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River Cruising Tips

Borneo, with its dense jungles and sparse population, is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. River cruising on the Kinabatangan in Sabah, one of the longest rivers in Borneo offers some of the best opportunities to observe Bornean fauna.

Of specific interest is the rich primate family; this is one of only two areas in Asia with 10 primate species. These include those endemic to Borneo such as the proboscis monkey, maroon langur and the Bornean gibbon.

Klias Wetlands is home to the unique Proboscis Monkeys, Long-tailed Macaques, Silver Languor Monkeys as well as a host of birds and riverine creatures. Sign up for a river cruise in this mangrove forest reserve and watch out for feeding primates. As night falls, you might catch a glimpse of beautiful lights displays as fireflies converge at riverbank trees near the jetty.

The Sukau river village area is located on the boundary of an important protected area in Sabah, the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

As a protected wetland site in Sabah, Kinabatangan is a conservation area for species such as the orang utan, Borneo elephant and other wetlands animals including Storm’s stork and the Flat-headed wild cat.

For nature lovers who wish to experience wildlife adventure as an alternative to trekking, river cruising is the perfect choice. In Malaysia, there are many rivers and mangrove areas where wildlife viewing is possible from the water. Riverine and mangrove habitats are home to large amounts of indigenous flora and fauna;
and by nature many animals are drawn to water sources for drinking and cooling.

Whether for serious exploring or just a leisurely outing, a river cruise is an escape to another world. Glide beneath large overhanging trees with the rustle of animals, the call of birds and look out for creatures below the surface. Be rewarded with scenic hill views or spectacular limestone formations on the way, and end the cruise at a waterside stop for a meal amidst the splendour of nature.

River Cruising Tips
  • Some river cruise boats have canopies while some don’t in order to afford unobstructed views, especially local boats. Bring along sun cream or a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. Binoculars are most handy and zoom cameras will afford sharp photos. Insect repellant is useful for evening and night tours.
  • Cruises at estuaries or coasts depend on the tides. For example, crocodiles are easier to spot at low tides when the mud banks are exposed. Check with the operator for exact departure times for your preferred cruise.
  • Observing wildlife needs patience, a keen eye, common sense, good timing and luck. Monkeys, crocodiles, dolphins, fireflies and so on are wild creatures, therefore sightings are unpredictable. Hiring a knowledgeable guide will increase your chances of seeing what the lesser trained eye might miss, since tropical animals are masters at camouflage.