Olive green or chocolate brown depending on the season, the Kinabatangan is Sabah’s longest river, rising in the mountains of the interior and flowing into the Sulawesi Sea on Borneo’s northeast coast. The mangroves, grassy swamplands, oxbow lakes, dipterocarp and ficus forests carpeting its floodplain host a prodigious quantity of wildlife, including elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, gibbons, monitor lizards and all eight species of hornbill present on the island.

The main reason for this great gathering is the clearance of forests around the area for palm oil plantation, which has forced the animals and birds ever closer to the riverbanks. Since 2005, this precious land along the water’s edge has been protected as a nature reserve.

Safaris are generally conducted in electric-powered longboats. The guides we use in the area are highly skilled and will take you to lesser-visited zones along tributaries of the Lower Kinabatangan, such as the Menanggul, where you can expect to have a quieter wildlife experience.

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