Borneo: Kinabatangan River, part 1

I should consider myself lucky to be able to have witnessed so much wildlife in Borneo before it’s gone. It’s a lot like the disappearing Great Barrier Reef although our impact is much more direct in Borneo. We just take the land and jungle and convert them into plantations. Fortunately there is a few sanctuaries where animals can roam free and we cannot do anything but admire them – and one of the places where you can do that is the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.


The area around this second longest river in Malaysia is very rich in wildlife. You are guaranteed to see monkeys (including endangered Proboscis Monkey and Orangutans) and birds and if you are lucky you may spot saltwater crocodiles, elephants, snakes, leopards, cute tarsiers and more! So if you come around make sure you get a telephoto lens with you as the wildlife photo opportunity along the river is amazing!


The end of my Mabul Island trip commenced the beginning of the Kinabatangan adventure. But until I got to the jungle I had to cross the sea from Mabul to Semporna and stay the night in Semporna. I wasn’t sure it was a great idea considering how rough the city seemed when I first arrived and for that reason I decided not to wander around after dark. I paid a quick visit to a local shop though and then shut myself in the room. Safety first!


The boat ride back to the mainland was fairly easy. I was somehow glad I was coming back and excited to take a ride into the jungle!


Looks like Thailand that!


Back in Semporna. It was getting dark and I was getting hungry. And then I saw this poor guy and I was hungry no more…


A glorious view from my place.


I did not get a chance to look inside and check the prices but I bet one could find some real bargains in there! 🙂 The problem with shops like the below is that locals see you are different and know you are a tourist and will try to get as much money out of you as possible. Squeeze that dollar mate! That means getting an actual bargain is sometimes quite difficult – if you don’t mind fakes in the first place.


And what a good morning! Time to take a bus to Kinabatangan. The journey takes about 4 hours from Semporna on a air-conditioned bus so one cannot complain. I had stuffed my bag with all the gooddies from Giant and was ready to go. Just needed to take a walk through the city to find the bus station. Allowing yourself plenty of time is extremely important.


Durian fruit. Probably the worst smelling fruit in the world. And the taste in no better but some locals love it! It’s just like Marmite, you either love it or hate it! I am not sure which I am… kidding. I know exactly I hate both smell and taste. Yukh!


My bus to Kinabatangan. It kind of stands out from the surrounding poverty…


Petrol was not expensive at all. Probably because Malaysia has good reserves of petrol in offshore fields and can keep the prices lower in the country.


This must be a house of someone very important…


Imagine going to a place full of wild crocs and it does not help they screen a crocs-killer movie on the bus!


But seriously I think people scare me more sometimes. Some are so reckless and you can’t even laugh if an innocent child is at stake…


A short break halfway. As you can see the traffic is on the left-hand side. Malaysia was part of British colony if you wondered.




Finally arrived to Nature Lodge Kinabatangan – a camp located right on the river banks. The idea of being squished between a river full of crocodiles and a scary jungle on the other side worried me a bit, but that’s because we fear what we do not know. So after a short while once I got to know a little bit more about the place I was more curious than concerned. Although there is no fooling around with crocodiles so one had to be alert at all times!


Taking a shower or a pee right in the heart of nature. What’s not to love here!


The place was so remote that there was no mobile coverage. Spending couple of days without Facebook and Instagram and news from the World was somehow liberating.  I would lie if I said I did not miss it, but on day two I was glad I did not have to check for updates and notifications. Strange? Possibly. But I really, really liked being so close to  wild nature. Wild River cruises and jungle walks were definitely the highlights of this trip!


The wildlife was most active in the morning when the temperatures were still reasonable. It was also good time for photographers to take great photos as the light wasn’t too strong and shades were not overwhelming. Getting up early was not a struggle at all when you were guaranteed to see funky monkeys and birds and had a chance to see some rare and endangered animals.


Hornbills were not a very rare sight but still a joy to see.


The villages are so remote and set far apart that there is no chance for stationary healthcare. The solution to that remoteness is a boat-hospital that moves from one village to another along the river.


Sometimes the waters got very busy. Different tour operators cooperate with each other and if one boat notices something, they would let others know of the sight.


Wild Orangutans! My trip to Borneo is complete 🙂





A very beautiful and exotic evening.


We are having our tea and have invited a guest. Such a cutie!


A not-so-cute scorpion. Some creatures came out at night only. This black forest scorpion is not deadly but if it stings it can cause a great discomfort, pain and swelling.


Wild orchids.



No one expected (but everyone hoped) to see a tarsier and guess what? We (a group of visitors who opted for a night jungle walk) were lucky enough to come across one. Amazingly cute little creature! 🙂



Time to call this a day. What a busy day!

Thanks for checking the blog out!




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