Wild Kinabatangan Photography Expedition

May 14, 2011


It’s hard to believe that merely cruising along comfortably in an open boat can provide one of the most richly rewarding wildlife experiences you could ever hope for. But that’s the Kinabatangan, a floodplain in eastern Sabah which has arguably the greatest concentration of wildlife in all of Southeast Asia. The fact that it can all be viewed from a boat is a great advantage for photographers, birdwatchers and nature lovers, who enjoy a clearer view than from within the forest, and also avoid having to trek with heavy equipment. Imagine being able to film a group of Asian Pygmy Elephants feeding on the bank just a few metres from your boat as they migrate in search of food.

      As you cruise along the river through the early morning mist or in the refreshing cool of late afternoon, it all seems to be happening. Hornbills swoop overhead, bizarre Proboscis Monkeys crash noisily in the trees, a solitary orangutan prepares its tree-top nest for the night, and a huge monitor lizard feeds on the carcass of a dead pig.

      The 560-km Kinabatangan, Malaysia’s second largest river, floods the banks of its lower reaches every monsoon season, creating oxbow lakes and concentrating wildlife on raised patches of dry land.

      At the heart of this floodplain, Sukau is home to a number of comfortable wildlife lodges. Its major attraction is a nearby tributary, the Menanggol, famed for its concentration of endemic Proboscis Monkeys and birds. However, a magnificent range of wildlife can be seen all along the Kinabatangan and its oxbow lakes, and on trails through the forest.

      Apart from Proboscis Monkeys, wild orangutans, gibbons and leaf monkeys are frequently sighted, while two species of macaque are virtually guaranteed. Crocodiles, monitor lizards, wild pigs and otters are also seen along the river, while at night, civets and leopard cats can often be spotted in the forest. Frogs abound, and both turtles and tortoises are found.

      The birdlife is spectacular and includes such rare species as the Storm’s Stork and Bornean Bristlehead. Slender white egrets, magnificent eagles and hawks, Brahminy Kites, several species of kingfisher, Buffy Fish Owls and Oriental Darters are all common, while several species of hornbill and two species of broadbill add further variety to the fabulous birdlife of the Kinabatangan. 


Embark on photographic journey to Sukau, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, in the lower end of Kinabatangan river. It has the largest concentration of wildlife in Asia, including the Proboscis Monkey, Crocodiles, Wild Orang Utan, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Storm's Stork, Hornbills, Kingfishers. Sightings of wildlife are comfortably viewed from a boat. A haven for avid photography and birders!


You will launch fro Sandakan, on board the Catamaran cruiser. The upper deck is a great way to view the sceneries & wildlife as you cruise to the upper reach of the Kinabatangan river.

The Trip shall be led by Malaysia's renowned wildlife photographer, Cede Prudente, sharing you techniques & tips on improving your skills in wildlife & nature photography.


14 May ~ 16 May 2011

Day 1 - Depart from Sandakan Yacht Club Jetty via the "Wonders of Nature" Catamaran Cruiser with 4 hours boat journey to Sukau Kinabatangan River with the mangrove and riverine vegetation while the journey take fantastic birdwatching & photography experiences from the cruise.


Day 2 - Spending from morning cruise & late afternoon cruise  along the tributaries of Kinabatangan. Photographing on the smaller boats & trekking on land where necessary.


Day 3 - Morning cruise for the last chance to take photo of the wildlife and the birds before return back to Sandakan by land with 2 hours journey.


Locations visited

Sukau Kinabatangan



Written by

North Borneo Safari

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