CATS OF BORNEO PHOTO TOUR
Cats of Borneo Photo Tour
The five elusive forest cats of Borneo
The Sunda clouded leopard, marbled cat, flat-headed cat, sunda leopard cat, and the endemic Borneo bay cat are our five target species of wild cat for this cats of Borneo photo tour. These cats are extremely elusive, so some luck has to be on our side, but we have planned this tour down to the smallest detail to maximize our chances at seeing and photographing these incredibly beautiful forest cats of Borneo.
Why we love this cats of Borneo photo tour
This cats of Borneo photo tour is for those wild cat lovers that have already checked off the big cats and are eager to widen their horizons and look for more elusive wild cat species. To our knowledge, it is the only wild cat photo tour in existence specifically targeting all five species of felines in Borneo. We have chosen the top three locations to photograph these cats, with an emphasis on finding the Sunda clouded leopard.
Deramakot Forest Reserve is the top spot for finding Sunda clouded leopards, where they are seen on average about once every ten days. This beautifully lush rainforest is actually selectively logged, but research has determined that clouded leopards are found at higher densities in these forests than primary rainforests. Sunda leopard cats are often seen, marbled cats sometimes, and once even a Borneo bay cat.
The Kinabatangan River is famous for its wildlife, including proboscis monkey’s, long and short-tailed macaques, and hornbills. In addition to these phenomenal animals which we will see and photograph are two cats. The Sunda clouded leopard and the flat-headed cat slink through the mangrove roots along the riverbanks. We utilize the best local guides to help us try and find the cats.
Our final destination is Tabin Wildlife Reserve, where the lodge is beautifully set along a river that gibbons like to visit. Sunda clouded leopards, marbled cats, and Sunda leopard cats live in this area and are our main wild cat targets during this part of the tour.
Cats of Borneo photo tour testimonials
"This tour was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Witnessing the unparalleled biodiversity of Borneo is a necessary pilgrimage for all wildlife photographers and the Cats of Borneo tour was the perfect way to experience it. Both Sebastian, and the local guides exuded enthusiasm and dedication, the locations were fantastic for sightings and I came away with some of my best photographs yet."
- Celina Chien
"My favorite thing about shooting and traveling with Sebastian besides his sparkling personality is while you are shooting he is always looking for better windows and angles and calls them out. So you can stay with your frame and have a chance to improve."
- Jim Lesperance
"Through the impenetrable depths of Borneo's old-growth rainforests, Sebastian expectedly led us to awe-inducing areas where we were met by unrivalled sceneries and (often very up-close and intimate) sights of elusive wildlife of an impressive variety. His knowledge and passion for this place is palpable, and made for an unforgettable experience. Thank you!"
- Anda Ciurezu
Target wild cats during our Borneo cats photo tour
Marbled cats are the most arboreal of the five species of wild cats found in Borneo, so we spend significant amounts of time looking at the trees. Marbled cats are found in all three of our tour locations, but he cats have higher densities at Deramakot Forest Reserve and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Like the clouded leopard, marbled cats are mostly night active.
FLAT-HEADED CAT (Prionailurus planiceps)
You are in good hands, we are clouded leopard experts
Even though we don’t know of other companies offering tours for all five wild cat species in Borneo, we also feel confident that we are the best even if there were. With years of experience and science as our backbone, we have crafted a tour that puts us in the best locations with the best guides to find these elusive cats.
Your international wild cat and photography guide is Sebastian Kennerknecht who has traveled to Borneo extensively, photographing four out of the five wild cat species found on the island, including the extremely elusive Borneo bay cat. He has worked with biologists studying these cats as well for a total of eleven weeks. Sebastian is the only person in the world with a high-resolution photograph of this cat taken in the wild.
Besides having Sebastian by your side for guidance at all time, we have hand pick-ed the best local guides who have spent years in the jungle looking for wild cats. One of our local guides is probably one of less than a hundred people who have seen the Borneo bay cat in person.
Fly into Sandakan airport in Malaysian Borneo. You will be picked up from the airport and driven to the hotel. After settling in we will go for an easy night hike in the rainforest near Sandakan. This will be your first chance to experience the Bornean jungle and all of the wildlife that lives within it. Have dinner back at the resort.
Have a sunrise shoot in the nearby jungle where seeing orangutans is a high probability. After breakfast at the resort we will leave for Deramakot Forest Reserve, having lunch on the way. We will settle into the accommodations there. After an early dinner we will head out for our first wild cat search utilizing a 4x4 safari vehicle.
After a late breakfast you are free to join your tour leader for a hike in the jungle and explore the incredible lushness of the forest. A bit after lunch we will look for the cats on our safari vehicle from afternoon until late into the night, with dinner in between. This is when we have the best chance to see Sunda clouded leopards.
After breakfast we will drive to our hotel on the Kinabatangan River. You will have time to settle in before lunch, after which we will get on a boat to look for primates, hornbills, and other birds. Once the light is gone, we head back for dinner, after which we go on the boat again to look for the nocturnal Sunda clouded leopard and flat-headed cat.
We will have late breakfasts so you can sleep in after late nights on the river. From there you can explore the jungle around the lodge until lunch time. After lunch we will resume the same schedule of an afternoon boat safari, dinner, and another boat ride to look for the cats along the riverbanks at night.
After breakfast we will drive to our hotel in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, our final destination for the trip. After settling in and eating lunch, we will go on afternoon safaris, come back for dinner after the sun has set, and go back out at night to look for Sunda leopard cats, marbled cats, and of course the Sunda clouded leopard.
Like the schedule at the other camps, we will have a late breakfast, explore the jungle or relax, have lunch and then go for an afternoon game drive, followed by dinner, followed by a night drive. This schedule allows us to photograph and day-active animals during good light while maximizing chances of seeing cats at night.
After breakfast you will be shuttled to Lahad Datu airport, from which you will catch your onward flights.
Itinerary at a glance
10 GAME DRIVES
10 NIGHT DRIVES
3 Day boat rides
3 night boat rides
2 jungle walks
Unique itinerary for a unique experience in Borneo
Like our other tours, this cats of Borneo photo tour itinerary was designed to specifically see and photograph wild cats. We have chosen the three best locations in Borneo to find the Sunda clouded leopards and the four other species of wild cat found on the island. On a daily basis we chose exactly where we go, based on years and years of knowledge of the area and its cats.
You will have the opportunity to photograph primates, apes, and lots of birds during our afternoon drives and boat rides and come night time will have the chance to take images of the nocturnal cats. We use specialized lights that aren’t harsh for the cats, but provide you the opportunity to take sharp photographs during the darkness of the rainforest night. Very few people have ever even looked for these cats, so the images you create will automatically be unique.
Besides providing you the opportunity to see and photograph wild cats, we at Cat Expeditions make your travel experience hassle free. Upon booking, you will be sent a full itinerary that includes what to bring and how to prepare. Once you land in Borneo, you can focus on enjoying yourself as all the travel logistics are not only taken care off, but optimized to give you the most time to enjoy the incredible wildlife that the rainforest has to offer in spades.
Sepilok Forest Edge Resort
Located in Sepilok, along the edge of the rainforest, Sepilok Forest Edge Resort provides the perfect location for the beginning of our tour.
The chalet rooms are made from recycled wood and provide perfect comfort, often with a view over jungle. Each room has its own private bathroom and internet is available.
The traditional style long house serves as the dining area, while providing wonderful views. Broadbills, kingfishers, and pittas can often be seen on the hotel grounds.
Deramakot Forest Reserve Resort
Formerly a logging camp, the accommodations at Deramakot are the most basic, but still provide the comfort and privacy we require of all of our lodging.
The chalet style houses have separate double and single bedrooms and bathrooms. Internet is not available here, but the appropriate SIM cards can cheaply be purchased at Sandakan airport, and mobile data can be used. Laundry is also available at a small cost.
The chalets are in the middle of wild cat country and therefor serve as the perfect location for our wild cat search. A simple restaurant on the premises allows us to customize our dining schedule based on our needs.
Borneo Nature Lodge
Borneo Nature Lodge is located right along the Kinabatangan River providing beautiful views of both jungle and the flowing waterway. Nestled in and around the trees, the rainforest canopy lies overhead, providing you the relaxing atmosphere you desire in the jungle.
As our other locations, the rooms are chalet style houses with separate rooms and private bathrooms. Internet is also not available here, but the same SIM card will work here.
The hotel has its own restaurant, where we will be dining for our meals before and after going on our river cruises.
Tabin Wildlife Resort
Tabin Wildlife Resort is located in Tabin Wildlife Reserve and is our last stop as we search for clouded leopards in the forests surrounding the resort.
Made up of twenty individual jungle lodges, all with their own private bathrooms and balconies, the resort provides the perfect atmosphere for you to relax in before or after our game viewing drives. Internet and laundry are available at the resort.
This is also our best chance at seeing Bornean gibbons which often swing by the rooms in the morning, making their characteristic calls along the way.
Conservation impact of our cats of Borneo photo tour
Like all Cat Expeditions tours, our cats of Borneo photo tour has conservation impact built into it. Four out of the five species of wild cat are decreasing in population worldwide. For cats like the Borneo bay cat, that could mean extinction in the near future.
Panthera, the world’s leading cat conservation organization, is studying the wild cats of Borneo and has a project running in Deramakot to understand the cat's biology there. They monitor the wildlife populations via camera traps and send out anti-poaching patrols to keep poachers from killing the wildlife. Part of the cost of the tour is given to the Panthera project to ensure it can continue.
Cats of Borneo Photo Tour Dates
April 20th - May 4th, 2024 (1 spot left)
Cats of Borneo Photo Tour Pricing
Price per person: $9,500
Single room supplement: $975
The price includes:
- all transportation starting in Borneo
- meals (not including alcohol)
- wild cat excursions
- guide services of Sebastian Kennerknecht
- guide services of local guide
- conservation donation to Panthera
- flights to Borneo