there is phenomenal birding and a delightful cooler climate with gorgeous birds such as Malaysian Partridge, Silver-eared Mesia, Long-tailed Sibia, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, and Rusty-naped Pitta. The high mountains of Malaysia, such as Mount Kinabalu (13,435 feet / 4,095 meters) support several endemic birds – such as Friendly Bush Warbler, Bornean Swiftlet, and Mountain Wren-Babbler.
Our Malaysian tours offer so much in terms of incredible birds and other amazing wildlife so we have outlined some highlights from each tour below. Click the link to be taken to the specific tour page for detailed itinerary information, tour reports, and photo galleries:
This tour seeks out many of the highly sought charismatic species to be found in Peninsular Malaysia. We will spend time birding at Kuala Selangor, Fraser’s Hill, and Taman Negara and look for the following target birds: Rail-babbler, Malayan Whistling Thrush, Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Helmeted Hornbill, Green Broadbill, Diard’s Trogon, Large Frogmouth, White-fronted Scops Owl, Oriental Bay Owl, Garnet Pitta, Malayan Banded Pitta, Mangrove Pitta, and Straw-headed Bulbul.
Our Sabah tour visits the most important birding sites in the province staying in some fantastic lodgings and includes plenty of time birding at Mount Kinabalu, Kinabatangan River, Gomantong Caves, Sepilok Forest Reserve (including astounding canopy walkways), and the amazing Danum Valley (where we stay at the unparalleled Borneo Rainforest Lodge). During this tour we will look out for plenty of Bornean endemics, some of the highlights will include: Bornean Bristlehead, Whitehead’s Trogon, Whitehead’s Broadbill, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, Fruithunter, Bornean Green Magpie, Blue-headed Pitta, Black-crowned Pitta, and Bornean Banded Pitta, with some mega mammals too, like Bornean Orangutan and Proboscis Monkey.
A great short birding tour for after your trip in adjacent Sabah. Sarawak is certainly more “off-the-beaten-track” than its neighbor and offers the chance for several endemic species not present in Sabah, such as Dulit Frogmouth, Bornean Frogmouth, and Black Oriole, as well as fantastic chances of Blue-banded Pitta, Bornean Banded Pitta, Hose’s Broadbill, Bulwer’s Pheasant, and Rail-babbler.