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.
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Agoda and Booking.com so you can book your Bilit Rainforest Lodge reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Bilit Rainforest Hotel Sabah