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“Best value for money! Amazing wildlife expericence!”

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Nature Lodge Kinabatangan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed October 26, 2013

This is our first tripadvisor review ever but we (couple in late twenties) just had to do this one.

We got to the lodge with our own car in the beginning of the low season (28th-30th Sept.), stayed for 2n3d and this has been a truly amazing wildlife experience,

especially due to our guide Aljun since he got extensive knowledge about animals and plants AND was sooooo good on spotting animals (even while driving the boat)!

Why did we go?
This package offers the most tours by far. Arrival at 3.30pm, first river cruise at 4pm (~2h), night walk at 8pm (1-1.5h), morning river cruise at 6am (~1h), jungle walk (~3h) at 9am. Every day! If you got the energy you can jump in one of the (few) kayaks in between lunch and the 4pm cruise.

What have we seen? Lots of Urang Utans!!, salt water crocodile, long nose monkeys, long/short tail makakes, lemurs, lizards, tree snake, a whole bunch of birds and on top the rare and georgeous Borneo Tarsier monkey at the night walk (as well as king fishers, Malay badger and a Lori). Without Aljun it would have been only half the experience and we hope he's getting payed good or getting a pay raise since we could not tip him because we spent almost all our cash to pay the package on arrival but we come to that later. The rest of the staff has also been friendly.

Since its been low season we got one 5 bedroom dorm for ourselfs which made it quite convenient (the could have stuffed us in just one or two but they did not!)

Rooms and facilities are basic but totally fine and you don't get the feeling that its dodgy at all.

Food was good and sufficient.

Boats were for sure better than the ones we've seen from other lodges like Bilit.


Improvement suggestions:

- credit card payment should really be possible.

- you can rent rubber boots for 10MR but there is not enough of them and the biggest size it 43! I got 46. But not having any conditions I could manage around the mud just fine in my Adidas sneaker...

- the mattresses in the dorms really are paper thin and in our opinion they are ready to be replaced/upgraded!!!!!!!

Since we were alone in the dorm we just put one of the spare ones on top which made it ok for us (2 stars because we couldn't consider the double matress and one matress would really not be ok)

- We didn't need it but some people might miss Wifi for further travel planning...although its a jungle camp!!!

We would definitely do it again (in low season)!

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jump-Our-World
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 23, 2013

As part of our 3d/2n tour booked with Nasilis Lavartus tours, we stayed here for the final night of the trip. Our guide, James, and the driver were both very friendly and knowledgable, answering any questions we threw at them. The lodge and room itself were comfortable and there was an effort made to minimize mosquitoes in the room, which was much appreciated! Don't expect the Hilton as it is a nature lodge, but we really enjoyed it!

As we didn't have a working alarm, we liked the idea of the gong to bring everyone together and had a tasty dinner before our night walk. We didn't spot much and were a bit freaked out by the idea of leeches, but it was still a nice way to let dinner settle.

Both the river cruises were enjoyable, though the 2nd one was pretty much a repeat of the first. Our first cruise was the best because we saw a herd of pygmy elephants along the bank and were entertained by a few of them going for a swim!

Overall a great experience - the only tip is to bring something to do in the down time. There are a few local newspapers provided, but very little else to do with lots of time to fill.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Joslyn42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2013

We originally had booked for 3d2n, but after the first night we cancelled our second because we weren't enjoying it.

The gong was terrible, not sure of the purpose of this. I did think I was an adult and quite capable of using a watch to keep track of time, but apparently they do not think this and instead use a gong that sounds throughout the the place (and will easily wake you up at 6am if you choose not to go on the morning boat trip, thanks for that, appreciated after the terrible sleep).

The staff were the best part, they were very nice and lovely and helpful.

The place was in a lovely location, but it just didn't feel right. It felt like it should be a relaxing nature getaway but instead was like a militant school camp. And if you like to eat more than just 3 meals a day (snacks yes please I do get hungry) then your only option is the oreos and chips and chocolate which they sell at the front desk (fruit, please, anyone?!).

The river rides were nice but we didn't see much at all, just some monkeys. I really just came to see the elephants but unfortunately they couldn't tell us where they are :(

Overall our stay was average and this place is WAAAAY overpriced, sorry.

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank sharklovergirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2013

Firstly, I would like to warn you that the 2-3 hour van ride to the river from Sandakan was horrible! However, if you don't mind that then you will have a good time on this trip. We took the day trip cruise as we were a little worried about the huts and their toilets. The cruise along the Kinabatangan River was enjoyable and relaxing. Managed to see some birds and monkeys but the most exciting thing about this trip was when we got back to the lodge, a herd pf 40-50 Borneo pygmy elephants were surrounding the lodge! The elephants were very close to us and the sight was breath taking! All in all, it really depends on your luck going on this trip and I am ever so grateful to be so lucky!

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank mad_format
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2013 via mobile

I couldn't have asked for more from my 3 day, 2 night stay here. My group ended up with an amazing guide (he'd only been in the job 6 months and knew so much!) and because of him we spotted such a wide and varied amount of wildlife.
The accommodation was ok, I had a 4 bed dorm to myself and this was only a short walk to the toilet/shower block (not so great to walk between in the rain). The staff were friendly but the routine was a little regimental (they had a gong to tell you that it was time for the next activity/meal, but I think this was the only way they could make sure everyone got to see as much as possible.
Some of the animals I was lucky enough to see included proboscis monkeys, macaques, orangutans (one closer than our guide had seen in the wild - his excited face was almost as good as seeing the orangutan itself!), a western tarsier, hornbills, kingfishers, eagles, stalks, crocodiles and monitor lizards.
I would definitely go back!!

Stayed: October 2013, traveled solo
Thank Toni C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2013

We stayed here for 5D4N. Many people I talked to were unaware you could stay more than the 3D2N package offered online. I just emailed the sales department and arranged it. I wanted to stay for this long so we had the greatest chance of seeing all of the wildlife possible. In order here is what we saw on each night, highlight only.
Day 1- Pygmy Elephants(!), proboscis monkeys, rhinoceros hornbills, black hornbills, crested hornbills and storm's stork. On the night trek rufous backed kingbird.
Day 2 - Pygmy Elephant, proboscis monkey, long tailed macaque, crested hornbills, oriental pied hornbills, monitor lizard, Brahminy kite. On the night trek - Western Tarsier, buffy fish owl, rufous backed kingfisher.
Day 3 - Jerdon's Baza, Silvered langur, proboscis monkey, black, pied and crested hornbills. Night trek - insects.
Day 4 - Organutan, proboscis monkey, silvered langur, pig tailed macaque, long tailed macaque, bearded pig, stork billed kingfisher. Night treck - rufous backed kingfisher.
Day 5 - Crocodile, wrinkled hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, white bellied sea eagle, lesser fish eagle.

Other than these we saw an ton of birds, even just walking around their boardwalk, including two kinds of broadbills, spider hunters, tons of sunbirds, the asian fair blue bird, three different woodpeckers, dollar birds, swifts, swallows and more.

To be fair the guides told us they hadn't seen the pygmy elephants for three months, and then we saw them for two days and they passed us by, so they are by no means guaranteed. Both the oxbow lake hike and the night treks are sweaty and miserable for not much to show for it. After the first two oxbox hikes we passed on the hikes and stayed around the compound. We always went on the night hikes because of the 'what if' factor. Often on this hike some groups will see awesome stuff other groups will not.

The rooms were mediocre. We stayed in the superior agamid chalets, without the aircon. If we showered when we got back to the room and laid out under the fan we were just fine. In fact getting cold in the night (and needing to crawl under the covers). For a double room they just push two twin beds together and our beds were at different levels, separated by about 2" different altitude. This made it awkward sleeping together.

The food was fine, and despite other reviews, it was always re-filled in my experience. After 5 days I was able to predict what would be served, but that didn't bother me. Breakfast was toast, fried eggs, hot dogs (or sausages), and a wildcard (fried rice, noodles, or hashbrowns). For lunch and dinner they usually had rice, a meat dish, a fish dish, a veggie dish, a soup and fruit, never a dessert. Soft drinks and beers could be purchased at reception. Beer was 8 MYR and large waters were 3MYR which were both reasonable and the same price we found them other places.

In all, the wildlife and guides well made up for any shortfalls. I would highly recommend this place to anyone thinking of going to the Kinabatangun river.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank ScienceChick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2013

We stayed at the Nature Lodge during the month of August 2013, as part of our trip to Borneo. We had booked the three days and two nights package.

The accomodation was very decent considering the price, and the fact that we are in the middle of the jungle. Don't expect luxury, but rooms are clean and sufficiently big, the shower works well and you can have hot showers. The staff were very helpful.

The real reason to choose this place is the superb programme of activities. If you get up early enough, you can do two boat rides a day, as well as jungle trecks and other activities. the early boat rides are very good if you want to see birds. We did manage to see a lot of them, including some rhinoceros hornbills (really close, which is quite rare). We were also able to see lots of monkeys (silver monkeys, proboscis monkeys, macaques, and one ghost monkey at night) and some big lezards. A wonderful heaven if you like animals and the jungle.

Room Tip: Go for the nicest chalets: they are worth the extra ringgits.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank arthemise21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Address: Kampung Bilit, Sandakan, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Sandakan
Price Range: $74 - $287 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:2 star — Nature Lodge Kinabatangan 2*
Number of rooms: 16
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rustic chalets and dormitory rooms set in Kampung Bilit Kinabatangan, be ready to watch abundance of wildlife from the comfort of boat rides. Transfers to and fro Nature Lodge Kinabatangan and meals are included in the tour prices. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Nature Lodge Kinabatangan Hotel Sandakan
Nature Lodge Kinabatangan Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

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