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Top 5 wildlife lodges in Borneo
Rightly known as one of Asia’s best wildlife destinations, Borneo is a great destination for anyone with an appreciation for endangered species. With so many great wildlife lodges to choose from, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming trying to decide where to stay. We have taken the hassle away, giving you our top five wildlife lodges, complete with the animals you are likely to see whilst there…
Sepilok Nature Resort
This lodge is perfectly located only five minutes’ drive from the famous Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary, where you have the chance to see Orang-utans being rehabilitated and hopefully making their first movements towards being relocated back into the wild. New to the sanctuary is the infant Orang-utan area, where you can see the infants playing together and learning the necessary skills to survive in the jungle.
Another new addition is the Sun Bear Sanctuary, which looks after the endangered sun bear. There is often the chance to speak to the founder of the project, who is very passionate about these bears, which are often called honey bears for their Winnie the Pooh like love of honey. Hopefully the plight of the world’s smallest bear will someday be as recognised as that of Borneo’s lovable orange ape.
Enjoy a night walk from the lodge, whereby with the help of your trusted guide and a torch, you can go in search of flying foxes and smaller animals such as the slow Loris. This lodge is the perfect introduction to Borneo’s wildlife.
“Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary is a great day out! Watching the little ones swinging between branches and wrestling with each other was adorable.” - Holly Brightwell, Asia Specialist
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge is the sister property to Abai Jungle Lodge (mentioned below), but owing to its location in an area accessible by road, it has a slightly higher end feel to it. Rumour has it they are even adding in some air conditioned rooms! It is again perfectly located on the river and is known for the smaller animals, such as the elusive Western Tarsier. A cloud leopard has allegedly been spotted here, but you’ll need a bit of luck if you’re going to spot one of these elusive creatures yourself. They also offer a movie night, on which they show a very old recording of a David Attenborough documentary which was filmed in Borneo on this stretch of river. For those interested in caves, this is the perfect place from which to access the Gormantang caves.
Enjoy a river cruise at dusk where you will see the Proboscis monkey’s rousting in the trees by the river and have a good chance of seeing some silver leaf monkeys.
Tabin Wildlife Resort
This is a fantastic wildlife reserve that is only improving with time. The reserve is taking in rehabilitated animals on a regular basis and the animals are thriving in their new homes. The Lodge is perfectly set amidst the secondary rainforest and the guides are exceptional, offering you opportunity to trek to a volcanic mud site, one of the favourite places of the Pygmy elephants. They also offer a special birding guide for those who enjoy catching photos of rare feathered friends.
Aside from the birds and potential glimpses of Pygmies, you will have the chance to see and definitely hear Gibbons whooping high up in the trees.
Borneo Rainforest Lodge
Rightly thought of as the most luxurious lodge in Borneo, it is set on a stunning river bend in thick primary forest. It is not only the aesthetics that appeal, the service and staff are also excellent and will make your stay here a massive highlight of any trip. The area has some stunning canopy walks; it definitely worth getting up early in the morning and heading onto it to watch the mist settle and the jungle come to life and start another day. You have the opportunity to see an abundance of wildlife, from tiny tree frogs to wild Orang-utans; the guides will take you on night walks, night drives and early morning canopy walks and if there is a good sighting of a rare animal then the call goes out and you will quickly be on the move.
The drive getting here is bumpy, but you are rewarded with some stunning views. The Pygmy elephants tend to use the road at night for ease of moving around and evidence of their passing adds spice to the journey! If possible I would suggest a River view Deluxe chalet - the views of the jungle form the outdoor bathtub are really special.
Abai Jungle Lodge
Basic but beautiful, it is the location of Abai Jungle Lodge that gives it its appeal. Although not as luxurious as some of our other favourites, the owners have done everything they can to make sure you have an amazing stay. The boardwalk and bird watching towers are fun to explore, and you don’t need a guide, you can go for a wander around these areas on your own, and take your time to really soak up the property’s unique setting. Look out for Junior, the resident bearded pig, he tends to migrate under the boardwalks looking for any dropped scraps.
Spend your days searching the river on a single engine boat looking for wildlife. In the daytime be sure to scan the high trees looking for Gibbons and Orang-utans; they tend to like the fig trees. You’ll probably spot macaque monkeys playing on the ground and amongst the lower branches.
Guests at Abai Jungle Lodge also get the chance to meet some locals and plant a tree – you’ll feel like you have done your bit for the rainforest!
“Planting a tree at Abai Jungle Lodge is a really nice touch – you feel like you’re giving something back and reducing your footprint at least in part. The Pygmy elephants that frequent the area handily left some natural fertiliser for me, to give my tree the best start in life!” - Nathan Drane, Borneo specialist