Malaysia Part 5: Kinabatangan National Park

...but first: never-ending Palm Oil Plantations

During the 2.5 hours bus ride from Sepilok to Kinabatangan, we drove on bumpy streets through never-ending palm oil plantations. Hard to imagine that this was once a place full of dense and biodiverse rainforest several years before. It was an unbearable sight and we spent the time in the bus for research about the extraction, usage and consequences of palm oil. It is not surprising that we decided to cut down our consumption of products which contain palm oil (well, almost all processed food) even more drastically than before. Anyway, the sense of powerlessness will remain. If you want to learn more about the origin and usage of palm oil, we share some sources below.

kinabatangan dragonfly
a dragonfly at the Kinabatangan River

What we ate in Kinabatangan (Vegan Options)

As we booked our stay in Kinabatangan in advance (“River Junkie”, link below), we did not have to care about food, tours and activities. Actually, we have been a bit sceptical about being dependent on the travel organisation, especially in terms of food. That’s why we decided to be prepared for the “worst case scenario” and bought some oats, soy milk and protein bars  back in Kota Kinabalu.

Fortunately, our doubts have been dispersed quickly. As we arrived at our accommodation, all guests have been asked if they had any food intolerance or special dietary habits. Certainly, there wasn’t much choice, but definitely more than we would have expected. Boiled rice, boiled vegetables and deep-fried tofu for every meal was a good basis for three days in the jungle. Additionally, we’ve had plenty of watermelon and free tea, coffee, and water. What else would you need in the middle of the jungle?

The Nature Lodge Kinabatangan

Our resort was gorgeous, even if not as outlying and secret as we hoped and expected. When we reached the accommodation, many other tourists arrived at the same time and some others were waiting for their evening boat trip.

Boat Trips, Night Walks, and Hiking Trips

After we moved into our small, wooden cabin, the first of four boat trips over the Kinabatangan River started. A handful boats with several guides had been provided for all the intently tourists, including us. Unfortunately, our guide wasn’t as smart as the others seemed to be (he literally stopped for everything he saw in the woods, so in the end we had to leave out some parts of the spectacular river), which was a bit disappointing.

Beside the boat trips, there have been two night walks and one short hiking trip during the day. But especially during the boat trips we met lots of wild animals, like proboscis monkeys, crocodiles, hornbills, and all other kinds of birds and monkeys. Only the pygmy elephants, roaming through the rainforest, stayed hidden between the trees.

In the area around our cabin were not so many wild animals. They told us to keep doors and windows closed to keep monkeys from stealing our stuff. Well obviously, this is always a good idea when you are in the jungle. As often, some geckos watched over us and ate all the mosquitoes in our room. Best room mates, ever! Outside the cabin we saw a small snake, some jumping spiders, a lizard and an annoying grasshopper invasion in the evening. 

When Jim joined the night walks around our resort, he met some more (venomous) animals. I did not ask (and skipped his pictures of the spiders until today), but he told of venomous spiders, really venomous centipedes, sleeping birds, and a Tarsier. Anyone who’s not as afraid in the dark and of spiders as I am, will really enjoy these night walks!

After two nights, we took the bus back to Sepilok and the plane to Kuala Lumpur, where we spent the last night of our journey through Malaysia.


Malaysia Travel Log

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