• Kinabatangan River, Borneo

Highlights and main attractions of Bilit & Kinabatanagan River

Highlights and main attractions of Bilit & Kinabatanagan River

The area of Bilit and the Kinabatangan River, the longest in the Sabah region, offers a mosaic of different habitats, which provides a unique wildlife haven for an astounding variety of animal and bird species. This is one of the best places to see orangutans in the wild.

Plying gently through the swirling waters, your open-top river boat journeys along the Kinabatangan will provide ample opportunities to spot some of the area’s best loved wildlife, and our specialist guides are fine tuned to the activities of the various creatures that dwell around the banks of the rivers, making it easy for them to point them out.

Pygmy elephant as seen on Borneo vacation

Location and Activities

Three of the most charismatic of primates can be seen – the loudly hooting gibbon, the unusual red-nosed proboscis monkey and, of course, the orangutan, although the latter are difficult to spot in the wild, despite a number still residing in the basin area of the river. Less often seen due to their nocturnal nature are the flying lemur, slow loris and tarsiers, and on the odd occasion you may also be lucky enough to spot a pygmy elephant or even a clouded leopard. The area is also home to crested serpent eagles, rhinoceros hornbills and a variety of other birdlife including majestic kingfisher, making it a paradise for ornithologists. In the river itself lies an array of aquatic creatures such as freshwater rays, crocodiles, wild otters and sharks. 

The annual migration of the pygmy elephants takes place in the drier months of the year, and the Sukau Rainforest Lodge even has its own covered boardwalk – the longest in Borneo – with elephant passes for the migration. We would recommend exploring the Kinabatangan River in the early evening, when the proboscis monkeys roost in the trees along the bank of the Kinabatangan, their loud honks heard clearly through the trees and elephants move through the undergrowth, which provides an unforgettable experience.

Accommodation options in this area generally have a great range of day excursions, including jungle treks and boat trips, and whilst the rural settings mean the facilities tend to be fairly basic. This just adds to the experience and the settings are ideal for soaking up the atmosphere, sights and sounds of the rainforest and river.

This has to be one of the best places to see the true variety of Borneo's animals.


Contact one of our Destination Specialists to start planning your journey to Borneo. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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