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“Jungle version of Ronseal - does what it says on the tin”

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Uncle Tan Wildlife Camp
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
50 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Jungle version of Ronseal - does what it says on the tin”
Reviewed February 14, 2014

First of all if you are looking at this thinking about venturing into the wilderness there are a few things you need to note
One is uncle tans is not a luxury resort but instead offers a great real experience at excellent rates.
Saying that the accommodation is fine, open huts, good food, mosquito nets but if you don't follow there advise on food you will get jungle rates and there are bound to be snakes close by or in the camp (appreciate this is not everyone's wish)

Second is you are not guaranteed to see anything - wildlife is wild and the beauty of it is is that it's unpredictable, if you can tell yourself this before you go it will help you cherish any sightings you see more so when they occur. If you want close up encounters with bored pets then go to the zoo, but if the thought of seeing just a glowing orange reflection of a crocodiles eye in the midnight river sends your heart racing with excitement then this is for you.
(I had prepared myself this way and to be honest there were still times, such as the night jungle track and the final days desperate but unsuccessful search for orangutang, you will still feel a touch disappointed, but all the other experiences quickly help you appreciate where you are again)

Finally the location gives you a stark reminder of the battle these animals face in order to fight against extinction. The river bank is around 25m deep in habitable environment, at times only two to three trees deep, and the sight of Palm oil farms are clearly visible everywhere you turn. The unintended consequence of this is that the river itself is therefore a great (but also quite sad) place from which to view the animals.

The guides were great, passionate about what they did and making sure everyone was enjoying themselves and I wish them well for the future and there influence in helping wildlife in the region. Not all of them spoke great English which was a problem when our guide Akin didn't join us for one trip and the replacement could not answer our questions on the boat

Ways to make the experience better I'd say

1) more information at the briefing, or indeed a mini brief, before each outing to refresh what animals we might see and under what circumstance we might find them (ie what type of trees orangutans nest in verses other monkeys).
Would really help to know if should be looking up at the trees trying to spot monkeys or down in the water for crocs. I guess the guides know a lot better and you are reliant mainly on their expertise, but in the night excursions in particular it would make you feel a lot more involved (even if you more than likely fail to spot anything on your own!)

2) quieter engines - was clear the animals were scared off by the load boats

3) longer time out on the boat maybe an earlier start before sunrise if can position early to see those animals who rise early

For those thinking of going would advise

-take plenty of mosquito repellant (better with deet but they don't sell in Malaysia so bring from home if possible)
- use the mosquito coils around the dinner room and bunks also
- take long breathable clothing, you will quickly want socks not flip flops and trousers not shorts as you get bitten straight away, our jackets and waterproof pants were far too hot in the night time treks.
- there are no activities in the afternoon as most animals sleep, so take something to do or you can partake in the fishing for 30RM which was quite fun for someone who has never fished before

Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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3 Thank Stephen L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed February 13, 2014

We had a fantastic time in the jungle at Uncle Tan's. After some initial uncertainty about sleeping in the jungle, the 3D/2N trip turned out to be the best thing we did in Sabah. From the minute you arrive at the camp you know you're going to have a great couple of days - the transfer is easy, the camp is amazing to stay at, and the food is so delicious! Akin, Dish, Lan and all the staff are really what makes this place great though; their warm welcome, astounding knowledge of the jungle and it's wildlife, and superb football skills, make for a fun-filled three days.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank Emily R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ho Chi Minh City, null, Vietnam
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed February 9, 2014

I had an absolutely brilliant time on the 3D/2N adventure. Lan was there to welcome us to the jungle when we arrived and I instantly felt at ease. From the start I was completely impressed by the place, the people who work there, their passion for what they do. So knowledgeable, not just about the animals, but also the plants, the land.

I saw an amazing quantity of animals, including a glimpse of a wild orangutan. However I was just as happy to see the tree frogs as the orangutan. It's an incredible privilege to see any of these animals in a habitat which is disappearing.

The food was incredible with many choices for the vegetarians amongst us.

Lastly, playing music and 'jammin in the jungle', including making a 'jungle capo', was awesome. I want to thank Lan, Des, Teo and all the guys.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Fi W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level 6 Contributor
250 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Uncle Tan's staff are all merry people with excellent attitude and knowledge. The food provided is ample and delicious. The Wildlife camp is immensely beautiful. Rustic, basic but in such an exotic and captivating environment. Will go again!

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank nyx799
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2014 via mobile

Congrats to Teo, Des amd Lan for managing such a great place and trip!
We had the 3D/2N package for 430RM p.P. from Sepilok to Kinabatangan river camp.
Go there with the bus from sandakan mininusstation for 5 RM (75min)!
After buffet lunch at the base, 1 hour busdrive to the jetty and 1 hour boattrip through the rain (buy a raincoat for 2,50RM at the small store where the bus passes!) we reached the camp, had tea and a briefing, got our scedule (night boat safari, morning boat safari, morning jungle walk, fishing tour (30RM extra if you want), afternoon boat safari, night walk, morning boat safari) and went after buffet dinner for the night safari. This one and all the other points in the itinerary will get you to awsome places with a whole lot of wildlife (orang utan, proboscis, macaques, hornbills, kingfishers, and lots of other small mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles and so on).
For the walks/trekking you can hire rubberboots for 2,50RM. There are no leeches. On the boat tours you can go with flipflops or barefoot. When you weare swimweare you wont't need raincoats.
The huts in the camp are basic, like no windows or doors, just 2-3 mattresses on the floor with mosquito-net. Toilets have no flush, only e bucket of water, but there is toilet tissue. There are no showers, only brownish rainwater in tanks you can use, but it's not too bad for only 3 days.
Meals are great and freshly prepared and always enough to feed everyone, even the hardcore-vegetarians. Mr Lan even does show-cooking in the evening.
It's definitely worth going with uncle tan. You won't be disappointed!

  • Stayed January 2014
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Helpful?
1 Thank KleinerPit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kathmandu, Nepal
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed December 31, 2013

If you want to get in the thick of things then this is the place to be, we saw so much wild life and 2 rare animals one bird and one frog.
Don't come here thinking your going to some flash place, you came to see animals in the wild and that is what you get.
You sleep in wooden open huts and sponge bedding on the floor which means for not the best night sleep but, its the jungle and its damp so nothing else would be worth there time, or you will be paying the price for it.
Don't take a great deal with you, leave it back in town, it will get damp and smell or can only shower with river water, so no point in those change of clothes your not there that long.

LOVED this place, just go and see everything that is willing to be seen, the people are great the food is good.

You will not be wasting your time or money by going here! :-)

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Julie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level 5 Contributor
71 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2013 via mobile

The accomodation is spartan but you can't get closer to nature than this! It is cheap, the food is okay and the staff is super friendly! Would definetly go again if I had the chance. Tips: Bring earplugs as the rooster's get going already at 3AM and they like to stay directly underneath the shelters. The jungle trek is really muddy so have some shoes that can handle it, or even better; rent a pair of rubber boots for 2.5RM - they had a lot of different sizes but I think size 44 was the largest.

Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Carl A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Uncle Tan Wildlife Camp

Property: Uncle Tan Wildlife Camp
Address: Danau Girang | near the Lokan River, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 30 Specialty Lodging in Sandakan Division
Also Known As:
Uncle Tan Wildlife Camp Hotel Sabah

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