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Located on the northeast region of Borneo, the Kinabatangan River feeds into the Sulu Sea. The second longest river in Malaysia, the Kinabatangan is almost 350 miles long and is home to a remarkable array of wildlife, including saltwater crocs, orangutans, elephants and rhinos. Hiking and trekking are a big part of the adventure here, as there are limestone caves around Gomantong Hill, dryland forests, freshwater swamp forests, mangroves, and lakes. There are also many bird species along the Kinabatangan floodplain.
Meet An Asia Expert
From Our Blog
Our General Manager Victoria Hilley lived in Malaysia for many years, and loved the wildlife, particularly orangutans and pygmy elephants.
Avid adventurers and photographers come to this section of Borneo to look for saltwater crocodiles, orangutans, Asian elephants,proboscis monkeys and the Sumatran rhinoceros.
Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain
Covering 104 square miles, the lower Kinabatangan floodplain has been designated a protected area since 1997. Bring your binoculars and seek out the area's many bird species.
About 40 miles from Sandakan Town, along the Sandakan-Lahad Datu Highway, lie the Gomantong Caves, the biggest cave system in Sabah. Headlamps, good hiking boots and other essential items are encouraged for this adventure.
Hire a private guide and traverse through Borneo’s forests. In ancient times, these forests were the domain of wealthy mandarins from Mainland China, along with the Emperor who sought out elephant ivory, rhino horn and edible bird’s nests. Additional items which were sought by China’s elites include beeswax for candles, hardwoods and illipe nuts. The forests at Kinabatangan River provide wonderful opportunities for nature photography.
Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project
Lovers of the orangutan will be interested in this rehabilitation center set up by French conservationists, Dr. Isabelle Lackman and Dr. Marc Ancrenaz. In 1998, they created the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project and developed a plan to help protect and save the orangutans on Sabah. A staff of 40 members, working in conjunction with NGOs and the local government, continue to search for solutions to help the orangutans survive and even thrive in this part of Borneo.
Discover the best that Borneo has to offer on this exciting 12-day luxury journey. You’ll start in the picturesque Kota Kinabalu, staying at Shangri-La’s luxury beach resort, followed by a cruise along the Kinabatangan River, continuing through the Danum Valley, passing hanging coffins, and swimming in Sipadan.
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge
An eco-friendly lodge situated on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, Sabahâ€™s longest, the lodge is conveniently surrounded by a rich, biodiverse environment whose inhabitants include proboscis monkeys, orangutans, elephants, bears, wild cats and more. Each of the lodgeâ€™s 33 chalets feature a cabin made of wood, built on stilts high above the forest floor, and connected by treetop walkways. The lodgeâ€™s 33 rooms are comfortable but simple and the lodge features a halal restaurant for meals.
Sukau Rainforest Lodge
With colorful and exoctic wildlife on the doorstep, a stay at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the Kinabatangan River is an escape into Borneo’s verdant jungle, where the ecological balance is respected and sustained. Intrepid guests will enjoy early morning and late night boat tours on the river, looking out for the local inhabitants including pygmy elephants, monkeys and tropical birds. During the day, the 1,500-foot-long Hornbill Boardwalk is the place to spot friendly orangutans. For guests seeking a little relaxation, massages are available at the foot spa or Gomantong Hall is a cozy spot to curl up with a book from the mini-library, or a board game with a refreshing cup of tea, inside or out on the sundeck. For those feeling industrious, there are batik painting workshops and engaging slideshow presentations. The spacious twin and double bedrooms are clad with warm wood and decorated with simple, elegant local charm. After a day of unwinding or exploring nature, the lodge’s on-site restaurant - The Melapi - serves up delicious local fare, accompanied by an extensive wine list.