Kinabatangan River – Wildlife Cruise in Borneo

Kinabatangan River is with 560 km the largest River in Sabah, Borneo and one of the top wildlife watching destinations in Malaysia. The river is known for its stunning beauty of nature and for its wide range of unique wildlife living around the river area. Mangroves and the deep rainforest provide a rich ecosystem which is easily accessible for tourists. In this article we will give you usefull informations about visiting the Kinabatangan River for a tour, the best places to stay and how to get there.

Kinabatangan River Cruise

If you want to see wildlife in Sabah, a Kinabatangan River Tour is one of the best things to do in Borneo. The perfect choice for spotting animals conformably just a few meters away from your small boat. Actually a great possibility to get some great nature pics and videos. Usually, Kinabatangan River tours  starting early in the morning around 6 am and in the late afternoon at 4 pm. At that time you are going to have the best chances to see wildlife and actually, if you are lucky, you are going to see the Pygmy Elephant or an wild Orang Utan.

We went out for a few River tours and we saw an amazing amount of wild animals like Crocodiles, Proboscis monkeys, macaques, snakes, wild Orang Utans, several types like birds like horn bills and many more.

Wildlife Kinabatangan River – Home of the wild Orang Utans

In fact, the Kinabatangan’s wildlife is well known for its high concentration and diversity and so visitors can expect to see Crocodiles, Hornbills, Snakes, Gibbons as well as the popular „Pygmy“ elephant and wild Orang Utans. Lucky tourists have the chance to spot the Orang Utans along the riverbanks in a completely natural habitat!

Kinabatangan jungle trekking: day and night tours

Walking through the rainforest was a unique experience. Usually, day tours are offered as well as night tours. The jungle trekking at night was really interesting, because you can see animals that you won’t see at daytime. You can expect to see an all kinds of insects, night active birds and wild cats. Make sure you are wearing long clothes to be safe from leeches.

What to wear?

The wheater in Borneo is always hot and humid, thats why we recommend to wear lightweight clothes. Don`t forget to bring sun blocker, hats, insect repellent, long trousers and short trousers. If you want to avoid leeches you can also wear leech socks. Also put a rain poncho in your backpack – there will be some rain for sure. Good hiking shoes are important to manage the jungle hikes.

How to get to Kinabatangan River?

  • From Kota Kinabalu: Buses run from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabatangan River. The journey takes around 7 hours and the buses are going to stop a few times. At the Sukkau Spur Road the buses will drop you off and your hotel will arrange you a pick up.
  • From Santakan: From Sandakan Airport it is a 4 hours bus drive to Kinabatangan River.


Where to stay at Kinabatangan River? Lodges and Accommodations 

If you are up to explore the Kinabatangan River you should definitely stay in one of the comfortable Lodges along the river.  The cost can be very different, so its recommendet to compare the prices. Several small lodges along the Kinabatangan River offer accommodation including in the price are boat tours run by trained guides. Accommodations are offered in each price class and we recommend to book in advance. Most of the lodges provide a free pick up to its guests. Excursions like jungle trekking’s and river cruises will be organized by the lodge too.

  • Nature Lodge Kinabatangan: We stayed at the Nature Lodge Kinabatangan, in a cabin in the middle of the forest next to the river. In the package, all meals were included, the accommodation was simple but clean and the guided tours were excellent and very professional. To make the most of you stay, we recommend staying at least for two nights. Make sure you bring rain jackets, a torch, insect spray, sport shoes for the jungle walk, long clothes and a backpack.
  • The Last Frontier Boutique Resort: Set at 328 foot hill overlooking the Kinabatangan Forest Reserve. The location of the Last Frontier Boutique Resort is unbeatable
  • Singgamata Holiday Camp: Located in Bilit, the Singgamata Holiday Camp features a lovely garden and sun terrace. Every unit has a private bathroom with a bath, bathrobes, and slippers.
  • Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort: Nestled along the bank of the Kinabatangan River and tropical lush greenery, the Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort is an eco-resort with a good review at

Another possibility is volunteering in Borneo. Check out this amazing blog post about family volunteering holiday in Borneo.

Read more about Borneo

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