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Borneo Rainforest Lodge
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Reviewed January 16, 2011

After over 25 years of living and traveling around the world, we agree that we've never stayed in a place that was better managed. We've been in fancier places, but never one so impeccably managed on every level. Of course, the setting of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge is uniquely spectacular, and the wonders of nature are a huge appeal of the place. Sleeping to the sounds of the river flowing outside our veranda and the quiet symphony of the magnificent forest was priceless. Being in the middle of primary, untouched forest with nothing but mother nature for as far as you can see is pretty awesome. You might think you'd have to 'rough it' in a nature setting like this. But no. And you might think for the price tag you're getting luxury nature chic. But no. It's neither. The facilities present the perfect balance between unpretentious, simple, natural, practical design with an attractive aesthetic and attention to your needs and desires for comfort as well as you could want. The facilities and the staffing anticipate your every need. (For example, every time we got back from a trek, there was a staff person there waiting with a cool, wet, towel to wipe our hands and face while we hosed the mud and leeches off our boots. And the hose-off area is well designed to accommodate several people so you don't have to wait). Everything is well kept and in good repair, lovely and comfortable without being fancy or incompatible with the natural surroundings. Rooms were clean, linens just fine, plenty of big nice towels (100% nicer than the crappy, stiff towels we had in the 5 star Magellan Sutera in Kota Kinabalu!) We had the best room in the lodge, called Selangan Batu 2. Our kids had the adjoining one, SB1. It's great because these chalets are right along the river bank. SB2 is totally private. From the veranda we couldn't see anything but the river and forest, and other guests couldn't see us. If you wanted to take advantage of the soaking tub on the veranda (we didn't) it would be great. We loved lounging reading our books in the big day bed there. The housekeeping staff were good and cheerful and kept the place clean.

The food was terrific. Buffet at every meal. If all you like is bratwurst and french fries and chocolate, you may be disappointed, but we found the range of Malaysian/Asia and western options to be great. The quality was excellent. Loads of fresh veggies and fruits at every meal, everything tasty and wholesome. Really, abundant, excellent food. The staff in the restaurant/bar were superb. Never once in 4 days did we wait for more than a couple seconds to catch someone's eye if we needed something. Water glasses were constantly full. They were consistently professional, competent, friendly and helpful. The coffee was good! Getting real esspresso instead of crappy coffee prevelant throughout Asia is a treat and it was 100% complimentary! I drank as much as i wanted for free! (well, nothing's free--you pay a big daily fee for all this, but it was good value). Also nice that they don't charge for the drinks in your mini-bar (coke and a sport drink) or water.

The guides were terrific. We loved our guide (Paul) and of course thought he was the best, but from my limited interactions with others and what other guests said, they are all extremely well trained. Very knowledgeable about the wildlife and environment they led us through. Paul immediately sensed what kind of things we'd like, the kind of hikers we would be. He always had great answers and information for our questions, but also allowed us to trek quietly through the forest without talking for periods, which is itself magical. He did special things for us that we really appreciated and made the experience much more meaningful.

The lodge is well provisioned and staffed to keep you safe and healthy. They sell leech socks in the gift shop, give you good advice and instruction in your orientation at the beginning, are supplied with helpful creams for rashes (my husband got a mystery rash the first day and immediately the manager gave him a brand new tube of something that was helpful). I never worried, knowing that we'd be in good hands if anyone had an accident hiking or got a nasty bite or something (don't worry -- in many years of operation they've never had a guest get a snake bite -- or so i heard!)

The only thing i wished i'd been told in all my emails with the staff prior to our travel was that you need to hike in long pants. I had googled 'what to wear in the rainforest' and found different opinions. Of course i knew sturdy shoes were a must (no sandals) but since it's very hot and humid, you want to think cool, meaning short hiking pants, which some people recommended. But in Borneo covers their legs because of the leeches. The interesting thing was: while my kids were stuck with their jeans, and me in my linen pants or leggings, my husband was the only one with proper outdoor wear. He had the pants that zip off if you want them short. With lovely little holes to let the air breathe through to your sweaty legs. Well, that may be good in the Rockies, but in Borneo, the leeches find the holes! So, he had the biggest bite/suck/bleeder of any of us! The blood makes a good photo op, but it's really no big deal. They are quite small and harmless, those little suckers, and easy to flick off your shoes or pants when you see them. And if they latch on for a little bite, it doesn't hurt and you just flick them off.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge seems to be doing everything right with the way they keep the facilities, train their wonderful staff and lead you through the magnificent forest. Considering the door to door service and transportation they give you, and all the care-taking and resources they provided, the all you can eat excellent food, and the amenities despite being deep in nature, the high daily rate ends up being good value.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank burpHanoi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2010

We had the experience of a lifetime at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge with our spectacular guide Vivian Rudolph. The wildlife was spectacular, the food fantastic and the accommodation was very comfortable. We'll return as soon as we can! Beth

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BethToron2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2010

We stayed at the BRL lodge last month whilst we travelled around Borneo., At first we thought it was very expensive for a few nights stay but we decided to go for it based on some of the reviews we read and stayed for 3 nights/4 days.

The cost is partly due to the fact that in order to reduce the number of people going to the valley they need to make the lodge economically viable. The BRL is run by an NGO and works very closely with the WWF and the field research centre. We were luckly that it was just the two of us and our guide, we went off season during what everyone told us was the rainy season however it rains at whatever time you go it just rains a bit more from Oct. However we didn't miss a single trek due to the weather and trekked from 6.30am to 9pm every day doing as many long treks as we could.

Because so few people get to go to this part of the world your chances of seeing animals are high. We also went onto Mulu where you will see no animals because the number of people staying and walking around the trails has meant they have all moved further into the rain forest. The BRL is very careful to close trails down for months on end to encourage animals to stay near.

The service is second to none, at the end of every trek you are greeted with a cool towel (much needed after three hours trekking around!), the staff are very friendly and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The food was the best we came across in Borneo with a great selection of local cuisine.

We stayed in a standard lodge which was perfect, we weren't in it too much but the lodge was refurbished earlier this year so all have been refitted. BRL also tries to make a possitive impact on the environment and the lodges have been build so air con is not required to keep the lodges cool and everything is recycled - a rareity in Borneo.

Our guide Amrafel was wonderful and has worked at the lodged for 10 years, he was very knowledgeable and helped us find some amazing finds - including wild orgautangs.

Be aware this is the jungle and it isn't sanitised. You will get leeches everywhere - I got bitten but the worse thing is the amount of blood - but it kind of adds to the wildness of it. Be prepared with wick clothing, good shoes which dry quickly and allow you to scramble, first aid kits, leech socks, hats and full length trousers. If you have a problem walking or can't deal with uneven walking terrain really consided if this is the place for you - the lodge is beautiful and it's great to stop in during your breaks between walks but you will be missing the point of going to the BRL which is being previledged to be able to get right into primary rainforest - something which even in Borneo is very hard to do now.

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Gstoat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2010

BRL is a wonderful place! The rooms are spacious, especially the luxury rooms overlooking the river which also have hot tubs on the verandah. Although there is no air conditioning the passive cooling system is surprisingly effective. The food is excellent and the restaurant area beautiful. The guides are very knowledgeable, and both the walking and driving safaris very good with a high chance of seeing a variety of animals. Large number of staff keeping the place clean and providing excellent, friendly service.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank MyReview186361
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2010

Stayed 2 nights at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley as part of our tour of Sabah.
It is along, nearly 3 hours, drive along dirt logging roads into the primary rainforest, but well worth it. A very warm welcome awaited us at the lodge which is quite spectacular in a clearing in the forest on the bank of a river, with the forest rising sharply upwards on the other bank. The semi-detached chalet, on stilts, was very large, clean and comfortable with a large well appointed bathroom with shower (no bath). There was a large open balcony overlooking the river and rainforest which had a double bath in which to soak after a trek in the jungle and enjoy the sights and sounds (e.g. gibbons) of the rainforest; lovely.
We enjoyed guided walks within the extensive grounds of the lodge, both during the day and at night, and saw some wonderful wildlife including : Orangutan, ref-leaf monkeys, owls, numerous frogs and spiders, leeches, millipedes, wonderful birds including : rhinoceros hornbill, oriental darter, white crested sharma, swifts and buff necked woodpecker. Also there were some spectacular flowers and butterfilies. There was also a night driive safari on the back of a truck when we saw the most spectacular flight of a flying squirrel and other nocturnal wildlife such as owls and a civet. An early morning walk to and across the high canopy walkway in the rainforest mist was yet another memorable experience.
The food and service were first class and the people are extremely lovely with always have a smile for you.

  • Stayed: August 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CaseyGarden
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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