Wapiti Travel

Kinabatangan River Cruise: A Must-do in Borneo (2024 guide)

By: Author Kris

Posted on Last updated: January 23, 2024

The Kinabatangan River is an area with tropical lowland rainforest vegetation and unique ecosystems.  It’s a popular place to spot wildlife.

Do you have plans to visit this lush green region during your Borneo trip? A Kinabatangan river cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In this article, we share the best time to visit the Kinabatangan river, how to get there, some excellent all-inclusive Kinabatangan river lodges, and what it is like to spend a day in the jungle.

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In a Hurry? Here you will find the most important information about making a Kinabatangan River Cruise

  • The Kinabatangan River in Borneo can be visited almost all year round.
  • The most popular way to get here is to fly to Sandakan. That’s also how we got here.  Most Kinabatangan river lodges include transportation to and from Sandakan airport in their bookings.
  • The price of your Kinabatangan river cruise package depends on many elements. We advise taking an all-inclusive package.  You will have nothing to worry about because your tours and your meals will be included. As you are in the jungle there are no other restaurants around.
  • We stayed in the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Lodge and loved our stay.

Table of Contents

borneo river safari

Best time to visit the Kinabatangan River

The Kinabatangan River in Borneo can be visited almost all year round. March to early September are the driest months.

This is a great time to see wildlife near the Kinabatangan river.

From April to October is a good period for bird lovers as it is the flowering and birding season.

We went in July and we had nice weather with blue skies and we saw a lot of wildlife including orangutans and pygmy elephants.

The wettest months are November to March. This season has its advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantage is that you can enter deeper into the river channels and you will have more chances of spotting wildlife.

The disadvantage is that it will rain a lot and sometimes the river and channels are flooded. Especially during the monsoon season in December and January.

We recommend you to avoid the monsoon season.

borneo river safari

How to get to the Kinabatangan River in Borneo?

The most popular way to get here is to fly to Sandakan.  That’s also how we got here.  Most Kinabatangan river lodges include transportation to and from Sandakan airport in their bookings.

If you are not sure if it’s included, you should check this with your lodge.

The journey involved a long drive in a minibus and then just a few more minutes over the Kinabatangan River.

This will be the case for most Kinabatangan river accommodations as most of them are located close to the pier at the main road.

borneo river safari

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodges

The price of your Kinabatangan river cruise package  depends on many elements.  The level of comfort of the accommodation will make a difference but there will also be differences in what’s included in your package.

Some Kinabatangan river lodges offer all-inclusive packages (typically including all meals and 2 daily Kinabatangan River Cruises) but some only include your accommodation.

We advise taking  an all-inclusive package.   You will have nothing to worry about because your tours and your meals will be included. As you are in the jungle there are no other restaurants around.

If you are just like us a big nature fan,  opt for a 4 days/3 nights package  so you can enjoy 3 full days in the Malaysian wilderness. You will have more chances to see the orangutans and pygmy elephants. We saw different animals on each river cruise.

There’re many Kinabatangan river tours and accommodations. Remember that you are in the jungle and that these river accommodations may not offer all the amenities that you are used to.

Here we share 3 comfortable Kinabatangan accommodations with air conditioning that offers all-inclusive packages.

Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort

borneo river safari

We stayed in the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort, one of the more comfortable Kinabatangan riverside lodges. It’s the only lodge in Kinabatangan rated 2 stars. 

The manager took really good care of us and we were treated with delicious meals after every river safari.  

We comfortably enjoyed the pleasures of the jungle :-).

Check prices and availability here:

Booking.com

Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

borneo river safari

The Nature Lodge Kinabatangan offers basic clean rooms with air conditioning.  

Incredibly friendly staff.

The tours are good and the group sizes are considerably smaller than other tours.

Kinabatangan Wildlife Lofe

borneo river safari

The Kinabatangan Wildlife Lodge offers spacious rooms with air conditioning.  

They offer a reasonable selection of well-prepared food, Very friendly and helpful staff.

The river safaris are excellent and the guides are good at spotting wildlife.

If you aren’t convinced of these hotels, you will find a lot of other hotels along the Kinabatangan river on booking.com: Booking.com

Kinabatangan River Safari - Elephant Spotting

Jungle days with Kinabatangan river safaris

A typical day in the jungle takes an early start mostly around 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning.

A small snack and some coffee will be waiting to help you wake up before you head to the boats to do a Kinabatangan cruise at sunrise.

2 hours later you will get back to your lodge where you will enjoy breakfast.

After breakfast, you have time to read that good book that you wanted to read for so long.  You could take a nap or if you’re like me you could unwind by just listening to the sounds of nature.

You will be amazed at how quickly it is time for lunch…

Most packages will include all meals and morning- and evening river safaris

After lunch, you have time until 4 PM to do more of the same. At 4 PM it is time for another Kinabatangan river cruise.  Your sunset cruise typically lasts 2 hours and returns to the lodge after dark.

Dinner will be waiting for you when you get back to the lodge.

Most Kinabatangan river accommodations offer all-inclusive packages with all meals (no drinks) and morning and evening cruises included.

You can choose to add some extra excursions to your Borneo river safari packages like a night walk, a night cruise or an excursion to a nearby village.

The forest is alive day and night and a night excursion is particularly interesting if you want to see the nocturnal animals. (think, among other things, of big hairy spiders)

You can also approach birds more easily to take some really good close-up pictures.

We were hoping to see the Pygmy elephants but when we inquired as to their location upon arrival our hopes were quickly scuttled.  The main group of elephants had moved to a location that was too far away, out of reach for our boat safaris.

We had set our hopes for elephants but the orangutans, birds, and snakes we saw on the first day generously made up for failing to see any elephants.

If you love nature this is definitely a place you should go to.

Things only got better from there. You can imagine how excited we were when we encountered some elephants during our evening cruise on the second day.

We became even luckier on the third day when we got to see some elephants swimming. At the end of our 3 days we had spotted orangutans, snakes many proboscis and macaques and lots of birds (kingfishers, raptors, eagles, owls, …)

Some of the lodges include optional tours upon arrival and departure.

We opted to include these tours when we booked our package at the Borneo Nature Lodge and visited the Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation center on our way to the lodge and the Gomatong cave upon departure.

Very often a Borneo orangutan tour is included, a tour where you visit an orangutan rehabilitation center, but other lodges may offer different Kinabatangan river tours.

Semenggoh orangutan rehabilitation centre, Malaysia

The Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation center

Since earlier on we visited  the Semenggoh rehabilitation center  we can make a good comparison of both and I think Sepilok beats Semenggoh. 

Not that we didn’t like Semenggoh, as animal lovers I would visit each center if I could, but if you have to choose between the two my first choice would be Sepilok. 

They have a professional and very informational visitor center where you learn a lot about these interesting animals. 

The presentation and the video in the center make your visit somewhat more worthwhile.

The 3 best activities to do in Kuching .

If you only have time for one Borneo orangutan tour our advice would be to visit the  Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation center.

borneo river safari

The creepy Gomatong caves on our way back

On our last day, we got to sleep late, actually just a normal hour but if you have to get up at 5 for the morning cruise it’s a treat to sleep until 7 for once.

After breakfast, we headed to the Gomatong cave .

One part of the cave is open to the public and here you can witness the conditions in which twice yearly the edible bird’s nests are harvested.  These swallow nests are a delicacy in China and they pay big money for it.

But not only swallows are living in the cave… A population of bats lives in the cave and their pile of guano has attracted millions of cockroaches and centipedes.

As soon as you stopped walking those little creatures started walking across your feet which means I haven’t taken any pictures and share some pictures taken by other braver visitors (credit in the picture’s caption).

I do respect the guards that live in the cave day and night to protect the bird’s nests

Gomatong cockroaches

I think I could say our visit was disgusting but interesting at the same time.  We witnessed an ecosystem here as we had never seen one before.

The Gomatong cave is situated in a wildlife protected area and as you make your way along the walkway towards the cave you should keep your eyes open for orangutans. We did see 2 of them.

Other people reported that they had also seen lemurs and colorful kingfishers.

Nature enthusiasts should definitely put a nature lodge stay along the Kinabatangan river on their bucket list. The river safari in Borneo is an unforgettable experience.

You adopt the pace of nature and in just a few days you will leave recharged with some great memories.

Staying in a comfortable lodge in the middle of the jungle has something magical.

We did it in Peru and we repeated it here in Kinabatangan and both times it was one of the best memories of our trip.

Don’t forget your binoculars!

A torch can come in handy to use during your night walk (usually torches are provided).  You might also need it as some hotels don’t have 24/7 electricity.

As soon as the sun sets the mosquitos come out.  Make sure to bring mosquito repellent to avoid becoming a mosquito buffet.

One day seems too short to visit this vast region but if that’s all you have you should have a look at this one-day Kinabatangan excursion .

Dive Into Malaysia

Dive Into Malaysia

Kinabatangan River: Everything You Need To Know

Considering visiting the Kinabatangan River? Great choice! This area is fantastic for wildlife spotting and is an easily accessible and good priced Sabah jungle experience.

The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia (and longest in Sabah). It’s 560 kilometres long and starts in Borneo’s interior before making its way to the sea. It’s a chocolate colour and surrounded by rainforest which is home to much wildlife.

Kinabatangan River Cruise

This is a great place to spot wildlife although for a sad reason. The forest that lines the river is getting smaller and smaller as palm oil plantations grow. This means that the wildlife is more concentrated making them easier to spot.

It’s easy to explore this area thanks to the lodges that line the river and can take you on cruises and treks to help you appreciate this area.

Of course, when you haven’t been here before, it can be confusing to work out what you need to do, and if it’s even worth your precious vacation time to take a Kinabatangan River trip in the first place.

Below, I walk you through it all with everything you need to know to make the decision to go including how to book your Kinabatangan River Borneo trip. I also share all my experiences from visiting here myself in this Kinabatangan River blog as well as a full video walk through of the experience of visiting the Kinabatangan River.

If you already know you want to go and simply want to book a tour to the Kinabatangan River, you can find my guide to the best Kinabatangan River day trip and longer trip options here.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions?  Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now!  It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

Why Visit The Kinabatangan River?

Kinabatangan River cruise

Exploring the Kinabatangan River and its banks is a fantastic choice for nature lovers and anyone wanting to experience the diverse wildlife of Sabah.

It is the only place in the region where visitors can observe ten different primates, including the iconic orangutan, Bornean gibbon, macaques, proboscis monkeys and tarsiers. The area is also home to other fascinating creatures, such as monitor lizards, crocodiles, wild boars and Borneo pygmy elephants, providing a remarkable experience for those interested in wildlife observation.

The Kinabatangan River is a haven for birdwatchers, with various Bornean hornbill species, pittas, kingfishers, and many other birds to spot.

Accessing the area is relatively easy as it is only a couple of hours’ drive from Sandakan or Sepilok to the lodges where river cruises along the Kinabatangan begin.

However, planning ahead is necessary as it is not possible to reach here via public transportation. Booking a tour in advance is the best and most feasible way to visit here.

Where Is Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Malaysia?

The Kinabatangan River is south of Sandakan. The lodges are located between the main AH150 highway pictured below and the coast.

Here is a Kinabatangan River map.

kinabatangan river

Kinabatangan River Wildlife

There are lots of Kinabatangan River animals that you have a chance to spot.

The main ones are:

  • Pygmy elephants
  • Bornean gibbon
  • Long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques
  • Proboscis monkeys
  • Silver-lead and maroon langurs
  • Monitor lizards

Crocodile at Kinabatangan River

Also, keep a look out for birds. You can see all varieties of Borneo’s hornbills, pittas, kingfishers, storm’s stalk, white-fronted falconet, oriental darter and more.

Of course, this isn’t a zoo and nothing is guaranteed. You would be unlucky not to spot at least a few of these animals though.

For the best chance of spotting wildlife, stay as long as you can and do as many cruises as you can especially at different times of the day.

Kinabatangan River Cruises

Time for a boat cruise! Jetty at Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort

The main Kinabatangan activity is taking river cruises. This is a must-do activity.

All Kinabatangan River cruise overnight packages include a cruise in the early morning and late afternoon. I recommend you do as many of these as you can. Night cruises are also often available, usually at an extra charge.

Early morning and late afternoon are considered the best times for wildlife spotting, but each time of day or night has a chance of spotting different animals. So I recommend you go on at least one cruise at each time option.

The early morning cruise is best for birds and orangutans, afternoon for proboscis monkeys and evening for crocodiles and nocturnal birds.

Kinabatangan River cruise

On my cruises, I saw a range of monkeys, birds and crocodiles. I especially loved the morning cruise. It was so peaceful and calm.

This is why I don’t recommend a day trip to Kinabatangan River if you can avoid it. Day trips only go on a late afternoon cruise. This is better than not visiting the Kinabatangan River at all though.

Cruises may not only cover the Kinabatangan River, but also its tributaries.

The cruises themselves are on small boats with a guide and driver. There are usually 10-16 people per cruise on small seats with full views of the surrounding area. Cruises last 1 – 2.5 hours.

Trekking At Kinabatangan River

In addition to cruises, you can also go trekking along the Borneo Kinabatangan River. Most lodges offer some time of trekking, with night treks being particularly popular to see insects, frogs, sleeping birds and nocturnal wildlife.

I did a night trek at the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort. This involved trekking through the mud (they supplied rubber boots) and looking out for creatures such as insects, frogs, sleeping birds and nocturnal animals.

If you do a multi-night package, there is usually trekking on the middle day during the daytime as well.

Sunrise at Kinabatangan River

How To Get To Kinabatangan River

As mentioned before, there isn’t public transport to the Kinabatangan River Malaysia lodges. However, package tours or day trip to Kinabatangan River will just about always include transfers from the Sepilok/Sandakan region.

This means it makes the most sense to get to the Sandakan area and then travel from Sandakan to Kinabatangan. You could also get a taxi here or hire a car and drive yourself.

If you are travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Kinabatangan River or from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabatangan River, you can first fly to Sandakan and then travel onwards as stated. Flights are usually great value ( check here ). There are also buses from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan here.

Because I wanted to travel on to Lahad Datu after I visited the Kinabatangan River, I arranged a taxi through my lodge. It was pricey though, so if you are looking to save money, you best option is to go back to Sandakan afterwards and travel onwards from there.

Kinabatangan River cruise crocodile

Kinabatangan River Accommodation

There are a few lodge choices along the Kinabatangan River. Here are some options.

Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort

borneo river safari

This is a beautiful resorted located right by the river with fabulous views. The whole resort is built from local wood on stilts and there are boardwalks between the villas and the main resort area. It helps the resort buildings fade into the surrounding rainforest.

It has a chill-out vibe and is a great place to hang out between activities with comfortable beds for night time.

There a range of room types. All are heavily constructed in wood and have decor hand-crafted by local tradesmen.

Dorm rooms are available for budget travellers with three bunk beds. There are also cottage and deluxe villas with twin beds, fans, desks and clothes racks. There is also a triple room with a queen and a single bed.

Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort Balcony in my deluxe room

I stayed in a deluxe villa here which was just amazing. It had a great balcony looking out over a lake area (pictured above).

All rooms have their own bathrooms, a balcony and air-conditioning.

There is a restaurant and seating area on-site with great views over the river. The meals and staff are great and I had a fantastic time at this resort.

Packages here include early morning and late afternoon cruises, evening night walks, meals and transfers to and from Sandakan.

Click here to see the latest package prices or see my full review here.

Bilit Adventure Lodge

borneo river safari

This fabulous riverside lodge offers similar packages to the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort above with morning and afternoon river cruises, transfers, jungle hikes and all meals.

For rooms, you can choose between air-conditioned rooms and cheaper rooms with fan only. All have private bathrooms with the air-conditioned rooms also offering hot showers and tea and coffee making facilities.

There is a restaurant on-site and great views,

Click here to see the latest prices. You can also find their three day/two night package tour here .

Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp 

To really get away from it all, consider the Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp. This is owned and operated by a local tribe with proceeds supporting local community projects.

It’s in a more remote location so you are more likely to have your river cruises free of other boats. They also only allow 12 guests maximum at any one time so you can definitely have a more intimate experience at this place.

Stays are by package tour only. They include all meals as well as morning, afternoon and night cruises giving you a great chance of spotting lots of different wildlife.

Click here to see their latest 2 day/1 night package prices or here for their 3 day/2 night package price.

How To Visit The Kinabatangan River

The best (and easiest) way to visit the Kinabatangan River is with a package tour purchased before visiting.

As mentioned above, this is the best way to get to the area and you’ll want a deal which includes river cruises and accommodation (if you’re starting overnight) anyway.

River lodges are also spread out so it’s not really a place to just show up and then try to find your accommodation.

Luckily for you, it is very easy to book beforehand.

Here are some more details or you can find our full write-up of travel package and day tour options here.

Kinabatangan River

You can day tour to Kinabatangan River but note that these will only include an afternoon boat ride.

Here are your options:

Overnight Trips

Staying by the Kinabatangan River is definitely the way to go if you have the budget and time. This will give you more opportunities to spot wildlife and it’s just a great place to chill and hang out.

How To Book Your Trip To The Kinabatangan River

Work out which lodge you want, how many nights and then you can simply click on the links in the tables above to book your trip to Kinabatangan River. They all include everything you need.

If you book elsewhere, it’s important to ensure that the twice-daily river cruises are included in the price. While night cruises, walks and other activities may require an additional fee, be sure to read the details carefully. After all, the river cruises are the main attraction.

Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort restaurant area

When To Visit The Kinabatangan River

You can visit year round, although note that the area can flood in the rainy season (October to March) which can stop tours if your lodge is affected. Heavy rain can also stop river cruises and trekking.

The upside is that there is more area to explore with more rain as there are more tributaries.

Wildlife spotting is usually best from March to September with bird spotting best April to October (when it’s flowering).

What To Take To The Borneo River Kinabatangan

I recommend you take the following to Kinabatangan River:

  • Any cash you need (there are no ATMs)
  • Poncho or rain jacket
  • Torch or headlamp for night walks
  • Hiking shoes
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Long shirt and pants
  • Long socks (or leech socks)

Kinabatangan River Cruise, Sandakan, Borneo

Kinabatangan River Video Walk Through

To get an even better idea of what you’ll do and what to expect at Kinabatangan River, watch our full video walk through below.

It shows you everything from the journey here to inside a resort to the animals we saw on the cruises.

Final Words

I absolutely loved visiting the Kinabatangan River, and I’m sure you will too. The wildlife spotting is superb and it’s hard to get an easier way to see wildlife in their natural habitat than from sitting in a boat.

The lodges can also be great. I particularly loved staying at the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort.

I hope you have enjoyed this full guide to Kinabatangan River. It’s a fabulous experience that should be on all itineraries to Sabah.

It can seem a little complicated when you first look into visiting here, but all you need to do is book a package tour and you’ll be all set to go.

You can find all the best Kinabatangan river cruise packages and tours here or all our guides to Sabah here .

Related posts:

borneo river safari

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.

borneo river safari

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Wildlife Spotting on a Kinabatangan River Tour, Borneo

Kinabatangan River Wildlife Spotting

There are many reasons to visit Borneo , Malaysia, and exploring the beautiful species the island has to offer is one of the top reasons. As such, a visit to Borneo, Malaysia would not be complete without seeing the wildlife.

Being one of the world’s largest islands, Borneo is one of the most accessible in terms of seeing animals in their natural habitat. It is home to the proboscis monkey, which is endemic to the island. I mean, have you seen these creatures? The male’s nose can reach up to 5 inches (13 cm) long and they have 24-hour erections. Even writing that makes me laugh out loud. Closely resembling a creepy guy at the sauna, these monkeys are incredible to see in real life.

Borneo is also home to the Borneo orangutans, pygmy elephants, exotic birds, and crocodiles. With several great areas to choose from, we decided to embark on a three-day Kinabatangan river cruise and stay in the jungle in the state of  Sabah, northern Borneo . The Kinabatangan River is one of the most accessible diverse ecosystems in the world.

The river is host to several homestays and resorts for all budgets, making it perfect for a Borneo rainforest safari tour!

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon .

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

Best Time to Visit the Kinabatangan River

Borneo Wildlife: Male Proboscis Monkey

Sabah can be visited year-round. The best months to visit the Kinabatangan are during the dry season between March and September. The rainy season is from October through February. During this time, the small river channels can be explored due to higher river levels.

However, the rain can affect photography and the experience. I hate being out in the rain, but if it doesn’t bother you, then any time is a great time for Borneo tourism. For photography, we recommend going during the dry season.

How to Get To the Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River Tour: Ox Bow Lake

The largest cluster of resorts and homestays is located near the village of Sukau. Resort packages typically include round-trip transportation from Sandakan. The transport is typically a car transfer through several large palm plantations followed by a short boat ride to your accommodation.

Some resorts are located down the river and the only way to get to the resort is by boat via Sandakan. We heard it is difficult to get to Sukau on your own, but after meeting several backpackers, it is possible. You can take a bus to the Sukau village junction (roughly one and half hours past Sandakan), then hitchhike to the village.

Kinabatangan River Accommodation

We stayed at the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort. This resort is down the river and very secluded from most of the other accommodations. The only way to arrive is by boat transport. The resort stay includes packages with round-trip transportation, food and non-alcoholic beverages, river cruises, and night walks.

We highly recommend KWR for your stay on the Kinabatangan for those looking for mid to high-level luxury stays. The resort is eco-friendly and is located in dense forest/wetlands. For budget options, there are several homestays near Sukau or resorts with dorms. With budget accommodation, it is possible to book a  DIY river tour . Here are a few other recommendations for each budget:

  • Mid-Range :  Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort  has 3D/2N packages in dorm rooms for 600 RM ($150 USD) as well as several private room options ranging from 800 RM to 2,000 RM per person ($200 – $500 USD).
  • High-End : Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort is a remote resort with excellent customer service and beautiful chalets. Chalets cost 1,350 RM ($350 USD) per person for the 2D/1N all-inclusive package or 2,075 RM ($550 USD) per person for the 3D/2N package.

Our Stay at Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort

Kinabatangan River Cruise: Wetlands

Upon arrival at KWR, we were greeted with a welcome drink and cold towel to rinse our faces. The hosts all introduced themselves, and we went straight to lunch. The long walk through the wetlands on the boardwalk is beautiful. It is the perfect place for a photoshoot. We were very satisfied with the food, which accommodated Yana who does not eat meat. The food was very tasty, and it was mixed up each day.

There currently are only 10 chalets at the resort, each massive. They feature king-size beds, a lovely couch along with a full set of windows, a clean and modern bathroom, indoor and outdoor showers, and an outdoor patio. While wildlife is the main purpose of the trip, the resort made the experience truly unforgettable.

The resort manager was a fantastic host with a team that provides top-notch customer service. They went out of their way to make sure everyone is comfortable and really listened to the things we wanted to see. They were great at understanding photography and tried to find the animals in the best lighting. The resort is growing and in 2018, it will add another six chalets as well as a swimming pool.

Borneo Wildlife

Borneo Wildlife: Crocodile

The resort was amazing, and we could have just lounged around all day. However,  wildlife is the main draw  to the Kinabatangan. Pygmy elephants roam the forests and graze near the water’s edge. With some luck, orangutans are often spotted. Proboscis monkeys and long-tailed monkeys have large populations around the Kinabatangan with nearly a guaranteed viewing. There are lots of other wildlife animals, such as exotic birds, crocodiles, snakes, and otters.

It is debatable whether the wildlife is better for viewing up the river near Sukau or further down the river in more dense forests. The elephants are known to graze in both locations, so depending on where they are, it could be a 15-minute boat ride or an hour and a half just to try to find them. They were downriver when we went, so it was very close to our resort. Some resorts near Sukau made the journey down in search of the Pygmy Elephants.

Kinabatangan River Cruise: Coffee Break

Because Sukau is surrounded by Palm plantations, the wildlife congregates near the water as it is the only forest left. Downriver, the forest is dense and the wildlife animals come and go as they please. One place is not better than the other, but an obvious advantage to staying down the river is the lack of boats.

We were the only boat when spotting wildlife and only saw a few other passing boats. Upriver near Sakau, there may be a dozen boats all spotting the same wildlife, making it difficult to see or get pictures.

Cost & Booking Info For A Borneo Rainforest Safari in Sabah

Borneo Rainforest Safari: Entry

Most resorts range in price from 300RM to 1,200 RM per person for a 3-day package with luxury options ranging up to 3,000 RM per person. There is a variety of options, including dorm rooms, homestays, and luxury resorts, all of which typically include two or three-day river cruise packages. Staying at the KWR for a 3-day package costs 2,075 RM ($550 USD) per person, including all the below items. You can find out more at their  website .

Kinabatangan Resort Package

Borneo Wildlife

The most common stay is a 3-day / 2-night package. The resort package at Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort includes:

  • 2 nights room at KWR
  • 4 river cruises on the Kinabatangan River
  • Land and boat transfers

Not included are air tickets, alcoholic beverages, travel insurance, and tips.

Example 3D/2N Itinerary with Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort

Borneo Rainforest Safari: Milky Way

Day 1 of our Borneo Rainforest Safari

  • 11:30 am: Local Sandakan pick up or meet at the Sandakan Yacht Club
  • 12 pm – 1:30 pm: Boat transfer to KWR
  • 1:30 pm: Lunch
  • 4:30 pm: Afternoon river cruise
  • 7 pm: Dinner
  • 8:30 pm: Evening nature walk

Day 2 of our Borneo Rainforest Safari

  • 6:30 am: Morning river cruise with snacks, coffee, and tea
  • 9 am: Breakfast
  • 8:30 pm: Evening river cruise

Day 3 of our Borneo Rainforest Safari

  • 10:30 am: Departure to Sandakan Jetty
  • 12 pm: Sandakan arrival

Overall Feedback on the Borneo Rainforest Tours

Borneo Wildlife: Kingfisher

We loved our stay at KWR and felt the level of service and the wildlife tours were incredible. Due to its location on the Kinabatangan, there are very few boats nearby, and your tour is completely private. The boats accommodate up to roughly eight passengers. The guides are excellent at spotting wildlife and are very knowledgeable about the animals and their behaviors.

One thing that was unique to KWR was the evening river cruise. While we saw some exotic birds and crocodiles in the dark, we also went to an area of the river that is known for fireflies. The fireflies stay in the trees blinking like Christmas lights. We shut all the lights off and enjoyed the beautiful milky way with the fireflies dancing in the night. We heard little about this from other blog posts and reviews at other resorts, so I think the fireflies are unique to the experience at KWR.

Overall, the tours are excellent and while there is a schedule, they do everything possible to accommodate you and make sure you see as much wildlife as possible. We never felt rushed or bored at any moment, and really enjoyed the company from the resort management while on the boats or at the resort.

Important Things to Know for a Borneo Rainforest Safari

Kinabatangan River Cruise

  • Wildlife in nature is unpredictable. It is not always possible to see everything on your tour. We did not see any orangutans on our tour, and while we heard a large group of pygmy elephants (nearly 40), we could only see a few in the distance through bushes and trees.
  • There is Wi-Fi at the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort, but the connection is quite slow. It is good enough to get emails and possibly post a picture online. The connection is only at the main building at the entrance of the resort and is not available in the rooms.
  • There was no 3G phone service at the resort, but each day on the boat tours, you will go past the nearby village. The village has a phone tower, so you will get about 10-15 minutes of good service while passing the village on each boat tour.
  • The resort does an excellent job of accommodating dietary restrictions. There was typically one meat dish, 1-2 seafood dishes, 2-3 vegetarian dishes, and rice for each meal.
  • Coffee, tea, and cookies are available the entire day.
  • While you will see lots of wildlife on the tour, they can be far away from the boat. It is best to have a zoom or telephoto lens for your camera. Binoculars would be super handy.
  • On the second day of tours, there is a quick stop at the local fishing village. We were able to buy giant prawns for 30 RM per KG and have the resort cook them for dinner. We purchased four giant prawns between the three of us and it was the most delicious meal we had in Borneo. It is highly recommended to get some prawns. For the price and quality, this meal could not be beaten.

What to Bring on a Borneo Safari / Kinabatangan River Cruise

  • Wingspan Optics  binoculars
  • Natrapel  DEET free mosquito repellent
  • Zoom (telephoto) lens – we recommend between 200–400mm. Check out the  Canon 70-200mm  lens for the best quality you can get!
  • Long sleeve shirt for the afternoon/evening river cruises
  • Waterbottle  – try to help reduce plastic bottles!
  • Flip flops or comfortable sandals
  • Rain Jacket
  • Goddess Garden  Travel Sunscreen
  • Pacsafe Camsafe V17  daypack for the boat rides
  • Waterbottle

Additional Photos From the Kinabatangan River

Borneo Wildlife: Female Proboscis Monkey

That’s it – we hope you enjoy touring around Kinabatangan River!

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Kinabatangan River Wildlife Spotting

About the Author:

Yana and Timon

Yana & Timon met at college in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating, they started their professional careers. They moved to San Francisco in 2010, a city they loved living in for nearly six years. After working and saving up money for several years, they quit their jobs and set off on an adventure of a lifetime. They started living a nomadic lifestyle in December 2015 and have not looked back since.

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kinabatangan river safari

The Kinabatangan river safari

The Kinabatangan River is Malaysia’s second longest river (at 560 kilometers). Located in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo ( map ), the Kinabatangan has its origins in the mountains of southwest Sabah and carves its way through some of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world to its mouth in the Sulu Sea. A great way to see the abundance of unique flora and fauna is to go on a Kinabatangan River safari , one of the top wildlife tours in Malaysia.

kinabatangan-sabah-jungle-river-safari

How to get to the Kinabatangan River

There are two ways to get to the Kinabatangan River from Sandakan , both of which have roughly the same journey time of 2-3 hours: overland , with the last stretch by boat; and direct by boat from the Sandakan pier. I’ve travelled both ways and they each have their advantages. Travelling overland means you get to see the Sabah countryside and make a stop at the Gomantong caves. The direct trip by boat from Sandakan offers more opportunities to spot wildlife, and you get to see the mangrove forests at the mouth of the river and how it changes to thick rainforest inland. Most of the riverside lodges are located near the village of Sukau . Whichever route you choose, I recommend booking at least a two-night stay at the Kinabatangan River.

kinabatangan river safari sabah

As many of the Kinabatangan wildlife tours leave Sandakan in the morning, I recommend staying a night in Sandakan prior to the tour departure. Sandakan town has several attractions such as the Agnes Keith House , Central Market and the Sim Sim water village to keep visitors occupied for several hours.

things to do in sandakan sabah

If you prefer to dive into Sabah’s wildlife right away, I recommend staying in the Sepilok area which is home to the world famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary , the Rainforest Discovery Centre and Sun Bear Sanctuary . Sepilok is about a 20-minute drive from Sandakan Airport. One accommodation I loved is the Sepilok Nature Resort , a magical place at the edge of the Sepilok forest.

where to stay in sepilok

Search for hotels in Sandakan (Booking.com).

Gomantong Caves

If you choose the overland route to the Kinabatangan River from Sandakan to Sukau, you have the option to stop at the Gomantong Caves along the way. What makes these caves unique are the edible birds’ nests high in the crevices of the cave’s ceiling, more than 30 meters above the cave floor. The nests have been harvested for centuries and sold to the Chinese who consider it a delicacy. It’s said that the Chinese Emperors only ate birds nests from this cave.

gomantong caves sabah

Where to stay at the Kinabatangan River

Borneo nature lodge.

I’ve stayed at two different lodges, both of which were excellent. On my first trip, I stayed at the wonderful Borneo Nature Lodge . The resort consists of individual lodges near the river. The lodges looked rather simple from the outside but when I opened the door, I found a lovely, clean room with comfy beds. The staff, including the guides, were absolutely wonderful!

where to stay kinabatangan river

Sukau Rainforest Lodge

During my second visit, I chose the Sukau Rainforest Lodge . This award-winning lodge has more luxurious villas, two plunge pools and a wonderful riverside restaurant/bar. The villa I stayed at was special: David Attenborough himself stayed in this villa!

best lodge kinabatangan river

The lodges offer similar boat tours: early-morning, late-afternoon/sundowner and night tours. These tours, including accommodation, meals and transfers, can be booked as a package at most lodges.

Kinabatangan River safari experiences

During my first visit, my guide gave me a rundown of the wildlife I could expect to see along the banks of the Kinabatangan River: the elusive proboscis monkey, pygmy elephants, orangutans, crocodiles, macaques and a large variety of birds, insects and snakes. His aim was to track down the Borneo Big Five for his guests.

animals to see in borneo

I’ve been on many guided treks and safaris, and each time, it truly amazes me how much the guides know about the flora and fauna (I guess it’s their job to know these things but it still amazes me nevertheless) and how they’re able to spot animals that are often beautifully camouflaged. The first animals we spotted were some macaques at the riverbank.

borneo river safari

A few moments later, we spotted a magnificent hornbill in a tree.

borneo river safari

We turned off the main river and cruised along one of the many tributaries. We were constantly accompanied by the sounds of the jungle: thousands of crickets, the hoots of different birds and the howls of monkeys. In certain parts, the sounds were almost deafening!

what to see kinabatangan river

Spotting the Proboscis monkey

Not much later, we found a family of Proboscis monkeys. It was a stunning sight. The Proboscis monkey is an endangered species and can only be found in certain parts of Borneo. They were high up in the trees but the male’s ‘beer belly’, orange fur coat, reddish face and long nose were unmistakable. These monkeys are called ‘orang belanda’ or ‘Dutchman’ by the locals, a reference to the Dutch traders who lived along the coast in the 19th century. The locals quip that when the Dutch, with their long noses, got drunk, their faces turned red and resembled the Proboscis monkey!

borneo river safari

The Proboscis monkeys have a fascinating social life. The dominant male in the group heads a harem of up to 20+ wives and always sits on the highest branches, while his harem and offspring reside on the lower branches. Females are attracted to the males with the biggest, um.., nose!

A snake story

We soon spotted some snakes, all curled up in the trees or on low-hanging branches.

borneo river safari

My guide had a great story to tell. During one of his river safari cruises, the visitors asked the boatman to get closer to a tree so they could take a good picture of a snake. There were three boats crowded around that tree and one of the boats accidentally bumped the tree and the snake fell into the boat. The visitors panicked and scrambled to get into the other boats. Some of them jumped into the river. Within moments, they realised that there were crocodiles lurking around. They tried desperately to clamber back into the boat, horror written all over their faces. While all this was happening, the boatman casually picked up the snake and threw it back into the tree. The lesson here: keep your distance and don’t jump into the water!

I didn’t spot any crocodiles on that first trip but I saw many during my second, including this giant that was at least 3 meters long:

what are the borneo big five

Kinabatangan night safari

Night safaris offer visitors the opportunity to get close to the animals, especially the birdlife, as they sleep. Equipped with nothing more than a few torchlights, we cruised silently along the serene river banks. The atmosphere was completely different compared to the daytime – the jungle was asleep. The guides are true experts. With a single sweep of the torch’s ray along the river bank, they could tell if there was anything worth checking out. As the guide shone his torch across the surface of the river, a dozen little diamond-like objects lit up. Crocodile eyes, the guide explained.

We spotted many birds, including numerous colourful kingfishers:

borneo river safari

The night river safari was a truly enthralling experience. The boats typically return to the lodge at about 11pm.

Kinabatangan morning river safari

I loved the morning safaris, which typically started at 6am. The best times to see wildlife in the rainforest are in the early-mornings and late-afternoons. It’s cool in the mornings and an absolutely magical experience to see and hear the jungle slowly come to life as the sun rises.

malaysia jungle

The birdlife stole our attention again. Gorgeous cormorants, hornbills, kingfishers and eagles. We also spotted more Proboscis monkeys in the trees. The pygmy elephants stayed out of sight… unfortunately.

An unforgettable orangutan encounter

I had the most extraordinary encounter during my second visit, while I was staying at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge. One afternoon, as I sat on the deck of my villa, I heard some branches cracking. I peered into the distance and soon spotted an orangutan. To my delight, it seemed to be heading in my direction. I stood absolutely still as it slowly made its way towards my deck before climbing onto the roof of the villa. This was definitely one of my favourite Kinabatangan River wildlife experiences!

orangutan kinabatangan wildlife

I was simply awestruck by the wildlife along the Kinabatangan River. It’s definitely one of the top places to visit in Sabah , especially for nature lovers!

Read other posts on Sabah

  • Plane views: Mount Kinabalu
  • Plane views: Kota Kinabalu

Related Posts

things to do in sabah malaysian borneo

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30 Responses

[…] The Kinabatangan River safari […]

[…] sleep just to see the sunrise in Alaska on the longest day of the year, or getting up at 5am for a river safari in the jungles of Borneo, or scrambling out of my tent to go hot-air ballooning over the Wadi Rum […]

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Haha, not quite sure what I would’ve done! 🙂

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What an incredible journey!! Those lodges look amazing too and all individual cabins…love it. That snake must have been a frightful adventure for all those onboard. I wouldn’t even want to imagine. LOL.

' src=

What an incredible experience! I’ve been considering a trip to Borneo and this has tipped me over the edge. Thanks for sharing!

[…] the accompanying post: ‘The Kinabatangan River Safari‘. Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 Asia TAGS: Malaysia, […]

Cool! I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time there. Will keep a look-out for your Sabah posts. Enjoy!

Cheers, Keith

' src=

Very much looking forward to doing this very trip at the end of June. Keep an eye out for our reviews from all over Sabah. Thanks for helping me prepare!

[…] The Kinabatangan river safari […]

[…] maps to my posts (either as a pop-up or an […]

' src=

Keith, what a beautifull adventure, and again beautifully (and funny) told! .. Orang Belanda …mmm..maybe I’ll change my nationality.., does my nose look this big?

[…] }*/ .feedback_prompt { background-color: #E3E9C0; display: none; } 3 Tweets The Kinabatangan river safari | velvet escape's blog go explore. experience. and be inspired. , velvet escape's blog 2 Tweets San […]

[…] Kinabatangan river safari […]

[…] The Kinabatangan River Safari […]

Hi Mindy, I was there for only one night (unfortunately). Yes, we did see quite a few monitor lizards – have a picture of one of them on a branch. Some people who left comments here said they saw wild orangutans too. Pretty awesome.

Thanks for your comment!

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Hey, Keith, how long was this safari? How many nights did you stay at the lodge at Bukit Melapi? Sounds great — I have been boat-riding on the Kinabatangan and also never did see a single crocodile.

One thing we saw that you did not mention: big monitor lizards! First we saw them running on the riverbank. Then they jumped in and went swimming, parallel to the bank. Very impressive.

We also saw a trashed clearing where the dwarf elephants had recently had a romp. That got our hopes up for seeing the elephants, but there was no other sign of them.

Hi Kathryn, Yup, you can see all of them in Sabah. It’s an amazing corner of Borneo & I highly recommend a visit. Glad you’re loving my Sabah posts. 🙂

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First orangutans and now proboscis monkeys?!? Wow – if I wasn’t before, I’m now OFFICIALLY jealous! Thanks for the fantastic stories and photos. I’m enjoying living vicariously through your adventures.

Thanks Deb. Think I would have freaked out if that spider landed on me! You’re so lucky to have seen the orangutan in the wild.

' src=

Your safari lodge looks way nicer than our rustic lodge with Uncle Tans:) But we loved our time at Kinabatangan. I can’t believe that people jumped into the water. But when panic strikes, all rational thoughts go out the window. We were even lucky enough to see an orangutan in the wild at Kinabatangan. I think that we saw almost everything that you could see in Borneo while on safari there. Except for the Rhino. One great tip we learned on the night safari was to hold your flashlight up to your nose while you look into the jungle. The light will catch the animals eyes and you will be able to spot them quite easily. We learned all the different colours of each type of animal too. I can’t quite remember the rules anymore, but I think it was red eyes for mammals, green eyes for amphibians. Very cool! During our night jungle walk, huge spider fell on a girl in our group and we all freaked out, (maybe we would have jumped out of the boat if we were in it) Then our guide said it wasn’t poisonous as he casually took it off her back and let it crawl on a few brave souls. Dave was one of them of course:-)

' src=

Oh WOW….looks like another destination for the ‘Bucket List’. I love finding out about new places I never knew existed!

Thanks Marilyn. The whole place felt like I was leafing through a Nat Geo mag, well apart from the Karaoke in the Jungle. 😉 I guess my sensible side prevailed – I knew I had to get up at 5:30am the next day and once you get me going on stage… you never know what’ll happen next. LOL! 🙂 Thrilled you love the pics!

' src=

Great story! I love the monkey and kingfisher photos. Sorry to hear you passed on Karaoke in the Jungle 🙂

They were asleep. They had no idea I was that close. 🙂 Thanks Jen!

' src=

wow! and the birds don’t get scared off? lovely close-up portraits of kingfishers!

Thanks for your comment Nancie. Seeing an orangutan in the wild must’ve been an awesome experience – that’s so rare.

' src=

I toured the Kinabatangan with Uncle Tan’s two years ago. It was a fantastic adventure. The highlight for me was seeing a orangutan in the wild.

Thank you for bring back from great memories.

Haha, that’s probably true. Great story to tell though. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

' src=

Keith, great write on this. Funny too cause my guide told me the same story about the snake falling on to the boat during my river safari there in Dec. Probably it’s a guide story for everyone 🙂

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Appeared In

borneo river safari

River Safari Trips in Borneo

borneo river safari

Sabah Wildlife Special

borneo river safari

Travel to Borneo on a trip that visits some of the best places to see Sabah’s wildlife. Enjoy boat trips to discover the extraordinary wildlife on the Kinabatangan River, including proboscis monkey, orangutan and Bornean pygmy elephant, and spend four nights at one of our favourite lodges in the Danum Valley. Find out more about Sabah Wildlife Special

  • Price (inc. flights) : 14 days from £7,395
  • Trip type : Tailor-made Holiday

Wild Borneo

borneo river safari

A unique and comprehensive exploration, by day and by night, of Borneo’s wildlife, including endemic birds and mammals and a host of rarely seen nocturnal species. Visiting Mount Kinabalu, Deramakot Forest Reserve, the Kinabatangan River and Tabin Wildlife Reserve, it offers the very best of wild Borneo. Find out more about Wild Borneo

  • Price (inc. flights) : 15 days from £7,295
  • Trip type : Group Tour Tailor-made can be arranged

Sabah & Sarawak Adventure

borneo river safari

Search for the wildlife of the interiors amongst the dense jungle and remote rivers of Sabah & Sarawak. Designed to introduce you to the area's top eco-destinations, highlights include a visit to a headhunter tribe, watching orangutans in Sepilok, and Tabin Reserve, home to some of Borneo’s unique species. Find out more about Sabah & Sarawak Adventure

  • Price (inc. flights) : 15 days from £3,195

Borneo’s Rare Mammals

borneo river safari

A dedicated small group mammal watching holiday to Borneo’s rainforests in pursuit of the region's rarest mammal species, including the iconic Bornean orangutan, Asian elephant, the secretive Malay sun bear and the majestic Sunda clouded leopard, alongside a fabulous variety of reptiles, amphibians and birds. Find out more about Borneo’s Rare Mammals

  • Price (inc. flights) : 14 days from £4,295

Borneo’s Orangutans

borneo river safari

Bornean orangutans are highly endangered, but on this specially designed itinerary we explore the finest locations in Sabah to observe these wonderful primates in the wild. As an introduction though, we also visit Sepilok where these remarkable apes are rehabilitated back to a life in the forest. Find out more about Borneo’s Orangutans

  • Price (inc. flights) : 11 days from £5,170

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Sepilok + Kinabatangan River Safari

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Got a Question?

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  • Tour Code : BC-S-SK
  • Availability : Everyday
  • Duration : Full Day
  • Departure Time : 8 am
  • Pick Up : Sandakan City / Airport
  • Drop Off : Sandakan City / Airport
  • Minimum Age : No Limit
  • Minimum Pax : 1 Person

borneo river safari

WHY CHOOSE US?

1. PRIVATE GUIDE

Our tour guide just for you! (No sharing of guide with other groups for Sepilok tour)

2. PRIVATE TRANSPORT

No sharing of transportation (For morning transfer to Sepilok Sandakan)

All start time are estimated and for reference purposes only. Actual timing will be provided prior to your departure.

SEPILOK + KINABATANGAN RIVER SAFARI

Validity: 1 Jan 2020 – 31 Dec 2020 (MYR/Pax For All Market)

Optional add on tour (myr/pax).

CHILD RATE:

1) Child rate is applicable when child aged 2 – 11 years old travelling with TWO (2) paying adults.

2)  Aged 12 years old and above considered as adults, and adult rate will be applied.

3) Infant below 2 years old is Free of Charge.

1) All rate are quoted in  Ringgit Malaysia & Nett (No hidden cost unless otherwise stated).

2) All passports and visas must be valid at least  06 months from the date of entry into the country destination.

PACKAGE DETAILS

Return Land Transfer

  • Hotel > Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre > Kinabatangan River Safari > Hotel/Airport (Seat-In Coach)

Evening River Cruise One (1) Lunch One (1) Refreshment One (1) Dinner Entrance Fee In-house Guide

Air Fare Travel Insurance Camera Fees (If any) Others not stated

Drinking Water Insect Repellant Sun Block Lotion Binocular Camera Hat & Raincoat

**Wear comfortable light cotton casual attire with short/long pants is recommended

After commencement of tour service there will be no refund in part or full, will be made for unused service/activity.

Full passport/IC number, name, nationality, gender, confirmed flight details and pick up point are required.

Sightings of wildlife animals are not guaranteed.

Tour activities are subject to weather conditions, and may be re-organised to best meet operational situations.

The safe keeping of your personal belongings are at your own responsibility.

We strongly recommend that all guests take up adequate travel insurance that covers accident, loss caused by cancellations, loss of baggage, personal property, medical expenses, medical evacuation and weather disruption that caused any acitivity cancellations.

Borneo Calling shall be relieved of all its obligation and liabilities in the event and to the extent of its performance of this agreement is delay or prevented in whole or in part by any cause beyond its control, including without limiting to, act of God, change of laws, war, riot, strikes civil unrest, fire, flood, earthquake or explosion, sale, essential construction, to the property, epidemics as confirmed by the government of Malaysia or/and act of terrorism.

SEPILOK > KINABATANGAN RIVER SAFARI

Pick up from your hotel lobby and proceed to Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

Upon arrival, proceed to the Nature Education Centre for a short video screening. Onwards, make your way through the forest to the viewing platform. Witness the feeding session and observe the habitat of “wild man of the forest” in a close distance. Learn and meet the protected inhabitants of these sancturies while appreciating the conservation work done to save them.

After lunch, proceed to Kinabatangan River which takes about 2-3 hours drive from the city. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the local crew and refreshment will be served. River safari start at 1600 hours. Cruise along the river in search of endemic wildlife like proboscis monkey, orang utan, macaques, pygmy elephants, birds and many more. An early dinner will be served at the lodge.

After dinner, return to Sandakan. Drop off at Sandakan Airport or at your respective hotel.

ABOUT SEPILOK

About Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre was set up in year 1964. Sprawls over 4,294 hectare of virgin jungle reserves rich in tropical rainforest and mangrove swamp, this sanctuary serves to rehabilitate orang utans that have been abandoned by their mothers, or were formerly in captivity. Besides that, these orphaned orang utans which found from logging sites, plantations and illegal hunting, were rehabilitated until fit enough to be returned to the wild. Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre gives you an opportunity to watch the orang utan – “Man of The Forest”, up close in their natural habitat. Apart from that, you can witness the feeding process of the orang utan by the rangers at feeding platform!

ABOUT KINABATANGAN

Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River , Sabah’s longest river, flowing 560km from the mountainous interior to the Sulu Sea, is one of the most exciting and accessible places to explore the rich biodiversity of Sabah , Borneo. Along its lower reaches, where the river winds as sinuously as a snake across the flatland, it rises and spills over its bank every monsoon season to create Sabah greatest freshwater floodplain.

The river offers an incredible opportunity to see a large range of wildlife including Proboscis Monkey (an endemic species to the island of Borneo), the Orang Utan, Borneo Pygmy Elephant , crocodiles, otters, and countless rare and beautiful birds.

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  • Price: USD 550 per pax (Min 2 to go)

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The Borneo Jungle Tours 4 Days 3 Nights Kinabatangan River Safari is an exciting and adventurous tour package that allows you to experience the natural beauty of Sabah’s rainforests and the rich cultural heritage of the region. This tour offers a variety of activities that are perfect for nature lovers and those seeking to explore the local culture.

One of the highlights of this tour is the opportunity to learn about Sabah’s orangutan population by visiting their nursery and feeding platform. Visitors can witness these magnificent primates up close and learn about the conservation efforts being made to protect their habitat.

Another exciting activity included in this tour is a boat ride along Sabah’s longest river, the Kinabatangan. This allows visitors to explore the virgin rainforest habitat of Borneo’s wildlife and observe a diverse range of flora and fauna. This river is home to several endangered species, including the proboscis monkey, Borneo pygmy elephant, and hornbill bird.

Visitors will also get to visit the famous Gomantong Cave, known for its birds’ nests. This is a fascinating experience that offers visitors a glimpse into the unique ecosystem of Borneo’s rainforest. The cave is home to millions of swiftlets, and visitors can witness the harvesting of the nests, which are considered a delicacy in some cultures.

Additionally, this tour includes a city tour, which takes visitors to the Central Market, Sim-Sim Water Village, and Puh Jih Syh Buddhist Temple. This offers visitors an opportunity to experience the rich culture and history of Sabah.

Overall, the Borneo Jungle Tours 4 Days 3 Nights Kinabatangan River Safari is an excellent choice for anyone looking to explore the beauty of Borneo’s rainforest and learn about its unique wildlife and culture. With a variety of exciting activities included in the package, visitors are sure to have a memorable and immersive experience.

Day 1: Sandakan Airport - Sandakan City - Kinabatangan River

borneo river safari

Lunch, Dinner

**Please make sure your flight landed in Sandakan airport as early as possible

09.35 hrs: Arrive at Sandakan airport.

00.00 hrs: After pick up from Sandakan City or Sandakan airport around 10am your driver & guide will transfer and proceed for a city tour and explore the various landmarks of Sandakan which may include Central Market , the most amazing variety of fresh seafood and agricultural products, Sim-Sim Water Village where houses are all built close to the water surface while observing the fascinating view of the sea, visit  Puh Jih Syh Buddhist Temple  which offers a panoramic view of Sandakan Bay situated on the hilltop of Tanah Merah.

00.00 hrs: Transfer to hotel.

00.00 hrs: Arrive at hotel, briefing and have lunch.

00.00 hrs: Check in.

16.00 hrs: Relax by the river before embarking by boat up-river at 4:00pm along Sabah’s longest river, Kinabatangan with opportunity to view wildlife and birds in its virgin rainforest habitat. Search for some of the primates species including the endemic Proboscis Monkeys as they settle down on treetops. Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is on the best places in Southeast Asia to observe wildlife.

Day 2: Kinabatangan River & Ox-Bow Lake

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

05.30 hrs: Wake up to the calls of birds, insects and animals.

06.00 hrs: Take a morning cruise up to The Kinabatangan River and onto Kelenanap Ox-Bow Lake for bird watching and in search of other wildlife. Take a short jungle walk (if weather permits) and experience the wilderness of Borneo before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Free at leisure to explore the surrounding areas or nearby village.

08.00 hrs: Back to hotel and have breakfast.

16.00 hrs: Boat cruise along the river to see many species of flora and fauna of the rainforest.

Day 3: Kinabatangan River & Gomantong Caves

06.00 hrs: Depart early morning and visit the Gomantong Cave , famed for its edible birds’ nests. Take about 15 minutes’ boardwalk to the opening of Simud Hitam Cavern and explore the cave system on boardwalk. Return to lodge for lunch and free at leisure.

00.00 hrs: Proceed for another afternoon cruise in search of other wildlife along the river banks.

Day 4: Kinabatangan River - Sepilok - Sandakan Airport

00.00 hrs: Breakfast at hotel.

00.00 hrs: Return to Sandakan and we will visit Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre to learn more about Sabah’s Orang Utans. Your visit to the sanctuary will include a short introductory video and a visit to the nursery to see the youngest orang-utans before heading to the main feeding platform at 10am. If the Orang Utans are feeling particularly friendly, you may even get the chance to get up close to them, be sure to hang onto your belongings! Next it’s onto the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre to learn about conservation of the world’s smallest bear and explore the boardwalks in search of these shy yet playful bears.

00.00 hrs: After the tours, transfer to Sandakan Airport.

00.00 hrs: Arrive at Sandakan Airport. Tour ends.

What is included?

  • English speaking guide.
  • Land/boat transfers base on sharing basis.
  • Entrance fees.
  • 3 nights accommodation.
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary.

What is not included?

  • Camera/Video camera fees.
  • Flight Tickets.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Item not mentioned in the itinerary.

Borneo Jungle Tours 4 Days 3 Nights Kinabatangan River Safari enable you to:

  • Learn more about Sabah’s Orang Utan through visiting their nursery and feeding platform.
  • Boating along Sabah’s longest river, Kinabatangan to view wildlife and birds in its virgin rainforest habitat.
  • Visit Gomantong Cave which famous for its birds’ nests.
  • City tour to Central Market , Sim-Sim Water Village and Puh Jih Syh Buddhist Temple .

visit

Tour Style:

Private Journey

Activity

Sightseeing

Days

Minimum pax:

Minimum two person

Accommodation

Accommodation:

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  • Tour Packages
  • Kota Kinabalu Daily Local Tours

Klias Wildlife Safari River Cruise - Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies

Klias Wildlife Safari River Cruise - Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies Print

Klias Wildlife Safari River Cruise - Proboscis Monkey & Fireflies - Amazing Borneo Tours

FROM MYR 270

Our price value guarantee.

Travel Period: 01 January 2024 till 31 December 2024

  • Rate Per Person is based on Join-In Tour Basis (shared guide & vehicle).
  • All rates displayed are quoted in Ringgit Malaysia (MYR) .
  • All rates are inclusive of 0% Goods and Services Tax (GST).

CHILD POLICY

  • Child rate applies for children between 3 - 11 years old.
  • Infant below 2 years old is FOC. 

OUTSKIRT HOTELS PICK-UP & DROP OFF SURCHARGES

  • Additional charges of MYR 80 per pax are applicable for outskirt hotels pick-ups. Outskirt Charges are applicable for Hotels in One Borneo, Putatan, and within 20km radius of Kota Kinabalu City Centre.

PRIVATE TOUR SERVICE

  • RM 450 per Van
  • RM 760 per Luxury MPV

Tour highlights

  • Visit Klias River
  • Search for Proboscis Monkeys
  • Fireflies Sightings
  • Hi-Tea & Dinner
  • Hotel Pickup / Drop Off

Overview of Tour

Journey 112km from Kota Kinabalu City to the pristine Klias wetlands. Cruise your way down Klias River in an open boat in search of the endemic proboscis monkeys, long tailed macaques, the rare silver languor, and other wildlife along the river bank.

Get your cameras and binoculars on stand-by and keep your eyes peeled for the shy creatures chilling on the branches.

As dusk settles in with a sunset, enjoy the sights and sounds in a natural setting as you have a sumptuous village style dinner.  The show’s not over yet though, as there is one more trip through the mangrove swamp.  This time, it is graced by the secret rhythm of fireflies and their flickering lights.

Do remember though, while we are entering a natural habitat where wildlife sightings are common, it is NOT GUARANTEED.

About The Location

Located on the Klias Peninsula is the Klias Wetland, a Mangrove Forest Reserve. With the bizarre-looking proboscis monkey gaining as much popularity with the tourists as the orang utan, the Klias Wetland with its large proboscis population is fast becoming the latest ecotourism destination in Sabah.

Did You Know

Proboscis Monkeys

Proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), nicknamed “Monyet Belanda” or “Dutchman”, are endangered mammals that are endemic to Borneo. Their key characteristics are the huge pendulous noses used to attract mates, big bellies, their striking colours fur coats for adults, and a permanently erect bright red penis seen in mature males. They live in organized harem groups consisting of a dominant male and up to 24 females with their offspring. They have webbed feet and hands to help them outpace the crocodiles, one of their main predators. Proboscis monkeys survive mainly on a diet of leaves, seeds, and unripe fruits but will occasionally consume insects as well. The only fruit they will eat are unripe fruits, as the sugars in ripe fruits can ferment in their stomachs and cause fatal bloating. 

Booking was done directly through the operator's website, which was fuss-free. The day before the tour, the operator contacted us to confirm the pickup time and location.

Richard, the tour guide, is friendly and approachable. He let us know what to expect on the trip beforehand, and he takes care of us well. Although this is a join-in group, he will make an effort to explain details to both of us so that we can enjoy the river cruise.

Jonathan, the driver (I hope I got your name correct), drives steady and well. It is a 2+ hour drive from KK city to the location, and the road condition is not optimal (quite bumpy due to construction).

The snacks and buffet dinner were quite good. We managed to see proboscis monkeys, macaques, one silver languor, and lots of fireflies.

Overall experience of the tour is 4.5/5. It is recommended for people who want to have a first-time experience of seeing the wild without the need for hiking.

borneo river safari

Hi, I am Sutida from Thailand. I joined the boat tour. It’s a really good experience. Highly Recommendation. And the staff office-Sylvia, she is really nice and helps me to book the tour. She is a valuable staff.

This trip was truly special. Ijack organized and communicated it so well, and Loong delivered it with such enthusiasm, knowledge, and grace. There were so many monkeys, birds, and fireflies, as well as the odd crocodile! Overall, it was a wonderful experience. The food was fabulous as well, although there was too much!

Meet tour guide Ryan from the hotel and he is nice and resonsibility person. We went to Klias river cruise to search for Proboscis Monkeys and Fireflies Sightings. Ryan was good knowledgeable and will recomend Amzing Borneo to my friend for their next Sabah visit.

Our excursion to and on the Klias River was excellent. Booking on line worked very well. We phoned from our hotel to confirm p/u time and they were spot on. It was a long drive to the Klias River but well worth it. Everything was very well organized and all people concerned very friendly which made a great day. Thoroughly enjoyed the boat cruise especially at night to see the fire flies. The guide actually put one on my hand which was amazing. The boat "driver" was so much fun and so good at spotting "the natives". Afternoon tea and dinner was very enjoyable. Great choice and it was good that we could choose ourselves. Thank you for a wonderful outing - the best thing we did in Kota Kinabalu.

Friendly professional service.

Tour guide was very kind and thoughtful. We really enjoyed every moment of the tour. Our guide Neil was great in assisting us and he went the extra mile making sure we were happy and satisfied with everything.

Hassle free, well organized and trustworthy company. No hidden charges or extra costs from our purchases with Amazing Borneo Tours. Would definitely recommend them to our friends and family.

Joined the Klias river cruise with my two sons and it was one of the best tours ever. Richard, the tour guide, was so nice and kind to my kids, made this day very special for them. Although the bus ride was a bit long for nearly two hours one way, sheets were wide and comfy. Seeing many monkeys and fireflies, having delicious Malay foods were wonderful memories for us. The booking operators were so helpful that we also attended the two islands hopping tour, which was amazing too.

Extremely kind & comfortable

We booked the Klias river cruise with Amazing Borneo Tours and it was fabulous. It was very easy to book, pick ups were on time and our guide Neil was amazing. He was very knowledgeable and kind which made our stay much more interesting and enjoyable.

It was spectacular. I had such an unforgettable experience seeing the stars and fireflies at Klias River Cruise. I didn't think I was going to be able to, so I was genuinely surprised at the majestic view. And this was only possible with my remarkable tour guide, Joel. I am extremely grateful for him as he was very knowledgeable, kind, patient and VERY cool. I love how he had so much passion for his job, and it made my experience here in Sabah so much better. When I come back to Sabah, I will definitely come back and have him as my tour guide. THANK YOU AMAZING BORNEO!!! <3

We watched a lot of proboscis monkeys and fireflies.This experience was completely beyond our expectation. In addition, Amazing Borneo provide really nice guide who had wide and deep knowledge and gave necessary infomation in appropriate timing. Thank you so much for your great tour!!!

It was well organised. Lunch was good. They took us deep into the forest to show us the monkeys and fireflies.

borneo river safari

Sample Itinerary

Klias wildlife safari river cruise - proboscis monkey & firefly.

  • You will be picked up from the hotel lobby.
  • Commence journey to Kota Klias Peninsula (approximately 112km from Kota Kinabalu city), situated between Beaufort and Kuala Penyu. It will be a scenic 2 hours ride, passing local villages, fruit stalls, and small towns.
  • Some local hi-tea favourites awaits upon arrival at the jetty, before you get those binoculars on stand-by and ready for your safari river cruise.
  • Mosey down the Klias river in an open boat. Your tour guide will be there to point out any exciting wildlife sightings and share interesting facts. Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive long-nosed proboscis monkey, long-tailed macaques, and birds such as Kingfishers, darters, and eagles. You will be able to differentiate the female and male proboscis monkeys by their behaviour.
  • After the exciting river cruise, enjoy a sumptuous dinner by the river lodge, typically consisting of meats marinated in different styles, rice, potatoes, and vegetables.
  • As darkness sets in, board the boat again to witness and be amazed by nature's Christmas lighting, the fireflies! Depending on weather conditions, you might even spot nocturnal animals like the flying fox and night bats.
  • Depart to Kota Kinabalu and transfer to your respective hotel.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

Recommended attire.

  • Long Trousers
  • Shoes/Sandals

THINGS YOU SHOULD BRING ' title="Our list of items simply acts as a guideline and may come in handy while on adventures with us. However, you can choose to forgo certain items as we are still able to proceed with the tour."> ?

  • Raincoat or umbrella
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Insect repellent

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Baby Car Seats (for infant aged 0-2) and Child Booster Seats (for children aged 3-11) are available for rental. Please check with your tour consultant for availability.
  • Binoculars can be rented with MYR 10 per set but subject to availability. You are advised to bring your own binoculars in order to visually enhance your experience of viewing Borneo's endemic wildlife in their natural habitat.

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • This package is based on join-in basis of shared guide and transport vehicle.  Private Guide or Tour is available upon request at a reasonable fee.  Please inform us when making the bookings.
  • Amazing Borneo Tours does not guarantee wildlife sightings.  Do also note that sometimes the wildlife may be on distant trees rather than the river edge.  Thus, binoculars are provided for aid in sightings.
  • Departure time is approximate and varies from different hotels due to traffic conditions, please reconfirm with our staffs. Should the transport be delayed, please call the relevant telephone number as stated on the voucher before making alternative arrangements.
  • Amazing Borneo Tours reserves the right to alter routes, timetables, itineraries and accommodation reserved should conditions beyond our control render it necessary.
  • Tipping is like giving a hug. Although it’s never expected, it’s always very much appreciated.

Why Travel With Amazing Borneo

Tailored local experiences, the amazing team, value price guarantee, eat like a local, share this page.

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The Best Wildlife Safari in Borneo – A 3 Day Trip with Borneo Eco Tours

When you stay in the same place that Sir David Attenborough stayed , you know you’re on the best wildlife safari in Borneo. And when your accommodation is on National Geographic’s list of Unique Lodges of the World , you know it’s something special.

Scott and I did this and had the best wildlife safari in Borneo. Staying in the state of Sabah, we did the Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari tour for 3 days and 2 nights. We stayed in the world famous Sukau Rainforest Lodge  in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. From start to finish, everything about this Borneo trip, lodge, region and nature was indescribable. I’m going to try and describe our stay though!

This is my detailed review of Borneo Eco Tours including everything from the itinerary, wildlife, activities, prices, extra details to my personal thoughts about the trip. This is the most responsible tour company in Malaysian Borneo and I would highly recommend going with this Borneo travel agency if you want to ethically enjoy the wildlife of a Borneo safari for 3 days.

If you are thinking of booking one of the best Borneo tours and have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Disclosure: Everything I have written below about my Borneo Wildlife Safari, I paid for myself. This blog post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I may earn commission if you click through and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see my Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

Prices for Safari Borneo

Contents (jump to)

This is a list of what I paid for my Borneo Wildlife Tour:

At time of writing: 5 MYR = £1.

  • The Overland Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari (BB7C), 3 days and 2 nights staying at Sukau Rainforest Lodge – I paid 1850 MYR (£365) per person, based on 2 people sharing a superior room. Grand total for 2 people = 3700 MYR (£730).
  • Extras at the lodge including tourism tax, drinks, souvenirs and night cruise for 2 people – 414 MYR (£82).
  • Return flights from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan – £138.50 per person, £277 for 2 people.
  • Hotel for 1 night at My Dream Hotel in Sandakan – 66 MYR including tourism tax.
  • Extras outside the lodge including drinks, poncho, snacks – 80 MYR.

Grand total spent for 2 people = 5660 MYR / £1116.

Note: Tourism tax in Malaysia is 10 MYR per room per night.

Our Video of Bornean Wildlife Safari

Itinerary of Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari

All of the below is included in the price:

  • Get picked up from Sandakan airport or hotel in Sandakan
  • Visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
  • Visit Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
  • 2/3 hour overland bus journey to the award-winning  Sukau Rainforest Lodge
  • Check-in to the lodge
  • Afternoon tea/coffee
  • 1 hour afternoon river cruise – First Borneo Safari
  • History of the lodge presentation or other optional activities
  • Light breakfast
  • 2 hour sunrise river cruise
  • Full breakfast
  • Walk Hornbill Boardwalk with guide
  • Orang-utan talk or other optional activities
  • 2 hour afternoon river cruise
  • Night river cruise or other optional activities
  • Breakfast and check-out
  • 2/3 hour overland bus journey back to Sandakan
  • Visit Rainforest Discovery centre
  • Visit WWII Memorial park
  • Transfer to Sandakan airport or hotel

Kinabatangan River

How to Get to Sandakan, Sabah

To travel to Borneo, we took the 3 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan with Air Asia the day before our trip began. We wanted to be sure that we would be in Sandakan so we arrived the night before.

When we arrived, we got a Grab ride to our hotel for 7 MYR. I highly recommend downloading the Grab app if you are travelling Malaysia because it is so convenient, safe and you know you aren’t being ripped off. If you download the app , use my referral code, GRABHDTRAVELS and we will both get discount on our rides.

We stayed in a budget hotel called My Dream Hotel and Borneo Eco Tours were picking us up from here the morning of the trip. We stayed at My Dream Hotel in Sandakan booked via booking.com . It was the perfect accommodation for one night with lots of restaurants around and close to the airport. I’d recommend staying here if you are in Sandakan.

To reserve your accommodation, use this search box to take you straight to My Dream Hotel:

When we checked in to the hotel, Borneo Eco Tours had called the hotel to inform them of the time they would pick us up. This was the first example of Borneo Eco Tours Sandakan going above and beyond for their guests . As promised, a guide and driver from Borneo Eco Tours picked us up from our hotel and took us on to our first activity of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari tour.

Our Borneo Eco Tours Guide

We were in a group of 12 who were guided by a knowledgeable and friendly guide named Nexter. Nexter took us around each centre, travelled with us to Sukau Rainforest Lodge, drove the boats on our cruises and most importantly, answered every question about wildlife we had. Nexter was so helpful and his knowledge about the lodge, Sabah, Borneo and wildlife was beyond impressive.

The best part, though, was his passion and enthusiasm for conservation, sustainability and wildlife in general. It was heart-warming to see. I heard from other groups that all of the guides had this passion and knowledge too which reflects the wonderful job that Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Lodge are doing.

Our guide, Nexter

My favourite line from Nexter was when he explained how the mother teaches her young about which fruits can and cannot be eaten. I asked, ‘how does the Orang-utan know which fruits are safe to eat?’ His reply was ‘it’s the magic of nature’. 

What to Take

  • Take your own toiletries
  • Buy a reusable poncho/mac with a hood. Something like this one from Amazon.
  • Strong insect repellant! I wore long sleeved tops and trousers for cruises but more skin was showing at night and I got a grand total of 4 bites on my stay.
  • Take a refillable, metal bottle for the bus journeys and throughout your stay. This is the one I use.
  • Take binoculars.
  • Use a good camera. The wildlife is far away that you need binoculars so you’ll need a good camera to capture these precious moments. I used OSMO Pocket and it did the perfect job. It was small enough too that when it rained a little, I just had it below my poncho to cover it. Buy the Osmo Pocket here and you won’t regret it.  I also took 2 memory cards with me because I shot so much footage and didn’t want to run out of space. You can buy the Osmo Pocket & Expansion Kit (comes with a memory card) through this link.

Day 1 of the Best Wildlife Safari in Borneo

Everywhere and everything that I mention below is guided and transported by Borneo Eco Tours employees. They took good care of us from start to finish.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre – Borneo Safari Stop 1

Covering a rainforest area of 43 sq km (10,610 acres), Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre is a conservation, established in 1964 and open to the public. The centre is owned by Sabah Wildlife Department and co-funded by them, tourists to the centre and by the charity, Orangutan Appeal UK.  This is one of the best things to do Borneo because it’s a chance to see Orangutans in the wild.

When we arrived, we learned about the centre through Ruth, a worker from Orangutan Appeal UK and then watched an educational movie about the plight of Orang-utans and the conservation work in Sabah.

There are around 60-80 Orang-utans living freely in the reserve. It is not a zoo.  The video and staff make it clear that there is not allowed to be any human contact, you must keep a distance, you must keep to the boardwalk and you are not allowed to take any bags in with you at all.

There is an Orangutan Nursery where the trained rangers look after orphaned Orang-utans to rehabilitate them in the hope that they one day be released into the wild. They are orphaned due to illegal logging, deforestation and being kept as pets.

If you want to ethically see an Orangutan, here is the place to go.

Note: Borneo Eco Tours allow you to leave your belongings on the bus and the driver stays with the bus. There are lockers and keys (free of charge) at the centre though if you want to lock your belongings. Also, there is a camera charge of 10 MYR.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

2 Bornean Sun Bears

Straight afterwards, we went over to the Sun Bear Conservation centre . Sun Bears are the smallest bears in the world and only found in South East Asia. There are currently 43 rescued Sun Bears at the centre, all of which are going through rehabilitation to release them back to the wild.

One Sun Bear was released to wild in April 2019 and the last time he was located was a month later. During which, the Sun Bear had travelled 35km. This is evidence that the rehabilitation works and he has survived in the wild.

Lunch and Journey to Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Afterwards, we headed for lunch in the form of a buffet with a selection of fish/chicken/tofu with rice, stir fry, potato curry and salad.  There was f ree water and coffee on offer.

An hour later we headed to our bus for our overland journey to Sukau Rainforest Lodge. There is free wifi on board the bus and refillable drinking water tanks.

The bus ride was comfortable and easy which took about 2.5 hours. We arrived at the Kinabatangan River where we boarded a small boat ride. After 5 minutes, in the horizon we could see the impressive lodge perched over the river bank waiting to greet us. Our luggage followed behind us.

On arrival, we were given the warmest welcome from the smiling staff and directed to ‘Gomantong Hall’ for check-in and housekeeping. We were given freshen-up towels and welcome drinks with bamboo straws. The straws were the first glimpse of the sustainability methods practiced at the lodge . We were given our room keys and our luggage was waiting on our doorsteps for us.

Note: All other drinks are not included in the price across the entire tour. For example, a tiger beer at lunch was 8 MYR and in the lodge was 18 MYR.

Welcome drink with bamboo straw.

Read Next: How to Travel by Bus in Malaysia

About Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Founded in 1994, Sukau Rainforest Lodge was an idea by the founder of Borneo Eco Tours, Albert Teo. Teo recognised the interest from tourists about the Kinabatangan River and decided an eco company needed an eco lodge. To build such a lodge, the company needed to buy land. The book written by Albert Teo and Carol Patterson,  Saving Paradise is dedicated to Kari Bin Ongong, ‘the one man who had the courage to step out of his comfort zone to provide a livelihood for his people.’

To learn more about the lodge, you can buy Saving Paradise  from Amazon here .

The link between the lodge and local people is so strong that 80% of staff are from the local area. One of the guides informed me that the lodge would not be what it is today without the knowledge and support of the local people. The lodge’s dedication to teaching locals and tourists aligns with my concept of learning about our world. I felt a connection to this place and learned so much more than I expected.

A strong policy of the accommodation is sustainability. You can see it in every corner of the place. From zero plastic and solar panels to electric motors on the boats to minimise noise pollution. They give out scholarships to locals and therefore improve employment as well as tree planting schemes. To read more about the lodge’s sustainability, read their policies here .

Sukau Rainforest Lodge from the boat view

The lodge boasts 2 swimming pools, relaxing lobbies with free wifi, free water stations, a souvenir shop, a few bars, a restaurant on the river and stunning boardwalks. You can use all of the amenities and enjoy the serenity of surrounding nature. They also have ‘resident’ orangutans , a mother and a baby who are occasionally spotted around the lodge. The lodge do not feed or interact with the orang-utans but the apes return because the lodge is in the mother’s territory. The apes do have names though, the mother is called Lucky and the baby is called Day because if you get a chance to see them, it’s your lucky day!

What Exactly does it mean to be a Part of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World?

Nat Geo have a list of Unique Lodges of the World. There are only 55 lodges on this list. Sukau Rainforest Lodge is one of them. It’s also the only one in Malaysia and there are only 5 in the whole of Asia. And I stayed here! When you arrive and you see the lodge on the banks of the mighty river, you can instantly see how it has made the list. Here, y ou are brought into the present amongst beautiful nature.

A guide informed me that to become part of Nat Geo’s list, there are over 50 things the lodge needed to have. Protecting natural and cultural heritage and sustainability are two of them which the lodge has smashed out of the park. Sukau Rainforest Lodge made Nat Geo’s lists of the best places to get face-to-face with wildlife and best lodges to visit in the fall.

Sign of Nat Geo's Unique Lodges of the World

Sir David Attenborough

Borneo has featured in several of Sir David Attenborough TV shows. Sir David Attenborough and BBC crew stayed at Sukau Rainforest Lodge in 2011 while they were filming. More about the boat they used in ‘Dinner by Candle Light and Bar’ section below.

A few years ago, Sir David helped stop a bridge being built over the Kinabatangan River. Read all about what happened here.

One of the villas has proudly been named after him.

Other famous guests include the Prince of Denmark and Dame Judy Dench. Some of the staff were excited to tell me about the times where they met the guests. They said that Sir David Attenborough’s voice is exactly the same in real life.

Scott walking on the boardwalk to the restaurant

Afternoon River Cruise of Borneo Wildlife Tours

Just after enjoying our afternoon tea and doughnuts, we headed out on the mighty 560km-long Kinabatangan River for our first of 3 included Borneo Jungle Safari. After only a few minutes in the boat, we already found Proboscis monkeys high in the trees. You really need to get the binoculars out for these animals and see the size of their noses. The ones with large noses are male and the ones with pointed noses are female. We seen an array of other wildlife too from birds flying overhead to crocs basking on the banks.

2 Proboscis Monkeys in the tree

Later on, we found another group of Proboscis monkeys and it was clear who the alpha male was. His thighs were enormous and he sat high in the tree as the others went one by one to jump to another tree. Each monkey took their time, sussing out the jump and waiting a while after the last had gone. All of a sudden, this loud rushing of trees happened so quickly that if you blinked, you missed it. It was the alpha male who, with no hesitation, made the giant leap proving his experience and dominance over the group. It was fascinating to watch.

Dinner by Candle Light and Bar

When it’s dinner time, you are alerted by three rings of the gong that vibrate throughout the grounds and create a buzz amongst guests. Buffet dinner offers local meals using local produce and is served on the actual boat that Sir David Attenborough used in his BBC documentary.

The buffet table which was the boat David Attenborough used for filming.

In your room, you are given traditional Bornean sarongs to wear for dinner time. You’re given a demonstration on how to apply them upon check-in.

It was a truly unique experience to wear traditional clothing, eat local food with candle-light, looking over the mighty river while dazzling red and orange lightening filled the dark sky in the distance.

Me wearing traditional pink sarong

Optional Activity – What is Sukau Rainforest Lodge?

After dinner, in the ‘Ape Gallery’ room, there is a projector and screen along with one of the guides waiting for guests. The presenter was Nexter and he gave us so much information about the history and projects of Sukau Rainforest Lodge. It was a great insight into where we were staying and I’d highly recommend taking half an hour to listen to this discussion. He informed us that part of the money spent by tourists go into conservation and he personally thanked us for coming to Sukau Rainforest Lodge . Very humbling.

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle…

…things come out at night! We had some drinks in the Gecko Bar and lots of geckos were there to join us. As were mosquitos, beetles and bats. The bats, we should be thankful for, because they kill up to 1000 mosquitos per night !!

At night, the sounds coming from the wildlife in the rainforest remind you that you’re in their home. From the owls to the Orangutan’s call, they were out there. At night too, you can hear what we assume were macaques running across the roof of our rooms. It was so cool!  

Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari – Day 2

The rainforest awakens.

… as do we! After making all that noise the night before, everything else living in the jungle wakes up before the crack of dawn and we didn’t want to miss a second of it.

Our group on the boat with river in background

We had a wake-up call around 5.25am and a quick bite to eat while it was still dark. Then we waited at the jetty to start our 2 hour Kinabatangan River cruise. The sun was rising and the rainforest was awakening. It was gorgeous for our river safari in Borneo.

We went up the Kinabatangan River and toward Kelenanap Ox-Bow lake to spot wildlife. We managed to spot 3 baby crocs basking in the morning sun, a huge lizard, a smaller lizard and a tiny lizard poking his head out of a hole. Next up were more Proboscis monkeys waking up with energy to swing amongst the trees as well as macaques close by. I looked back behind the boat and the birds were so pretty flying on the horizon.

Sunrise over the river

We then returned to a full breakfast waiting for us.

Hornbill Boardwalk Guided Tour

At 11am, we joined an educational walking tour along the lodge’s Hornbill Boardwalk spotting more macaques and birds, and learning about the trees surrounding us.

Optional Activity – Learn About Orang-utans

After some free time, there is a free talk to learn about orang-utans. I cannot emphasise enough how important and useful it is to attend this talk.

This information CANNOT be found on the internet because its all in-house research conducted. This is unmissable. Out of 70 guests at the lodge, only 6 of us went to this talk. I believe they missed out on this informative presentation about the orang-utans.  

Me in the restaurant enjoying coffee and doughnuts

Kinabatangan River Cruise in the Afternoon

The afternoon wildlife once again did not disappoint. We saw long tail macaques running in groups of 40/50, all hanging in the trees with some curious and coming closer to us. While cruising, we saw impressive Hornbills flying over us and further down the river we seen 3 families of Proboscis monkeys. Then, along came some long tail macaques who disturbed one of the Proboscis monkey families. It seemed to then be a case of showing off with the different animals on either side of the river jumping to and from trees, trying to out-do the ones on the other side. It was entertaining. Then we had a few moments of utter silence and the peacefulness I felt, was something remarkable. I felt in the moment and it was thanks to nature.

Macaque on the low ground

Back at the lodge, on the cue of the gong, we had a scrumptious dinner of local food, sitting with our group and reflecting on the day before getting ready for the night cruise.

Optional Activity – River Cruise by Night

We paid extra (80 MYR each) to go on a night-time river cruise. The night was a completely different experience to the day. It felt both eerie and calm at the same time. Out on the river was pitch black with just the moon reflecting on the small ripples. Your guide drives the boat and shines a torch, looking for any wildlife. Their eyes are so good because they spot the smallest of creatures that we easily missed. We seen all sorts of nocturnal creatures. We didn’t manage to see an owl but another group did… that’s nature.

Kingfisher at Night

I’d recommend taking the night tour for another unique experience. While we were there we said to ourselves, when will we get another chance to cruise the Kinabatangan River at night?

Learning from Sukau Rainforest Lodge Staff

Everything runs so smoothly and the staff don’t let you lift a finger. Even the small details that make you smile a little bit more and a homely feel.  The employees are the ones that make the lodge that extra bit special. Nothing is too much for them and they are always around to help you with anything.

We were also welcomed by the rainforest when we had a huge downpour of rain. But as quick as it came, it went. The staff quickly came around to give out umbrellas. It’s the little touches.  

Lodge in the rain

One of my favourite moments was when we finally realised what the loud bangs were. Since we arrived, we kept hearing this loud thud which we assumed was probably work going on somewhere. Only when we sat at the bar chatting with the staff did they tell us what the bangs were. It was mango called ‘Belunu’ falling from the trees and hitting the ground or the roof of huts. I couldn’t believe that a fruit could make that noise but when one of the staff collected the fruit for us to see, it was quite large to be fair.

Giant mango fallen from the tree

It is a sought after and rare fruit that only comes once every four years.  We clearly picked the best time to visit Borneo. We were also allowed to try a small bit (so delicious) but not too much because we were drinking alcohol and the two aren’t great when mixed.

Thank you staff members for giving us this extra experience.

Day 3 of the Ethical Wildlife Trip in Borneo

Checking out of the jungle.

One last glorious breakfast in the unique lodge and it was time to say goodbye to our temporary home. The tour went so fast and I’d love to have had another few days there! We paid up our bill and started the journey back to Sandakan which took about 2 hours. Lots of staff were on the jetty to wave us off and I felt a sense of gratefulness for experiencing this and meeting these wonderful people.

Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sandakan

Back in Sandakan, we had lunch at Sabah Hotel which was very tasty before driving 40 minutes to the Rainforest Discovery Centre. We purposefully booked a later flight so we could enjoy the activities in Sandakan.

In Rainforest Discovery Centre - Sign warning of falling fruit

The Rainforest Discovery Centre has a sky tower to savour the forest from a high view point. It has an indoor centre too where you can learn a lot about flora, fauna and wildlife in Sabah. This is one of the best things to do in Sandakan.

Sandakan Memorial Park

Next on the itinerary, was visiting the Sandakan memorial park for remembrance of World War II, Prisoners of War. This was a harrowing experience and something you must do when visiting Sandakan, out of remembrance for all those who lost their lives. There was a total of 2,500 prisoners, of which only 6 survived. This story might never have been known if it was not for those 6 survivors.

Sandakan Memorial park sign

The park has a serenity about it and is a good place to remember what happened to the victims during the war.

Ending the Best Tour to do in Borneo

All good things must come to an end. We were transferred to the airport to board our flight out of Borneo. I have to admit it was a little sad to leave such a beautiful island. We will, definitely, be back. We went in the month of August and I believe this to be the  best time to visit Sandakan as the weather was great for us as it didn’t rain too much and wasn’t too hot.

Wildlife Round-Up

We are lucky enough to have seen a vast amount of wildlife during our safari. When you’re facing nature, there are no guarantees and this is evidence of ethical tourism. The company/centre/lodge do not feed the wildlife (unless part of the rehabilitation process) or entice/use them for tourism in any way.

In three days we managed to see: dozens of plants and flowers, birds such as Heron, Kingfisher, Hornbill, Bats, Oriental Darter, lizards, mice, geckos and beetles. We were lucky to see Orang-utans, Sun Bears, Proboscis Monkeys, Long-tail and short-tail Macaques and turtles. And for one of the dangerous animals in Borneo, the Crocodile? We seen 5 juvenile crocs!

Baby Crocodile on the bank of river

We didn’t see Pygmy Elephants but that’s nature. I’m grateful for what we did manage to see, especially those only found in Borneo and the ones that are endangered. Sukau Rainforest Lodge is where to stay in Borneo for wildlife.

How to Book a Tour with Borneo Eco Tours

Booking a tour with Borneo Eco Tours is the best way to visit Borneo and it is an extremely easy process. When you decide you want to embark on this incredible journey, here’s how to book a tour with Borneo Eco Tours.

  • Go to their website – https://www.borneoecotours.com.
  • Fill out the ‘Enquire Now’ booking form or call them. I booked all of mine online.
  • Someone will get back to you via email so you can correspond the details of your trip.
  • Your Borneo Eco Tours consultant will send you a full itinerary and a payment invoice and link for payment. My consultant was Brandon who was so helpful and without Brandon we wouldn’t have had this irreplaceable experience. Thank you Brandon.
  • Once you have confirmed and paid, the consultant will send you a link to input guest details which is important.
  • Done. It’s as easy as that.

Thank you for reading my blog on one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life and the most ideal Borneo Wildlife Tours around.

If you like this post, I’d be grateful for a re-pin!

The best wildlife safari in Borneo PIN

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I feel like im there with you both i love your video and pictures as well as your written word x im so glad your having the best time both cant wait for your next adventure lots of love both THE PIMMYS xxxxxx

Thank you Sian and Ian so much :D… glad you loved it and hope you’re both well xx

Wonderfully detailed post! We visited Sepilok last year, but didn’t make it to the Kinabatangan River. Hoping to do so in the future and appreciate this detailed review of Borneo Eco Tours!

Thank you so much for reading Becky. So glad I could hope and hope you go with Borneo Eco Tours, they are great.

I love your writing it’s from the heart and captured every emotion well done. I’m eager to hear more about your next place on your incredible journey.

Thank you so much for reading my post and for your support.

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Terms and Conditions

borneo river safari

Borneo Wildlife Safari

MYR 5,149.00 MYR 5,718.00 per pax

borneo river safari

  • Observe Orangutans at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
  • 01 afternoon river cruises and 01 early morning river cruises in search of Borneo's wildlife and birdlife. (SRL)
  • Head out to Gomantong Cave, home to thousands of swiftlets and watch out for the creepy crawlies.
  • 01 late afternoon river cruise and 01 early morning river cruise through the Nipah forest for wildlife sightings such as flying foxes, eagles & the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. (TRL)
  • If weather permits, cruise along the mirror-like river and witness the enchanting dance of fireflies as night falls. (TRL)
  • Jungle trekking through the lush Tabin rainforest for wildlife sightings. (TRL)
  • Go for a night safari and discover the nocturnal wildlife found in Tabin.(TRL)
  • Enjoy fresh locally sourced seafood. (TRL)

Encounter wild Orang Utans

If you're lucky, encounter wild Orang Utans here

Tabin, a Birding paradise

There are less than 300 irrawaddy dolphins left in the world, spacious and delightful.

Air-conditioned with a Bornean touch

Unexpected creature comforts

Hot water showers and spacious bathroom

Rainforest dining and food

Enjoy our specially cooked meals, made with fresh seafood and ingredients bought from local communities. We're happy to cater for any dietary requirements.

Day 1: Sandakan - Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Our adventure begins as we pick you up from the Sandakan Airport or your hotel in Sandakan, then we’ll head straight to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. There, you'll get to learn about the rehabilitation effort done at the centre through a short video screening. Make your way to the feeding platform to witness the feeding of orangutans and other monkeys around. You can also spend time observing the cheeky little younglings in an enclosed nursery area.

After lunch, embark on a 2.5 hour journey by speedboat up the Kinabatangan River to Sukau Rainforest Lodge.

Right after checking-in, go on board for a late afternoon cruise in search of Borneo's wildlife and birds. Return to the lodge to savour a scrumptious dinner at Melapi restaurant, followed by a slide presentation and interpretation by a naturalist guide.

Lunch, and Dinner Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Day 2: Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Rise and shine for the morning river cruise up the Kinabatangan River to Kelenanap Oxbow Lake to view more birds and wildlife. Return for breakfast, and proceed to join in a nature walk along the lodge's Hornbill and Attenborough Boardwalks with the in-house naturalist.

It will be free at leisure thereafter. Take time to do your own exploring or just relax by the lodge’s dip pool after lunch.

Head over to the newly refurbished Ape Gallery for an Ape Talk by our in-house naturalist.

In the afternoon, head out to Gomantong Caves and explore the intricate cave system. It is also known to be the largest limestone outcrop in the Lower Kinabatangan with many wildlife encounters. If you’re up for the challenge, climb up the stairs up to Simud Putih to experience the bat exodus on the platform.

Head back to Sukau Rainforest Lodge for a scrumptious dinner at Melapi Restaurant and enjoy a restful night thereafter.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Day 3: Sukau Rainforest Lodge - Lahad Datu - Tabin Rainforest Lodge

Wake up to an exciting new day! Enjoy breakfast and begin your next adventure with a 2-hour overland journey for a quick stop at the office for some light refreshments and check-in.

Then, embark on a 2.5-hour overland journey to reach our new ecolodge; Tabin Rainforest Lodge, featuring 12 air-conditioned rooms, located on the northeast corner of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Indulge in our rooms with en suite bathrooms and heated showers, as well as our covered restaurant and open deck, dip pool, and not forgetting our bar and gift corner (completed by 1st July).

Upon arrival, receive a warm welcome with a facility briefing followed by a delectable lunch and check-in thereafter.

Dive into Tabin Rainforest's world of flora and fauna during an introductory walk around the lodge. As the day unfolds, embark on a sunset river cruise for wildlife encounters and a mesmerising estuary sunset. If weather permits, you may witness a captivating summertime light show courtesy of fireflies as you make your way back to the lodge for dinner.

After dinner, go on a night safari drive for a chance to encounter the nocturnal wildlife that surrounds our forest.

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Tabin Rainforest Lodge: Deluxe Rainforest

Day 4: Tabin Rainforest Lodge

Wake up to the sounds of gibbons and hornbills in the rainforest. After a quick bite, we will set out for a short morning hike. Immerse yourself in the surroundings while getting your heart racing as we visit Cuckoo hide to photograph one of Borneo's endemic birds and other birdlife found in the area. Thereafter, return to the lodge to freshen up before enjoying a scrumptious breakfast at Kapur Restaurant.

Following breakfast, if weather and sea conditions permit, we'll embark on a river cruise adventure along the coastline, venturing into the Segama River and its mangrove forest. Keep your eyes peeled for a chance in wildlife encounters, such as flying foxes, eagles, and dolphins.

Head back to the lodge to relax and refresh before a hefty lunch. .

Explore our lodge further at the information gallery, shop for souvenirs (completed by 1st July), savour our premium in-house beverages at the restaurant and take a dip in our dip pool to beat the heat.

When the sun sets, tantalise your taste buds with a delicious dinner, and proceed to head out for a night walk around the lodge. Experience the serenity of the night and keep an eye out for nocturnal creatures like civets, leopard cats, mouse deer, and moonrats that rule the night.

Return to the lodge for a good night's rest.

Day 5: Tabin Rainforest Lodge - Lahad Datu

Rise and shine to the sounds of the jungle and have a hearty breakfast. Enjoy your free time at leisure and have a delectable lunch before check-out.

Depart for Lahad Datu for your late afternoon flight departure time.

Breakfast and Lunch

Rates are valid for bookings made from now until 31st March 2025 and for travel between 15th February 2024 – 31st March 2025.

Availability

This tour runs every day. Prior booking required.

High Season Surcharge

  • MYR300.00 per person at Sukau Rainforest Lodge
  • MYR100.00 per person at Tabin Rainforest Lodge

Children Discount on Room Sharing Basis at Sukau Rainforest Lodge & Tabin Rainforest Lodge:

  • 25% OFF when sharing a room with ONE adult / parent.
  • 50% OFF when sharing a room with TWO adults / parents.
  • This is a kid friendly tour, discount is applicable to children based on their birth year and following room sharing policy in certain property. Contact our consultant to know more.

Camera Fee at Gomantong Caves

Note on Camera Use at Gomantong Caves for personal use are chargeable at RM30.00 per adult and RM15.00 per child. Video camera for personal use, commercial use and film making is chargeable at RM50.00, RM1,000.00, and RM10,000 respectively.

  • Tours and transfers
  • Accommodation and meals as specified
  • English speaking guide.
  • Transfer - This tour package rates incldue pick-up and drop-off from Sandakan Airport and drop-off at Lahad Datu. Additional charge per person applies for pick-up and drop-off outside this area and pick up time may vary.
  • Domestic airfare (Kota Kinabalu(BKI) - Lahad Datu(LDU) - Sandakan(SDK))
  • Camera fee and items not mentioned
  • Tourism Tax (TTx) flat rate of RM10 per room per night.

logo

Borneo River Safari

borneo river safari

duration : 3 days

borneo river safari

difficulty : Easy

borneo river safari

group size : 12

borneo river safari

experience : Beginner

Spend an unforgettable 3 days exploring the wildlife filled Kinabatangan National Park. From the endemic proboscis monkeys, to orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, gibbons, and a vast variety of birds, you’ll be staying in a veritable naturists’ paradise. Borneo Nature Lodge, nestled along the riverbank of the lower Kinabatangan, is an eco-friendly resort that offers comfort without compromising the green. Spend time cruising in search of the most splendid natural treasures of Sabah.  

Highlights:  

- Spot endemic species: From the endemic proboscis monkeys, to orangutans, pygmy elephants, hornbills, gibbons, and a vast variety of birds, this is a nature lover’s paradise.  

- Comfort in middle of nature: Borneo Nature Lodge, nestled along the riverbank of the lower Kinabatangan, is an eco-friendly resort that offers comfort without compromising the green.  

- Spend time cruising in the mornings and evenings in search of the most splendid natural treasures of Sabah  

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Today’s tour starts at 08:00. Meet your guide at either the airport or hotel and drive for about half an hour to the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre where orphaned and injured Orang-Utans are brought to be rehabilitated to return and fend for themselves before release back into the wild. Sepilok is a primary lowland forest, a fine showcase of Borneo’s remaining rainforest. Witness the feeding of Orang-Utans from a platform in the forest and later watch a 25-minute scheduled video documentary. You will also visit the nearby Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where the endangered species is cared for.  

At 11:00 drive for about 2.5hrs through rustic countryside studded with villages. Take a short boat transfer to Borneo Nature Lodge. After an orientation, have lunch and check in.  

Relax by the river before embarking by boat up-river at 16:00 along Sabah's longest river, the Kinabatangan, with an opportunity to view wildlife and birds in their virgin rainforest habitat. Search for some of the primates’ species including the endemic Proboscis Monkeys as they settle down on treetops.  

Relax by the river before dinner and then tonight head out on an evening cruise to spot nocturnal wildlife on the river.  

Meals: Lunch and Dinner  

Image Gallery

Accommodations.

You will be staying in the 3-star Borneo Nature Lodge on double occupancy basis.  

borneo river safari

Do not forget to arrange for the requisite passport, visa and travel insurance, if you are booking an international trip.

We try our best to ensure accurate and up-to-date guide information, but in some cases this may change due to emergencies or other unforeseen guide scheduling challenges. In any case, another highly-rated, certified guide with similar experience would lead your trip and you will be kept informed of any such case.

Cancellation Policy

borneo river safari

Any questions? Contact us

borneo river safari

Adventure Together

Invite your friends and family on your adventure:

Borneo Adventure

Proboscis Monkey River Safari

Book this tour.

0730hrs or 1530hrs. – Pick up from your hotel and transfer to a boat jetty in the capital city. Board an open deck local wooden boat and cruise along the Brunei River passing the water village and town. This experience will give you a view of two different worlds – the modern developing capital city of Brunei and on the other side of the river the nostalgic serenity of the biggest Malay water village in the world.

Cruise past the Istana Nurul Iman, the official residence of His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and the biggest presidential palace in the world with 1,788 rooms. After passing the Royal Palace cruise slowly towards the mangrove forests that line the rivers and creeks of Brunei. See mudskippers hopping on the river banks. If you are lucky see kingfishers plunging into the water to catch small fish. White egrets and night herons are also commonly sighted during this tour. Cruise the mangroves in search of the rare and endangered proboscis monkey which usually comes near to the water’s edge in the early morning and at dusk time. The tour ends with transfer back to your hotel.

Tour & transfer, English speaking guide.

Food & beverages

2 adults per order

Single Person

Surcharge will apply, please contact us for more information.

These tours operate on the principle that you may be in a small group of other people.

Proboscis monkey, Brunei.

Interested in this tour? For more information on this tour and our other tours contact us

Also look at these tours inBrunei:

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Brunei

Experience Brunei 3D2N

3 days / 2 nights tour with pick-up in Miri, transfer to Brunei, city & water village tour, Proboscis Monkey Cruise, 2 nights hotel and transfer to airport

Tourists travelling by longboat to Ulu Temburong, Brunei

Temburong National Park Escapade

Trek the jungle trails, climb the canopy walkway and experience unspoilt rainforest on this full day tour of Temburong National Park

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Brunei

Full Day City & Water Village Tour

6 hour city tour taking in the main sights of Bandar Seri Begawan (museums, mosques and the royal palace) – and the city’s Malay water village.

Cultural Experience in Brunei

Brunei Capital City Tour

3 hour city tour taking in the main sights of Bandar Seri Begawan including museums, mosques and the royal palace.

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COMMENTS

  1. 3D2N Borneo Wildlife Safari Excursion at Kinabatangan River

    4-Star Jungle Resort Stay at the 4-Star Sukau Rainforest Lodge, where luxury meets wilderness, offering serenity & wildlife encounters. River Safari Cruising Navigate Borneo's wildlife haven as you embark on a river cruise safari in Kinabatangan and Tabin. Commendable Conservation Founded in 1964, the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre ...

  2. Kinabatangan River Cruise: A Must-do in Borneo (2024 guide)

    The river safari in Borneo is an unforgettable experience. You adopt the pace of nature and in just a few days you will leave recharged with some great memories. Staying in a comfortable lodge in the middle of the jungle has something magical.

  3. Sukau Rainforest Lodge

    Sandakan Wildlife Safari. A 4D3N tour itinerary perfect for wildlife lovers where you'll be able to experience best of both worlds. ... Sukau Rainforest Lodge is an award-winning ecolodge situated along the Kinabatangan River in Malaysian, Borneo offering the best of wildlife and nature experience. Wholly owned by Borneo Eco Tours. Contact Us ...

  4. 3D2N Kinabatangan River Safari

    Pricing. 3D2N Kinabatangan river safari. 3D2N Dorm: RM750 per person. 3D2N River Chalet: RM950 per person (twin/triple share) . Notes. Single supplement for chalet: RM300. Peak period supplement (all room types): RM70 per person per night from 1st April until 30th September 2024.

  5. Kinabatangan River: Everything You Need To Know

    The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia (and longest in Sabah). It's 560 kilometres long and starts in Borneo's interior before making its way to the sea. It's a chocolate colour and surrounded by rainforest which is home to much wildlife. Kinabatangan River.

  6. Wildlife Spotting on a Kinabatangan River Tour, Borneo

    What to Bring on a Borneo Safari / Kinabatangan River Cruise. Wingspan Optics binoculars; Natrapel DEET free mosquito repellent; Camera; Zoom (telephoto) lens - we recommend between 200-400mm. Check out the Canon 70-200mm lens for the best quality you can get! Long sleeve shirt for the afternoon/evening river cruises; Hat

  7. The Kinabatangan river safari in Sabah, Malaysia

    The Kinabatangan River is Malaysia's second longest river (at 560 kilometers). Located in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo (), the Kinabatangan has its origins in the mountains of southwest Sabah and carves its way through some of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world to its mouth in the Sulu Sea.A great way to see the abundance of unique flora and fauna is to go ...

  8. River Safari Trips in Borneo

    Sabah Wildlife Special. Travel to Borneo on a trip that visits some of the best places to see Sabah's wildlife. Enjoy boat trips to discover the extraordinary wildlife on the Kinabatangan River, including proboscis monkey, orangutan and Bornean pygmy elephant, and spend four nights at one of our favourite lodges in the Danum Valley. Find out ...

  9. PACKAGES

    Experience Borneo's incredible wildlife with a Kinabatangan river safari at Hornbill Lodge! All packages are inclusive of scheduled transfers from Sandakan, meals, accommodation at Hornbill Lodge, English-speaking nature guide, river cruises, night walks and a chance to visit the "Hornbill's Nest", our in-house wildlife observation tower with sweeping views of the Kinabatangan river!

  10. Sepilok + Kinabatangan River Safari

    River safari start at 1600 hours. Cruise along the river in search of endemic wildlife like proboscis monkey, orang utan, macaques, pygmy elephants, birds and many more. An early dinner will be served at the lodge. After dinner, return to Sandakan. Drop off at Sandakan Airport or at your respective hotel.

  11. The Kinabatangan River

    The Kinabatangan river is one of the best and most easily accessible places to see wildlife in Asia! The population density of animals on this stretch of the Kinabatangan river is second to none, including so much of Sabah's most sought after wildlife: Orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, langurs, wild cats, crocodiles, amazing birdlife and much much more!

  12. Borneo Tours

    Call 1.406.541.2677. Start Planning My Trip. Explore the jungles of Borneo from the incredible Sukau Rainforest Lodge, one of National Geographic's Unique Lodges of the World. Cruise the Kinabatangan River, considered the best place to view wildlife in all of Southeast Asia. Spend each day with your expert naturalist guide in search of pygmy ...

  13. Borneo Jungle Tours 4 days 3 Nights [Kinabatangan River Safari]

    Trip Overview. The Borneo Jungle Tours 4 Days 3 Nights Kinabatangan River Safari is an exciting and adventurous tour package that allows you to experience the natural beauty of Sabah's rainforests and the rich cultural heritage of the region. This tour offers a variety of activities that are perfect for nature lovers and those seeking to explore the local culture.

  14. Borneo Rainforest & Wildlife Reserve Safari

    Hike and snorkel Malaysian Borneo on an 11-day wildlife tour, including river safaris, rain forest visits, and overnights in wildlife reserves.

  15. Klias Wildlife Safari River Cruise

    Day 1. Klias Wildlife Safari River Cruise - Proboscis Monkey & Firefly. You will be picked up from the hotel lobby. Commence journey to Kota Klias Peninsula (approximately 112km from Kota Kinabalu city), situated between Beaufort and Kuala Penyu. It will be a scenic 2 hours ride, passing local villages, fruit stalls, and small towns.

  16. The Best Wildlife Safari in Borneo

    This is a list of what I paid for my Borneo Wildlife Tour: At time of writing: 5 MYR = £1. The Overland Kinabatangan Wildlife Safari (BB7C), 3 days and 2 nights staying at Sukau Rainforest Lodge - I paid 1850 MYR (£365) per person, based on 2 people sharing a superior room. Grand total for 2 people = 3700 MYR (£730).

  17. Borneo Wildlife Safari

    Borneo Wildlife Safari. MYR 5,149.00 MYR 5,718.00 per pax. Duration. 5d4n. Physical. medium. Tour Code. BB7A. Min. Pax. 2. Overview. Itinerary. Rates. ... 01 late afternoon river cruise and 01 early morning river cruise through the Nipah forest for wildlife sightings such as flying foxes, eagles & the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. (TRL)

  18. Borneo River Safari

    Borneo River Safari. duration: 3 days. difficulty: Easy. group size: 12. ... and a vast variety of birds, you'll be staying in a veritable naturists' paradise. Borneo Nature Lodge, nestled along the riverbank of the lower Kinabatangan, is an eco-friendly resort that offers comfort without compromising the green. ... Relax by the river ...

  19. Sabah Borneo Nature Safari Tour Experience

    MYR 300.00 per person at Sukau Rainforest Lodge (March, July - August) Children Discount on Room Sharing Basis at Sukau Rainforest Lodge. 3 years old and below: FREE STAY. 4 - 11 years old: 25% OFF when sharing a room with ONE adult/parent. 50% OFF when sharing a room with with TWO adults/parents. This is a kid friendly tour, discount is ...

  20. Klias River Safari, Sabah, Malaysia

    ©2024 Borneo Adventure · Co. No. 160090-H. KPL/LN No. 1102 · [email protected] 55 Main Bazaar , 93000 Kuching , Sarawak , Malaysia · +60-82-245175

  21. Proboscis Monkey River Safari, Brunei

    Itinerary. 0730hrs or 1530hrs. - Pick up from your hotel and transfer to a boat jetty in the capital city. Board an open deck local wooden boat and cruise along the Brunei River passing the water village and town. This experience will give you a view of two different worlds - the modern developing capital city of Brunei and on the other ...