This is an excellent resort where the staff can’t do enough to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. The accommodation was spacious and well maintained, the food was excellent and the staff even provided musical entertainment in the evening. The safaris’ on the river were well done with knowledgeable guides and boat captains. The highlight was to see orangutans in the wild just feeding in the trees without any concern for the humans in the boat staring at them.
We had a fabulous holiday at the KWR resorts on the Kinabatangan river
The resort is beautiful with large rooms set amidst a lovely green jungle. The staff were brilliant, friendly and helpful led by their manager JR who also doubles up every night on his guitar to entertain the guests. The food was also delicious. A few maintenance issues with hot water were dealt with promptly by JR
Finally it’s the wildlife that makes this a special place and with the help of Max our wonderful guide and Captain Anday ably steering the boat we saw pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, langurs and macaques, squirrels , snakes and lots of birds including 5 species of kingfisher, hornbills leaf birds and 3 species of sunbirds. Lots of diverse wildlife but you need patience and luck and don’t expect the density to match wildlife viewing in Africa or bird life in the Pantanal. We stayed for 4 nights and were very lucky with sightings.
Overall a lovely experience, marred a bit at the end as the resort management led by an officious head office manager literally hounded us out of the resort as quick as they could to make way for the arrival of “VIP customers who were flying in on a private jet”.
Great place to stay for people who enjoy nature. Amazing staff. World class place to stay. Very knowledgeable tour guide who showcases the beauty of the Borneo jungle. Was able to see orang utan, Proboscis monkey, crocodile, flying lemur & mouse deer. Highly recommended.
We did extensive research before deciding that whilst it was expensive, Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort had such great reviews particularly about the tours, that we would book. We are very glad we did. The resort is isolated within the jungle with beautiful rooms - ours was a new or newly renovated villa with a double and single, great food and most importantly, great river cruises. We saw a wild orangatang which was very special, as well as a number of proboscis monkeys, crocodiles, birds, snakes and more. The only thing we missed out on was the trip to the fishing village - possibly because there were only 2 other guests and as they departed that morning our first morning cruise finished earlier. We were a little disappointed about this particularly as we weren't told. It was partly made up by the offer to stop by a fishing village and buy giant river prawns which my husband loves and the chef kindly cooked for us. Great service and accommodation and wild borneo jungle made for a great trip.
I was so excited to see Borneo. And as you know, expectation is the biggest letdown of all. But I really was thrilled. And it's this resort that made it possible, and the amazing people who run it so smoothly that you hardly notice any work being done at all.
Where to begin.
If you are new to the jungle, and you're dying to see animals but you're afraid the jungle will be too overwhelming , or whether you are a seasoned hiker who wants to observe the wetland wildlife up close just through your binoculars or camera, (or if you just want a beautiful, relaxing, feel-good getaway from work and civilisation)this is it!
It's set right in the middle of nowhere, deep in the mangroves - takes an hour and a half to reach by boat, the final approach through a dramatic avenue of palms reflected green and gold in the river - a place thronging with wildlife.
Chattering bright orange proboscis monkeys swinging from tree to tree - families and all male groups - preparing to sleep with their backs to the river, glaring macques with their endless grooming, scurrying silverleaf monkeys, baby crocodiles, cute little mouse deer, egrets prancing before thick dark forest curtains, and two dazzlingly hued species of kingfisher darting off into the sunset - were the creatures I saw just on the first boat ride. The next day also a woodpecker, herons and kaleidoscopic kingfishers, dragos, sea eagles fishing, brahminy kite eagles, and also a pair of hornbills nestled high up in a tree straight from the cartoon Tarzan together for the sunset! Also orangutan nests. And big armoured crocodiles. Didn't see any elephants, but you can't have everything.! To the birdlovers out there: you will die of joy.
Each guest room is an independent chalet set in the thick of the jungle, around an iron wood 'broadwalk' leading out from the main lobby (you get to it from a pier!). Forget simply luxurious, they're spotless with crisp sheets and towels, and what's more utterly critter-free - which is no mean feat, since they're built on marshland and surrounded by the jungle. But it is run by their very talented manager who paints and plays the guitar and probably runs a tight ship - though it all feels like a very happy bunch of friends all laughing and joking around. From the lovely ladies and guys in the dining room, to the lively boatman and the guy who likes to make coffee, to the absolutely fantastic guide.The staff are incredibly warm and welcoming, and yes, talented enough to have their own live band :) and the chef is great too. You def won't starve in the jungle. Every day you will find your room clean, and beds freshly made. Plumbing, airconditioning, food, sheets - all impeccable; utter luxury in the jungle. But you hardly have much time there except the night if you're busy exploring. Just somewhere comfortable bugfree to come and sleep in when you tire of your beloved bugs.
At first it is a little overwhelming. The sounds of the jungle are so loud on the path and your room that you imagine a snake or spotted leopard about to leap at you at every bend! But then as the guide Andis explained nonchalantly it's just different frogs and little lizards (and then you feel incredibly foolish - but then he was also nonchalant about people being freaked out by monitor lizards, so I wouldn't beat myself up too much). There's a night walk on the premises - pitcher plants and glow-in-the-dark scorpions and mushrooms, shy spotted samba deer and their tiny cousin the mouse deer, water monitor lizards and even if you're really lucky a sun bear (we saw trees they'd been through). And if you've never seen it - the sky from the middle of the jungle. So many stars glittering fiercely above and tall trees in dense dark silhouette. I was lucky enough to be there during the dark phase of the moon. On the second night, there was a night cruise and they showed us the firefly colonies: they twinkle in and out, just like stars in nursery rhymes, almost camouflaging with the distant spheres of fire. And there, in the middle of the mangrove forest, grey water below (and a croc just feet away!) and overhead a sky so thickly sprinkled with stars that it seems grey too, with only a dense ring of forest to separate the two - you can taste the wild more than ever.
Don't let your imagination get away with you though, the biggest threat right outside my chalet was a family of wild boars with cute little piglets chomping away in the indigo after the morning rain.
The amazing feeling this place gives you: wild without scaring the living daylights out of you. Letting you experience amazing wildlife and fantastic sunsets and stars and just pure wetland forest. And the lovely air of camaraderie. It feels like family, so happy and lighthearted, but also incredibly courteous. Such wonderful people to be around.
I didn't see an orangutan or a sun bear at Kinabatangan, so they arranged for me to go to the conservation at Sepilok before my flight and I saw both there! An orangutan swinging in the trees quite apart from the feeding area. And the honey bears just being so plain cute in the pursuit of bugs that you will believe a certain yellow bear to have been inspired solely by them. Also you will want to hug them. Repeatedly. But hopefully you won't.
My biggest advice: take insect repellent and binoculars because not even NatGeo prepared you for this. Sometimes the monkeys are sitting just a few feet away, but if you want a 3d experience and more, you need zoom! And keep your legs covered, or the mosquitos will bite. It is just magical, you can see the ruffle in every feather and little bit of fur -you can see their expressions, their wariness or hostility. Mostly they're scared of the noise of a boat, but don't pay us much heed.
Lovely folk, spotless rooms, great food, right in the middle of a jungle so rich with wildlife - a simply gorgeous experience. I couldn't recommend it enough.