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Danum Valley or Kinabatangan Jungle Camp?

Posted by Danila on 29/12/2016 at 22:08

Greetings, still working on our itin for April/May 2016 in Borneo and Indonesia. Strongly thinking of several days with a combo tour through Kinabatangan Jungle Camp/Sepilok. Even thinking of adding on a few days at both, to relax a bit more. Then I read the article here on Danum Valley Conservation Area, and the 4 week suggested itin through Sabah, and Danum gets RAVE reviews! So, Kinabatangan is more within our budget, and Danum would be stretching the budget. Both sound "similar-ish". If we did both, would we just be doubling up the types of animals and scenery and experiences, or are they sufficiently different? I know of course, wild animal sightings are not guaranteed anywhere!!!
So, should we do both, or just one, and if so which one?
Suggestions welcome, especially from people who have been to both!
Thanks, Danila

#1 Danila has been a member since 17/10/2016. Location: Global Village. Posts: 28

Posted by Bungkus on 30/12/2016 at 23:32 TF writer

Hi Danila,

I have been to Kinabatangan many times (30+) at different times of the year and Danum Valley only once. Both are excellent for wildlife spotting, but I was very lucky at Danum and saw much more in one visit than I'd seen in a number of visits to Kinabatangan. Also there are a lot less tourists there too, so depends if you want to hang out with other humans or prefer a smaller group.

Many of the Kinabatangan jungle camps are very "packaged" and there is sometimes limited flexibility with activities, I found this less so at Danum Valley, but it does depend on which Kinabatangan Camp you choose. I stayed at the Danum Valley Research Centre, which is the less expensive option, but if you have the budget, go for the Rainforest Lodge. You will see much of the same, but some different wildlife in each place -- I didn't see any proboscis monkeys in Danum. However, during my one visit to Danum I saw orangutans, elephants, otters, deer, civets, flying squirrels, tons of birds, most of which I've seen at Kinabatangan, but not all in one trip -- I'd only seen elephants once and orangutans four times on different Kinabatangan trips, but it really is just luck.

Kinabatangan activities are more river based (obviously) with river cruises and some hikes, where as Danum Valley is more land based -- you can hike to waterfalls and do jeep night safaris. The Rainforest Lodge has a canopy walk too. When you are on foot rather than on a boat, you can generally get closer to the animals and birds.

Another factor to consider is the guide. Many of the Kinabatangan Camps have trained guides who speak good English and are skilled at spotting wildlife (however it may be a bit hit and miss), and at Danum Valley Rainforest Lodge guides have an excellent reputaition. At Danum Valley Research Centre there are no guides, but rangers who accompany you on treks -- they may have limited English and spotting sklls -- I was lucky and had good rangers. You can visit Danum Valley Research Centre with trained guides with a KK based company Sticky Rice, but that is a more expensive option than booking direct.

If I had the budget and time I'd go for Danum Valley Rainforest Lodge and a short Kinabatangan trip too. Do spend some time in Sepilok as well -- the Rainforest Discovery Center is worth half a day or more and it's good to support the good work of the folk to the sunbear and orangutan centres.

I hope I haven't confused you more. Enjoy your trip.

Cheers, Sally

#2 Bungkus has been a member since 28/8/2015. Posts: 16

Posted by Danila on 31/12/2016 at 19:46

Hi Sally,
thank you so much for all the info! It was you who wrote the article here on Danum, wasn't it?! :)
So many choices! Also, considering our ages: 67 and 61, reasonably fit (very keen scuba divers, ok hikers!), and the fact that heat and humidity is having more effect as we get older, I'm wondering whether the river based option might be less exhausting than land hikes?
We were thinking of the Kinabatangan Jungle Camp, with their combo Sepilok/Kinabatangan stay, and adding on a few nights at each place, to take it at a slightly more relaxed pace.
and leeches! do you recommend leech socks at Kinabatangan too?
Are leech socks readily available, for example in KK or Sepilok?
Thank you again, and Happy New Year!!
cheers, Danila

#3 Danila has been a member since 17/10/2016. Location: Global Village. Posts: 28

Posted by Bungkus on 31/12/2016 at 22:31 TF writer

Hi Danila,

Yep, it was me who wrote the Danum article, but I “raved” as I was impressed ;). The Sepilok/Kinabatangan option sounds good, but check what the activites are -- too many river cruises can become very repetitive, and the river at Bilit is pretty crowded with boats. Some boats have padded seats, check -- you may want to bring a blow up cushion. Don’t forget a rain jacket, it rains in the dry season too. I personally have no problem with leeches, but they are everywhere -- just flick ’em off... I find leech socks too hot, but they are available at most of the camps to buy. Happy New Year to you too!


#4 Bungkus has been a member since 28/8/2015. Posts: 16

Posted by Danila on 31/12/2016 at 22:52

oh no, raving is good, if the place is worth it! That was what made me think about adding it in!!
I did wonder about all those river cruises. They do have hiking options too, and of course you see different things at dawn, versus evening...
hmm, got to do some thinking! Thank you very much for your input, it's very helpful!
cheers, Danila

#5 Danila has been a member since 17/10/2016. Location: Global Village. Posts: 28

Posted by wanderer143 on 9/5/2017 at 00:51

I'd go for Kinabatangan Jungle Camp. But it's best that you try both!

#6 wanderer143 has been a member since 2/11/2014. Posts: 136

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