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“Rainforest Heaven”

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Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Western Australia, Australia
Level Contributor
63 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Rainforest Heaven”
Reviewed July 17, 2014

I'm not sure what I expected but it was a truly beautiful lodge. There is one thing I will point out it is an eco lodge so there is no air conditioning. We had a deluxe room which included a roman bath on the deck. Worth paying extra for as well as the amazing view from the deck overlooking the river & the forest. The activities offered were good climbed to the view point, at one stage I wasn't sure if I was on a holiday or boot camp but push yourself its worth it. The Jacuzzi pool was my favourite with the little fish nibbling the dead skin off your feet also after the trek up the mountain it is nice to cool down and put your feet in the lovely clear fresh water.
The food at the lodge was good get the chef to make up a fresh stir fry. Sitting on the lodge deck looking out to the rainforest again is beautiful. The call of the Gibbons in the morning & the many bird calls makes it a unique experience. We saw plenty of Orangutans, Red Leaf monkeys,
Long tail macaques. A glimpse of a mousedeer. Hornbills, perhaps I thought we would see more birds but enjoyed everything I did see. The frog pond at night was good (frogs & snakes). Other than that nothing just a few creepy crawlies. Our guide was a lovely young man who was aware of our abilities or lack off and his knowledge of the area was excellent. The sky walkway through the canopy of the rainforest was fabulous. You'll enjoy this lodge. Tip - take insect repellent with Deet in it.

Room Tip: The deluxe rooms have outdoor baths worth the extra money as no air conditioning.
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  • Stayed July 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank Diedre_8
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English first
Hamilton, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed July 17, 2014

Couldn't have asked for a better experience in the Danum Valley. From luxury accomodation to magnificent wildlife, the place as a whole was perfect for our family of 7. My elderly mother and father (both in there 80s) and aunty loved this place too. The staff and guides were terrific and took extra care in making sure there was something that suited everyones abilities. Some of our party completed quite difficult hikes and others had easier walks. We saw orangutans in the wild every day and lots of great birds, which we were particulary interested in. The rooms were lovely and we were lucky enough to have a river view room which included a jacuzu on the deck overlooking the river. It was very hot but we found if we went for a hike and then came back and hopped in the cool jacuzi we were fine to head off again in the afternoon for another adventure. Food was delicous and varied. Would definately like to go back.

Room Tip: I think any room would be fine. The delux riverview rooms were great.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled with family
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1 Thank Kerrie403
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed July 10, 2014

I think this just might be the most unique rainforest experience in Borneo. To combine such a nice lodge, in a special place such as the middle of primary rainforest.
The rooms, food, staff, lodge, and the experience offered are all fantastic, as many reviews have already said. So rather than just mention how fantastic everything was, I will focus my review on providing some extra info that I hope is of use for those considering a stay here – by the way, I thoroughly recommend the stay here and I am already thinking about going back again!

Travel to the lodge was by minivan for us with 2 other couples. The ride was comfortable enough and didn’t seem too bumpy (the return trip however, did seem a rougher ride for some reason, even though it was a similar vehicle). It looks like there is also an option for a private transfer if you wish at an extra charge (which looked like it was a dual cab Hilux).
The staff were very welcoming on arrival (and throughout our time here to make sure we had a pleasant stay). We were greeted with refreshing welcoming drinks and cool towels, and then meet our guide for our stay.

We had a great guide (his name was Mike), and I recommend paying the extra for the private guide. It means you have flexibility to do different trails, and go at your own pace. You (and the animals) are also not disturbed by having extra people walking through the trails with you (in other words it’s easier to remain quiet to listen for the sounds of animals you are looking for). Having said that, you will sometimes end up around other guests on the trails anyway, especially when there are orang utan sightings or other animals that people are trying to find, like the gibbons.

When booking a private guide (which needs to be done in advance, before your arrival), they will ask if there are any particular animals you want to see. I think the idea of that is they will try and match you with a guide that is good at spotting those particular animals and he will go looking for these, or at least keep a particular eye out for these animals, during your stay. We did our entire booking direct and found the process very efficient from the initial contact through to easy pickup and drop off from Lahad Datu. We also booked for 3 night package rather than 2 nights, and I wouldn’t have wanted any less time for our stay, as the 2 night package only really gives you one full day at the lodge. Most others that booked for the 2 nights wished they were staying another night.

Wildlife spotting – as you are in a large expanse of primary rainforest you may go a while and not see much wildlife. It seems like first thing in the morning and dusk or night time was the best for wildlife spotting. The animals are not so active in the hot afternoon, and this is generally when you have spare time at this time of day. We were lucky to see orang utans, gibbons, slow loris, red leaf monkeys, leopard cats, macaques (usually near the main lodge) some deer, frogs, squirrels (including one outside our cabin) and various birds such Gould’s Frogmouth, along with some interesting reptiles (just to name some of our observations).

Trails – if anyone is wondering about the difficulty of the trails, the hardest one we walked was the one to the scenic lookout and the coffin cliff (in the same vicinity), as it’s steep but has the benefit that there are steps in some areas so you are not on a constant steep slope. The nice part about this walk is the dip in the natural jacuzzi pool near the end. Other than that trail, most of the ones we travelled were flat to slightly undulating. The canopy walk is a must at least once during your stay.

The night drives provided an opportunity to see interesting wildlife. That was when we saw the leopard cats, but keep in mind there were others that went out at different times on a night drive and didn’t see them. You might want to pay extra for the extended night drive, as this takes you out to the secondary rainforest further out from where the main night drive goes (in the truck), and you may have the opportunity to see different animals. The extra night drive is a private tour where you sit on the back of a Hilux in a bench seat!. We were hoping to see an elephant but they were nowhere to be seen. We didn't see a lot of other animals on this extra trip but did see some and enjoyed the ride anyway. The lodge needs some notice on this booking too but it’s ok to wait until you get to the lodge to book it, but you may not get it on the first night (ideally book it the day before you actually want to do the drive).

The rooms are great – and yes, I agree with other reviews that it’s worth paying the extra for the deluxe room, as you have a larger cabin as well as a tub on the front verandah to cool down in (as there is no air-conditioning). The deluxe rooms have the river view too. We had Deluxe 15, which was nice in that it had shady trees around it (but was one of the cabins further away from the main lodge area, but that didn’t bother us as I preferred to have the shade). Having the trees around us meant we had a resident squirrel often in the tree out the front too. The lack of air-conditioning takes a bit of getting used to in the heat and humidity here but you wouldn’t really want it, as it would spoil the sound of the forest at night, let alone the extra generator power that would be required! The cabins are designed to cool naturally.

The food was fantastic, and as I don't eat red meat, they offered to make something else for me if there wasn’t enough to choose from on the buffet. There was plenty to choose from without having to ask for anything more.

Leeches – I was a bit worried by the number of reviews talking about how many leeches were here. I was pleasantly surprised, as we didn’t see anywhere near the number I anticipated (it was probably a drier time of the year and we were lucky not to get much rain during our stay). We met others that stayed here a week before us and said they ended up with many leech bites! We did see leeches and managed to get them off before they caught hold. With a combination of long pants and leech socks it also seemed to make the difference. I would also recommend walking boots (rather than sandals).

Things to bring with you: walking sticks are useful if you have your own and the room to bring them with you (we were lucky our guide had some we could borrow, but they also sell them at the souvenir shop); leech socks (otherwise these can be bought at the souvenir shop in the lodge), binoculars (as a lot of the wildlife may be some distance off, and it’s easier to see the birds); flashlight – preferably head torch to provide a hands-free light for the night walks; sense of adventure (which I am sure if you are going to a place like this you will already have that)!

Apologies for the long review but I thought I would try and cover a few different things and answer some questions I had before my stay here. Overall this was a very special place to stay and I would return given the opportunity. It has left us with lasting special memories. When the time comes to leave the lodge you will feel like you don’t want to leave.

Room Tip: Recommend a Deluxe room. I liked having shade around us (Deluxe 15).
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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10 Thank travelling_too2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
Level Contributor
55 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
Reviewed July 6, 2014

It’s hard not to enjoy a trip to BRL. Don’t expect all the 5* mod cons but BRL is beautifully finished, particularly the communal lodge area which is lovely and the service is fully 5*. The rooms are basic but elegant. No air con mind, but that’s part of the charm and you are in the rainforest. The deluxe rooms have a Jacuzzi outside which, unlike many in Borneo, does have hot water. It’s nice. We only used it once or twice so not sure it was worth the money but the room was private which we enjoyed.

I was originally a little unsure on the jungle trekking as jungles can get a little monotonous after a while. They have three good activities to spice things up (and one I would pass on):

Tubing (heading down the river in a inflated tractor inner tube) - this is brilliant, particularly after the hot walk up to the take off point. The best way to see the jungle is often from water.

The canopy walk - it’s really well done and has quite spectacular views. Another highlight.

The walk to the 900m summit with a swim under a waterfall at the bottom. Worth doing. Very hot! if you’re male take a couple of extra t-shirts. I ended up doing it bare backed.

Night Drive: I didn’t enjoy spending an hour in a noisy truck. You see the odd thing so if you’re into that you will probably see something.

Best things about BRL:

Service (thanks Lia - you were wonderful)
It is expensive but they don’t nickel and dime you. Free soft drinks in the rooms, extras are all reasonably priced etc, free internet
Food is excellent. Really!
Extensive, well developed and kept trail network

All in all BRL is a plush jungle retreat. There a lovely little touches like the wonderfully warm welcome making it always feel like 5* service. The turn down service which removes all the insects so you get a peaceful night’s sleep and the food which is simply magnificent. Really really top notch. It is visually stunning, but maybe not as good as Lake Sandoval, an oxbow lake in the Peruvian jungle, which eclipses this simply because the lake make such a great place to see things without breaking a sweat. The facilities are BRL are far superior though.

I would totally recommend BRL with my only reservation being that at £500 per night for a room it is expensive. With the excellent food and a guide thrown in I don’t begrudge it, but I would not say it was value for money.

If you come to Borneo you want to see more than the coast. This will cost you more than say a suite at the Rasa Ria or Bunga Raya, more than on of the east sabah islands but I haven’t heard of anywhere better than this for a proper jungle retreat with a bit of class. I'm very glad this was part of our trip.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
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4 Thank benstopford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
45 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed July 6, 2014

We spent 4 nights here and loved every minute. Our room was overlooking the river and included a large bath on the balcony which felt very luxurious.The buffet style food was excellent; variety, choice, quantity and style of cooking. Service was first class too.

Hedry was our guide each morning and afternoon walking out into the misty rainforest; he had an unerring knack (skill) for spotting Urangatangs and other primates high in the canopy - very thrilling! My only regret was not to see an elephant!

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Michael P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
33 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed July 5, 2014

We stayed here for part of our honeymoon and had an amazing time. The lodge is such an unique place with everything thought of, the range of food is great considering how remote it is, the standard of the rooms is also exceptional but you go here for one thing; to be in the rain forest and to go searching for the local wildlife. We were more than happy with the knowledge of our guide and the variation of wildlife we saw including orangutans in their natural environment. Truly amazing to see. Would recommend this place to anyone, a truly special experience!

Room Tip: Go deluxe if you can but the best bit is just being there.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank LukeChurchill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
40 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed July 3, 2014

I have recently returned home after having the pleasure of visiting Borneo Rainforest Lodge. It is run like an African safari with organised tours intermixed with rest time. We were particularly lucky to have Faezun as our guide whose expertise combined with patience and a dash of self deprecating humour made our walks informative and fun.

On arrival the guides make it quite clear that unlike an African safari where the animals are plentiful, in the rainforest the pleasure comes from immersing yourself in the environment. I have been on an African safari (and loved it) so I was unsure how I would like just walking through a rainforest (surely I could do that at home) however Faezun was right. If you are prepared to slow down and look around you and then look and listen again you really do begin to appreciate the magic of being in such an ancient forest. We saw orangutans, leopard cat, flying squirrels, red leaf monkey, gibbon, rhinoceros hornbill, monitor lizards and the list goes on. For me though the truely magical time was when we were out in the rainforest at night and the noisy forest is alive with activity around you and you realise that if you were lost out there by yourself - it would be terrifying,

The lodge is aesthetically very pretty without being over the top luxurious. The chalets are well appointed. We stayed in the standard room as that was all they had available but I would suggest staying in the delux. The delux chalets face the river so during rest time in the middle of the day you can sit on your verandah and watch the world go by.

The food is great with a good variety to choose from and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

It is expensive to stay here but it is a real treat.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
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2 Thank jrob65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Property: Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Address: Danum Valley Conservation Area 88100, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Danum Valley Conservation Area
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Danum Valley Conservation Area
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Borneo Rainforest Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A low density Jungle Lodge with 31 Twin Sharing Chalets located in the largest Conservation Area in Sabah which is home to 275 species of birds, 110 species of mammals & one of the oldest virgin rainforest in the world. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Borneo Rainforest Hotel Sabah

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