Sukau and the Kinabatangan River
The area around Sukau and the surrounding Kinabatangan Rivers offers an unmatched range of ecotourism attractions which includes the famed Proboscis Monkeys of the swamped areas of Kinabatangan tributaries, its diverse wildlife and yet unexplored flora, Batu Putih limestone outcrops, Gomantong Caves and a whole host of other adventures all ready to be tamed.
At 560 Km long and with a catchment area estimated at 16,800 square kilometres, the Kinabatangan River is Sabah’s longest and largest river. The mighty river has its headwaters in the remote mountain ranges in the south-western part o the state and flows through a vast tract of mangrove forest to the east of Sandakan into the Sulu Sea. The lower part of the Kinabatangan appears to have been sparsely inhabited since early times, perhaps mainly because of the unpredictable floods and partly because of the depredations of pirates during the nineteenth century. It is said that there was a Chinese settlement on the Kinabatangan River many hundreds years ago, but definite proof has never been found. The village of Sukau, accessible by road and 25 kilometres beyond the rough tracks to Gomantong Caves, is the largest settlement on the banks of the lower Kinabatangan.
The original village named Kampung Melapi was a little further upstream, around the mouth of the Menanggul tributary. During the nineteen century, Melapi was the home of many of the Gomantong birds’ nest collectors. When the British acquired from the Sultan of Sulu the rights to govern Sabah, they assumed that everything within the state was theirs. The collection and trading of the Gomantong nests was organised by Pengiran Samah, the wily old headman of Kampung Melapi, who refused to recognise the British claim to Gomantong. In 1884, Pengiran Samah was shot dead in his home in Kampung Melapi and thereafter Kampung Bilit, further upriver, assumed greater importance as the centre for nest collectors.
Much of the lower Kinabatangan River remains as it were during the last century. The main river is lined with forest fertile alluvial terraces. Behind these extensive, low lying forested swamps which are usually water logged and covered with water during rainy periods. Within the swamps, scattered lakes and small hills dot the landscape. Although rarely seen, various wildlife species abound here, including elephants and orang-utans. Most readily seen are the fascinating proboscis monkeys (Nasalis Larvatus), a species unique to Borneo which is particularly abundant in the swamps of the lower Kinabatangan. Living in groups of up to twenty or so individuals, these placid vegetarians always sleep next to the water. For that reason, they can be found by searching the riverside forests from a boat, either late in the afternoon, before they retire for the night, or early in the morning before they move off in search of food.
The large tract of forest along the Kinabatangan River offers a host of wildlife and botanical adventures for the energetic tourist who are able to travel by boat or trek these forest on foot to admire the wonders of the rainforest close up.
We welcome you to the Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi”.
The main building is a welcoming sight for visiting guests arriving at the Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi also known as “Melapi Lodge” for short. It’s specially designed wooden architecture with high ceilings; open airy space gives one a feeling of cosiness of dining outdoors while sitting indoors. A staircase located in the heart of the building lead up to the recreation room, and higher above a small secret ‘Tree-House’ room. Just outside of the main building, there is a sun deck used for observation, sunbathing and barbecue. Amenities at the main building comprise of a restaurant, bar, kitchen, recreation room equipped with audiovisual, pool game and a meeting room.
Individual lodges for visiting guests are located within walking distance from the main building. A well-paved and lighted path joins each lodge all the way for guests’ convenience. Many offer views of the beautiful Kinabatangan River.
The Proboscis Monkeys of Borneo
Among the less familiar wonders of Borneo is one of the most spectacular animals in the world, the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis Larvatus). This unique monkey can only be found on the island of Borneo mainly in coastal swamp forests. The male Proboscis Monkey with its outlandish nose and outsized stomach has harem of females, drawn to him by his weird good looks. These monkeys are proficient tree climbers and leapers, divers and swimmers, with an unusual social life, thus it is one of Borneo’s most spectacular and fascinating denizens.
Package offered by us include river boat cruises for a chance to encounter with these ‘elusive’ monkeys in their natural habitat. Watch and ‘be watched’ while they leap between trees, feeding on mangrove leaves or simply resting on top of trees. One may also get an opportunity to see the wonderful pygmy elephant family in the wild during their migration as well as other wildlife under the canopy of the rainforest.
On the way to Sukau, you can choose to visit fascinating places like the Gomantong Caves, the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre, the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple and the Crocodile Farm.