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Faith in Families - Borneo Sandakan Death March and Mount Trusmadi Challenge

September 06, 2024 - September 15, 2024

An epic challenge in equatorial Borneo, trekking the route taken by Australian and British POWs which has become known as the Death March, and finishing with a summit of Mount Trusmadi.



Accommodation and Meals

Hotel, Guesthouse, Village Homestay, Lodge


10 days

Meeting Point

Kota Kinabalu

Annual Leave

6 days

Group Size

Up to 14


March to October

Walking Distance

Approximately 70km

This is a unique expedition. We are accompanied by Tham Yau Kong, a highly respected jungle trekker who identified the route and will share the history of the marches as we go, giving us a unique insight. Trusmadi at the end is a tough old mountain, but a fitting end to this challenge.
In the Footsteps of the Brave

Kate is an Army Officer and despite all that entails, works for Tribal Tracks in her spare time. She is a wonderful leader and one of our most popular.

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Travelling with Tribal Tracks is a wonderful experience.  They take care of everything and you don't have to worry about anything!

Gordon G

I cannot praise Tribal Tracks highly enough.  I had a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to travel with them again.

Genevieve S

If you want to be challenged, but feel incredibly safe and fully supported, Tribal Tracks is the company for you. I have been on 3 trips with them now, and I cannot wait for my 4th adventure.

George W

Trip Highlights

Trek a historic route, learning from an expert about the brave, heroic and ultimately tragic Australian and British Prisoners of War, captured by the Japanese in World War II.

Pay homage to them, and to all who serve today, by digging deep to summit Mount Trusmadi, Borneo's second highest mountain, and arguably a tougher summit than Mount Kinabalu.

Learn about the wonderful jungle flora and fauna as you trek.

Understand local culture and sample delicious food while staying in traditional guesthouses and a Borneo longhouse.

All the info you need

Trip Details

Trip Details

At a Glance

Join the Faith in Families team on this truly unique adventure. This very special trek has two distinct phases. In the first part, we follow the echoes of the past, trekking in the footsteps of the brave, heroic and ultimately tragic Australian and British Prisoners of War, captured by the Japanese in World War II. We then pay homage to them, and to all who serve today, by digging deep to summit Mount Trusmadi.  

**The price is £1795 based on a team of 10 people, there will be an additional £75 per person for a smaller group of 7 - 9 people, we will run the trip on a minimum of 7 people . Please note flights are not included in the price and these will need to be booked individually. We will provide details of recommended flights to Kota Kinabalu. You will need to arrive into Kota Kinabalu by mid afternoon on 7 September 2024. Flights are from £900 per person using Malaysian or Singapore Airlines.**

Phase 1 - The Death March Trek

Sandakan was a POW camp, located on Sabah’s north-east coast. Following the fall of Singapore, the Japanese transferred the 2700 strong Allied Contingent to this camp. Australian and British POWs were incarcerated there, tasked with constructing a military airfield using not much more than their bare hands. Initially, conditions were not too bad, but after the discovery of a radio, conditions were drastically tightened. Starved, and living in filthy conditions, in January 1945, the Japanese decided to move 455 of the fittest prisoners to Jessleton (now Kota Kinabalu) where they would be put to use as labourers. Forcing them to march through remote, inhospitable jungle terrain, the first group was halted at Ranau due to Allied air activity on the coast. A second enforced march took place at the end of May, with the third following on in mid-June. There was no medical assistance and little food. Anyone who could not keep up was ‘disposed of’. Despite this, about half the prisoners completed the march, only to die at Ranau from illness, malnutrition and ill-treatment by their captors. Two Australians managed to escape in the early stages of the second march with the help of villagers, and four more successfully escaped from Ranau into the jungle, where they were cared for by local people.

Despite this, the prisoners never gave up. Their heroism, their determination and their indomitable spirit are testimony to the strength of the human spirit and an inspiration to all. Of the 2434 prisoners incarcerated at Sandakan, 1787 were Australian. The remaining 641 were British. The six Australians who escaped were the sole survivors.

The track cut for the death marches soon became completely overgrown and for sixty years defied all efforts to locate it. However, in August 2005, Australian investigative writer and historian, Lynette Silver, author of the internationally acclaimed book Sandakan – A Conspiracy of Silence, and Tham Yau Kong, highly respected, expert jungle trekker, combined their considerable talents to identify the path taken by the prisoners of war.

On this trek, we will have the honour of being accompanied by Tham Yau Kong who will share the history of the marches as we go, giving us a unique insight. We cannot trek the full route, but our expert guides have selected the most appropriate sections for us, where they bring the history of the march to life. The trek is through tough jungle terrain, and involves some wading through shallow rivers, but gives us a inkling of what the POWs went through so many years before.

Phase 2 - Mount Trusmadi

Standing at 2642m, Mount Trusmadi is the second highest mountain in Malaysia and is located in the Trusmadi Forest reserve. The terrain is challenging and some argue a tougher climb than Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain, but is a much more interesting mountain. house where the team will stay overnight. This is a physically demanding and steep summit trek, with the steeper sections having ladders and ropes.

Trip Details


Trip Details

Dates & Prices

From To Nights Price Deposit Places Enquiry
Sep 06, 2024 Sep 15, 2024 9 £1795 £400 Places Available

Trip Details

General Notes

This is what you will need to buy/source yourself.

  • International flights from the UK (but we can arrange these for you at extra cost, which will be ATOL protected);
  • Personal travel insurance which should be valid and cover all activities in the itinerary;
  • UK international departure tax;
  • Immunisation costs;
  • Personal equipment and clothing on the kit list;
  • Tipping for local guides and drivers;
  • Single supplement (for sole occupancy of accommodation where available);
  • Expenses incurred due to unforeseen circumstances such as flight cancellation and delays;
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Visas (where applicable)

It is important that you read the itinerary carefully, and take account of the rating we have given it.  

Although our challenges are not technical, they do require a good degree of physical fitness. The conditions will require stamina and strength, which you should recognise and train for. This will be a much better experience if you are fit and prepared. You should feel comfortable walking 6-8 hours per day.

In setting the maximum size of our groups, we take a number of factors into account.

Altitude, degree of difficulty, the terrain, the climate and time of year, all determine the maximum group size.  Sometimes it will be 20, sometimes it will be 8-14, but safety is always our priority.

The minimum number to participate is 2. You will be accompanied by a Tribal Tracks UK Leader, Mountain Leader qualified, as well as supported by our local, in-country guides.

It is a requirement of Tribal Tracks booking terms and conditions that each supporter must hold their own travel insurance which covers the trip and the activities they are doing.

We advise you to put insurance in place as soon as possible. Your insurance must be valid and in date, covering the entire period that you are travelling for, including the return journey home.  It should cover medical and personal accident risks, and should include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services, where appropriate. We are happy to help you if you have any queries about this or have any difficulties. 

Tribal Tracks has 100% Financial Protection and has a trust account with the Protected Trust Service, member number 5566.

This means that all client monies paid to Tribal Tracks are held in our dedicated trust account, which is supervised by an independent trustee. This means that in the very unlikely event that Tribal Tracks ceases to trade, your money is safe. For more information, please visit this link. Any flights booked for you by Tribal Tracks will be ATOL protected under our own ATOL certificate.

Tribal Tracks considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have thorough safety systems in place.

In the event of an injury, we have an evacuation plan in place for all elements of the trek route. We do ask that you look after yourself during the trek in the following way, as this will help avoid unnecessary problems:

  1. Trekking is a major challenge so make sure that you are well hydrated throughout.  You will be provided with plenty of water so please ensure that you fill up your water bottles with at least 2 litres at breakfast and again after lunch.
  2. Don't let a hot spot become a blister! The moment you feel any rubbing, stop and apply some zinc tape.  This will ensure that the tape gets rubbed, not your foot.  If you don't do this, you will get a blister.  While blister plasters are good, it is better not to have a blister in the first place.  Please also tell the Tribal Tracks leader as they are very good with feet and can help you!
  3. Hygiene. It is very important to wash your hands before eating and after going to the bathroom.  If you can't wash your hands, apply lots of anti-bacterial gel.  The 'gold standard' is hand washing, followed by gel.
  4. Communication.  If you are not feeling well, or have any sort of issue, please tell the Tribal Tracks leader.  They are there to help and are very discreet.

We know that the unexpected can happen.

While you are away, things can happen at home and people may need to get in contact with you.  This can be tricky when you are in remote areas.  So, shortly before departure, we provide you with an Emergency Procedure document to distribute to your nearest and dearest.  This sets out how to contact Tribal Tracks and the steps Tribal Tracks will then take to get in contact with you.

It is really important that you are well prepared for your physical challenge and that you are confident that you will be able to fully participate.

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in the trek, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to step out of the trek. Although this is a very rare occurrence, by booking this trip you agree to section 11 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances, we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

At Tribal Tracks, Responsible Travel is enormously important to us, and our commitment to responsible travel is evidenced in every itinerary that we prepare.

Core to our business is the belief that holidays can and should be enjoyable to the traveller but should be conducted in a socially, environmentally and economically responsible manner which brings benefit to local communities. This is implemented through a variety of measures which can be found in our Responsible Travel policy - We encourage you to read this and to play your own part in travelling responsibly.

Trip Details

Optional Extras

Borneo is a wonderful place to explore and there are amazing animal sanctuaries where you can view some of the wildlife unique to this huge island.  If you want to explore further, please contact us for a bespoke extension package.

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Call Charlie or Gaynor

01242 895272