Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Cruising the Kinabatangan River

During our time in Borneo, much of our activity choices were dominated by a desire to spot those beautiful, evasive orange apes, the orangutans.

Our decision to visit the Kinabatangan River was no different, having heard from other bloggers this place was the best chance we had to see those gorgeous little gingers in the wild. Not only is the jungle around Kinabatangan river a habitat to orangutans, but proboscis monkeys, pigmy elephants and salt water crocodiles all also call this area home.

After a little research and suggestions from friends and fellow travellers we knew we had to visit this area known for its variety of wildlife.

We were recommended a few different jungle stays on the Kinabatangan river, but the one that fit our budget and requirements best was Nature Lodge. We managed to book with them via email for the exact dates we wanted and arranged a 3 day / 2 night trip. They were very communicative and gave us a lot of detail via email and we felt very positive about the whole booking process. Nature Lodge also have an office in Kota Kinabalu (KK) for talking with the staff and making bookings face to face.

We were both very excited and pleased with our choice.

Kinabatangan River is located in east Sabah, the closest city is Sandakan and has a domestic airport for easy connections to other cities in Malaysian Borneo. I would strongly suggest this option of transport as our bus journey to the area from Kota Kinabalu was expensive and distressing, in more ways than one.

If you book in advance you should be able to secure one of the cheapest Air Asia flights that start at something like $15, the bus is 45 MYR so it’s exactly the same price! Not to mention much shorter and easier, the shuttle for Nature Lodge also picks up guests from Sandakan airport.

We departed KK at 7am, having paid for the bus to take us to Medan Silera where a shuttle would meet us to take us the rest of the way to Kinabatangan river. We were in reasonably high spirits as the bus was in fairly decent shape and was quite comfortable. This was not to last.

Quite soon after leaving KK behind the roads became very winding. This area of Borneo is mountainous so the roads are indicative of that. This alone would not have been a problem, but our bus driver seemed to believe he was in some sort of rally vehicle and not a large coach.

The speed, twists, turns and swaying of the bus quite rapidly became too much for me and after about an hour I was seeing my breakfast again in the tiny onboard toilet.

Not pleasant.

After that I was a bit of a mess and had to sit up high so I could see out of the windscreen, which helped a little. I didn’t throw up again, but I was still a little shaky when we disembarked 5 hours later.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Cruising the Kinabatangan River