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Reviewed August 7, 2017

This was our fourth stop in Borneo and a bit disappointing. It is a bit of a step from the the Kintabatagan River and when you get to Lahad Datu there is a further one and a half hour drive to Tabin, mostly over rough roads. The cabins are pretty gloomy inside but at least the Riverside ones are close to the main lodge area. There is a souvenir shop which had sold out of leech socks (something we had been told we would not need until we got there). They did however find us some used and somewhat soiled socks for use with the boots which they supplied. These were essential but did not stop my wife getting bitten on the hand! In common with other lodges shoes had to be removed in the restaurant area. Food was pretty average with the odd better dish. There was no egg station at breakfast which apart from some fruit was very average. The trek to the mud volcano was exactly that. 2.5 kilometres across muddy, slippery mainly uphill terrain with masses of protruding roots to trip and slip on. This took us two hours and we saw very little on the way. We climbed the observation tower but no animals came to lick the minerals in the mud. The shorter 700 metre trek to a vehicle was also slow and slippery. The drives were in very uncomfortable trucks with no backs to the seats, not so bad on the outside where you could hold onto the sides but more difficult in the middle. Again viewings were limited. Sharon and Alister our guides tried hard but spottings were few and often a just glimpses especially on night drives. We may have been unlucky but the main drives border the Palm Oil plantations and you were always conscious that the jungle stretched out for miles and you are just skirting the edges. We did see one Orangutan in the distance as we were leaving the park.

Room Tip: River View are on the level
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Ken P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 30, 2017 via mobile

This was the third location was stayed at and from an experience perspective it was definitely the best for wildlife. Each morning and evening we went out either for a trek or on the back of a truck. We saw so much wildlife thanks to our guide Alistair. 6 Orangutan with young were amazing to see in their natural habitat. The Lodge is great, staff amazing - a great place to also relax. Be prepared this is the rain forest so it rains!! And there are leeches, follow the guides instruction and they are no problem. Definitely recommend as a must, we never saw more than 20 guests so not touristy at all!!

Stayed: July 2017, travelled with family
1  Thank Neil C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 28, 2017

We stayed in one of the stilted houses on the hill. The room was spacious and clean. We were a little less fond of the bathroom which is a kind of wet room...so when you take a shower, the whole bathroom is wet. Since we visited at the end of the rain season, it was so moist that the bathroom never dried up completely which is not nice if you need to use the toilet during the night. But overall, we liked the room and the views from the room.

The food was good and they made an effort to cook vegan food for us. We also genuinely appreciate that the made a lunch box for us for the day we left.

We loved our guide Jessica. She was amazing and no effort was too great for her! If we wanted to take the long walk: we took the long walk. If we wanted to look for frogs at night, she took us and showed us as many frogs as she could find. She was knowledgeable about the animals and their behavior and she was an excellent spotter. We really wanted to see a leopard cat and she and her student Ismaïl found one for us!

Tabin is still a real wildlife refuge. It may be more difficult to spot animals than for example in Sukau but we found that with time you can spot some very special animals there. Besides orangutans and macaques, we spotted a very startled lesser mouse deer, gibbons, leopard cat, flying squirrel, horn-bills, river monitor and loads of frogs (and we're sure we're forgetting some species here). Do be aware that in the rainy season there is mud and there are leeches...lots of mud and lots of leeches. So take long trousers and trust the guide when they tell you to wear rubber boots (they offer them in all sizes for free).

We definitely recommend Tabin!

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Ellen_and_Pedro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 10, 2017

Hill Lodge 4 (Two nights)

About 1 ½ hour drive from Lahad Datu.

The lodges are built in a valley with a waterfall at one end. Hill lodges overlook the waterfall and are build on one steep site. Hill Lodge 4 has 70 steps leading to it. River lodges are on stilts overlooking the river, have a veranda and only a few steps. The whole complex is up on stills, with a walk way which joins the lodges to the communal dining area. There is a bar and small souvenir shop.

The lodges are air conditioned, spacious and reasonably comfortable for there location. My lodge had a double bed. The toilet and shower form a “wet room”, so after a shower the floor is wet up to the WC. The shower water was hot. The rooms had a bewildering array of light switches which didn’t seem to do anything. The room could have been better lit, especially during the day.

There were four UK style power sockets in the room, so plenty of charging options.

There is a no shoes/boots policy around the dinning room to keep it clean. You have to cross the dinning room to go to the Hill Lodges, so shoes off and on a lot.

Compared to Bilit lodge I found the choice at meal times restricted, particularly at breakfast time. The food was well cooked and there is an al a carte menu, but mainly of the food routinely prepared anyway. There is no fresh omelette or egg station.

The complex has WiFi is in the communal area only. I could not connect either of my two devices to the internet I even got bar staff to input the password), but saw others using it!

During the drives / walk I saw about a dozen different types of birds, a few macaques and a variety of insects.

Over the two days I was bitten on four different occasions by five different leaches, so avoid loose clothing, bare arms and shorts if you don’t fancy these blood suckers attaching themselves to you. The guides advice is to leave them and after an hour, when they are full, they will drop off. Although painless you might not fancy this. I discovered that they don’t like “deat”. When sprayed will release there bit, when you see the blood you can roll them off.

Our guide Jenifer and driver “Captain Smilie” were very knowledgeable and expert at spotting wildlife. Transport during the drives is in the back of adapted pick-up trucks, with bench seats and no back rests or roof (remember its a rain forest).

Arriving at the "mud volcano" after a 800 meter walk, climbing through the rain forest, was a bit of an anti climax.

Room Tip: Hill Lodges have 70 plus stairs to climb. River lodges do not.
  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank SJB3000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 9, 2017

Tabin is an important stop on a wildlife tour of Borneo. Book a private guide to meet you and spend two nights. There are many endangered and endemic species guarded by the reserve and with patience, you may see a few. But it's the jungle...don't rush the process and linger over great encounters.

The reason for the four star rating (as opposed to 5-star) is related to a comparison with Sukau Lodge on the Kinabatangan River or the Borneo Rainforest Lodge in Danum Valley. They are 6-star experiences. But Tabin has a lot to offer sandwiched between the two. We had a great morning with gibbons and much can be seen on the roads near the lodge, at dawn, dusk, and at night.

The accommodations are rustic but comfortable and a good fit with the forest and river. The dining / public area is peaceful. The trails take you inside the forest.

But be prepared for mud and leeches, (They provide Wellies and sell Leeds socks.). The drive in and out is a bumpy, curvy, dirt/gravel/rock, 2 1/2 hour road in a van. And the food (more than ample) can be tasty but will not be memorable.

The staff and guides are warm, kind, and dedicated to making the stay a good one.

One caution. Room choice matters. The river front lodges and the first hill lodge are close and easy walks to dining and the start to activities. Other hill lodge rooms involve ever increasing distance and steep stairways. If young and fit, you may enjoy the isolation. If less so, you may want proximity.

Stayed: June 2017
1  Thank Bruce M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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