- 50 km, 3-days cruise of one of Borneo longest rivers
- Night river cruising experience, among other activities
- Be the guest of a local community who call the Kinabatangan home
- Give your contribution to local eco-sustainable projects and activities
- Round trip from Sandakan to Sim Sim
- Boat cruise with local guides
- Accommodation in family lodge
- Meals in full board basis and activities
- Entrance fees and permits
- Any amount of people can join.
The Kinabatangan River (locally known as Sungai Kinabatangan) is located in Sabah, eastern Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. It is the second longest river in Malaysia (560 kilometers from its headwaters in the mountains of southwest Sabah, to its outlet at the Sulu Sea, east of Sandakan) and the area surrounding it is remarkably known to host one of the most biologically rich and diverse ecosystem in the world. The floodplains of the Kinabatangan consist of five habitats – limestone, mangroves, dry forests, saline and freshwater swamps – while the lower Kinabatangan has one of the most diverse concentrations of wildlife in Borneo.
A visit to the river by boat will reward you with one of the most fulfilling experiences in nature. It’s not by chance that the WWF has dubbed the Kinabatangan as the “Corridor of Life”. Among many of the species you can spot during your cruise there are crocodiles, pigmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, hornbills, langurs and several other species of birds and mammals, insects and reptiles.
To get the most out of this extraordinary area that is Kinabatangan, we recommend this 3-days itinerary along the river, covering about 50 km by boat, and including night treks where the only available light will be the moon’s. You will be in company of local guides and nature experts, and you will be taken to forest restoration areas managed by local communities, for a very friendly and sustainable eco-tour experience. Likewise, you will be hosted in a river guesthouse managed by a family of Orang Sungai (the “river people”), the biggest ethnic group that lives along the river edges. Their village, called Abai, is the closest to the river mouth that ends in the Sulu Sea. It’s reachable by a 2-hour boat ride from Sandakan (about 60 km) and during this cruise you will be able to catch charming views of the mangrove forests that characterize the coastal area, before the river makes its way into the floodplains.
While in Abai, you will experience the local hospitality of the Abai people and participate in their day-to-day activities, consisting mostly of fishing using traditional fishtraps and old techniques, planting rice, or traditional boat making.
Included in the excursion are the meals and transportation from Sepilok or Sandakan (airport or hotel) to Sim Sim village. The Sim Sim jetty is where the boat departs for Kinabatangan. After the river cruise is over on the third day, you will be taken back to Sandakan (to airport or Sepilok or to another destination, for example to Tabin or Danum Valley). If you wish, you can extend your staying at Abai for one or more days, just ask us for a quotation.
Please be aware that since the Kinabatangan is a protected area, all the tour activities are organized in groups – therefore you might find yourself in company of other visitors. Each person visiting the Kinabatangan must register at departure.
We recommend to have with you only a small backpack with the minimum necessary, because most of this excursion happens on small boats and if you happen to have a lot of cumbersome luggage it may be a problem for yourself or others. Therefore we recommend you’d leave your excess baggage in custody at your hotel in Sandakan or at the Sim Sim village baggage deposit. We also recommend to wear an adequate outfit and shoes, suitable for jungle and river trekking. Bring also insects repellent, a raincoat (even disposable), a hat, sunscreen and a flashlight for the night.