A cruise down the Kinabatangan River is a must for anyone wishing to visit the region of Sabah, Borneo.
After much deliberation and some online research we booked our stay with Osman’s Homestay, which is not located directly in Sukau, the main village for all Kinabatangan River cruises, but a short boat ride in a secluded forest. The accommodation was basic but clean and the food was quite tasty too.
Osman himself is a bit of a character and likes to joke around quite a lot, although his slightly inappropriate sense of humour is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.
On top of that, there was a bit of a confusion regarding the price. When we called to book a room for two people, Osman’s wife quoted us a rate of 70RM ($16) per night including the meals, which I simply assumed was for the both of us. Only at the checkout this turned out to be per person, rather than per room making it a fairly costly venture.
Osman offers river cruises throughout the day, this being the main reason for visiting Kinabatangan River. These are reasonably priced at 50RM ($11) per cruise.
Other than river cruises there is nothing else to do and with no wifi and very bad phone reception can make for a nice day of digital detox.
We spent a total of two nights at Osman’s and during this time went on two cruises, evening and sunrise. Both cruises very nice and we spotted a lot of proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, leaf monkeys, fishmonger and a variety of hornbills and storks and couple of eagles.
Unfortunately, we saw no orangutans or crocodiles and only a backside of one pygmy elephant just as he was disappearing back into the jungle. By contrast, people who went on a cruise just the day before we arrived saw a herd of 20 elephants crossing the river and orangutans. Wildlife, eh?
Cruising the river, however, gave us some real insight into a massive problem with deforestation and ever increasing palm oil plantations. What was before vast impenetrable jungle is now just a thin strip of forest alongside the river, at some places no wider that just a few metres.