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“Lucky to Have Got Away Alive”

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Barefoot Sukau Lodge
Ranked #6 of 8 Sukau B&B and Inns
Kangaroo Island, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
212 reviews
160 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 217 helpful votes
“Lucky to Have Got Away Alive”
Reviewed 30 September 2012

Sukau like Danum (aka royal visit tour) seems to be commandeered by the "package tour" specialists which charge an exhorbitant amount locals probably don't get a minute fraction of. Forced then to web search backpackers knowing they wouldn't be paying this kind of money but would still want to see "the famous wildlife". The first I came to was Barefoot Lodge.
Tarriff was R80 per room. We booked three nights. No problem at all with the R45pp one way from Sandakan pickup. First omen was a dead dog lying on the road entering Sukau village. Second omen - no-one was else staying at the lodge. That meant I could not do the wildlife spotting trips without paying for the whole boat hire which I would not do. Third omen, dog vomit at the entrance to the eating area . Now not one to heed omens, I gave it no second thought.
So fit as...we walked down the road and found where all the foreign backpackers were staying (Greenview or Green something) and they had loads of people going so I paid per head and joined them. Both fit as fiddles, we walked about after the trip and waited for the 30R dinner which was two salty green stringy vege, cold lumpy rice, and THE FISH!!!!!!!!! Now we are vegetarians and told the agent who drove us to the lodge that we wanted vege only but he said he had been to the market and got us Barracouda and Tuna (the fish served turned out to be neither). We occasionally eat fish so we thought nothing of it but what was served was 4 hand length fish which amounted to nothing but spiny bones and head - we picked at the bit of flesh which was swimming in neat rancid oil (palm oil always smells rancid) some sauce as salty as the black sea and that was that. We only drank warm water from a thermos they provided thinking it was boiled. At about 4am the symptoms started. I am no doctor but would wonder if there was a connection with the story so far. We developed violent vomiting and diorrhea and a headache that felt like it was blowing up our heads over and over - the body aches were like being torn apart slowly. We got a lift to the local doctorless clinic and they offered no diagosis and a lot of pills none of which worked to ease the intense agony which lasted three days in a "shack" with only the barest, if that, facilities. Thank God there was a sit toilet and it was attached. The building itself is ready for demolition and while in the throws of high fever delerium, we watched the termites eating away at everything even our stuff that we could hardly even care about anymore. I seriously thought I would die and we were three hours from the nearest hospital. Neither of us have ever been so ill. I have travelled far and wide but nothing matched this.
Now the problem was that there being no other tourists staying we could not see if having eaten the same food as us, they had also got sick. We believe we had food poisoning but can't prove it so not accusations against the lodge are being laid.
Apart from the sickness, the sleeping quarters are directly behind the mosque and that means
prayer calling over loudspeakers through the day and night and then both at 4am and 5am. Humour even wins over dire sickness as we both started laughing -feebly as it was- when the two gaurd dogs of the lodge began howling along with the sound of the sung prayer. No offence intended but it did have quite the tinge of macabre. Second problem of location of lodge to mosque is the generator for the mosque. They were having teachings going on for hours and ending close to midnight and the sound of the generator was like a low drone drill going through your skull. Being so sick and with heads on fire and pounding there was no relief not by day nor night. During the day, the workers were rebuilding the pontoon for the lodge and that involved extremely loud hammering which went on for days. If this was hell then we were in it.
The good bit? The open air eatery come sitting area overlooks the river and is quite nice but the lodge is on the bend of the road and gets some traffic. Beer is cheap and available till ten but we weren't drinking any. Sukau Kinabatang river is beautiful so is the wildlife and the forest.
PS Breakfast served was fried sweet potato, white bread and melon (the only fruit I dislike) - luckily we were not up to eating this fare by a long shot. We began eating about 6 days later.

Room Tip: Make up your own mind. I told my story as I experienced it.
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank NibbanAh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (8)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 September 2012 via mobile

We undertook the 2 night 3 day package. We were lucky as on a couple of occasions it was only ourselves and our guide on the river cruise trip.

The river cruising was excellent each time staying over the allotted time allocated. Our guide was brilliant at spotting wildlife especially on the night cruise.

There are posters and literature around the restaurant which help you to identify what wildlife you have seen.

The rooms here are very basic with thin walls. We could hear the fella next door snoring. Bathrooms are adequate but you wouldn't want to hang around in it any longer than is necessary. Hot water is available and towels are provided.

Food is tasty and varied enough over the 3 days.

There are great views from the restaurant lounge area. You can easily spot wildlife from there even when not on a cruise we watched at least 2 groups of monkeys work there way across the rock opposite.

Transfers were easy enough with friendly driver.

This stay is all about the wildlife. If your looking for home comforts dont stay here.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank ClareyS-ClareyS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Astana, Kazakhstan
Level 6 Contributor
133 reviews
61 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 75 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2012

We were supposed to stay in Sukau Greenview B&B, but due to some problems we stayed at this place. Overall, the Barefoot lodge proved to be a good but a basic place to stay. Restaurant and river cruise are great. Food was average. Rooms are basic, but if you come to Sukau, you seek for adventures and jungles, so you do not need luxury rooms. Beer is available at reception (local brand - Skol for 6RM per can). However, you can bring your own alcohol and drink it in the lodge (restaurant).

  • Stayed July 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Bah881
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southampton, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 July 2012

We opted for the 2 day 1 night package and although a bit expensive, we got value for money! We got picked up from our lodge Paganakan Dii in an aircon people carrier, with our guide and two other girls who were also on a package. We made a stop at the Gormantong Caves, we had the option to join them but decided to save the cash and by all accounts we didn't miss much.

When we arrived at Sukau, it really is an isolated little village on the river down a long winding track, if you didnt know it was there you wouldn't stumble upon it! We received a warm welcome from the staff and immediately fell in love with the surroundings, when they say on the river, they're not exaggerating! Lunch was simple yet tasty and we had a few hours to kill before our first afternoon cruise. The room was basic but little things like the towels arranged in the shape of a lotus flower was a nice touch.

We ended up doing an afternoon and a night cruise, both of which were jam packed full of animal sightings. Although we didnt see any wild orang-utans we did see the following: Herd of 40 Elephants (many which crossed the river and swam right past our little boat), Macaques, Probiscus Monkeys, Crocodile (named Frankie!), Civet, Rhinoceros Horn-bill, Storm stork, Crested Serpent Eagle to name a few of the daytime sights. At night the guides really come into their own and managed to point out things that would've been invisible to most! Blue eared kingfisher, stork billed kingsfisher and a very rare sighting of an endangered flat headed cat. We felt really lucky to see all of these animals and the guides knowledge played a huge part in our experience.

We wanted to do an early morning cruise as well, but due to a recent downpour some of the mountain side had slid into the road and emergency road repairs had to be conducted. This meant that unavoidably the one road in and out of Sukau would be closed for 24hrs so we had to leave the following morning at half 7, not giving us enough time for the morning cruise. The management was apologetic and I think this was reflected in the price we paid as it was far cheaper than we had anticipated. Really great experience and would recommend this place to anyone.

Room Tip: If you can try and do all three cruise (afternoon, night & morning)
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Victoria Q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hamburg
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 June 2012

We did several cruises and enjoyed all of them. Great guide was provided who could provide lots of facts.
However, the room was the most basic we saw during our travel through borneo. It was still ok but on the edge.
What is inacceptable are the prices for the shuttle service. Since there are no alternatives, they can charge what they want. For the trip from the hotel to the junction, from where the bus to semporna leaves, they charged us far too much - but you have no choice.

  • Stayed June 2012
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank filantrOpO_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
28 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 April 2012

We did enjoy our stay here, mostly thanks to the fantastic guide Juan who - along with the boatmen - turned out to be a fantastic wildlife spotter and very knowledgeable about it. This was, after all, what we came here for. The food was good, served as a buffet at specified times. Beer is available on site, there's no wifi though. Rooms are very basic but most of all, they could use some renovation. Using the bathroom was rather a dread.
Package services offered by the lodge are overpriced compared to their walk-in rates and their pickup from Sandakan is a sheer rip off - we managed to get to and from Barefoot for a quarter of their quoted price.
We took all the cruises (morning, afternoon, evening) and can recommend all of them. Weather is a factor, if it rains heavily there's not much to see, you may have to wait until the next day. It's about 40min walking to the village and 15 min to the next lodge.

  • Stayed April 2012
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Kasia_mip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Travelling all over
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 April 2012

Having had this lodge recommended by a family member living in KL my wife and I headed to this retreat on the river for a river wildlife experience. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the different bird and primate species with good English river tours. We saw 6 out of 8 primates, including a wild Orang Utan resting in his nest in the evening!! 6 out of the 8 hornbill species, king-fishers, snakes, crocodiles, and various other bird-life.

We stayed for one night after a 2hr transfer organised by them from our hotel (The Pavilion Hotel) near Sandakan airport. We did 3 river cruises; one late afternoon, a night and an early morning tour which was more than enough. In our opinion you do not need to stay more than one night as there's not much to do on-land if you're not on the river tour. Only disappointment we had was during the night cruise when the search torches' battery did not last and we missed the perfect full moon opportunity to spot some leopards or other nocturnal predators. It seems that a power failure during the previous day was possibly the cause for the car-batteries not to be charged enough. Our tour guide, "Pop-eye", who was new on his 2nd day there was very sweet and apologetic for the inconvenience that was not really his fault.

The lodges' rooms were basic enough with hot water shower, fan and mosquito protection in the rooms. The food was good enough although when brought out the flies knew it was feeding time but this is expected in this location.

We had a great experience all round and would recommend this wildlife experience to anyone wanting to see Borneo's real wildlife along Malaysia's second longest river.

David

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank DavidD011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Barefoot Sukau Lodge

Property: Barefoot Sukau Lodge
Address: Kinabatangan River, Sukau 88450, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District > Sukau
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 8 B&Bs / Inns in Sukau
Number of rooms: 10
Also Known As:
Barefoot Sukau Hotel Sukau
Barefoot Sukau Lodge Kinabatangan District

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