10 Things to Know about Tabin Wildlife Reserve

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One of the tourist destination in Sabah to the far east



A door to a Dipterocarp forest or well known as Rain forest in North Borneo. Away from oil palm trees you will see for yourselves the magnificent Mengaris tree on your way to Tabin Wildlife Reserve.


In the daytime, you will have a chance to see primitive in North Borneo. Such as, Macaque and Gibbon. When the night fall, leopard cat and flying squirrel are presence. Besides, Borneo Pygmy Elephant and Horn bill are living within the perimeter. In the river, sometimes, Egrets and otter swimming around seeking new home.



  1. The water are sterilized although the color might be a little bit of yellowish. ( I have no problem with the water after stayed there for 1 week)
  2. Canned soft drinks and alcohols were sold.
  3. Bring raincoats prepare especially for raining season.
  4. Mud volcanoes with mud certificate.
  5. There were electricity generator reset at fixed time. Blackout for 30 seconds was not that bad.
  6. Bring some essential medicines the hospital or private clinic is 1 and half hour away.
  7.  Best time visiting Tabin Wildlife Reserve and high season is in the month of  February to October.
  8. Book your reservation at Lahad Datu airport is possible.
  9. Bring binocular for bird watching.
  10. Do not feed the animals especially primitive one with 90% human DNA similarity.



Maswings plane
It illegal take an image of the plane at this proximity but no one seem noticing 


The fastest option to Tabin Wildlife Reserve is depart by plane arrive at a rapidly growing town "Lahad Datu". I believe there was only one aviation company operating to Lahad Datu it is "Maswings". Took approximately 1 hour to reach there from Kota Kinabalu (Capital city of Sabah) to Lahad Datu.


As soon as you have arrived to Lahad Datu airport, there is a Tabin Wildlife Reserve's office nearby within the airport your inquiry they would gladly answer.



Lahad Datu Sumatran Rhino statue
Rhino Statue at Lahad Datu

Sumatran Rhino statue next to Lahad Datu airport. They are facing population extinction and one of the protected animal in Sabah.



Tabin Wildlife Reserve entrance



It takes 1 hour and half to reach Tabin Wildlife Reserve from Lahad Datu Airport and away from vast oil palm trees. 




Tabin Wildlife Reserve buffet lunch
Plain rice, shrimp, fried chicken meat
We were served buffet-styled lunch. There were alcohols and some canned carbonated soft drinks to be purchased. 



Tabin Wildlife Reserve Coffee & Tea
Coffee or Tea ??

Drink tea if you have just standing there feel the rain coming down hitting your face. It will help a lot get one better tomorrow. Besides, one could opt for morning coffee.



River lodge Tabin Wildlife Reserve



There is a nearby river at this lodge. Sometimes, gibbon or macaques might knock door it was not that uncommon. One will see hornbill at the morning and owl at the night. River lodge is big enough for three persons.




Tabin wildlife Reserve bridge to otter trail and hill lodge



Notice that bridge, it leads you to otter trail where a nature guide will take you go through rain forest explaining trees and plants. Mind you that giant forest ants and brown leech are presence inside. Wear some long sock, comfortable shoes and bring some rain coat if possible. If you do not want dirty your shoes, there are some shoes from Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Besides, this is a way to hill lodge.


Tabin Wildlife Reserve Hill lodge


500ml mineral water everyday is served. One could turn on the air-conditioner if you feel the weather is hot. In fact, living nearby a flowing river and within rain forest, you will feel like the humidity on your bed.



Tabin Wildlife Reserve Restaurant during the night time


There is only one restaurant you could go at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Local internet connection is weak although they use local broadband company such as streamyx or celcom or whatever. But, calling and messaging should not have any problem. Whatsapp, LINE, Wechat smartphone application are affected but bearable.





Tabin Wildlife Reserve Dipterocarp forest



Some of the things you will see in "otter trail" are Lantern Bug, Mengaris Tree, Liana Vine, Rengas, Memosa, Wild ginger, giant ant, coral fungus, earth worm, brown leeches, ebony trees and wait-till-you-see-it.




Trip to mud volcano Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Nature guide is doing routine dos and don's

Do not feed animal , do not leave anything but footprint do not take anything but photograph, do not provoke. These are some wisdom from experienced and veteran nature guide. First of all, we need to do some grabbing when riding the 4 wheel truck because the road ahead is way too bumpy. 1 4 wheel truck could carry 12 persons. We were doing this mud volcano something like 2PM the weather was good although there were some rain on the way to mud volcano.



North Borneo Pygmy Elephant Dung
Elephant Dung


There is a distance where the road is inaccessible by 4 wheel truck we must walk to the mud volcano. 4 wheel truck will wait outside. We were very lucky witnessing horn bill, wild boar along the bumpy trip. Before the walk, we were briefed that there were pygmy elephants just passed the sole road to mud volcano. As if there were elephants standing our way, we would need to turn our way around and call it a day. 


Fortunately, there were no elephants standing against our way !! we have found some fresh elephant dung it was not smelly at all guessing because the strong smell of mud covered it



Mud volcanoes Tabin wildlife reserve experience


Some people covered themselves with the mud volcano to the extend no parts of the body was clean. 


Tabin Wildlife Reserve cleaning up after mud volcano


Exhausted trip to mud volcano at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. It time for shower cleaning up boot, clothes and mud on body.


Night safari Tabin Wildlife Reserve



It was an insane night a trip to the jungle watching some active-on-night creatures. There were gliding squirrel and leopard cat. Most of the time enjoying the night landscape, the stars and moon. 


It was a great getaway and this is the end of journey at one of the tourist destination in North Borneo/Sabah Tabin Wildlife reserve

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