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Borneo Jungle Bushcraft Expedition

Join us as we venture deep into the emerald interior of Borneo, to meet the last of the island’s  hunter-gathers – the Penan – the most elusive of the indigenous Dayak people of Borneo and, the true masters of jungle survival skills. Today, many of Borneo’s indigenous groups are inextricably entwined with 21st century technology, yet there remains some who have retained much of their ancestral cultural bushcraft skills, jungle-lore and traditional ways. Woodsmoke are privileged to have been given a special invite to support a remote Penan community (in the Upper Baram river basin of the Sarawak Highlands) who have instigated an initiative – sharing their traditional jungle-craft and knowledge, whilst helping to preserve their ancestral heritage and jungle-lore for future generations.borneo_thumb
“In the language of Borneo’s Penan tribe, there are forty words for sago palm, and no words for goodbye, or thank you – or thief. The Penan are a nomadic people who view the entire rainforest as their home. They are an “eco-village” on the move, one with a history many thousands of years old. If we all knew and loved the natural world with the intimacy of the Penan, we would not be destroying it wilfully.”– The Penan: Community in the Rainforest by Wade Davis (Ethnobotanist) 1991
In line with the ethos of all Woodsmoke expeditions, this two-week expedition allows us to go beyond the normal week-long jungle survival training package, to recover from jet-lag and really immerse ourselves in the skills of jungle travel and expedition life.  The Woodsmoke team will teach you the practical routines and jungle bushcraft to feel comfortable and at ease in this ‘extreme’ environment and the Penan elders will impart a myriad of techniques used to sustain life, from hunting with blowpipes to casting nets for fish. So, be prepared to feel overwhelmed as you first explore the tropical rainforest with your Penan guides.
This expedition is not simply to sample the culture or environment as a passing tourist, but to become absorbed by the spirit of the place itself, as you follow some of the last hunter-gather peoples, in what remains of this ancient and once far mightier forest.
Home to the clouded leopard, sun bear, orang-utan, gibbon, hornbill and many species of squirrels, langurs and civets – we will be travelling along the river beds, traversing cloudy mountain ridges and passing secret natural salt licks – it promises to be a trackers paradise. By learning from the Penan, you will be helping to directly support their community and helping to prove that what remains of this rainforest paradise should be preserved for the people and not cleared for palm oil plantations.
You will learn:

  • Pre-Expedition advice (inc. equipment & clothing lists)
  •     Daily protocols – minimum impact camping, wet & dry routines, etc.
  •     Safe use of Parang
  •     Setting up tarp & hammock
  •     Jungle base-camp set up – rope throwing, tensioning systems & group tarps
  •     Latrines and jungle sanitation
  •     Water procurement and purification
  •     Jungle fires – tinder, fuel selection, ignition and lays
  •     Altar fires & Jungle cooking
  •     Stilted jungle shelters & Palm frond weaving
  •     Fishing with hand-lines and nets
  •     Making a Penan Dart Quiver
  •     Wild Boar and Bearded Pig Traps
  •     Small Mammal snares
  •     Blowpipe hunting
  •     Natural Cordage and glues
  •     Identify tropical wild foods
  •     Identify Toxic Plants and Trees
  •     Pioneering skills- River crossing, etc
  •     Environmental Hazards – beasties, bites, bugs & bowls
  •     Climatic hazards – understanding dehydration, heat stroke, immersion foot, etc
  •     Challenging 3-day trek
  •     Emergency Signalling and evacuation procedures

Also included in the price:

All transfers – 4×4’s,Dug-out canoes & Light-aircraft
All food provided (inc. lodge meals)
Accommodation before/after the jungle phase, to acclimatise/ recover


“It seems a little strange that only a couple of weeks a go we were hanging out in beautiful Rain Forest together. I had an absolutely bloomin’ amazing time! I really couldn’t have wished for more. My brain is only now starting to process it all.My highlights – giggling with the Penan women whilst learning how to process the Rattan and turn it into the first of all the leg bracelets… and then the basket; the sago stamping; the bearded pig arriving back to camp and being butchered and cooked in a super hero Penan way, and my top highlight was the Penan ‘sticks and leaves on trail communication methods… totally blew me away.

It was all magic! The dinky plane, the river journeys, visiting two very different villages, playing with the Penan kids, flicking leech boggies, the bark trees, the fruit, Dennis’ pineapple garden, the super Dennis moment in the canoes on the way to Jon’s village and, of course, the brilliant dancing by Steve and John on that last night…priceless. My low-lights. Seeing first hand the destruction of the rain forest as we passed over and through on route to our eventual destination in the pristine – the logging lorries- so many of them, The plan for a dam that would flood all the places we visited and the feeling helpless to stop it.

On the other hand, it was a joy to see the younger Penan wanting to re-learn some of the traditional skills. I wish I could come on every Borneo trip to see how the project goes. That trip has been planned in my head since I was 7 years old. And it didn’t disappoint! So that’s another dream fulfilled.” – Mell Harrison, 2012

 Read a detailed day-by-day itinerary here. Comprehensive info pack to download.


2018 DATE: 17th – 31st  March – Fully Booked
(dates are listed as in-country)
PRICE: £1,695 per person
(does not include international flight – approx. £540 or personal travel insurance) Duration: 15 Days in country
(Note: please do not book your flight until you have confirmed your place on the course with us first.)