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Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 31, 2012

Right in the heart of the rainforest with beautiful animals and plants on your doorstep. What a wonderful place. Staff lovely, food good, experience second to none.

Would be good if we could dry out our clothes after a drenching yesterday but this morning's early cruise made up for it with hornbills, orangutans and proboscis monkeys all on view!!

Would commend heartily

Stayed: March 2012
1  Thank isobelb52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 9, 2012

In the rainforest and reachable only by boat. Crocodiles, monitors, various monkeys, elephants, snakes and loads of birds. Walk in the trackless rainforest (but not without a guide!) and get some leech socks. Lodges are spacious, clean and basic. Food ok but limited choice. Staff/service fair to good. Extreme humidity and you are wet all the time.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank forest-46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 26, 2012

This hotel is situated on a magnificient place! In the jungle, on the banks of the river. There is a plenty of animals there, from all kinds. There are organised boat trips everyday, where you can see crocodiles, elephants, different kinds of monkeys, snakes, insects and so on.

The only disadvantage of the hotel is due to the humidity, but not managemen. In this part of the world humid is very high and as soon as you enter your room, it smells like mold, but there is nothing to be done about it, even if maids clean and change your towels and sheets 3 times per day.

But, it's worth visiting this hotel.
Also there is a wooden path made by people, maybe 0,5km in the jungled, where you can walk around in the very jungle!
Food is perfect :)

Room Tip: all room are the same, I think!?
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with friends
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2  Thank mimkaBurgas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BorneoParadise, Public Relations Manager at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded March 4, 2012

Dear mimkaBurgas,

Thank you so much for your kind reviews!

Best Regards
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Management

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2012

Stayed at the Lodge for 2 nights and spent 2 full days on the river spotting wildlife. Saw orangutans, macaques, crocodiles, lizards, frogs, snakes and lots of different birds. If you want to you can chill out at the lodge but most people are there for the jungle experience. Rooms are comfortable. No TV of course so bring a book/cards. Lodge has just 20 rooms. When we were there there were about 30 people. Food is excellent and is served buffet style next to the river. You will not go hungry as there is even a light breakfast at 5.30 am for the early morning cruise. Would recommend to all nature lovers.

Room Tip: All rooms are identical on ground floor.You need to be fit and able to climb stairs from boat jetty.
  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank Culturevulture23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BorneoParadise, Public Relations Manager at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded March 4, 2012

Dear Culturevulture23,

Thank you so much for your kind review and for your recommendation!

Best Regards
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Management

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2012

We spent 2 nights here which were the highlight of our overall trip. Ten of us stayed in total and luckily we all got on well. The 2.5 hr speed boat was a great way to see the river and we had our first gentle cruise around the river about an hour after we arrived.
The thing I liked about this trip rather than other providers was that it suited less mobile folk. We simply sat in the boat and enjoyed the treats of seeing Probiscus monkeys, Macaques, Monitor lizards and even wild orang and her baby a way up ithe tree tops above the lodge. We were invaded by monkeys one day and they provided lots of hilarity when they ransacked the lodge and stole all the sugar. We were lucky enough to see a herd of around ten Pygmy elephants grazing at the rivers edge, awesome!
The accommodation was clean and comfortable and the fans provided acceptable coolness, even tho I am a fan of aircon I was not uncomfortable at all. The food was very good especially breakfast. I had the Malysian mee every morning, it was delicious. The egg chef was excellent as well. all overlooking the river. The early morning cruise was unmissable, misty river with sun rise. What I didn't like was the jungle walk. About twenty minutes in mud with leeches on the hunt for blood, couldn't see the point myself!
We finished up in Sandakan with a lunch at the English Tea house and a visit to the War Memorial. Borneo Eco Tours were great! Memorable trip

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank DaisySails
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2012

I stayed here with my family for 2 nights as part of a package with Borneo Ecotours. Our guide met us at the airport at Sandakan early in the morning and took us to visit Sepilok. Then a buffet lunch at the Sabah hotel and a 2 hour boat ride down the Kinabatangan River to Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Our stay at the lodge was simply wonderful, the highlight of our holiday in Sabah.

The lodge is built on the river bank, with a long board walk, lit by tiki torches at night, leading from the jetty to the lodge itself. Most of the lodge is open to the rainforest, with a roof but no walls, except for the guest rooms. There did not seem to be any fences around the lodge so wildlife can move freely around. There is a wildlife spotting board walk and 'elephant walks' at the back of the lodge. One night monkeys came in to the lounge area and caused a bit of a mess but the staff cleaned it all up before the guests were up and about next morning.

The guest rooms are very pleasant, with comfortable beds, and an ensuite bathroom. There is a guest lounge, where morning and afternoon tea are served, and a guest dining room overlooking the river. Meals are served buffet style with a variety of western and Asian choices and the food was very tasty. Drinking water and wi-fi are freely available. Considering the lodge is in the middle of the rainforest, the quality of the accommodation is amazing.

Morning, afternoon and evening wildlife cruises on the river are available. I would recommend you do them all, as there are different animals and birds stirring at different times of the day, and also the river itself is beautiful to experience- the mist in the morning, the cool breeze in the afternoon and the mystery at night. We spotted many animals and birds, but the herd of a dozen or so pygmy elephants late one afternoon was probably the highlight.

The lodge also offers a jungle walk for an hour or so each morning. It is worth doing once if you haven't done it before but be warned, you need gumboots and leech proof socks and a really good insect repellent. It is probably unlikely you will see any animals there, other than leeches and insects, but it is interesting to see the rainforest from a different perspective.

After leaving the lodge we travelled back by boat to Sandakan, visiting the war memorial and Agnes Keith house, both recommended.

  • Stayed: January 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank scarlett345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2012

My husband and I stayed at Sukau Rainforest Lodge for 2 nights (December 27-29). Because we were unable to arrive into Sandakan until about 1 pm (we were coming from the Maldives via KL and KK), we could not take a boat to the lodge and instead were met by a driver. He was very nice and even stopped at a roadside stand along the way to buy us a bag of delicious local fruits, with much-appreciated instructions on how to open/peel/eat each one. The land journey from the airport to Sukau took about 2 hours.

Upon arrival we quickly dropped our bags in our room, took a few photos of an orangutan up in a tree at the resort, and jumped on one of the small boats for the afternoon wildlife cruise. We were put together with a British couple who had just arrived as well, and they and our guide became our assigned boat group for the rest of our stay. This first wildlife cruise became the highlight because this was when we saw a family of five pygmy elephants, three adults and two babies. They were quite far from the resort, but the other guides (already returning from their cruises, because we left an hour later) told our guide they were there, so we kept going along the river until we found them. It was steadily raining and becoming dusky by then, but it was well worth it – seeing the elephants in the wild was wonderful!

We also saw probiscis monkeys, other types of monkeys, and an orangutan making its bed for the night. By the time we returned to the lodge it was completely dark and nearly dinner time. Dinner that night was at tables assigned by guide. The other groups were quite large (10+ people) and seemed to have been together for multi-day multi-destination Borneo tours. Our table was just us and the Brits, but luckily we liked them very much. And we were glad to only have the four of us in our boat.

After a night of hard rain, there was a pause the next morning that allowed us to go on the early wildlife cruise. We saw more monkeys and orangutans, including a mother and baby. And we also saw a crocodile. The boats went up a side river to Oxbow Lake, and there was an opportunity to do a jungle trek, but our guide warned us off of it. It was super muddy and he said we'd certainly get leeches and that there was really no wildlife to be seen along this well-travelled path. So we skipped that.

By lunchtime it was absolutely pouring, and all wildlife trips were cancelled for the rest of the day. That left a lot of time to sit around the lodge, which is entirely open air except for the guest rooms. We spent most of our time in the lobby lounge, on our computer (free wifi), reading, or chatting to the British couple and to the manager, Donnie, a South African who has been there for less than a year. There are board games and a communal bookcase, but that's about it for entertainment outside of wildlife spotting. (Just want to make sure this is understood – Sukau is a remote location and there is no TV, no place to visit off-site, etc).

Donnie is a very nice guy, enthusiastic about the lodge, and has lots of good ideas about improvements. The real lobby was undergoing renovation even then - the temporary lobby is right next to it, in an area that is normally an event/lecture hall – and the new boat dock/restaurant had just recently been completed. He's almost finished with new housing for the staff, and he's also been doing infrastructure improvements (generators, water, etc). Donnie is also pretty sure they're about to put air conditioning in some of the rooms. It's not as eco friendly, but it will attract more guests and allow them to charge more for those rooms, and they can then put that extra money back into community education programs.

The rooms are basic but comfortable. We ended up in a room with two twin beds, as did the British couple, but I had a peek into another room as it was being cleaned and saw that it had a double bed. If it's important to you, I'd advise specifically requesting one. The showers are large and modern. Bring your own toiletries. We found the room quite dark (there's only one window at the back) and not a place we'd really want to hang out in. No AC, just a ceiling fan, which was fine at the time of our stay since it was pouring with rain and fairly cool. We did not have a bug problem – used bug spray in moderation and didn't get bit even once.

Meals are served over the water on the dock where you also board the boats. I told them I was a vegetarian at time of booking and again upon arrival, and the first night there was a good selection of vegetables to put over rice. Not so at lunch or dinner the next day. Breakfast was toast, cereal, pancakes, eggs, etc. Meals are plain, simple, and mainly Asian, but if you're not a vegetarian you'll do fine. I did fine, too, but I supplemented with the nuts and protein bars I'd brought along for just such a situation. Meals and activities are included in the room rate but drinks (soda, beer, and wine) are extra (but fairly priced).

We wish the weather had been better – it was a long way to travel for a 2-night stay that turned into only one day of wildlife spotting. I'd recommend going in the dry season and staying for 2-3 days. I gave the property 3 stars because it is certainly not a 5-star resort. But it's not in a location that would support 5-stars, and it is pleasant for what it is, and the wildlife spotting is of course the point. It was great to see the orangutans, and elephants, though, so we don't regret having made the trip!

One last tip: we were going from Sukau to the diving destination of Sipadan. We'd booked plane tickets from Sandakan to Tawau, the nearest airport. It would have been a 2-hour drive from Sukau back to the Sandakan airport, 2+ hours at the airport and in flight, and then a drive of 1.5 hours from Tawau airport to the port of Semporna to catch the boat to Sipadan. The driver who took us to lodge told us that you could drive from Sukau to Semporna in ~4 hours. Donnie arranged it for us for $100. We abandoned the plane tickets and didn’t regret it, because driving was far less hassle and we got to Sipadan much earlier in the day. Definitely recommend this!

Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
3  Thank frangipani7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Address: Sukau, Lower Kinabatangan River | 2 1/2 hours from Sandakan by boat, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 Specialty Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Hotel Class:3 star — Sukau Rainforest Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo's most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo's magnificent wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the rainforest and the cacophany of its inhabitants, its majestic birds, all 7 species of Borneo Primates including Borneo's iconic Proboscis Monkey, Orangutans in their natural habitat as well as herds of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability. We promise to give you and your family an experience you'll always remember and one you'll never regret. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sukau Rainforest Hotel Sabah
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Kinabatangan District, Sabah, Malaysia

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