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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 animals. With so many great 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 Reserve, Sandakan
This lodge is perfectly located only five minutes’ drive from the famous Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, where you have the chance to see orangutans being rehabilitated and hopefully making their first movements towards being relocated back into the wild. New to the sanctuary is the infant orangutan 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.
Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge, Kinabatangan River
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. 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 monkeys rousting in the trees by the river and have a good chance of seeing some silver leaf monkeys.
Tabin Wildlife Resort, Tabin Wildlife Reserve
This simple but comfortable lodge offers superb opportunities to spot wildlife. 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 the 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 taking photos of rare feathered friends. Aside from the birds and potential glimpses of Pygmy elephants, you will have the chance to see and definitely hear gibbons whooping high up in the trees.
Borneo Rainforest Lodge, Danum Valley
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 highlight of any trip. The area has some stunning canopy walks; it is definitely worth getting up early in the morning and heading onto the canopy walkway 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 orangutans; 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! We would suggest a River View Deluxe Chalet as the views from the outdoor bathtub are really special.
Abai Jungle Lodge, Kinabatangan River
It is the location of Abai Jungle Lodge that really gives it its appeal and 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. 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. Spend your days cruising the river searching for wildlife. In the daytime be sure to scan the high trees looking for gibbons and orangutans; they tend to like the fig trees. You’ll probably spot macaque monkeys playing on the ground and among the lower branches.