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Winding through Sabah's lowlands for over 500 kilometres to the Sulu Sea, the Kinabatangan River is a mosaic of riparian forest, oxbow lakes, nipah swamp and mangroves which supports a wide variety of mammal and birdlife. These have grown surprisingly tolerant of human presence.

Kinabatangan’s vast hinterland is peppered with jungle and limestone caves, including the famed Gomantong Caves, home to millions of swiflets and bats, and a source of edible bird’s nest for centuries.

The sanctuary is one of only two areas in the world inhabited by ten species of primate, four of which are endemic to Borneo. It is also one of two places in the world where four medium-sized colobines inhabit the same place: namely proboscis monkey, silvered langur, maroon langur, and Hose’s or grey langur.

Other fauna found here include: orangutan, long-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque, Bornean gibbon, two nocturnal primates – western tarsier and slow loris, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, wild cattle and pigs, and deer. Carnivores include the world’s smallest bear, the Malay sun bear, and four feline species: clouded leopard, leopard cat, marbled cat and flat-headed cat. Among the numerous other small mammals are otters, rats and civets, whilst reptiles include reticulated python, tortoise, freshwater terrapin, monitor lizard and crocodile.

Over 200 species of birds are found here. These include eight species of hornbill, oriental darter, several species of egret, Storm’s stork, Sunda ground cuckoo, stork-billed kingfisher, Brahminy kite, crested serpent eagle, greater coucal; plus herons, hawks, ospreys, buffy fish owl, frogmouths, bulbuls, flowerpeckers, spiderhunters, drongos, and more!

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Wallace’s hawk eagle, orangutan, proboscis monkey, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino
  • Where: Sabah State, Borneo

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Borneo’s Rare Mammals

A dedicated small group mammal watching holiday to Borneo’s rainforests in pursuit of the region's rarest mammal species, including the iconic Bornean orangutan, Asian elephant, the secretive Malay sun bear and the majestic Sunda clouded leopard, alongside a fabulous variety of reptiles, amphibians and birds.

  • When to go: Apr-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,195 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Borneo Rainforest Photography Workshop

Join acclaimed photographers Nick Garbutt and Alex Hyde to explore Borneo's fascinating habitats and photograph the incredible diversity that lives within them. The forests, rivers and caves of Sabah are home to a huge variety of wildlife that provides no end of photographic opportunities.

  • When to go: Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 18 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,595 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Sabah & Sarawak Adventure

Search for the wildlife of the interiors amongst the dense jungle and remote rivers of Sabah & Sarawak. Designed to introduce you to the area's top eco-destinations, highlights include a visit to a headhunter tribe, watching orangutans in Sepilok, and Tabin Reserve, home to some of Borneo’s unique species.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Sabah Wildlife Special

Travel to Borneo on a two-week trip that visits the best places to see Sabah’s wildlife. Enjoy boat trips to discover the extraordinary wildlife of Kinabatangan, including proboscis monkey, orangutan, Asian elephant and Sumatran rhino, and four nights at one of our favourite lodges in the Danum Valley.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,975 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

Accessible by boat or road transport, this lodge consists of timber-built chalets connected by walkways. There are various spots around the lodge for viewing the surrounding nature and wildlife, including a bird observation tower and a jungle trail where red leaf monkey and wild orangutan are often seen.