Saturday, October 04, 2014

Monkeying around in Malaysian Borneo’s Kinabatangan River Valley

We made our first friend in Malaysia. No, not the monkey.

The expat destination research vacation of 2011 continued after our amazing adventure at Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Still a current Facebook friend, our guide at The Bilit Adventure Lodge in the Kinabatangen River Valley enhanced our adventure with a personalized style not found in a tour guide manual.

Unlike the college educated and company trained professional staff we’d met at the luxurious lodge, Loy is a local resident from the village that just happens to work for the lodge. Sharing local knowledge, a few rounds of guitar and some cold beer it was more like hanging out at a friend’s house.

Whatever The Bilit Adventure Lodge lacks in luxury, it more than makes up for with its character. 

Guaranteed satisfaction, the main draw in the Kinabatangen River Valley is the wildlife. With all the lodging options, why not choose one that makes you feel at home?

The staff at the Bilit Adventure Lodge made the trip more than just another memory; they treated us like one of the gang.  Viewing wildlife with friends instead of tour guides greatly enhanced our experience.

The lodge is owned by Sepilok Tropical Wildlife Adventure. They also run a very touristy lodge minutes from Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. Thanks mostly to corporate greed, habitat loss has pushed almost all the area’s wildlife within a short distance of the river.

Overnight adventure trips are inexpensive and a variety of lodges offer various levels of service. Ensure to ask for a private guide. Unlike impersonal group tours, most personal guides will spend extra time in one place, allowing for some bonding with a monkey. (as seen in the featured image)

Dropped off in Lahad Datu, our six night package continued when Loy and his driver picked us up right on time. Driving past rather ordinary scenery and some evil palm plantations for about two hours, we arrived at Bilit, a small village southeast of Sandakan and hopped on a quick boat ride.

Set in a lush rainforest, the lodge features small buildings with four guest units each. Unaccustomed to Americans, the staff laughed at the enormous amount of luggage we toted.