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a short trip to sabah last september


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We decided to visit sabah again last december for a short wildlife holiday. We had only 8 night in sabah, as we also wanted to spend some time in singapore.



  • 1 night at sepilok (rainforest discovery center, orang utan rehab)
  • 3 nights at the kinabatangan around sukau (mr aji)
  • 3 nights at the kinabatangan around abai (kinabatangan wetland resort)


day 1 Sepilok

We started the day around 7pm at the rainforest discovery center, which we did no visit in our previous borneo trips. In the first minutes we managed to see some maroon langurs and later we saw 5 orang utans from the canopy boardwalk. Overall a great start for our borneo trip.


first orang utan



view from the boardwalk




Orang utan rehab

In the afternoon we visited the orang utan rehab. There was quite a queue since it was public holiday. There were 2orang utans at the feeding plattform and some pigtilad macaques as well.

We had a nice encouter with a mother orang utan with a baby while walking on the boardwalk.IMG_0582.JPG.9c8024ac5d54e8198233526047b1f187.JPG


Night walk at the rainforest discovery center

Our hotel organised a private walk to avoid the crowd for a surcharge. So its was only me and my gf with the guide and a spotter. We started the walk at the canopy baordwalk to wath the flying squirrels. Afterwards we were walking throigh the jungle looking for nocturnal primates. We did saw a slow loris but no tarsier sadly, Since a herper as well I was happy to see a spitting cobra and a bornean keeled pit viper. My highlight was nearly stepping on malayan blue coral snake.


flying squirrel (not a good targe for a lazy point and shoot jpeg photographer)



Bornean keeled pit viper




malayan blue coral snakeDSC05444.JPG.8a81f842d2c1ba983df14b18d9014deb.JPG


Day 2-5 Kinabatangan Sukau

For the next 3 nights we booked a trip with mr. aji. Who is guiding small groups at the kinabatangan around sukau since 20years. He offers longer boatcruises and usually you are alone with him and his son. I highly recommend him, since you pay around a third of the more expensive lodges in this area. We were around 8-10h on the river per day doing 3 boatcruises. On the last morning we also went the the gomatong caves for a roadwalk, were we spotted an orang utan and a maroon langur.


Mister Aji informed us that there`s a big herd of elephants at a palm oil plantation a bit far away and we could go there, if we agree to pay for the additional petrol. As we arrive there we saw around 30 or more elephants. It was an exciting but sad sight. On the way back we managed to see an other elephant taking a abath at the river. Over the next days we saw the usual macaque, proboscis, king fishers, hornbills etc. I sadly messed up the shot of a 4m plus croc at a night cruise right outside of sukau. I really wanted to find an adult croc this time.


elephants at a palm oil plantation



bathing elephantDSC05814.JPG.7e3363c9ab3b58a4a811367571839333.JPG


rhinoceros hornbills



maroon langur



saltwater crocimage.jpeg.f39748de8bb4674e4ed08bc707996f70.jpeg

Day 5-8 lower kinabatangan 

On our fifth day we got picked up by boat from our next stay kinabatangen wetland resort. It took around one hour to get there. There are only two lodges in this area, so there are no crowds on the river. But there are less chances to see elephants and orang utans there. As returning customers we got an attractive offer and we are looking for a bit more comfort. As we have seen most of the possible wildlife we decided only to do 1 or 2 cruises a day. But we decided to book private cruises so we could skip the ususal candidates like macaques and proboscis and focus on other species. We did manage to find a 5m plus croc and some other cool stuff as well. We saw a red eyeshine from a cat as well, which disapeared immediatly.


small crocDSC09189.JPG.4882a7ba58c52bc4418a311360c6a432.JPG


huge croc




buffy fish owl



Next trip will be three weeks central and south india in december.

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~ @marcox:


Thank you for the generous selection of superb images.


It's a treat to see such species photographed so well.


      Tom K.

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Nice report @marcox.  You proved that even a short trip to Sabah has its rewards.


We love Sabah and hope to make it back one day.  I have struck out on Tarsier the first two trips.  I hear the Rainforest Discovery Center is still a decent place to see them so too bad you didn't.  But, seeing some great snakes probably made up for it.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Those rhinoceros hornbills are magnificent.  Very cool species you saw!  Do you have any more info on the eles at the palm oil plantation?  They're allowed to roam there?  Is there an effort to maintain the native species?  Just wondering because of the destruction palm oil harvesting causes.

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3 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Those rhinoceros hornbills are magnificent.  Very cool species you saw!  Do you have any more info on the eles at the palm oil plantation?  They're allowed to roam there?  Is there an effort to maintain the native species?  Just wondering because of the destruction palm oil harvesting causes.


Yes there are efforts to maintain the species but there is also poaching, traffic accidents, habitat loss and they use a ton of chemicals at the plantations. I really hope they can conserve this species and the remainig jungle over there...Time will tell

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