Abai Jungle Lodge
Kinabatangan River, Borneo, Malaysia
At a Glance
Although this is by no means a luxury lodge in terms of amenities, a stay here provides you with a rich experience
An abundance of wildlife to be seen, all you need to do is step out on to your veranda
There are wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable staff to look after you
Activities include boat trips along the Kinabatangan River, and walks through the rainforest
The lodge is set in lush and colourful surroundings
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Like the rest of Malaysia, Sabah’s climate is hot and humid. Expect temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s throughout the lowlands. The state’s rainfall averages about 300cm annually and though it rains throughout the year, the heaviest rainfall generally occurs between October and January. At higher elevations the temperature is refreshingly cool, dropping to colder temperatures at night. Mount Kinabalu has its own climate and, above 3500m, temperatures can drop to freezing.
Call us on to start planning your holiday to Abai Jungle Lodge or take a look at our itineraries to Malaysia
Abai Jungle Lodge is located on the lush banks of the Kinabatangan River in Borneo. Built on stilts, and only reachable by boat, this simple but cosy lodge provides a fantastic base for spotting the wealth of wildlife that can be found in the area.
From the moment your first step off the boat into the grounds of Abai Jungle Lodge, there will always be something to see, whether that is a monkey, brightly coloured flowers in the lush gardens or a bearded pig, the area is a treasure-trove for nature lovers.
Accommodation is basic, but most visitors only spend a night or two here, and stays are very much about the experience rather than the rooms. There are 24 rooms, spread across chalets along the boardwalks. Each chalet has three rooms with a shared veranda. The rooms have overhead fans and en-suite bathrooms which have hot water showers.
The open-air restaurant has a lovely social atmosphere, as it is a popular stop-off point for visitors and locals on their way down the river. The restaurant serves delicious local produce and fresh fish brought in by the villagers. On the riverfront there is a large open deck which offers a charming place to relax and admire your surroundings.
You will spend your days going out on boat trips to cruise along the river, taking in the scenery and hopefully catching sight of the local inhabitants. Here, you may see pygmy elephants, orangutans, many species of birds, including hornbills and kingfishers, bearded-pigs, monkeys and snakes; to name but a few! There are also extensive boardwalks from the lodge into the jungle, and so there is plenty of opportunity to explore on foot.
The 24 rooms are split into groups of three in wooden chalets accessed by scenic walkways. Each chalet shares a large veranda which looks out on to the river. You can either opt for a twin or double room. The rooms feature an overhead fan and an en-suite bathroom with a hot-water shower.
Children are welcome to stay at Abai Jungle Lodge, although there are no specific facilities for them.
Abai Jungle Restaurant is on the waterfront, serving a range of western dishes and Malaysian specialities made with local produce. The lodge also has an outdoor deck with a few sun loungers, which is a nice way to spend some down time or spot some of the wildlife around the river.
Unsurprisingly, the activities offered at Abai Jungle Lodge focus on the wonderful wildlife in the area. The Kinabatangan River has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo, with a plethora of bird species and mammals, many of which have been known to roam close to the lodge. The knowledgeable staff will accompany on wonderful boat trips and board walks, ensuring you make the most of your experience.
Katie Kennard (Staff)
Set off by speed boat from a small floating village on the outskirts of Sandakan through the electric blue Sulu Seas. Perched on the side of the Mangrove forest, Abai awaits you. Its large decking has lots of shady spots and comfortable swinging chairs, perfect for bird watching. Most of the time though, you will find yourself cruising up the river, searching for wild urang-utans, pigmy elephants, crocodiles, some of the largest and smallest kingfishers and other birds. Although the rooms are basic, they have very effective fans, good showers and the staff and guides are very attentive and will endeavour to make the experience as personal as possible, spotting all your favourite animals. One of my highlights was cruising at night watching the fireflies on the trees and also the staff's tuneful singing during dinner.
Clare Barratt (Staff)
Abai Jungle lodge has a really special setting on the edge of Kinabatangan river right amidst all the jungle and river action. Run by S.I. Tours all the guides are really familiar with the lodge and all works on quite an itinerary based schedule. Accommodation here is very basic, you are in the middle of the jungle so this is to be expected! Rooms are fine and perfectly comfortable for a night or two, there is no air conditioning but there is a fan and mosquito nets on the windows so you don't get too hot. The bathrooms might be a bit leaky but they are clean, the local staff are friendly and fun but don't expect 5 star service. Food is simple and local but very edible. The only alcohol they have here is wine and beer, and you must pay for drinks with cash, so stop by an ATM and bring along a bottle of gin! What makes a stay here quite special is that there are no other lodges nearby so there aren't hoards of boats gunning for the same pigmy elephant on your cruise!
Abai Jungle Lodge - Tree Planting Project
Join in a local tree planting project to encourage more growth and wildlife on the riverbanks. After planting a tree you will be invited to enjoy a simple lunch with the locals and you can also explore their village.
Kinabatangan River - Afternoon River Cruise
In the late afternoon set off by boat to explore the Kinabatangan River. Enjoy the scenery as the sun sets, watching the colours change across the sky. You may be lucky enough to spot the fireflies begin to twinkle along the riverbanks as night falls.
Kinabatangan River - Night Walk
Accompanied by the lodge's naturalist, enjoy an evening adventure along the boardwalk around the property. This is a great opportunity to spot some of the area's nocturnal wildlife, including snakes, birds and insects.
Pitas Oxbow Lake
Take an early morning boat ride along the Kinabatangan River to the Pitas Oxbow Lake. This is a great spot to try and catch site of some of the area's incredible wildlife, which can include proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and crocodiles.
Sepilok Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary
Visit the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Here you will have a chance to see successfully rehabilitated orangutans coming to feeding platforms, and perhaps even juvenile orangutans during one of their daily training sessions.
Visit the Gomantong Caves
The impressive Gomantong Caves are located close to the lower Kinabatangan River, surrounded by wildlife-rich rainforest. This limestone cave system is famous for its huge populations of swifts and bats.
Malaysia and Borneo Honeymoon
Gaya Island, Kinabatangan River, Kuala Lumpur & Langkawi
from £4300 pp inc flights & transfers for 13 nights
- A great adventure perfect for those wanting to combine fascinating wildlife with beautiful beaches
- Discover the diverse city of Kuala Lumpur from the mighty Petronas Towers to the local Batu Caves
- Langkawi offers the perfect respite at the end of your holiday. Relax on the white sand beaches or discover the underwater world in the calm waters
Location & directions
Kinabatangan River, Borneo, Malaysia
Abai Jungle Lodge is situated at 47km from the river mouth of Kinabatangan River, the longest river in Sabah and Malaysia's second longest river.
How to get there
The Abai Jungle Lodge is accessed by a 17-hour international flight (one change) to Sandakan Airport, followed by a road and boat transfer through the Kinabatangan Wetlands.
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