Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge
Kinabatangan River, Borneo, Malaysia
At a Glance
You could not find a better location - perched right on the edge of the Kinabatangan River, one of the best places in Borneo for wildlife spotting
For a change of scenery from the river cruises, at the back of the lodge is an incredible jungle trail, great for spotting primates
The lodge is a great advocate for sustainable tourism, with biodegradable materials, rainwater filtering, and projects to support the local community
The accommodation is simple, but there are good family options, and all of the rooms have en-suite bathrooms and overhead fans
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.
To start planning your holiday to Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is a laid back property set beside Sabah’s longest river. This eco-friendly lodge provides a simple but comfortable base for adventures along the river and into the rainforest, with some of Borneo's best wildlife-spotting.
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge has 33 rooms spread across stilted chalets. The rooms have wooden floors and walls, with simple furnishings and en-suite bathrooms. Due to the remote location, only 10 of the rooms have air-conditioning, but for those which do not, ceiling fans and the gentle river breezes help to cool the rooms down in the evening.
The main area of the lodge houses a restaurant which serves hearty buffet-style meals, and there is an air-conditioned lounge where you can watch educational documentaries about Borneo's flora and fauna in the evenings. When you are not off on one of the lodge's exciting excursions, there is a large deck at the front of the property, perfect for relaxing with a book, or watching life on the river.
Sustainable tourism is high on the agenda here, with many projects to help the local community and protect the environment. Biodegradable materials are used wherever possible and rain water is collected and filtered.
The Kinabatangan River has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Borneo. During your stay at the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, there are plenty of opportunities to try and catch site of the local animals on different boat trips and walks into the rainforest. The World Wildlife Fund have said that the Kinabatangan River is one of only two places on earth that are home to 10 wild primate species, including the proboscis monkey, Bornean gibbon and orangutan. There are also a huge number of bird species, reptiles and even pygmy elephants.
The Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge has 33 rooms, which are located in semi-detached stilted chalets. The rooms are pretty basic, but they do all have en-suite bathrooms with hot water showers. 10 of the rooms have air-conditioning, and all have overhead fans. Most of your time here will be spent out on the river and in the rainforest, and so the simplicity of the accommodation should not be a deterrent.
Children are very welcome to come and stay at the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge. Whilst there are no specific facilities for them, the accommodation is some of the most family-friendly in this part of the island, with Triple Rooms and Family Rooms available.
The lodge has a lovely deck facing the river; the perfect place to relax between adventures. There is a central restaurant which serves buffet meals. There is also an air-conditioned lounge, which usually shows nature documentaries in the evenings. At the back of the lodge is a jungle trail where red leaf monkeys and wild orangutans are often spotted.
Your days at the Kinabatangan River Lodge will largely be spent on the water and your guide will show you the smaller tributaries of the river where you may spot many species of birds and monkeys. The proboscis monkeys. which are only found in Borneo, can often be spotted at the river's edge as they come down to feed. There are also walks into the rainforest, and the lodge has a number of platforms for wildlife-spotting around the property.
Clare Barratt (Staff)
A great place to stay on the side of the Kinabatangan River. A bit bigger and busier than the neighbouring Abai lodge but the standards are very much the same, simplicity is key here in the design and facilities so you can make the most of the destination itself, in fact you will spend very little time in your rooms anyway. You can start the day with an early morning cruise to catch glimpses of the wildlife as they wake up and the sunset. You can take a trip to see a nearby Oxbow lake which is interesting to see nature at work. You will then head back to the lodge for breakfast before having some time out. Before lunch, you may want to go and visit a nearby village and later on in the day you will take another cruise to try to spot more animals and birds, perhaps a crocodile and then head back after the sunset so you can see the fireflies which are pretty special.
Katie Kennard (Staff)
Following a very comfortable speedboat ride through the mangroves and wild and incredibly noisy rainforest, you will arrive at Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge in Sukau. It does not feel quite as remote here as Abai Jungle lodge as you do see a few boats up the river doing similar cruises up the creeks. The guiding is exceptional; the guides have such excellent knowledge of the area and will certainly tell you some fascinating things about the jungle and the animals and plants that live here. You really have to embrace the experience and bearing in mind the remoteness; the rooms are basic but certainly serve their purpose. They serve fresh fish at dinner along with a selection of salads and Malay dishes. I was very impressed with their buffet.
Victoria Hogg (Staff)
As the name suggests Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is ideally located on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, which is the perfect base to explore the amazing wildlife that the area has to offer. The Sukau region is famed for its probiscus monkeys which are the most fascinating animals and when I was staying at the lodge there was even a short presentation giving you a little bit of background to them which was truly insightful. Not only probiscus monkeys, but pigmy elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and a large array of different birds can also be seen from your boat as you explore the river and the guides will go out of their way to 'spot' anything of interest. My guide 'Basri' was exceptional, not only was he patient and kind he went out of his way to explain anything and everything that we saw along the way. As with most lodges in Borneo, the accommodation is quite basic but most importantly it was extremely clean and comfortable with great service. Finally, despite how remote the lodge is the food was really quite delicious.
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.
Family Fun in Malaysia and Borneo
Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Kinabatangan River, Kuala Lumpur & Langkawi
from £5300 pp inc flights & transfers for 14 nights
- A fairly easy going itinerary, which incorporates some of the most family-friendly activities in the region
- Enjoy the fantastic combination of wildlife, adventure and relaxation
- Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre offers a good chance of spotting Borneo's most famous inhabitants
Kuala Lumpur, Sandakan, Kinabatangan River & Gaya Island
from £4400 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights
- The perfect introduction to Borneo and its highlights, combining incredible wildlife with the stunning beaches
- Enjoy a night or two in Kuala Lumpur to get over the long flight and adjust to the time zone before beginning your adventures in Borneo's Sabah state
- Stay at a traditional rainforest lodge deep within the Danuum Valley - a truly special experience
Location & directions
Kinabatangan River, Borneo, Malaysia
Set on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, Sabah’s longest river. Not far from Kampung Abai near the river mouth of the river.
How to get there
17-hour international flight (one change) to Sandakan Airport.
Please note that a stay here can only be booked as part of an itinerary.
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