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“A rip-off place with no knowledge”

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Nature Lodge Kinabatangan
Certificate of Excellence
Herts
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A rip-off place with no knowledge”
Reviewed April 14, 2010

We have been in Borneo for 4 weeks and spent two other occasions in the jungle. Both were a pleasure and very enriching. The same could not be said for Nature Lodge. This was the first place we just felt like 'cash cows'. The place itself feels unloved, the food abysmal, the rooms - well, ok - ish.

We stayed in the new agamid wing. I think if you stay here you get the best rooms but in a way the worst of both worlds as you pay top dollar for the room but get the bad food and lack of knowledge that this place thinks is acceptable if you pay bottom dollar. That is not to say that we endorse budget travellers getting bad food and crap advice - it just sadly sometimes seems the way.

our advice would be that if you want a decent room, book a place a level up.

the reason to go to Kinabatangam is off course to see it and its wildlife. The guide we had was a good spotter so we saw things but he knew absolotely nothing about the wildlife. when we saw an orangutan he had no idea if it was male or female - other lodge guides had enriched sightings with info on how to tell the males and females apart, how they lived etc etc. This guide didn't even have binoculars - it was all very much to get tourists in and out and get their money. there was no info about Kinabatangan, its fight with logging companies, its diversity - nothing.

we left very angry to have been so obviously ripped off. we are pleased to have spent time places where they actually care about sharing info with travellers.

Don't go here - please!

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank haylesHerts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AlexanderYee, General Manager at Nature Lodge Kinabatangan, responded to this review, May 26, 2010
Dear Hayles

Thank you for your feedback.

Having read your posting, we have since made several changes notably:
1. Serve our meals in buffet styles and increase potion sizes.
2. Conduct in house training of our guides. The guides we employed are from the village and we realised that training has to be a continuous process even so since English is not their mother tongue.
3.Conduct slide shows with information of our surroundings.
4. Conduct village tour so that our guests have an opportunity to get to know the village that our lodge is sitauted within.

We will continue to improve ourselves and strike to better our services. We are sorry that you did not enjoy your stay and trust that with your feedback which lead to our improvement, guests who visit us henceforth will be able to see the difference.

We wish you a happy continuous travel.

Warm regards
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
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English first
Manchester, England
Level Contributor
46 reviews
46 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed March 5, 2010

We stayed in an Agamid chalet - apparently the deluxe wing and although significantly larger and better furnished than the standard chalets the bathroom was cramped and worn and the room was dark with just a fan and no air con. There were mosi screens on all the windows.

Not that we spent much time in the room as there is a strict regime to adhere to of boat trips, buffet meals and jungle treks. The accommodation may not be up to much but you get a lot of activity for your money: 4 boat trips, 1 day trek and 2 night walks on the 3 day/2 night package.

Our guide, Kai, didn't have brilliant English and tended to repeat facts but he did have lots of enthusiasm and tried very hard to spot wildlife and was mostly successful. You are practically guaranteed Macaque monkeys, tonnes of Proboscis monkeys and plenty of birds. We also saw otters, a croc and a male orang utan high up in a tree. Plus more creatures on the night walk. Two days before we arrived there had been elephant sightings so you might get lucky.

For the treks bring leech socks and prepare to get muddy. We were shin deep, fortunately, there are plenty of comfortable gum boots to hire for just 5MYR for your stay. Be warned, the river is very smelly and full of dead fish.

Having read previous reviews we had reservations about the food but they seem to have upped their game. There is plenty of it and although not gourmet it's of a reasonable standard plus the open air dining area is dressed with hanging fabrics, tablecloths and is a very pleasant place to eat.

But don't be late for meal times. Ibrahim who serves as manager, front man and restaurant captain (in different outfit for each but the same lines) wants everyone to arrive (to hear his same intro each time) and leave (so clearing up can begin promptly) at the same time. Hence the feeling of a 1950s British Holiday Camp in the jungle.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank semi-detached
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bere Regis, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
32 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2009

My wife, daughter and I were travelling independently (by car). We got to Sukau with no reservation and rang as many of the top lodges as we could. Only one lodge (Nature Lodge) dealt with us direct, the other lodges insisted that we book through an agent (and pay extortionate rates).
We were met at the rivers edge opposite the lodge and ferried accross. For the next three days we were treated to a wldlife experience which could not be bettered.
We had two river trips and a morning and evening walk each day with guides who were both knowledgable and enthusiastic. All the staff were friendly and helpful and the food was the best we had experienced on our whole trip.
On the river we saw lots of elephants without tresspassing on their natural behaviour, unfortunately ,other, less responsible lodges, allowed their boats to land at high speed disgorging their passengers on the river bank and frightening the elephants away. This kind of behaviour was continued into the late evening when loud disco music could be heard eminating from lodges accross the river. This was totally inappropriate for such a beautiful location. All credit to the nature Lodge who have high ethical standards.
Yes there were some glitches.... Three of us slept in an on-suite room and the third bed was woefully small. However, the staff changed it imediately when asked. The second night walk was over subscribed (about 15 persons) far too many for any chance of seeing wildlife. Overall, The best 3 days of our whole holiday. Cost approx £50 per person per night, all in.
Oh! ....Dont go there without cash as they do not accept credit cards.... and the road down to the ferry is not for the feint hearted.......

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank bootstrapbob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bali, Indonesia
Level Contributor
45 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed September 22, 2009

Coming from Sampoerna this was a splendid surprise to see well-maintained grounds with receptacles for recycling. Altho I had booked a dorm, they had a group coming and so put me in the high-end chalet which of course was a delight. These chalets are simply but well appointed, very clean. And very comfortable tho very hot mid-day. The other rooms are much more basic and as the other reviewers indicated, not as comfortable. The food was terrific with restaurant staff attentive; again for the less expensive rooms a different experience.

Evelyn is very knowledgeable and was our guide for one time. Other guides we had were not talkative enough------need more training to explain things to westerners.

Two afternoons it poured with rain and many outings were canceled or shortened. Seems rainy season started early. We didn't see the orang-utans that were staying in the jungle with all the rain. Best to go in the dry season, April-August.

I met up with a Dutch couple on the van and we hung out together and we all stayed an extra night.It was the highlight of my trip to Borneo and I plan to go back during the dry season!

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank kutuhbali
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed July 7, 2009

I was disappointed with this place. We stayed in the Agamid wing on the standard 3 day, 2 night package. Participated in all of the river cruises and the jungle walk to Oxbow lake. We did see quite a few macaques and monkeys with 1 orangutang sighting and just a few hornbills. All of the wildlife sightings were on the river cruises. The jungle walk takes about 3 hours (1.5 each way) and ends at Oxbow lake which is a large expanse of brown water. We did not see one animal or bird and the guide did not have much information during the walk. He would answer questions when asked but did not spend much time discussing the plants or anything else. Be prepared for leeches and lots o' mud - probably the most interesting things on the walk. Upon reaching Oxbow lake I found myself quite jealous when a group of earlier hikers from another lodge were picked up in a boat for the return trip.
Did not bother with the night walk. When I asked the guide what we would see his description was "not much".
I found the food poor. Breakfast was an odd assortment of food the first morning: hot dogs, onion rings, hash browns, and white bread. The second morning was a bit better with scrabled eggs, baked beans and onion rings (which was probably the best thing I had there). Coffee and tea are served with every meal and water is available for purchase. Dinner had a fish dish each night with chicken and beef alternated tor the two nights. Beef was very tough and chicken was 50% bones and 50% edible meat.
The room is basic and sheets were clean. Windows were properly screened so no problems with mosquitoes. The bathroom was a different story. The shower curtain had about a foot of mildew crawling upward. I realize it is humid and therefore a constant problem, but a little more effort in cleaining would have reduced the "ick" factor. I'm not sure if there was a problem with the water on the last day or if I just hadn't noticed it but the water in the sink came out a nasty brown on the last day. I had already brushed my teeth and rinsed when I noticed this so I had a pretty good case of the willies from this.
The area is worth visiting and if you can find something a little bit nicer than this it would probably leave you with a better level of overall enjoyment (or go in with really low expectations and come out pleasantly surprised).

  • Stayed July 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank rounddog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed June 23, 2009

It may depend on the guide, but we had good ones (Nelly and Kay). The river Kinabatangan is a great experience (we had the 3 days/2 nights), the walks are a good introduction as to how it is, walking through the jungle in this heat and while being haunted by all those leaches.
We had chalets in the somewhat more luxury Agamid wing, which are OK. It's not the Ritz, but hey, this is in the jungle, and it should feel a bit like that.
During the tours on the river we saw lots of wildlife. Some orang utans, lots of probiscos monkeys, lots of longtail maki's, several hornbills, silver leaf monkeys, a bearded pig, kingfishers, a mangrove snake, etc., etc.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Christiano37
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, UK
Level Contributor
16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed June 4, 2009

We stayed at the Nature Lodge for 3 days, 2 nights. Accommodation is very basic but that's fine, at the end of the day it is a jungle, and indeed we spent in a chalet very little time. Food- so, so, but again for these basic conditions it was ok. The reason we chose this lodge was that they seemed to provide more river cruises and activities for the price comparing to others. Obviously- you came here for the wild life. I do agree with the previous reviews- a lot depends on the guide. On the first day we went on the river cruise with the owner and that was a great experience- he had a great knowledge and gave us a lot of information. Next few days we were guided by another guy, who was a very nice fellow, unfortunately did not share with us too much of his knowledge, neither managed he to spot anything above what we noticed- monkeys and hornbills. We found out on the second day that few elephants were seen in the neighbouring village so asked the front desk if we could be taken there on our next cruise. We have never received the answer, it looked like our request had been ignored. The cruises became a bit mechanical after a while as we still did not see anything else apart from Proboscis, macaques and hornbills. I was really looking forward to my visit at the lodge and left disappointed. I know that nobody can guarantee the sightings of elephants and orangutans but knowing that they were in the area but somehow we couldn't see them is a bitter pill to swallow. All in all- it was a very special experience and would certainly do it again but most certainly with a different lodge.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank lonka5
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

Property: Nature Lodge Kinabatangan
Address: Kampung Bilit, Sandakan, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Sandakan Division > Sandakan
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Sandakan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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