Welcome to Sandakan Spirit — a journey for the senses and the soul.
Sandakan Spirit is a collection of incomparable trekking experiences that not only unveils Malaysian Borneo’s lush jungles, indigenous villages and eco-treasures from an insider’s perspective, but also unveils the tragic footsteps of the heroic Australian and British soldiers who were imprisoned at the once-notorious Japanese POW camp — the starting point of World War II’s infamous Sandakan Death Marches.
Lead by an experienced team of Dunsun guides —descendants of those who aided the POWs and played a key role in the fight to liberate Borneo during the 1942-45 Japanese occupation — Sandakan Spirit follows the original ‘Death March’ route, with much of the trail’s historical information collated from meticulous research by Australia’s premier historians, GPS mapping technology and old-fashion fervour.
In addition to visiting the sacred grounds of Sandakan’s former prison camp and the town’s church where Australian POWs spent their first night of captivity in Borneo, guests experience the picturesque trails that lead to Sabah’s Lost World and Gurung Kinabalu, where the island’s highest summit pierces the clouds above Kinabalu National Park — Malaysia’s world renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to an array ofexotic wildlife and flora.
Also unique to Sandakan Spirit is the opportunity for every participant to become explorers, historians and intrepid adventurers — where camping amid rivers and rainforests, staying in traditional Dunsun villages and being immersed in Borneo’s culture add to the richness of each programme. It is in these villages where Dunsun elders weave Sandakan’s war stories passed down from their forefathers.
Complementing every experience is the meticulous research that is at the forefront of every programme — accounts recorded by Australia’s most respected authorities on Sandakan. They include authors, Paul Hamm, Kevin Smith and Don Wall, also a World War II and POW veteran who served with the 2/20 Battalion 8th Division before his capture by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942. Before his death in 2004, Wall wrote a series of books on the war including, Sandakan: The Last March, now considered the most definitive volume on the tragic death march.
In addition to the material assembled from a series of in-depth interviews with several Sandakan survivors — Keith Botterill, Owen Campbell and Nelson Short, Wall had access to the private papers of Lt. Col. H.W.S. Jackson, MBE and the records relating to the recovery of the POWs’ remains in both Sandakan and along the death march track. He also established a close rapport with the people of Sabah who played an integral role in aiding the Allies as well as the six, Australian POW survivors during the Japanese occupation.
Other information sourced for the treks came from the reports compiled by Major R.E. Steele and Sgt R.J. Kennedy, both veterans of the Borneo Campaign of 1945 — the last Allied assault in the region before the formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army on September 2, 1945.
The exceptional programme experiences equally extends to the optional adrenalin-fuelled activities that include mountain climbing along Gurung Kinabalu’s summit trail, white-water rafting, exploring Sabah’s hidden caves, diving amid Sabah’s magnificent coral reefs and trekking the wild forests and jungles that surround Kinabatangan River while in search of tropical birds, crocodiles, monkeys and elephants. Adding to the adventure are the untold cultural experiences Sabah offers; the vibrant indigenous festivals, the frenetic tamus (markets), dining on exotic cuisine, visiting the wildlife sanctuaries including the world-famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and sleeping in a village longhouse – one of the unique highlights of the Sandakan Spirit journey. If a resort stay is the required bill-of-fare for guests, three and four-star hotel accommodation can also be included.
Every journey is not only conducted with the strictest code of ethics and safety but also adheres to Australian and Malaysian laws and regulatory guidelines, albeit with an eco-footprint. Sandakan Spirit’s carefully-selected Borneo guides are expert jungle and mountain trekkers who are equally passionate about maintaining Sabah’s indigenous culture, the pristine environment and the legacy of Australia’s fallen heroes.
Guests can choose to travel with Sandakan Spirit on a fixed departure date, or travel with a group comprising 20-40 travellers, with each programme offering complete flexibility to meet any individual requirements.
Kami mengalu-alukan anda untuk menyertai kami
Sandakan Spirit captures the spirit, history, adventure and nature’s bounty like no other
on a series of extraordinary treks by car and foot throughout Malaysian Borneo.
Every guest will not only become an active participant rather than an observer, but also
leave with a deeper understanding of Borneo’s place in history and of its people, especially
during a time when ordinary soldiers and villagers became extraordinary heroes.
On behalf of the Sandakan Spirit team, I look forward to hosting you in 2015.
Founder + Managing Director