Veterinary Study Tour to Borneo and the Malay Peninsula

24 May - 5 Jun 2022
  • Medical & Professional Tours

About the tour

Travel with Campbell Costello through Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo to Kuala Lumpur and up the Malay Peninsula. Borneo is known as being the home of the orangutan, but it also contains a huge range of animal, marine and bird life. In both Sabah and Sarawak there are a wide range of visits examining wildlife conservation as well as a visit to a cattle farm on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu.

In Kuala Lumpur meet with local vets and visit the beautiful historic city of Malacca. In Ipoh visit the horse hospital and in Penang visit the Turf Club to meet with equine vets. Explore George Town, which grew wealthy on the Indochina trade and the export of tin and rubber, with Malay, Chinese, Indian and British influences and connections. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage city due to its well-preserved colonial architecture. It is also a dynamic, creative city known for its delicious cuisine and street art.

Throughout the tour enjoy the wonderful local cuisine of Malaysia.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Dr Campbell Costello BVSc

Dr Campbell Costello BVSc

Campbell Costello, or “Cozzy” as he is more usually known, was born and raised on his family’s isolated beef cattle stations in the outback of North Queensland, Australia. Growing up on a few hundred thousand acres of bush with plenty of animals and not many people made choosing a career in veterinary science an easy one, especially if it involved cattle, horses and the frontier. Campbell graduated from James Cook University’s inaugural year of undergraduate Veterinary Science in 2010, and traded the tropical North of Australia for the cold Southern States of Australia for a few years of mixed-animal practice, with a predominant focus on large animals.

In 2012, Campbell decided to ride one thousand kilometers across Mongolia in the world’s longest horse race, the “Mongol Derby”. Cozzy was not only the year’s youngest rider but was just one of 16 out of 34 that finished the race. Cozzy returned to mixed practice in Australia but the banality of life post-derby was too much, so he packed his bags and trekked across the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan in 2013 before relocated to the Highveldt of South Africa as a Large African Game & Wildlife veterinarian. Cozzy returned to Australia to work as a veterinary contractor in the livestock sector that dealt with several overseas governments that were importing breeding animals to establish or improve their pre-existing livestock ventures. This took Cozy to coutnries such as Russia, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Kuwait, Oman, Israel, the UAE, and Sri Lanka to name a few. Cozy has also returned to Mongolia annually several times as one of the senior veterinarians and crew for the “Mongol Derby” race, and several weeks prior to select thousands of Mongolian horses for the event. During these deployments, Campbell ventured to Northern Mongolia twice to spend time with the Nomadic Tsaatan Reindeer herders in the Khövsgöl province on the Russian border. Campbell also started working annually as an Airborne Veterinarian for the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska. In 2016 Campbell was stationed in South-Eastern Kazakhstan as the head veterinarian and farm manager of a Angus Beef Cattle farm and help establish one of the country’s first ever cattle ventures since the demise of the Soviet Union. During that time, Campbell was also one of the only English speaking veterinarians to attend the “World Nomad Games” in Kyrgyzstan and offer veterinary assistance to the local animals and training to local veterinarians and para-veterinarians. During March of 2019 Campbell was very fortunate to be the mounted veterinarian for the “Gaucho Derby” recce mission, which involved riding across the Argentine area of Patagonia for several days, monitoring the local Criollo horses’ physiological parameters as a response to the terrain and conditions, and mapping a basic route for the inaugural “Gaucho Derby” race in 2020.

Campbell was based as a large animal veterinarian in the Kimberley region of Australia for eighteen months but left at the beginning of 2019 after contracting leptospirosis. Campbell has returned to his home state of Queensland and is currently locuming around Australia and the world.

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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Kuching, Sarawak (Tues, 24 May) D
    Fly into Kuching, the relaxed capital of Sarawak on the banks of the Sarawak River, and transfer to the lovely riverfront Waterfront Hotel.
  • Day 2: Kuching (Wed, 25 May) B L D
    Visit the Matang Wildlife Centre to learn about their rescue programme for orangutans and other wildlife and hear a talk by Leo Biddle, the centre’s coordinator. Visit a local veterinary practice, run by a vet who has worked with the Semenggoh Orangutan Centre. Discover the charms of Kuching on a city tour and visit the excellent small ethnographic museum to learn about the history of the peoples of north Borneo and of Sarawak. Visit Fort Margherita and hear about the ‘White Rajahs’ of Borneo.
  • Day 3: Kuching (Thurs, 26 May) B L D
    Drive to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to view semi-wild orangutans in a natural setting. This rehabilitation centre releases previously captive orangutans into the wild. Continue to Anah Rais, a longhouse in Bidayuh village, set beside a beautiful stream, and learn about the culture of the Land Dayaks. Take a short walk with a specialist guide to learn about traditional medicinal plants and village life. Return to Kuching.
  • Day 4: Kuching / Kota Kinabalu (Fri, 27 May) B L D
    Fly to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and make your way to the lovely town of Kundasang, which lies along the bank of Kundasang Valley at the base of Mount Kinabalu. It is known for its fresh food market and the Desa Dairy Farm, which is a local attraction. Visit the Desa Dairy Farm and learn about livestock care in this environment. Check into the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu. Hear a talk on elephant-human conflict in the palm plantations by Dr. Cheryl Cheah, WWF Malaysia.
  • Day 5: Kota Kinabalu / Kinabatangan Lodge (Sat, 28 May) B L D
    Fly to Sandakan and visit the Sepilok Orangutan Centre. This excellent centre opened in 1964 as the first official orangutan rehabilitation project for orphaned baby orangutans rescued from logging sites, plantations, illegal hunting or as domestic pets. Continue to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, established as a non-profit organisation in Sabah in 2008 with the aim of rescuing captive sun bears and rehabilitating them into the wild. Transfer by boat to the Kinabatangan River Lodge and take a boat cruise along the waterways to spot the many birds and wild animals in this habitat.
  • Day 6: Kinabatangan Lodge (Sun, 29 May) B L D
    Take a river cruise along the oxbow lakes and river and spend the day at leisure. Take another cruise later in the afternoon and in the evening to spot proboscis monkeys, elephants, orangutan and other wildlife active at this time.
  • Day 7: Sandakan / Kuala Lumpur (Mon, 30 May) B L
    Return to Sandakan. Fly to Kuala Lumpur. Check into the stylish 5-star EQ Kuala Lumpur.
  • Day 8: Kuala Lumpur (Tues, 31 May) B L
    Full day visit to the fascinating colonial city of Malacca. Explore this historic city, a trading entrepot whose heritage is reflected in its well-preserved Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture. Take a walking tour to St. Paul’s Hill for a panoramic view of Malacca, the straits and the old town. See the Portuguese Fort de Santiago, the ruins of St. Paul’s Church and Dutch Square. Walk down Harmony Street to ‘Antique Row’. Traditional Peranakan lunch, a blend of Chinese, Malay and Portuguese flavours, followed by a boat ride on the Malacca River.
  • Day 9: Kuala Lumpur / Ipoh (Wed, 1 Jun) B L
    Drive to the small city of Ipoh, which grew wealthy on the exports of tin in the 19th century, and check into Weil Hotel. Ipoh is now a blend of grand colonial architecture and funky street art. At leisure to explore – wander through Concubine Lane, one of the best places to admire the street art, and sample food at the many mouth-watering street food stalls and restaurants.
  • Day 10: Ipoh / Penang (Thurs, 2 Jun) B D
    Visit the PRTC Equine Hospital at Perak Turf Club, the only full-fledged equine hospital in Malaysia with an operation theatre. Besides offering official veterinary services under the Malayan Racing Association (MRA), the hospital also offers clinical veterinary services. 36 horses are examined on an average day and during on-course race meetings the hospital covers the care of about 240 horses from the other turf clubs, as well as official oncourse racing duties. Drive to Penang, stopping at the tortoise sanctuary within Sam Poh Tong Temple - the oldest and biggest cave temple in Malaysia. Check into elegant colonial Areca Hotel.
  • Day 11: Penang (Fri, 3 Jun) B L
    Explore colourful George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage city due to well-preserved colonial architecture dating from 1789. Take in Fort Cornwallis, the site of the original British settlement, and the first Anglican church in east Asia. Afternoon at leisure.
  • Day 12: Penang (Sat, 4 Jun) B D
    Visit the the Penang Turf Club, Penang’s major horse racing course, established in 1864, and meet with their equine vets. Visit an animal hospital. Farewell dinner at Suffolk House.
  • Day 13: Penang (Sun, 5 Jun) B
    Depart Penang or take one of the extensions to Langkawi or Banjaran Hotsprings.

Tour cost

US $3,752 pp sharing (excluding international flights and transfers)