The Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia, winding its way through 560km of stunning scenery, spectacular limestone caves, placid oxbow lakes and mangrove swamps. Glide through Kinabatangan’s backwaters to the sound of hooting gibbons and exotic birds, keeping a lookout for rare pygmy elephants and orangutans on the tangled banks.
The Kinabatangan River begins life in the mountains of southwest Sabah and, on its journey to the Sulu Sea, gives life to a multitude of rare plants, birds and animals. Your base camp is near the village of Abai, home to the Orang Sungai, an indigenous community that lives along the riverbank. The Orang Sungai live off the land on a simple diet of locally grown vegetables, collected rainwater and river fish; a thoughtful, sustainable way of life that connects the community intricately to their surroundings.
Settle into your lodge, take a stroll through Abai, perhaps meeting a few locals, then head out on the water to discover some of the smaller tributaries and the creatures that call them home. Look carefully and you may be treated to a view of the Sumatran rhino, Borneo river shark, orangutan or pygmy elephant. Wild orangutans have been spotted close to the lodge, so keep your eyes keen when you return for the night too.
Don’t expect a lie-in during your river adventures! Wake early to the sounds of the jungle, and prepare for a pre-breakfast boat trip to witness the forest coming to life. See and hear diverse birds and animals making their way along the banks of the river in search of food, before making your own way back to the lodge for a locally-grown breakfast and the chance to plant a tree with a local regeneration project.
Journey upriver to the village of Sukau, looking out for the birdlife and primates that are usually out and about during the early afternoon, and relax on the sundeck of the lovely Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, which is perfect for some chilled-out creature-spotting. Head back out on the water with a specialist wildlife guide for one last time as the sun sets, before returning at dusk to fall asleep to the jungle chorus.