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“If you want to come close to nature”

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Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 August 2014

This is probably the best rainforest lodge along the Kinabatangan River. It is about two hours boat ride up river to get there. But the chance to spot wild orangutans is big. We spotted the rainforest "big five" with help of the excellent guides working at the lodge. Asian Pygmee Elephant, Crocodile, Proboscis, Orangutan (3) and Borneo Gibbon (2). The service and food at the Lodge is excellent. But be aware that there are mosquitos and no air condition. But it is absolutely worth it.

Room Tip: Stay at least two nights
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  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Michael A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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387 - 393 of 688 reviews

Reviewed 9 August 2014 via mobile

We stayed for two nights and had 3 wildlife boat trips all of which we're amazing. We saw so much wildlife including Orangs and Pygmy elephants.

The lodge is very well run by extremely pleasant and knowledgable staff. The food is excellent. We were staying in a room next door to the Sir David Attenborough room! He stayed there whilst filming in the Gomantong Caves a few years ago.

The rooms are very comfortable, there's no A/C which isn't really a problem as there's an efficient fan above the bed in each room. I don't think it would be right to have A/C churning away in the middle of such a natural environment!

There's also a wonderful boardwalk at the back of the lodge.

I'd highly recommend a visit to this beautiful lodge.

Stayed: August 2014
Thank NewlandsMiddlesex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2014

Thank you to all the wonderful staff at Sukau Rainforest lodge for a truly unique experience. A relaxing, friendly stay highlighted by the wild life we saw. I would recommend this stay to all. Fantastic riverside location. Bonus when the pool goes in-just need to cool down in July as it was very hot and humid.

Room Tip: Rooms closer to reception may pick up wifi.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with friends
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Thank 805Julie777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TimothyT_BET, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 6 August 2014

Dear Julie, Couldn't agree more about the dip pool. July is certainly a bit hot due to the dry season. Should be up and running by September, fingers crossed.

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Reviewed 3 August 2014

My husband and I visited Sukai Rainforest Lodge. The boat journey was great - all part of the experience, so no complaints there. The lodge was clean, nicely furnished and the food was perfectly fine. The lodge and ambience certainly met with our expectations and I loved it. There are however 2 reasons why it gets 3 stars and not 5: firstly, when you are given the option for a price to 'give back to the environment' by planting a sapling and naming it, DO NOT DO THIS! We were promised email updates and photos of our trees, but both we and our Dutch friends (with whom we still remain in touch after 4 years), never received any correspondence. We believe that the saplings are dug up after you leave, to be replanted by the next bunch of unsuspecting tourists..The wild squirrel kept in a tiny cage at the Phillipino water village in Sandakan was eventually released by BETs after I emailed and complained about it on arrival back in England. They even sent me photos of the squirrel having veterinary checks at Sukai Rainforest Lodge. Great. However, I was unimpressed by demands by BET of paying them money ($100) for its release. It is these examples that make you think that 'eco' is not necessarily the main objective of these businesses.

Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
Thank JayneC C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TimothyT_BET, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 6 August 2014

Dear JayneC, Thank you so much for staying with us and noted on your comments. Do be assured that your sapling or any trees planted for that matter were never dug up. We have a practice that after a portion of land has been reforested, we return it back to the wild and do not return to it as a rainforest should be. Do know that the fee you paid for the planting went entirely to our community projects under BEST Society, ie we always make a loss with the full fee donated for community work. As for the squirrel incident, i am sorry that you were asked to contribute money, if you know the name of the staff do let me know as this is definately against our policy. We never pay money for wildlife or it just encourages people to catch them and repeat the process so it is not beneficial. If I can have your email, I'll email you photos of what the tree planting site looks like now to assure you that it has indeed been reforested and not plucked out for new guests. You may email me at info@borneoecotours.com, addressed to Timothy and it'll get to me. Thanks for your feedback and there's certainly room for improvement.

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Reviewed 29 July 2014 via mobile

I often read reviews and sometimes either think they were written by the manager's best mate or by people who go with completely misplaced expectations. (Yes you probably will get wet in the rainforest - don't be surprised ..... It was in a review!). However The very positive reviews already posted are dead on. I will try not just to repeat.

We did the 3n/4d Orangutan tour which I booked direct through e mail. From the confirmatory tel call at breakfast confirming pick up until our guide Jamil dropped us back off at hotel 4 days later everything was perfect. We never had to wait for a boat, car or minibus - not our experience at turtle island (another tour company) where we waited for everything. We have subsequently spoken to a number of people who attended different lodges and didn't get the care and attention or have the same experiences. On the safety side we also saw a number of boats where life jackets weren't being used - this was always the 1st thing offered to us. (It's not about being a good swimmer - if knocked unconscious it may just save your life. Without one and in the dark you have no chance)

Certainly worth arriving by boat up the river rather than by minibus as other lodges do. This made it feel really special. Yes I know there are are roads close as you use it to get to the caves but it just feels like you and in the middle if the forest . We loved all the trips and saw too much to list - even a wild Orang-utan with baby after visiting the caves ( not to be missed !) we really liked cruising the small tributaries with the silent electric motor watching the kingfishers etc magical. We got very wet when watching the elephants which just added to the experience though not sure when seated how a raincoat is ever going to keep u dry. Take enough clothes and bin liners etc for clothes and cameras. Things struggled to dry but we just wore them damp next day.

The staff were genuinely interested in what animals we had seen. The guides knowledgable. The botany tour round the boardwalk that extends right into the forest was fascinating .....leaves we ate, ones that give a serious rash ....to highly toxic ones. I couldn't spot the difference so won't be repeating it on my own. You can sit on the seats there quite a long way out - just on your own. A orang-utan with mother had been there the day before but all (?!) we had were the cheeky monkeys who throw things on the corrugated iron roof (they must like the noise) and get very close.

Rooms were fine, fan kept us cool enough, drinks same prices as Ibis in centre of town, food plentiful and tasty. Free water top up. Even a jar of marmite at breakfast !

We attended the Sipok Orang-utan centre through another agency but recognised the EcoTour guides from the lodge trip and noted that they were the only ones taking real interest in their clients pointing things out on the viewing platform , getting them in the right place etc. Our guide/driver didn't even come in!

So a magical 4 days with the croc, bull elephant in downpour and wild orang-utan as our highlights. We didn't want to leave. Plus of course up river you are pretty safe from the pirate risk. (More of that on turtle island review)

Stayed: July 2014
1  Thank Colonel-Chris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TimothyT_BET, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 6 August 2014

Dear Chris, Your comment brought a smile to us. Glad you liked the small touch of the marmite at breakfast. We know that the little things matter as much as the big ones. Right on about our overcaution on safety, its so easy to become complacent until something goes wrong. We hope you'll be back one day but until then, Safe Travels!

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Reviewed 21 July 2014

We flew into Sandakan from KL through a rain squall that hit just before we landed so we powered out of the landing and flew around for an hour in the mist and pouring rain. Welcome to the east coast of Borneo! Scared? You bet I was scared but ultimately it was worth every grey hair.

Sandakan itself is a fine little town, scenic, friendly and most importantly the jump off point for our river trip to Sukau. Up through the mangroves, the crocodiles, proboscis monkeys and birds of every description. (If you are a 'twitcher' U got to go to this place'). Yes, U can get there by car/land but don't bother, the river trip is just fantastic.

The accommodation is comfortable if a little spartan but U are up river so who cares. The staff are unfailingly polite and helpful and the chef does pretty impressive things in what must be fairly challenging circumstances.

And now we get to the wildlife and the river. Wow!! All trips that we involved ourselves in were river based. All were conducted from small, narrow wasted flat bottomed boats which give great access to the mangroves and the various residents.

We had a guide, Abdul, who met us in Sandakan and what a terrific fellow he is. Smart, funny, full of stories and all round great company. Pausing there. The guides are just amazing. They all know their wildlife and they have the uncanny ability to find animals and birds in the densest bush.

We spent four days in the camp and did dawn and afternoon tours up and down the river. They do night trips as well but my wife was not impressed with the size of some of the smiling locals (pictures attached) so we passed on that.

If you are into wildlife and particularly birds, this is an ideal spot for a few days. Take your camera, with the biggest lens you can lay your hands on, and your bug repellent (Long sleeves are a good idea for the river but not essential) and head to Sukau.

It is a little out of the way but make the effort and you will be rewarded.

When U travel through Sandakan visit the memorial park. It's very moving and beautifully done.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Alex R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2014

My husband and I were booked to stay at Sukau Rainforest Lodge for 2 nights and based on previous reviews were expecting great things....we were not disappointed! We had hired a car and driven from KK over the mountains on very good roads. Unfortunately it deluged with rain the whole day so visibility was poor but the scenery was still beautiful. We checked in at Sepilok overnight and saw the Orangutans and Bears then set off at midday to Sukau. As most people seem to arrive by boat from Sandikan we found the signposts for Sukau were pretty non existent and my GPS was our only hope. Driving through endless Palm Oil Plantations and guessing which way to go was worrying but finally we arrived at the jetty where we expected to be met by 3pm. As always they arrived by boat on time and loaded our suitcases. 3 minutes later we arrived at Sukau Rainforest Lodge to be met with cooling flannels, a fresh lime juice and a million smiles. Peter the manager explained our itinerary for the day which commenced with afternoon tea and fried bananas before our first river trip at 4pm. We saw all kinds of wildlife, ate really well, enjoyed the foot spa done beautifully by Sarena and felt very pampered.
Mosquitoes were not a problem at all. Malaria tablets should be taken though and can be purchased locally for next to nothing!
All in all ... well done Sukau !

Room Tip: If you want wifi in room you need to be near reception.
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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Thank Sue G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Address: Sukau, Lower Kinabatangan River | 2 1/2 hours from Sandakan by boat, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 Speciality Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Hotel Class:3 star — Sukau Rainforest Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo's most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo's magnificent wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the rainforest and the cacophany of its inhabitants, its majestic birds, all 7 species of Borneo Primates including Borneo's iconic Proboscis Monkey, Orangutans in their natural habitat as well as herds of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability. We promise to give you and your family an experience you'll always remember and one you'll never regret. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sukau Rainforest Hotel Sabah
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Kinabatangan District, Malaysia - Sabah

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