There are a lot of lodges and resorts catering to the wildlife enthusiast along the Kinabatangan river in Borneo, but only a few of them fit into the budget of a backpacker or budget traveler. The Nature Lodge Kinabatangan is one of them where I ended up staying 3 nights and 4 days. The initial plan was to stay 2 nights and 3 days, but the experience was so good for me that I ended up staying an extra night. I would have loved to stay more, but I had a flight already booked to Kuala Lumpur. The below review is based on my recent experience of staying here.
1) The lodge is located right in the midst of pristine nature and by the banks of the Kinabatangan river.
2) The place is not too remote, but is remote enough to ensure nothing disturbs you. Since it is elephant territory, the entire lodge perimeter is protected by an electric fence to keep away elephants.
3) The lodge has dormitories (fan cooled), fan cooled small private rooms and air-conditioned large rooms.
4) The reception and folks managing the place do not speak good English, but it is manageable.
5) Food served here borders good to edible. There was nothing special and at the same time, food was not bad either.
6) The worst part about this place is that they do not keep filtered or boiled water. This means that we end up buying more plastic mineral water bottles.
7) The place doesn’t have wi-fi, but who wants wi-fi in the middle of forest.
8) The common toilets for the dormitories are clean and have running cold water. Hot water is only available in the private rooms.
9) There is minimal mosquito trouble in the rooms, but you can find more trouble in the open restaurant area and the reception.
10) The dormitory does not have safety lockers, but the reception provides it.
11) The nature guides of this lodge are knowledgeable and know their stuff, but it would be great if showed more commitment and didn’t smoke while on the boat cruise and also didn’t allow other tourists to smoke on the boat.
12) In terms of wildlife and birdlife, this place is right in the middle of it. Whether you go on a boat cruise, a walk around the lodge or a trek in the night, the rich wildlife sighting will excite and amaze you.
13) If you are the sunbathing type, there are a lot of open spaces for you to spread your towel and catch on some sun.
The lodge is great, but for a few minor issues. It is much more than what a budget traveler can expect in the jungle. For USD 21, you get a bed in a dormitory, 3 meals, 2 boat cruises, 1 night trek and 1 day trek. What else can you ask for?