Sept 25 - Oct 06, 2017


Note: Participants can choose one day in advance which workshops they want to attend the next day.

Sept. 25th (Day 1)

  • To begin our journey, we will host you at a celebratory welcome dinner in our home in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, where we can answer any last-minute questions and begin to share with you the specifics of the adventures that lie ahead.

Sept. 26th (Day 2)

  • Travel from Kota Kinabalu to Maliau Basin Studies Centre by bus (note: costs of transfers both to and from Kota Kinabalu are included within your trip fee). We will have two stops along the way (one of which lunch break in a local restaurant).
  • Arrival at Maliau in the late afternoon. You will be accommodated in large, luxurious, private rooms with veranda directly overlooking the forest from where you can see numerous different animals: Borneo pigmy elephants, Bornean gibbons, bearded pigs, and some of the most amazing bird species found on Borneo: helmeted hornbills, paradiseflycatchers, dusky broadbills, Asian fairy bluebirds, blue-headed pitta, etc.
  • Evening introductory lecture about the Expedition and Maliau Basin Conservation Area (by Mr. Jadda Suhaimi and Dr. Menno Schilthuizen) 


Sept. 27th (Day 3)

  • Afternoon workshops: (i) examining freshwater fauna in the lab, and (ii) "Creepy Crawlies 101" (general entomology workshop)
  • Evening lecture on discovering and describing new species for science by Dr. Hendrik Freitag
  • Night walk--at night, a completely different array of species is active compared to the day. A night walk gives you insight into these species and if you are lucky you might spot some mammals like mousedeer, bear cat, or even a clouded leopard.

Rhyothemis triangularis

Sept. 28th (Day 4)

  • Morning workshops: (i) "Damsels & Dragons" (catching and photographing dragonflies), and (ii) birdwatching (note: start at 7.30!)
  • Afternoon workshops: (i) dragonfly identification in the lab, (ii) "Working for Posterity" (building the Maliau Basin database via the "pipeline")
  • Lecture: Wild Moms by Dr. Carin Bondar
  • Evening activity: movie

 Sept. 29th (Day 5)

I Option: 2-day excursion to the Nepenthes Camp--highly recommended if you are fit and up for a true jungle trekking adventure. You will have the opportunity to see the amazing kerangas forest, two stunningly beautiful waterfalls, and do some hands-on biological sampling in this underexplored and remote area:

  • We will walk 7.5 km (about 6 hours) through the rain forest; the first 3 km are a quite challenging uphill trek. Be prepared for a lot of sweat, sore muscles, and leeches!
  • Arrival to Nepenthes Camp around 15h. After lunch we will collect insect traps that were placed before the Expedition has started.
  • We will spend a night in a dormitory with shared bathroom and shower.

II Option: If jungle trekking is not your thing, you can stay in Maliau Basin Studies Centre and participate in the following workshops:

  • morning workshop: (i) "Pitching a Tent" (setting up so-called malaise traps)
  • afternoon workshop: (i) "Canopy Biology" (on the skybridge)
  • Lecture: Endangered arks: the unique snails of Malaysia's limestone outcrops by Msc. Kelvin Junn Kitt Foon
  • Evening activity: "Blacklighting" (catching nocturnal insects with UV-light) 


Sept. 30th (Day 6)

I Option:

  • After breakfast we will go (optional) to the Giluk waterfall and Takob-Akob waterfall where you can dip in the pool and enjoy the scenery (7 km). We will also sample freshwater beetles.
  • After lunch we will return to the Maliau Basin Studies Centre (7.5 km). Expected arrival around 18h.

II Option:

  • Morning workshops: (i) "Flutter by up high" (suspending butterfly traps at different elevations from the skybridge)
  • Afternoon activity: walk to the observation tower (2 km) and watch sunset

I + II Option:

  • Evening talk The life of a TV biologist by Dr. Carin Bondar
  • First anouncement on new species found

 Oct. 1st (Day 7)

  • Morning workshops: (i) "Table Manners" placing baited (meat, fruit, cheese, etc.) pitfall traps
  • Afternoon workshops: (i) sorting material collected at the Nepenthes Camp, (ii) working on describing and photographing new species
  • Lecture on DNA analysis in the field by Dr. Massimo Delledonne
  • Evening activity: nightwalk through the forest with a ranger



Oct. 2nd (Day 8)

  • Morning workshops: (i) DNA analysis in the field using nanopore technology, and (ii) checking butterfly traps
  • Afternoon workshops: (i) sorting Winkler bag material, and (ii) helping out with the Pipeline
  • Lecture: Biospeleology and evolution in caves by Dr. Iva Njunjić
  • Evening activity: video about caving and cave animals

Oct. 3rd (Day 9)

I Option: One day excursion to the unexplored Pungiton Cave with underground river. You will participate in cave exploration, sample some remarkable cave animals, and see amazing geological features!


II Option: To stay at Maliau Basin Studies Centre.

  • Morning workshops: (i) helping out with the "Pipeline"
  • Afternoon workshops: (i) sorting malaise trap material
  • Evening lecture: Darwin’s peep show by Dr. Menno Schilthuizen
  • Evening activity: blacklighting

 Oct. 4th (Day 10)

  • Morning workshops: (i) "Into the Canopy" you will try tropical tree climbing and climb up to 50 m high; (ii) picking up pitfall traps
  • Afternoon workshops: (i) sorting pitfall trap material and (ii) sorting malaise trap material
  • Birdwatching from skybridge
  • Evening lecture: Darwin comes to town by Dr. Menno Schilthuizen



Oct. 5th (Day 11)

  • Morning workshops: presentation of the results (Pipeline, mini-projects, general discoveries)
  • Free afternoon
  • Evening activity: Farewell party and voting for new species names

 Oct. 6th (Day 12)

  • Traveling back to Kota Kinabalu by bus; arrival in the evening

 Post-Expedition follow up: publishing newly discovered species in scientific journals


The Expedition fee is 3,900 EUR per person, which includes:

  • domestic travel (from Kota Kinabalu to Maliau Basin and back; also transportation to different field work sites)
  • accommodation in the heart of the rain forest at Maliau Basin
  • delicious local meals, including welcoming dinner in Kota Kinabalu
  • hands-on field research & lab work, including equipment and research materials
  • lectures and study materials, including a book
  • DNA sequencing

Please keep in mind that international travel is not included.


By K. Hendriks (1)

Standard schedule for a day:

  • breakfast 7.00 - 8.30
  • morning workshop in the field 9.00 - 12.00
  • lunch 12.00 - 14.00
  • afternoon workshop (lab or field) 14.00 - 16.00
  • lecture or afternoon walk 17.00 - 18.00
  • dinner 19.00 - 20.30 (incl. news of the day and "what about tomorrow?")
  • evening activity start 20.30

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