The mighty Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems. Other than being home to Borneo’s indigenous orang utan and proboscis monkey, the surrounding forest is also one of only two known places in the world where 10 species of primates are found. All the eight species of hornbill found in Borneo make this area their home.

A trip up the river at dawn or dusk is the best opportunity to see the wildlife. You might even sight the Bornean pygmy elephant wandering along the river banks.

Many major local tour companies run lodges in the Sukau, Bilit and Abai area with packages that include accommodation (ranging from backpackers to luxurious river lodges), transportation, meals and guided tours. Optional tours can be arranged for night cruise as well to spot crocodiles, birds and nocturnal animals. A few lodges also offers night walks to spot for nocturnal animals or insects.

Although an overnight trip is do-able, a minimum of three days is recommended to stay here in Kinabatangan. A longer stay will yield a better chance to spot this wildlife.

Alternatively, you may want to experience the homestay programme which is available at surrounding villages, which provides a good opportunity to truly experience the life of the Orang Sungai. Join in their cultural activities or even try your hand at the local way of farming!

Don’t forget to visit Gomantong Cave, the largest cave and most important source of edible bird’s nest in Sabah, just 30 minutes away from Kinabatangan.

Last reviewed: March 12, 2021