Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Visit Borneo: HUTAN recommends Red Ape Encounters (RAE)

Staging site


Oxbow lake, Kinabatangan, Borneo

Key activities, species and places of interest

  • Visit the HUTAN-KOCP orang-utan study site, learn about their conservation efforts and see orang-utans in their natural habitat.
  • Only visitors coming through Red Ape Encounters (RAE) are allowed to visit this study site which is part of the Sabah Wildlife Department's Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS).
  • Visitors may also participate in forest restoration efforts at the study site by planting saplings of native trees species consumed by orang-utans.
  • Boat trips and wildlife watching e.g. Proboscis monkeys, Bornean pygmy elephants, a variety of birdlife such as Hornbills and Barred Eagle owls.
  • Homestays provide opportunities to get involved with local activities and insight into the local community. Examples include fishing, traditional games, dance and music, sports, vegetable farming and making traditional handicrafts.

This scenario is slightly different in that our project partners in Borneo do not offer eco-tourism opportunities themselves, but do however recommend RAE. RAE is community run and based in the village of Sukau within the lower Kinabatangan floodplain in eastern Sabah, see their website for a map of their location. The KWS habitat varies and includes limestone outcrops, oxbow lakes, riverine forest vegetation, dry lowland forest, seasonal swamps and mangroves.

Please note, to reduce the likelihood of disease transmission to the orang-utans, people who are ill will not be allowed to enter the research site. All efforts will be made to accommodate a change in date, you can read more in the guidelines section of their website.

Seasonal information

Jan/Feb are not ideal as there can be heavy rains, but inclement weather can happen any time of year. RAE brings visitors into the research site in the mornings so there is less chance of rain on average. Lowest rainfall occurs in March-April. Temperatures average between 32-22ºC.


Visitors using RAE contribute to the local economy of the community directly, particularly if they stay at the homestays or B&Bs. (The lodges are usually run by people outside of the local community.) Tourism capital is channeled directly into the community through the utilisation of village services such as the Sukau Homestay Programme, boat rentals, and the use of local guides.

There is a wide variety of accommodation from homestays to B&Bs (more like Backpackers), to a variety of lodges (with hot water etc). Prices vary accordingly from GBP10 a night to GBP100 a night at the top end lodges.


The Sukau homestay has five individual homes which are preselected to be as comfortable as possible for guests incuding western style toilets. An overview of the homestay accommodation at Kampung Sukau can be viewed on the RAE website here.


There are about 5 B&B's now in Sukau, and these average about 20 GBP per person per night with full board, some have air-conditioning but at an extra nominal cost.


While RAE don't promote the lodges they are very aware that many people are still not quite comfortable with the idea of the facilities and services provided at the homestays and local B&B's so will also recommend and make reservations for guests that request more standardised accommodation.

Sukau is accessible by road or boat from the town of Sandakan (approx. 2 hours North). There is an airport in Sandakan that is accessed from Kota Kinabalu, the state capital (a 30 minute internal flight) or from Kuala Lumpur. If you make a reservation through RAE they will pick you up from Sandakan by private transport.

See RAE's website for more information:
RAE contact: Kennesh Manokaran
Visit HUTAN's


If you have already visited a WLT funded reserve, we would love to hear about your experiences »

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