Kinabatangan River is the second longest river in Malaysia, with a length of 560 kilometres it runs across the state of Sabah on the island of Borneo. It is a haven for rare animals that have lost their native habitats due to logging and palm plantations. In 2006, the Kinabatangan area was officially declared a wildlife sanctuary to prevent further loss of habitat. The beautiful river is considered by many to be the best place for viewing wildlife in Borneo, if not the whole of Southeast Asia. Visitors will normally travel by boat in search of wildlife and most of the time they will encounter a huge variety of animals.
There are several small villages along the river, often forming the starting point for visitors that visit the area. Bilit is such a village as it is from here boats to lodges in the area leave. There is no need for visitors to worry about lodging when visiting the area as there are plenty of lodges that accommodate visitors. Most of the lodges are situated in or nearby the small town of Sukau, the tourist ‘centre’ within the Kinabatangan area.
There is no doubt that Kinabatangan River is a popular destination within Sabah as it sustains one of the world’s richest ecosystems. Other than being home to Borneo’s indigenous Orang Utan and Proboscis Monkey, the surrounding forest is also one of only two known places in the world where 10 species of primates are found. All the eight species of hornbill found in Borneo make the area their home.
Because of the wide protected area near the Kinabatangan River and the length of the river itself, there are several things that visitors can do. Visitors can go on a boat ride where they can view various animals and plant life that live within the riverbanks. They can also go trekking around the area to have a firsthand experience of the ecosystem where these animals live. Besides going on a river cruise in Kinabatangan River, the other areas near the river offer a great amount of sightseeing. Visitors can go to Gomantong Hill and be blown away with the breathtaking view, or enter the Gomantong Caves, where a lot of rock formations can be seen. Visitors can go on a short or long trip and still be satisfied with the natural beauty that the river and its surrounding areas have to offer.
The Kinabatangan River can be visited all year round. A visit during the rainy season (November to March) has its ups and downs. The upside is that visitors can venture deeper into the river channels, where they will have a bigger chance of spotting wildlife especially around the oxbow lakes hidden in the Kinabatangan area. On the downside, the heavy rains will make the area inaccessible especially during the peak of the monsoon season during December and January when the river and the channels are often flooded. Bird enthusiasts should visit the area from April to October as this is main flowering and fruiting season.
For more information on Kinabatangan River, please click HERE.