Kinabatangan River, Sabah, Borneo

 

 At 12:30pm four of us from Borneo Sandakan Backpackers were picked-up by a minivan to take us to Kinabatangan River. The drive was 2.5 hours. There was me, an Aussie girl, and two German guys.

The 2 night package with Asia Green Travel cost 371 rm ($100) and included meals, lodging (basic lodge dorm,) 2 jungle walks, 2 night jungle walks, and 4 river cruises. Our guide was named Aloy and came from the town across the river bank.
We arrived at the lodge and and were shown our room, a 6 bed dorm with about 6 inches of space in between each, and a bathroom. Luckily there were only four of us because the space was incredibly tight, although it was the nicest basic outdoor lodge I’ve stayed in. It even had AC and hot water. 

 It’s green beetle season right now and there are literally thousands of lime green beetles all over the place- the floors, walls, air, etc. There were also massive lime green grasshoppers and cicada’s.  Our schedule for the first day was snack, afternoon cruise, dinner, night jungle walk. For our snack we had roti’s and curry sauce which was delicious. It heavily down poured before our cruise which I think scared a lot of the animals away. On the night walk to saw a Blue-eared Kingfisher, a bright blue/pink/yellow bird.


Aussie and I stayed up late hanging out with our guide. The lodge is going to be town down soon because the owner is building a resort in its place. We were given a tour of the new lodges and at midnight Aloy and Elvis, the lodge host, took us into the massive restaurant under construction on the waterfront. The design is wooden and upscale.
The next day we left at 5:45am for the morning river cruise. Then had breakfast and left for our daytime jungle walk. We used the boat to cross the water bank then trekked for an hour to Lake Oxb Lake. Here we threw bread into the water and immediately tons of tilapia babies starting fighting over it. On the walk we saw tiger leeches, millipedes, a black squirrel, pigmy squirrels, and a big daddy long legs. There was a bunch of pigmy elephant poop with mushrooms growing out of it, but we didn’t see any elephants. 

           We walked back to the boat and went back to the lodge. We had lunch then played cards with our guide. It started to downpour again but at 2pm it had stopped and we left for our village walk. The village nearby, Bilit Village, ended up being a few houses and a school with a convenience store. We bought drinks, visited our guides family’s house, and played with newborn puppies.  After the village walk more people arrived at the lodge. Two older British couples, a young couple from Vancouver, and a young Swedish guy. We all snacked on fried shrimp bread balls then headed out for our cruise, which was by far the best one yet.


On this cruise we saw a big older orangutan making a nest high up in a tree. We also saw 5 elephants feeing along the water. On the way back we stopped and watched two Proboscis monkey families fighting over tree space. In total their were eight groups of monkeys in that tree, and the surrounding ones. The monkeys were jumping around and actually hitting each other; I thought I was watching National Geographic. 

     After dinner someone spotted a 2.5 meter long Yellow-ringed cat snake on the exterior wall of the outdoor bathroom. It was black with yellow stripes. Me and Aussie ran when a guide attempted to pick it up by it’s tail, and Aussie actually broke the floorboards when she sprinted off.


The next morning we woke up early again for another sunrise river cruise. This trip I noticed all the old used orangutan nests throughout the trees. Apparently they only use a nest for one night then move on.

On the four river cruises we saw Proboscis monkeys, long tail macaques, pig tail macaques, silvered langur monkeys, black hornbill birds, Oriental Pied hornbill, black hornbills, Wrinkled hornbills, a red hornbill, purple herons, great egrets, osprey, white-bellied sea-eagles, crested serpent-eagle, stork-billed Kingfisher, a 4m crocodile, a foot long baby crocodile, 2 orangutans, and 5 elephants.


After breakfast I was dropped off at a junction 35 minutes away to grab a bus driving from Sandakan to Semporna. I paid 40 rm and the bus took 5 hours. All the land we drove through was Palm oil plantations. Imagine a corn farm but Palm trees instead.

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