The lodge was ranked as one of the top 50 eco lodges by National Geographic Adventure magazine. Based on this we booked 3 nights and 4 days here and had pretty high expectations of the lodge.
This was the first first lodge we stayed at when we arrived to Borneo and it didn’t start off very good. The driver that picked us up from the airport didn’t speak much english at all. It was my understanding we would have a driver and guide and that the guide would speak english. It turns out that every other group we meet at the lodge had a guide except for us. Not sure why or how this happened but the staff didn’t seemed surprised that we didn’t have a guide even though everyone else did. To be honest, it didn’t really matter. There wasn’t much for a guide to add any value. The boat drivers did most of the work.
The accommodation was very, very basic. A very small room with two single beds. The lobby was pretty dated but had a nice local feel to it. Half of the lodge was under renovation so it was a little noisy during out stay but we were warned of this before we booked.
The food was the same for almost every meal. Nothing bad but nothing memorable.
The staff was friendly but didn’t seem to go out of their way to make the experience memorable.
The key draw for the lodge are the boat cruises on the river to spot wildlife. This is one of the only places in the world to spot Proboscis monkeys. Funny little creatures with long noses. We had many sightings and this, even with the negatives about the lodge, is reason enough to stay in the area. We even saw elephants which we are told are very rare. They only come around every 3-4 months. We saw them crossing the river while following them in our boat which was a unique experience.
On the last day we were lucky enough to see an orang utan and her baby in a tree pretty close to the river. There are a number of orang utans in the area but they are increasingly more difficult to spot due to the encroachment of the palm oil plantations.
What is sold on their website and confirmed over the phone and in an e-mail is that there was a morning and an afternoon cruise with options for hiking during the day and many other activities. In actuality, you do a morning cruise from 6-8 am and an afternoon cruise from 4-6pm. From 8am to 4pm there is absolutely nothing to do. There is a short walk on a elevated boardwalk in the back of the lodge but that only takes 30 minutes. Other than that all you can do is read, sleep, eat, relax which is not bad if that is what you signed up for. We did not. We wanted an active vacation.
The other thing to note about the lodge is it’s claim to fame on being very “eco friendly”. Eco lodges are a strange thing. A lodge can do a few eco friendly things, provide less services, less amenities, and charge a lot more all in the name of being eco friendly. The funny thing is that people tend to leave happy. I think there should be two ratings for eco lodges. The “in your face” eco lodge (i.e. Sakua Rainforest Lodge) and the “behind the scenes” eco lodge. I prefer to stay at an eco lodge that does it’s part for the environment but it does so behind the scenes and doesn’t impact the guest experience.
Would I stay here again? NO. I’ve seen the Proboscis monkeys and once is enough.
Would I recommend it to a friend? YES to the Sukau area but NO to the lodge. No matter where you book only stay for 2 nights. It’s all you need. Do some research to see if there is another lodge in the Sukau area that gets better reviews.