The mighty Lower-Kinabatangan River sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems. It is also recognized as Sabah’s first and Malaysia’s largest RAMSAR site. Other than being home to Borneo’s indigenous orang utan and proboscis monkey, the surrounding forest is one of only two known places in the world where 10 species of primates can be found.

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. Additional tours such as night walks or night cruises can be arranged as well to spot crocodiles, birds and nocturnal animals. Do you know that all the eight species of hornbills found in Borneo, make this area their home?  The diverse species of birds seen here has listed the Lower-Kinabatangan as an Important Bird Area (IBA). Bird enthusiasts from near and far often booked a carefully designed birding tour with travel agents specializing in this niche interest.

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 in surrounding villages and provide visitors with 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!

While in the Kinabatangan area, don’t forget to visit Gomantong Cave, the largest cave and most important source of edible bird’s nest in Sabah.

Last reviewed: June 21, 2021