Situated in the village of Sukau on Borneo's famous Kinabatangan River lies the Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge. The lodge has 33 stilted chalets, each containing either two or three separate en suite rooms which are simply furnished but clean and comfortable.
Abai Jungle Lodge
Built entirely on stilts, Abai Jungle Lodge provides a rustic, rural setting, deep within the interior of Sabah. Perched on the Kinabatangan River, guests are immersed in their surroundings at all times, with an abundance of wildlife to be found right on your doorstep.
The lodge’s spacious wooden rooms are connected by boardwalks and are within an easy walk to the cosy communal restaurant, which serves locally-sourced meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fantastic nature walks and bird watch towers surround the property, allowing you every opportunity to see the famed wildlife of Borneo.
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The lodge offers accommodation in the form of chalets and twin rooms, all of which are styled to blend into their jungle surroundings, with polished wood floors and walls. They're each simply furnished with a double bed, twin beds or triple beds, as well as a desk, ceiling fan, netted windows and en suite bathroom that uses recycled water and comes equipped with bodegradable shower gel and toilet paper to reduce the lodge’s environmental impact.
The lodge sits on the world famous Kinabatangan River, about an hour’s boat ride from Sandakan. From this position, you're in a prime location to explore the wildlife that Sabah has to offer and there's every chance that you'll see Borneo’s endemic proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, orangutans, hornbills, crocodiles or even the elusive pygmy elephant.
Food and drink
Your breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided by the lodge due to the remoteness of the location, with the restaurant set within the forest overlooking the river. You have the opportunity to eat Bornean delicacies, such as udang galah or marble goby, known locally as ikan ub (freshwater prawn) alongside Western favourites. Meals are served by members of the local tribe, adding some authenticity to your stay at Abai. The food is sourced locally, with the freshwater ingredients bought directly from the surrounding tribes, who are likely to have caught it that very same day.
Abai Jungle Lodge has a family-friendly feel, and as all tours of the river are by boat, the excursions shouldn't be too long or taxing for young children. The nature trails around the lodge are only 500-800 metres long, so should be manageable for children. The lodge also provides rooms that can accommodate up to two adults and two children comfortably under one roof.
Facilities and activities
What the lodge lacks in facilities it more than makes up for in its exceptional location for exploring the Kinabatangan River and its surroundings. During your stay, you'll make up to six trips on the river at all times of day, giving you the best possibility of seeing Borneo’s fascinating wildlife. The nature trails around the lodge also allow you to get closer to the area's wildlife.
Abai Jungle Lodge has several steps which lead to and from the jetty, but besides that it's flat and accessible throughout. The watchtowers surrounding the lodge may have to be missed by those with mobility difficulties, but the wildlife trails are easy to navigate, with no steps to traverse, and are generally accessible to all.
Environmental and social responsibility
Rainwater is collected for use within the lodge, and biodegradable shampoo, shower gel and toilet paper is used to reduce the environmental impact of visitors to the area. In addition to buying local produce from tribes along the river, the lodge donates RM1 per client, per day to the Abai Homestay Development Fund, which helps with improvements to living conditions in the community.
We think Abai Jungle Lodge offers excellent value if you wish to see wildlife in one of Borneo’s most ecologically diverse areas. With great local food and a beautiful, rural location, this lodge makes for a wonderful addition to any Borneo itinerary.
Places & hotels on the map
Alternative places to stay nearby
Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favourite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.
In the heart of the forest and surrounded by exotic plant and animal life, the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort offers comfortable accommodation and easy access to the wetlands and mangroves that surround it.
Set within tropical rainforest the Sukau Rainforest Lodge is one of the best options on the river, in an idyllic and tranquil setting. The lodge has recently been awarded status as a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, one of only 25 in the world, and the only one in Southeast Asia.
Experiences while staying here
The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you’re staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident’s eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area’s inhabitants.
Guests will journey up one of the smaller tributaries of the Kinabatangan River such as the Menangol River. Wildlife abounds in this part of Borneo, and you may see chattering monkeys and many species of birds.