Asking advice for cat quest in Borneo 2019

Hi guys,

I suppose now is as good a time as any to ask for advice about something I have been dreaming about for quite a while now. If everything goes well I will have my masters degree in July 2019. I have never studied abroad or anything like that, because I would rather spend thousands of euros on a couple of months hardcore mammaling (and birding) then on studying.

For my trips abroad I have set for myself the goal that I want to see and photograph every species of cat or the Felidae familiy of the world. Since then I’ve looked at the cats that would need most of the time and the place that would have most of the really hard cats. I think Borneo would be the place to be for me. It has three hard to see cat species (marbled and flat-headed cat and clouded leopard), plus one really really hard, which is of course the bay cat. On top of that it has many other mammals and birds that I really would like to see.

I really would like your advice on this plan. My time schedule would be about the beginning of september, till just before Christmas (when I plan to be at home). I am aware that Borneo can be really expensive and I have saved some and am still saving for more. 10.000 would be my absolute max including flights, preferably cheaper of course. I think it could be a mix of guided tours and going out on my own.

That means I am looking for lodges in the right places that are affordable. I saw that Deramakot is a really good place for clouded leopard and marbled cat and Kinabatang river for flat-headed. Bay cat will probably take most of my time (if I see it at all), and appears to be nowhere at all.

Do you guys think this plan could be done within my price range and are there indeed good possibilities to go out there on your own?  Maybe I should just contact AA Borneo and see what they can come up with. I have never been to Borneo so any advice is welcome.





  1. Martin Royle 4 years ago

    Hello Lennart,

    I have replied to you direct with an email, as i am pretty sure i have your email address from a Siberian tiger and Amur leopard enquiry you made earlier this year.

    I have developed a specialist cat watching itinerary that includes heading to what is most likely the best place to try for the bay cat. It will target all 5 cat species in Borneo. It is already full for 2018 and i have some interested people already for 2019. So please let me know if you are interested in what i have sent via email, or if you do not receive the email.

    Kind regards

    • tomeslice 4 years ago

      I was just going to comment and mention Royle’s Bornean Cat trip. I wonder if eventually there could be a post about Bay Cat by Jon Hall similar to this post:

      Cheers, and good luck!

  2. Steve Morgan 4 years ago

    As far as I know no-one has seen every cat species in the wild, let alone photographed them! You’re setting yourself a monumental task that will require many, many years and a huge investment of money. But don’t let me put you off! Borneo is a great place to start and you have a very good chance of seeing and photographing Flat-headed Cat (on the Kinabatangan), Marbled Cat and Clouded Leopard (at Deramakot) and Leopard Cat (Tabin). Bay Cat has been seen by very few people and, unless you’re extremely lucky, will require a stupendous effort all by itself. Your best chance of photographing most difficult cat species is by using camera traps but even that will require a lot of time and effort. Nevertheless, I wish you well!

  3. Sjoerd van berge henegouwen 4 years ago

    I think you could save some money by travelling in a small group (I am in for July/August 2019!) and direct contact to local guides and local accomodation. The puzzle to that can be shared within the group members. Untill summer 2019 you still have some time. I would love to join a Whatsapp group of mammal/cat lovers to solve this Borneo puzzle to see these cat species in two to three weeks without paying to much money to middle men.

    Keep me posted

    Sjoerd van Berge Henegouwen

  4. Author
    Lennartv 4 years ago

    Thanks for the responses guys! I e-mailed with Mark yesterday. The thing is that I probably would like to do a combination of things. The most important thing for me is that I will be able to do some good mammaling for about 3.5 months while it still being affordable. So I do not necessarily need to see everything within the first two weeks, I would be more than happy to go out on my own in Deramakot (for example), and spend three weeks there before I see a clouded leopard. That gives me some time to get some other great mammals and birds and I have found in general that spending a lot of time in one place, usually also gives you the really special sightings that you have to be very lucky for if you are only spending a couple of days. Perhaps I could do a combination and join with Marks group for bay cat and do the (slightly more) easily targets on my own. Luckily I still got some time to figure it all out 🙂

    Any tips for lodges or camps from where you can easily go out in the forest on your own are of course still welcome!

  5. Antee 4 years ago

    Is really Kinabatangan the place for Flat headed cat these days?

    I got the impression that the sightings has getting fewer and fewer during the years. The water level is almost never good enough and the guiding can be a hit or miss.
    I have been there myself two times without even being close to see one.

    What about Maludam river in Sarawak??
    According to camera traps survey there is a steady population of Flat headed cats here. The Borneo mammal guidebook says that this is the only place beside Kinabatangan, where Flat headed cats can be seen frequently.

    Still can´t see anyone who have try there luck here.

    Thinking of going there a few days and make a try next time. If I can find a reliable guide for it. Which is not very easy in this part.
    Maybe some good operator in Kuching to contact.

    Just a thought.

  6. jo dale 4 years ago

    I would be interested for 2019 since I seem to have been one of the few people on here who missed clouded leopard in Deramakot! 🙂

  7. Manul 4 years ago

    Hi Lennart

    You seem to have a very great time ahead of you!

    Since we (my wife and me) have a similar live-aim like you (We want to observe every species of cat or the Felidae family of the world- and if we have time photograph it) we propose to stay in contact and share important information about the aim. You can write us on

    @Martin Royle: We would be also very interested in your: cat watching itinerary that includes heading to what is most likely the best place to try for the bay cat. We are also up to share our information, since we have researched a lot of where to find what cat species and the best places for seeing it – also we have been looking since 3 years so far.

    Best wishes,
    Manuel Baumgartner

  8. Author
    Lennartv 4 years ago

    Hello Manuel, thanks for replying! And you too Jo (I seem to have forgotten to reply to your comment a couple of months ago).

    A few weeks ago I received a basic plan of what my stay might look like from Mike Gordon. The plan is to start with Sukau for as long as it takes to see flat headed cat, then move on to Deramakot for a month or so, perhaps also a stay in Danum after that and the remainder of the time I could assist a friend of theirs with cameratrapping and also try for bay cat. The idea for me is to try to join up with other groups as much as possible to keep the costs low (and also to meet a lot of great new people :)). So that would probably apply to the Sukau, Deramakot and perhaps Danum.

    It wil also mean that my schedule will depend on my succes in sightings. It is still a very basic plan so things will more clarified in time, but for now I would recommend to let your trip not depend too much on my schedule as that might change. My plan is to stay in Borneo from the beginning of august till half november. Flat-headed cat will not take more than a week I think, so that would mean that I will be in Deramakot for most of august and a part of september.

    I’ll send you an e-mail so we can keep in contact!

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