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“Simple river lodge with great staff”
Review of Abai Jungle Lodge

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Abai Jungle Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 16, 2011

We stayed for one night at the Abai Lodge and had a wonderful time. As with others we were there to see the wildlife and weren't disappointed - proboscis monkeys, hornbills, egrets, orangutans, red lipped monkeys, snakes and lizards. Perhaps we were lucky. With the boats moored up directly in front of the lodge we were able to go out three times on the river.

The rooms themselves are basic, but with all the flowers outside on the walkway they've tried to make the place as attractive as possible. There is another walkway around the jungle nearby and we walked around this in the afternoon and got to see more animals and insects.

The lodge staff were quite honest about the fact there is just a fan to cool the rooms and in the afternoons it is like a BBQ indoors. By the evening it was fine, with the fan on, to sleep (if, like me, you need silence to sleep bring some earplugs). Meals were buffets and plentiful. Breakfast followed a morning boat trip and was served in the forest on the walkway, with squirrels popping up to get some toast.

We booked the whole trip with SI Tours and we would recommend them to anyone. I booked after email correspondence and their service in Borneo was very professional. Our tour also took in the Sepilok Orang Sanctuary and the Sandakan War Memorial Park, both of which I'd recommend.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Dougdog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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241 - 247 of 299 reviews

Reviewed September 9, 2011

The rooms are chalets, reached by board walks amongst very colourful gardens. They are very basic but clean and fairly comfortable. The bathroom is a simple shower with plenty of hot water. Food is served buffet style and is quite good but more or less the same at every meal. The staff were all friendly and helpful. We stayed for 2 nights and I would not have liked to stay longer (I do like luxury hotels but we were told this was the best in the area!)
On the positive side the lodge is in an excellent situation. It is the only lodge in the area so there are fewer people and boats on this part of the river. We had a private guide and sometimes we went out on the river and didn't see another person for two hours - excellent for wildlife viewing (of which we saw lots, including orang-utans).

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Diana014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 7, 2011

I didn't expect too much from Abai, after all, it's in the middle of the jungle! Rooms are basic, don't be surprised to find bugs (we had lots of ants in the bathroom). The lodge location is nice since there aren't many other lodges in the Abai area - we didn't see any other tour boats. The staff was great. My biggest gripe (not the fault of the lodge) was we did not see one Orangutan! That was our primary reason for booking and we didn't see any at Abai, or at the other lodge. Mostly just monkeys, a crocodile, a snake, a tree frog and other bugs. Also, I thought the price tag was a bit high - the lodge is super rustic, food was just ok and wildlife was minimal. I paid less in the Amazon and saw MUCH more during a longer stay.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank traveltrotter50
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 21, 2011

Lodge on the river with a small but nice jungle trails as well as excursions in the surrounding area.
Simple but tidy rooms.The staff although it was at own pace it was friendly and helpful.
The food was quite good although it could be better.
Do not miss a walk at the trails of the hotel.

Stayed: March 2011, traveled as a couple
Thank Alexandros D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2011

Rooms were fine, basic, clean. The rooms were really hot, even with fan. The food was fine, nothing amazing. The guides were the same as the Kinabatangan Lodge and were just ok. Did the touristy planting a tree and visiting the village across the river. There is a walkway around the lodge which was nice at different times of the day, including night walk where we saw frogs and insects. We went on afternoon and morning safaris, didnt see many animals unfortunately.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled solo
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Thank HnLA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2011

This lodge provided the perfect getaway from civilization while enjoying nature at her best. We arrived here with S.I. Tours who provided the best quality service we have ever experienced in Malaysia (or anywhere else). The lodge itself was extremely basic located right off the Kinabatangan River (downstream from the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge). There are several viewing towers that allow for optimum bird watching.

Upon arrival we were introduced to the entire staff from the kitchen, the boat operators, the nature guides, etc. We were also greeted by Rose, a local orangutan who frequent the lodge. We spotted birds, monkeys, lizards, bats, a vast array of insects while here. We took 3 river cruises to spot wildlife. We were completely amazed! The guides here are incredible at what they do.

Since we were the only couple there that night, we probably got special treatment. Our dinner was made just for us, when we were ready. The next morning we cruised into the Oxbow lake and had tea on the boat and we listened to the wildlife surrounding us awake. It was out of this world. When were returned to the lodge, we were told we would be going for a nature walk in the rainforests surrounding the lodge. We did, and were surprised when we stumbled upon the lodge staff cooking breakfast for us right there. We could not get over all the hardwork and time they took just for the 2 of us!! We were delighted when they all joined us to eat...

I highly recommend S.I. Tours. You will be in for a trip of a lifetime!

  • Stayed: February 2011, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank sassibassi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 17, 2011

Abai Lodge and the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge are sister lodges, both operated by SI Tours. The Abai lodge is located an hour's boat ride from Sukau, in the direction of Sandakan. Somehow, although closer to Sandakan, the lodge's location is more remote, with no other lodges close by, and only Abai Village (accessible only by boat) across the river as a neighbor. We felt that Abai lodge was much, much nicer than the KRL. The wildlife viewing is about the same, as are the rooms/chalets (slightly newer, with slightly nicer bathrooms, but really very similar), but the grounds are so much prettier. Flowers spill over pots that are placed all around the main dining area, which is also open-air and set at the river's edge. There is a fairly extensive boardwalk that runs back into the forest behind the lodge, with several viewing platforms -- we greatly enjoyed walks along this boardwalk, and spotted birds, a pygmy squirrel, a very cool little frog (toad?). . . Other guests have reported seeing orangutans here, although we did not. Somehow the lodge just had a more "special" feeling than the KRL did, and we strongly preferred it to its sister lodge.

We spent an hour or so around lunchtime visiting Abai Village, across the river. We walked around the village, learning about the reforestation project run there, and seeing the school, community hall, and the homes of its residents. The tour ended with tree planting and lunch. I had thought that the lunch would be a little more interactive -- and the village children did mingle about close by, but the truth is that it was more of a catered lunch that happened to be served in the village for us tourists, than a "village lunch". My kids finished up early, and introduced themselves to some of the children, but they would have enjoyed being able to stay and play with them a bit. My husband also tried to connect -- since language was a barrier, he taught them a silly game that involved putting his hand in front of his face, lifting it to reveal a goofy expression, hiding his hand behind his face again, and then lifting it to reveal a different goofy expression . . . (I think he got this idea from the movie Madagascar -- the lion does this). As we pulled away in the boat to head back to the lodge, the children were still playing the game. It was sweet!

As we set out for our evening boat ride, after having spent a relaxing afternoon exploring the boardwalk and sipping tea by the edge of the river, we had one goal in mind -- elephants! When we left for our trip, we set our expectations low, knowing that we would have to be lucky to find both orangutans and elephants in the wild. Orangutans were our priority, and we were amazingly lucky in sighting them as often as we did . . . but by our third day on the Kinabatangan (we had spent two nights at the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge -- see my review), we had still not seen an elephant! Our guide, John, informed us that the elephants could be seen anywhere at any time. There really was no best place, according to him, for sightings. It all depended on luck! And, unlike Danum Valley, where there were rangers and researchers out with the sole purpose of keeping track of the local orangutan population -- noone was really doing that with the elephants along the Kinabatangan, so you had to be lucky enough to sight them on your own!

As we drifted along the river, we saw more birds, long-tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys (which we had seen the previous two days) . . . and then about 20 minutes into our ride, we spotted two boats pulled up right to the edge of the river, nestled into the vegetation. That meant, of course, that they had seen something -- so we tootled over. . . We were about two meters away from the boats when we heard a blood-curdling roar from an elephant! We about jumped out of our boat, from both surprise and joy!!! Our adrenaline levels immediately surged!! We spent the next 20 minutes or so just trying to get a glimpse -- they were right there!!! we could hear them!!! -- but somehow, we couldn't see them! Over the course of the next hour or so, though, we saw several of them as we went back and forth 50 meters or so up and down the river. It was a herd of about 15-20 elephants, including several juveniles, and at several points, we were fewer than 2 meters away from these beautiful creatures as they came down to the water to drink (or, in one case, to stand guard between us and a passing baby) It was such an emotional and amazing experience -- that I never dreamed I would have!

John, seeing how amazed our boatload (there were 8 of us) was, made sure the driver stayed with the elephants, and we were there longer than any of the other boats that passed by. We thought that maybe the elephants would swim across the river, as they sometimes do, but they didn't -- they were settling down where we had seen them.

As the light faded, we needed to head back. This was Easter Sunday, and as we sped back to the lodge, there was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen over the river. It felt too magical to be real -- and yet it was! Even as I type this, I feel the emotion swelling in my chest!

We were at the lodge for about 20 minutes (just enough time to apply some insect repellant!) before we got back into the boats to zip up the river. It was completely dark now, and the stars in the sky were so bright!!! (We don't have stars so bright here -- too many lights, and too much pollution!) We were riding out to see the "fireflies" of Abai -- a type of firefly that swarms a particular type of tree, of which there were 5 or 6 bunched together 2-3 minutes away from the lodge. The trees truly looked like they were alight with blinking Christmas lights -- and under that starry sky . . . The magic just continued!

The next morning, we transferred to Sandakan to connect with our boat to Lankayan Island.

For my full trip report (and lots of pictures), feel free to visit my blog:
www.itsawonderfilledworld.blogspot.com

  • Stayed: April 2011, traveled with family
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4  Thank wonderfilledworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Abai Jungle Lodge

Address: 47 km from the river mouth of Kinabatangan River | Abai, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 10 Specialty Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Number of rooms: 30
Also Known As:
Abai Jungle Hotel Sabah
Abai Jungle Lodge Kinabatangan District, Sabah, Malaysia

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