Ecotourism has a lot of advantages, both for the natural environment as for tourists interested more than in spending some money in an exotic location. As a responsible tourist you know that your trip will not affect the environment and you invest your time and money in a place that respects the nature.
It is much to be done in the domain of responsible tourism and I must confess that I am relatively new in this domain, but I am aware that I should pay more attention to the places and hotels and tourism initiatives encouraging such projects.
As I am passionate about travels to Asia and in the middle of the nature, I discovered Sukau Rainforest Lodge. Built in 1995, it is situated on the bank of one of the most important waterways in Asia, the Kinabatangan River on the island of Borneo, Sabah. It is considered one of the first lodge designed according to the ecotourism principles. The Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest concentration of wildlife in the heart of Borneo and thus, it is more than necessary to protect its environment from the curiosity of the tourists.
The 20 rooms of the Lodge was built according to the principles of the traditional architecture, with predominant elements of arts and crafts. By applying the open air concept, the free air circulation was allowed and the energy use minimized. Lightning in the evening is supplemented by kerosene oil lamps in the garden and along the corridors an idea that contributes to not only to the creation of a perfect ambiance but also to a limited consumption of energy.
All rooms have ceiling fan, mosquito netting, ceiling to flour louvre windows and attached bathroom with hot water shower. The maximum number of visitors that can be hosted is around 40.
In 2000, it was established the Sukau Ecotourism Research and Development Centre (SERDC) aimed to channel benefits to the Kinabatangan’s indigenous people and to protect the environment and wildlife. In 2007, it was renamed Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST) Society. One of the initiatives was to rehabilitate 65 acres of degraded riparian land in the Lower Kinabatangan.
What to do
The recommendations of the experts are to try to spend at least one full week at Sukau as you have a lot of options to spend your time. For instance, it is considered a paradise for birdwatcher’s with over 200 species living in the area. Some of the most famous species that one can admire are: Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, Rufous Piculet, Buffy Fish-Owl, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Brahminy Kite, Black-and-Red Broadbill.
In addition, in the Lower Kinabatangan it is possible to see 10 primate species: the Orang-utan, the Bornean Gibbon being one of the most frequent. Another 50 recorder mammals can be found here, among which the Borneo Pygmy Elephand and the Bearded Pig.
If you are interested in an organized safari, it might last around 3 days and 2 nights and it will include a visit at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
Late afternoon and early dawn river cruises are a good occasion to view the Proboscis Monkeys and other wildlife. The tours are conducted by qualified guides using locally crafted wooden boats, powered by four stroke outboard engines and electric motors that reduce the noise and the air pollution.
The spa offers access to the Melapi Restaurant – where romantic dinners are possible, and to rejuvenating foot spa treatment. If you did not bring a book with you, you can use some of the books from the in-house library – mostly natural history books – while admiring the rainforest.
The tour to Sukau goes across Sandakan up the Kinabatangan River by speedboat which allows the visitor to see the best opportunities for admiring the wildlife, including Orang-utans, crocodiles, hornbills and even the Borneo Pygmy Elephants during their migration along the river bank.
The Sukau tour is provided with a money-back guarantee. In case that you don’t like what you have, feel free to request a return of the money. The only condition is to make the reservation via Internet. The guests making online reservations will also receive a pack of welcome gifts including postcards, bookmarks and a book as well as a Borneo mug.
Guests are given the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of the environment, through Conservation Levy or as participants to the tree planting initiative KWICORP.
For every international guest who stays at the lodge, a donation is made to Borneo Ecotourism Soklutions and Technologies (BEST).
The lodge was visited by famous guests, many with preoccupations in the domain of the protection of the environment, such as Tim Kelly, the president of the National Geographic Society, Sir David Attenborough, the TV Wildlife Biologist Jeff Corwin, HRH Prince Henrik, the Prince Consort of Denmark. In addition, the lodge was also visited by participants at various ecotourism conferences and WWF events.