Kinabatangan River Cruise


Last week I had a wedding assignment in Sandakan, Sabah. The client booked me over a year ago and has been waiting ever since. My last trip to Sabah was in August 2013 as you can see in the blog entry below, and this month marks my 3rd time in ‘the land below the wind’. Most of you probably know Sandakan as one of the cities that were bombed the hardest during the Japanese Occupation and it almost ruined the city altogether, and probably some of you know it was the home of one Agnes Keith and her family, the author of the famous book ‘The Land Below the Wind’, which the nickname of this state were officially known today.

The last day of my stay with my wife in Sandakan, we decided to take a trip to the Kinabatangan River Cruise, since it is one of the main attraction near to Sandakan and also because not many locals went there. If you Google about it you’ll probably find a lot of packages by travel agents and it can be quite expensive too, so we decided to do our own trip with minimal cost and freedom of movement.

In the morning, we took a taxi from Sandakan town to the airport (RM25), and rent a Perodua Kancil at one of the agent (RM70 p/day). After that we drove straight to Kampung Sukau, Kinabatangan that took around 2 hours 30 minutes (140-150km). Be sure to fill in the petrol tanks around RM30 for a return trip because petrol station is hard to find along the way, we only spotted one station in Bandar Checkpoint just before Kota Kinabatangan if you’re driving from Sandakan.

Enjoy the rest of the photos of our trip there.

_MG_4240Point of departure in blue, destination in red. We arrived in this village around 2pm.

_MG_4241 Sukau Greenview Bed & Breakfast (click on the link)_MG_4242 Generator use for powering the chalets, but electricity in this village is more than adequate

_MG_4254 _MG_4260 _MG_4265 Many accommodations can be found here, either by advance booking or walk- in

_MG_4267 _MG_4268 _MG_4278 Awesome view_MG_4300 Village kids_MG_4302 Kg. Sukau_MG_4307 Kg. Sukau, Kinabatangan. Although the village is around 1 hour drive to the main road, this village is very well equipped with basic facilities such as electricity, water supply, government clinic (Klinik Kesihatan), and even internet / wifi facility!_MG_4337 The cruise departs at 4pm so we spend the available time having a quick lunch in one of the cafe. It’s very delicious to be honest. This is Chicken Noodle Soup and Nasi Kuning (Yellow rice with chicken) at the back._MG_4352 Proper school building and infrastructure _MG_4354 Our boat ready to depart any time soon_MG_4368 The fee is RM35 p/pax for locals.

_MG_4374 The rest of the passenger including the tour guide wearing glasses. Notice the lack of locals (Malaysians) here.

_MG_4390 _MG_4394 _MG_4413 Our only encounter with the endangered Proboscis Monkey along the river. They were very shy though

_MG_4433 _MG_4444 _MG_4475 Cruising slowly in one of the smaller river channel with other boats_MG_4481 _MG_4483 _MG_4520 This was the closest I got with a 135mm lens_MG_4534 A group of enthusiast _MG_4542 _MG_4574 This is as real as it gets, my closest encounter with a 100% wild elephant was enriching.

_MG_4588 A view you will cherish forever_MG_4598 Our tour guide and the skipper_MG_4613 Another encounter with an elephant_MG_4641 One of my best sunset photo, taken while standing on the boat in the middle of the river.

_MG_4690 _MG_4695 2014-03-11 19.05.40

We finished the tour at around 7pm, more than 1 hour than the stipulated time (it was supposed to end at 6pm) because the tour guide wanted to show us more of the wildlife. For them, our satisfaction is at the utmost priority. We thank them for that. After we docked safely at the jetty, you can either stay for dinner for additional RM20 p/pax, or you can drive straight home like we did.

It was a nice, budget day road trip overall, and if you are in Sandakan and don’t know where to go I strongly suggest trying this Kinabatangan River Cruise, it will definitely be worth your while.

Photography & text by Ridhuan Abu Bakar. I can be contacted at diwant[at] or facebook for any inquiries!

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