Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Kota Kinabalu Overview

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve in a 1,225 km natural preserve located 48 km from Lahad Datu in Sabah. It is considered as the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia covering an area of 300,000 acres. One major drawing factor of this reserve are its mineral rich mud volcanoes which spew out mud everyday and are the perfect place to spot the endemic animals.

The endangered species in the Tabin Wildlife reserve include the Borneo Pygmy elephants and several exotic birds. It also houses several tropical plants which have great medical and therapeutic significance.  It serves as an escapade to nature and tranquility for the tourists. Several activities like trekking, hiking, birdwatching and night drives are the prime factors for visiting this quiet yet adventurous greenwood.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve Highlights

1. Bird Watching

Being home to more than 300 recorded species of birds, Tabin is a paradise for bird lovers. Two birdwatching tours are arranged- early morning or early evening. The tour is usually for 1 hour. So (Read More)me of the rarest species of the birds spotted at the Reserve are: Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-capped Thrush and Thick bellied flowerpecker.

2. Mud Volcano

Mud Volcanoes are a unique feature of Tabin Wildlife Reserve. The best time to visit these volcanoes is early in the morning as the volcanoes are visited by the animals. A walk to these easily accessi (Read More)ble volcanoes in the morning could be worth a sight especially of the big three animals - Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros and Tembalu. Visit the Lipid Mud Volcano which is the nearest volcano to Tabin Base Camp. Fresh mud is spewed by the volcano every day and is worth the sight.

3. Trekking to Lipad Waterfall

Lipad Waterfall, also known as Twin Waterfall is a 1.5-hour trek from Tabin Wildlife Lodge. The trek is easy and simple with several chances of spotting wildlife. Enjoy a swim in the pools at the (Read More) base of the waterfall. 

4. Night Drive

Night drivers are also arranged by the lodge every night. It is a perfect opportunity to witness the nocturnal animals.

5. Trails

There are nine trekking trails in the Reserve. All these trails require a company of a professional guide. These are as follows:
Otters Trail: 0.5 km
Mouse Deer Trail: 0.4 km
Gibbon Tra (Read More)il: 2.8 km
Rhino Trail: 1.8 km
Otters Loop: 1.2 km
Elephant Trail: 2.2 km
Raleigh Trail: 2.5 km
Sambar Deer Trail: 1.16 km
Mud Volcano Trail: 0.7 km

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Wildlife at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

The reserve is located at the center of the Dent Peninsula and comprises of almost 300,000 hectares, which is twice the size of Singapore. The national reserve has several endangered species and also houses nine primate species in its premises.
  • One of the primates includes an Orangutan and three endangered cat species.
  • The Tabin Wildlife Reserve also comprises of 300 species of birds and is one of the best spots for bird watching in the country.
  • The reserve contains exotic and colorful birds such as the sunbirds and the hornbills.
  • Visitors can also spot the Sumatran Rhino and the largest predator, clouded leopards as well.
  • Tabin also has several mineral-rich volcanos’ which makes it a great spot for sightseeing wildlife as several faunas can be seen flocking to the volcanoes for their mineral intake. 

How to Reach Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Lahad Datu located 48 km from Tabin Wildlife Reserve, is the closest city to Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Take a flight to reach Lahad Datu from Kota Kinabalu or Sandakan. A drive from Kota Kinabalu to Tabin Wildlife Reserve takes approximately 7 hours. From Sandakan to Tabin, it takes about 4 hours. From Sukau to Tabin, the journey is 2 hours.

The journey from Lahad Datu to Tabin Wildlife Reserve takes 1.15 hours. The road is not well built and includes sealed and gravel roads. The Tabin Wildlife Resort has scheduled transportation from Lahad Datu at 8 AM and 12 PM. The return transport Tabin to Lahad Datu is scheduled at 1:30 PM. Any other special transfer or unscheduled transfer costs extra. 

How to Book a Visit to Tabin Wildlife Reserve?

The only way to book a tour to Tabin Wildlife Reserve is through Tabin Wildlife Resort. Pre Booking is required as there are a limited number of lodges and supplies at the Reserve. The booking can either be done by a private tour agency or directly with the Resort. If opting for direct booking with the resort, either book it online through email or at their office in Lahad Datu.

Where to Stay?

The only accommodation option at Tabin Wildlife Reserve is Tabin Resort which has Timber Chalets. There are 10 river lodges and 10 hill lodges with several facilities like double bed, hot shower, washroom, food and the like. These lodges give a mesmerising view of the river and the forest.

What to Eat?

The Sunbird Cafe is the only place inside Tabin Wildlife Reserve with food service. It offers western and local food excluding pork. It is open from 7 AM to 10 PM every day. It serves 3-time buffets - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. It also serves drinks like beer and juices.

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