Kinabatangan River Sukau Bilit Sabah

Kinabatangan River
(Sukau / Bilit)

About Kinabatangan River

Located just 132 kilometres out of Sandakan town, the river attracts travellers from all walks of life into the deep interiors of Borneo to unveil a destination in South East Asia unlike any other. Stretching a good 560 kilometres, the Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia, starting at Crocker Range and travels upwards to the Sulu Sea. It sustains a rich ecosystem with 5 distinct habitats, which includes surrounding areas of the river such as dryland dipterocarp forests, riverine forest, limestone caves, and freshwater and saline swamps, each contributing to the most diverse concentrations of wildlife in Borneo.

Cruise along the Kinabatangan River at dusk or dawn to spot unique wildlife of many kinds, where pygmy elephants frolic in the wild, pot-bellied proboscis monkeys chill high up in the trees, silver-tailed macaques roam free, and even a chance to spot Borneo’s favourite wild man, the orang utan. If you’ve had enough the proboscis monkeys and orang utan, the Kinabatangan riverine rainforest is also home to and one of two known places in the world to host 10 species of primates! All 8 species of hornbills - the rhinoceros, helmeted, black, pied, wreathed, wrinkled, white-crowned and bushy crested hornbills, have been spotted in Lower Kinabatangan. This region is also renowned for colourful tropical birds, crocodiles, wild boars, otters, monitor lizards, tree snakes and more.

Venture into tranquillity to absorb the sights and sounds of rainforest ensemble at the Oxbow Lake, a large crescent or U-shaped billabong cut off from the main stream of Kinabatangan River, to truly get in touch with Mother Nature. Jungle walk or even cruise along the oxbow lakes in search of more endemic wildlife in the wild terrain.

The quaint location of Sukau offers a variety of jungle trails for those who prefer to explore on their feet or hop on one of the exciting night safaris in search of nocturnal creatures.


Exploring the Lower Kinabatangan

Over the past years, increasing number of visitors have come to explore the rich and diverse wildlife, leading to many tourism operators opening up accommodation lodges, transport and guide services in the regions nearby, which in turn encourage sustainable tourism and benefit the local orang sungei or “People of the River”. The first basic camp was set up in 1989 downriver from Batu Putih and the first wildlife lodge was established in Sukau in 1991. There are now numerous lodges, both budget and luxury, located in Kampung Sukau, Kampung Bilit and all the way down river to Kampung Abai, offering visitors an opportunity to experience staying in an eco rainforest lodge and river cruising along the Kinabatangan River in search of animals and bird species.

When to visit?

There is really no best time to visit Kinabatangan region as it is welcoming to visitors all year round. December and January are the wettest part of the year, as its often flooded. November to March is the rainy season with showers in the afternoon but its also during these rainy seasons that you will get to see a greater concentration of wildlife and navigate deeper into the oxbow lakes through the river channels. The main flowering and fruiting season is during the dry season from April to October, and its good for spotting many birds and animals.

Who is it for?

It’s time to get your zoom lenses out because wildlife and birding enthusiasts and professionals are going to have a field day at the Kinabatangan River. If you’re unfazed by the love bites of leeches, you may find yourself quite at home here. Honeymooners will also find this area appealing as it offers couples a romantic escape out of urbanscapes and warmly welcomed into Mother Nature’s humble abode.

Browse through our wildlife packages offered to select one that fits your budget and travelling style. All packages include accommodation, transportation, food and guiding services, and different destination highlights to Gomantong Caves, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre or even Sandakan City Tour depending on your selection.

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