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“Touristy package met our expectations”

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Bilit Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 21 July 2011

We were on a two night/three day package at the BRL, and it was everything we expected of it. The large veranda’d lodge rooms, on stilts, were clean, with good bathrooms and fan/aircon; quite adequate, if, as we’ve found in similar lodges elsewhere, impossibly underlit if you wanted to read. There was an impossibly complicated solar shower which we couldn’t get to work (probably our fault), but you don’t really need heated water. There was glacially slow wi-fi, some public computers, and a public TV (with CNN, BBC etc.); understandably no pool. The food was standard, buffet-style, again adequate, no surprises – but some nice spicy river prawns; no doubt it would get very repetitive for a longer stay. The ice-cream scoop selection, as commented on elsewhere on TA, is an unusual touch. All the staff were cheerful and friendly, and very much in evidence; they way outnumbered the guests. In fact the place might be an entirely different experience if it was full; there were only about half a dozen other people during our stay and the public area is small. The lodge is right on the river, almost opposite a small village and the access road landing-stage, so it’s a two-minute ride across. We visited the village for an hour or so, which is quite interesting in itself. The road in is new – historically, access to both village and lodge had been by boat – and was quite an adventure in a regular minibus after heavy rain. The river level too was very high and it was very wet indeed everywhere, with standing water below the raised stilted walkways around the lodge. This flooding had closed all the jungle walks and Oxbow lake activities, so we were limited to our three (included-in-package) river trips, one early morning (6.30, after toast and coffee, back for full breakfast), and two in the afternoons at 4.30 until dark. No other extra excursions (walks, night trips) were offered to us.
It’s rain-forest, and we had a lot of very very heavy rain each day. One torrential downpour over a couple of hours coincided with our second river trip, and pretty much wrote it off; ‘wet through’ doesn’t begin to cover it, despite the oilskins provided! As you’d expect, mornings seemed to start clear, with black clouds building into the early afternoon, then the rain, so it would seem likely that many afternoon trips end up wet. We were glad we had the insurance of the two-night stay; as we stayed dry for most of our first-day ride. Both days, once the rain got going, it carried on into the night; more than just the refreshing evening drenching (clearing up after an hour or so) you more usually get in the tropics. But you can’t blame the lodge for that…
As for wildlife, you are pretty much guaranteed great views of Proboscis Monkeys, as these come to the river bank to nest over for the night; likewise Long-tailed Macaques, which feed along the banks; and impressive monitor lizards. Otherwise, for animals we just had a single Silver Leaf Langur and a big snake. I expect you would have to be very lucky indeed, on a two-hour boat trip, to see crocodile, wild orang-outang, or elephant; but people clearly do from time to time. This may depend more on fruiting trees and river levels. This is package-tour jungle tourism, so you shouldn’t expect much. The river is really just a strip of secondary forest running through thousands of square miles of depressing palm oil plantation monoculture. Birds included two hornbill species, kingfishers, egrets and a handful of raptors (White-bellied Fish Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle) – rather few smaller species. The lodge area itself, which we had hoped would provide some downtime bird-watching from the verandas, was almost devoid of birds.
We saw boats on the Kinabatangan river from most of the other lodges we had considered booking, so they probably all visit the same areas for the animals. The BRL is overall probably as good an option as any, and was a very good deal when we booked it compared to the others.

Stayed: April 2011, travelled as a couple
1  Thank Michael424
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 June 2011

My family and I stayed here recently for the 2 day/1 night trip. Wish we had stayed longer. The accomodation was gorgeous - clean and spacious and the food was remarkable, including river prawns so large and delicious we could not believe it! On the evening river cruise we saw an orang utan, many macaques, a couple of hornbills and a whole family of elephants. We saw several other boats from other lodges and their engines were quite loud - the Bilit lodge one's were very quiet so didn't scare the wildlife away. The staff were wonderful (many with limited english but there were others there who were great at interpreting for those with english skills comparable to my malaysian skills!). Highly recommended to all including families. Would love to spend more time there. A TV in the lodge but none in the rooms, which was a good thing. Why go here if you want to watch telly?

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank CTJfromAus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2011

Travelled to the Bilit Rainforest Lodge, a couple hours from Sepilok, in Malaysian Borneo with husband & 2 children, aged 8 & 11 for a 3 night stay. Accommodation was very clean, spacious rooms, friendly staff and terrific food. Spent time cruising the Kinabatangan River to see the incredible wildlife along the river. Location was quiet, and very relaxing. Had a guide for duration of stay in this area, and received excellent service from her. Take binoculars if you have them, and big zoom lens on camera. Highly recommend spending time in this part of Borneo.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with family
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1  Thank FionaOBPerth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 May 2011

Stayed 3 nights at Bilit Rainforest Lodge with spouse & 2 children age 8 & 11 years. Booked 2 rooms. Rooms very spacious, beds very comfortable, very clean & aircon makes for good sleep. Relax in hammock on your room deck & listen to all the birds & watch butterflies! Took both morning & afternoon cruises for 2 hours with a guide over several days & highly recommend it. Saw an amazing variety of wildlife & was given a marvellous insight into the environment of this area by the guide. Most people only stay 2 nights at lodge, but the 3 gave us a chance to really relax. Staff very friendly, food excellent and plentiful. This was a very welcome respite after a trip to Selingan turtle island and Sepilok Orang-utan centre, both fantastic.

  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with family
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4  Thank Ian_Perth_Australia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 May 2011

Really enjoyed our stay here - it provided some enforced relaxation as we couldn't leave the boardwalk due to flooding. The morning and afternoon boat trips were excellent with lots of wildlife. I enjoyed the side rivers and creeks more than the big wide river. We also did the optional night cruise which was also excellent.
If you can't lay back and read a book for hours inbetween the cruises then this may not be the place for you - if you are happy to chill out in an excellent setting then its great.
Staff were super friendly and came to the rescue when we discovered a large spider in our room after dinner!
The food was quite ok - some excellent river prawns at one meal. Light breakfast, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner all served. All day tea and coffee, filtered water provided and a simple bar.
The walls are pretty thin so you can hear everything from the room next door - light sleepers might prefer the detached cabin rather than the semi detached.
The one improvement I would suggest are cushions for the big chairs on the deck.
There was internet but I found it un-usably slow.

Room Tip: Stay in detached cabin
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  • Stayed: April 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
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1  Thank geeijo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Address: KG Bilit Seberang Jalan Sukau, Kota Kinabatangan 90200, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Kota Kinabatangan
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Kota Kinabatangan
Price Range: RM1,125 - RM1,164 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 24
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Bilit Rainforest Lodge is located beside the Lower Kinabatangan River in the village of Bilit, approximately 2 hours drive from Sandakan. It is a set of amidst lush tropical forest and offers comfort and peaceful relaxation as well as a base for easy exploration of the incredible diversity of plant, mammal and birds at the Kinabatangan region. All chalets and the restaurant are made from local hardwood material and are designed to blend into the nature giving a unique local native ambience. The rooms are very spacious and comfortable with a minimum of 600 sq.ft. for standard chalets and 800 sq. ft. for VIP permier chalets. A boardwalk connects the jetty, restaurant and all the chalets. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bilit Rainforest Hotel Sabah

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