We were sitting in the main “tree house” lodge having our breakfast when we began to browse through some of the “tours” of the Kinabatangan River that we could take from our resort. Tom and I had mostly stayed away from the big-tour-bus-fanny-pack type of tours during our trip in Malaysia as we were trying to get the most authentic experience out of our time there. We wanted to eat as the locals, do as the locals, and just enjoy Malaysia’s rainforests, and all of it’s extreme beauty. There were so many companies to choose from when trying to do a jungle safari by river. How could we decide which would be the best? I asked the lodge worker (a native malay) which one she thought would be “the most fun” and she recommended going on a tour with a fellow by the name of Osman- with Kinabatangan Discovery.
We decided to make the trek to the river (about two hours from our lodge near where we spent time with the orangutans!) to do the river safari. Tom asked me if I wanted to do more than one “river tour” instead of making the two hour trek for just one boat ride. Of COURSE I DID! Our lodging was right on the river where we stayed one night at Sukau Greenview lodge before catching a flight to Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. Everything was arranged from the lodge we had been staying at Paganakan Dii including transportation to and from the river for us. We ended up deciding on a sunset tour, after dark river tour, and lastly the sunrise river tour. I had told myself that I didn’t expect to see any wildlife at all so that I wouldn’t be disappointed…but our three river safaris ended up being so much more than just a simple boat ride (It probably helps to have a husband with an incredible eye to spot wildlife!) All of our cruises were uniquely AMAZING, but our favorite was the sunset tour- when we saw the most wildlife, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
Let me back up for one second. Palm oil plantations are a big deal in East Malaysia. It’s a pretty big industry as Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, and is the world’s largest exporter of the oil. With this industry, sadly, comes the destruction, and clearing of land for the plantations. So while, the plantations have disrupted the ecology of the upper section of the Kinabatangan River… the mangrove swamps as well as parts of the lowland river have survived, remain in tact, and are now protected. The river is said to contain a huge part of the wildlife in Borneo. Home to all sorts of crazy cool looking birds, monkeys, crocodiles, snakes, orangutans and even Pygmy Elephants. So three river tours, hundreds of pictures, and one awesome (non commercial) tour guide later. I present you with one of most gorgeous places on Earth. The Kinabatangan River in East Malaysia: