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“Worth the money, excellent Lodge”

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Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 25, 2012

I spent a lot of time researching the lodges and trips at Kinabatangan River. I read so many reviews of lodges that were basic and uncomfortable but were much cheaper than the Borneo Ecotours trip. However, following the recommendation of a friend, I opted for 3D2N trip booked through Borneo Ecotours at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge and i'm so glad I did.

The lodge was very comfortable, the rooms perfectly designed for the setting, the food was great and the service was excellent. Our tour guide, Jumandi, was excellent and really cared that we had a great time and saw as many animals as possible - orangutan, crocs, monkeys, birds and snakes.

I would highly recommend this trip and this lodge. It was well worth the extra money. Our time was well organised yet relaxing.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Tango008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 11, 2012

We selected an itinerary with Borneo Eco Tours at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge for two main reasons - we'd heard the wildlife viewing was better than even Danum Valley, and we loved the eco-tourism concept of this lodge.

Be prepared, there is no A/C, which makes for toasty nights with the heat and humidity. That said, given their use of solar, recycled rain water for showers, very well appointed rooms, and delicious meals, particularly given the remote location, this was a great place to be.

Wildlife included crocodiles, birds, gibbons (a rare sighting for which we felt lucky), several types of monkeys, including a showdown between two proboscis monkey tribes, and a brief orangutan sighting, among many others. Take the night tour if you can, we saw a wide variety of creatures and critters, from snakes and frogs to owls and flying lemurs.

There was also a day tour of Sandakan the day we left, which included the Alice Keith house, the WWII Australian Memorial, and afternoon tea.

If you go expecting wilderness and a river safari, and just enjoy what you see with no requirements of what you must see (we missed pygmy elephants by an hour or so, given their footprints), you'll have a great time.

I rated this 4 stars due to the guides' seeming universal willingness to get much closer to the wildlife than seems appropriate - having safaried around the world, there were a couple instances where we were uncomfortable with the distance from unpredicable wild animals.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Boskk69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2012

We normally stay at five star hotels and to be honest they're all a bit the same. You could be anywhere in the world. Sukau Rainforest Lodge on the Lower Kinabatangan river made me remember how nice it is to be a bit more adventurous. This is adventure with a luxurious edge. The rooms were lovely with comfortable beds, ceiling fans to keep cool and stylish bathrooms. Breakfast, lunch and dinner (all very appetising) are included in the cost and you eat on the jetty overlooking the river. For me one of the best things was the wooden walkway through the jungle at the back of the hotel so you could potter off and do your own bit of private wildlife viewing.

Our wildlife spotting started on the boat journey down from Sandakan, with an introduction to proboscis monkeys (of which we saw many more but they were very entertaining) and we were lucky to spot a herd of pygmy elephants right by the river, so the boat stopped to allow us to have a good look at them. The hotel manager knocks on the bedroom door at 5.30 so you can get out early to spot the animals and birds waking up, and then you go out again in the late afternoon to catch them getting ready for bed. We saw lots of different sorts of monkeys, many types of birds and also some wild orang utans, which was so much better than seeing them in Sepilok (which felt like a glorified zoo). We had three nights at the lodge, so on our last day we arranged to go to the Gomantong caves. This was hugely expensive - the driver who took us couldn't believe how much we paid for the trip but I have to say it was worth it. The caves themselves were disgusting - think bat guano and cockroaches (the lodge handily provides wellies)- but we walked through the forest afterwards and saw some chameleons, a flying squirrel and two orang utans, and then in the late afternoon we saw the bat exodus from the caves, which is as biblical as it sounds. If you saw Lost and remember the black smoke, this was what the bats were like - an endless grey ribbon twisting and twirling throught the sky as three million little flying things came hurtling out in search of dinner. But they don't always come out so I think we were lucky.

Our guide, Fernando, was great, able to spot things that we totally missed and being very knowledgeable about all the wildlife. The lodge is run by Borneo Eco Tours who arranged all the excursions on our holiday and were unfailingly brilliant.

I can't see how you can be anything other than enchanted by this magical place (but take insect repellent and a pair of binoculars each!)

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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4  Thank rosiefromlondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2012

We booked the trip by Borneo Eco Tours, the owner of the lodge, for two nights.

Things I did not like:
-The trip was not carried out like the tour description noted.
-only a short trip on the Kelenanap ox-bow lake (because of low water level)
-no jungle track
-no Menanggul river
-No air conditioner and a lousy fan in the room (too hot to sleep)
-They advertise with boats with electric motors. The boats do have them but on our four trips they only used it ones for a short time (when many other noisy boats were around).
-At day time at the lodge a lot of noise of a mowing-machine and timber work. It did spoiled the atmosphere.
-obliged life jacket; to hot (several other boats did not use them)
-the most common seen mammal we saw was “tourists in boats”.

Things I did like:
-night boat tour; optional 60RM (15euro), recommended!
-Borneo pygmy elephants
-several proboscis monkey and other animals (no Orang Utans)
-view from the diner place at the river (no other building in sight)
-reasonable prices for drinks
-walk on the boardwalk
-peace at night time

The two hour boat tour from Sandakan to the lodge and back does not stop or slow down to view animals. It is full speed except by buildings when the boat goes very slow.
All meals where reasonable good.

This tour should have been the main highlight (and most expensive) of our holiday but it was not, it wasn’t bad either. There were too many tourist on the river to give this trip a real jungle feeling. But it was still a very nice place to be and it is always good to view animals in their own habitat.

Gps lodge: 5.498169 / 118.28096

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Jan T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded September 5, 2012

Dear Jan T,
Sorry to hear about your less than satisfactory trip. Our deepest apologies. I will follow up on your complaint regarding the modified itinerary as our guides are given strict instructions not to modify any itinerary without proper reason and without communicating to you, our guest, the reasons behind such a change. If there were no reasonable reasons, we will compensate you accordingly for this. Glad that you got to see pygmy elephants as only lucky guests are witness to such a spectacle. In regards to the life jacket, unfortunately tourists have drowned before (other tour companies) and as such we wanted to take strict safety precautions. As you'll know, the river can be very murky and drowning is a constant hazard. Just 2 weeks ago a village person drowned when he fell into the water while being drunk. Our experience is that once the boats are moving, the breeze should keep you nice and cool but obviously this may not always be the case. Take care and we do sincerely apologize for your unpleasant experience. We will strive to keep improving ourselves.

Kind Regards,
Timothy Teo
Owner and Director

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 23, 2012

We booked a tour from Sandakan to Sukau and back, 2nights/3days. We saw our first bird 2mins into the boat ride: a white bellied sea eagle. Then a while later we spotted the proboscis monkeys. We run a research in Sri Lanka on toque macaques so it was very easy to spot most of the animals and birds for us. We were out at all times of the day and enjoyed every minute of the diverse animal life. My 5year old spotted garden snakes no one saw in the yard and birds even we did not spot, nocturnals. It was possibly one of the best spots for eco tourism. Loved the older gent who did the tour of the plants in the backyard on the walkways. He spoke of his younger days in the army, stranded in the jungles and the plants they ate for survival.
Loved the morning tour to see the orange in the wild. Lots of sloshing around in the mud which was kind of crazily funny for us all in our leech socks and gum boots :))
Did not see any orange but nests they would have made a few days ago. But once we were back on the boats several could be seen feeding.
Lucky enough to see many troops of proboscis monkeys: with adults, jun and infants. Many troops of pig tales macaques and eagles. We came upon one fish eagle but was not able to identify it at all.
LOVED IT!!

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank Vatsala D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2012

We had a 3 night stay at this wonderful place. It is approached via boat and looks very unassuming. You arrive at the eating deck, overlooking the river. Wildlife is abundant. We saw proboscis and silver leaf langurs from this deck.
The rooms are lovely, they feel modern and spacious, even with three of us. Our 7 year old daughter's bed was at the end of our bed.
The river can get busy with boats, but equally it is possible to get away from the crowds and feel like you have the place to yourself. The night cruise is good. What you get to see is somewhat down to pot luck. We saw roosting birds, buffy fish owl, kingfishers, monitors.
Don't bother with the walk. It is more to do with seeing leeches than anything else. We saw very little. Do wear leech socks as they are prevalent.
We took the elephant excursion which is pricy at 320 RMs each. Other lodges seemed to offer with no charge but you do travel a long way down river and the elephants are worth every RM. We saw many, and they are very Pygmy! We also saw crocodiles and orangutan on the same trip.
Sarongs are left in the room and everyone is encouraged to wear them for dinner. Don't be embarrassed of doing this, you are shown how to put them on and they are very comfy.
We were also very lucky to experience the mating ritual of a ground cuckoo. My husband is a keen birder so this was a real treat. We found them by pure luck, trying to find whatever it was that sounded like a pig!
The guides and team were all helpful and the variety of guests, nationalities and ages,added to the diversity.
A really good place to stay.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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5  Thank SolihullPetal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2012

I'll only comment on the lodge and its rooms, as the wildlife sightings are basically very subjective - depending on time, weather, guide's experience and luck.

The +
- loved the breakfast - simple fare like fried rice, mee, and scrambled eggs but tasty. Lunch selection was good too
- clean room with nice decor
- experienced guides and boatmen

The -
- does not provide soap, toothpaste, only shower gel and shampoo
- no air-conditioner. The room was rather stuffy at 11pm at night.

Sukau rainforest is one of the three lodges around the area. The other two, Melapi Lodge and Borneo Nature Lodge is located along the same river within 5-10 mins boat ride away if you are looking for other options. Both also provide wildlife tours.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled on business
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1  Thank stpMike
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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