Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism

Community Based Ecotourism KOPEL Kinabatangan

One of the recommended localised nature experiences is the unique Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism in Sabah.

As you know, the Kinabatangan River in Sabah is one of northern Borneo's world-class nature and bird watching destinations.

Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism

In June of 2023, I took a trip to Kinabatangan. On my way, I stopped at Kopel to understand more about what they offer and how they conduct their special community based ecotourism activities here.

To me, community-based tourism is already a class of its own, but discovering that Kopel is more of a Community Based Ecotourism experience was quite interesting. And for added knowledge, Kopel is actually an acronym for Koperasi Pelancongan or Tourism Corporation.

MESCOT KOPEL
The location of the main arrival is under a bridge.

The location of the main office is under a bridge and by the Kinabatangan River, which makes it easy to move up and down the river.

Kopel Kinabatangan is actually in the Batu Putih district of Kinabatangan, and they operate under one unity cooperative.

The place is also surrounded by the Pin-Supu Forest Reserve, classified under a Class VI - Virgin Jungle Reserve (VJR).

'The cooperative and group also have a long history of community-based tourism that dates back to 1996/7, when they formed MESCOT (Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Conservation and Tourism).

Office Kopel Kinabatangan
The main office.

Kinabatangan Homestay
The new Mandaa homestay project for groups.

MESCOT is involved in coordinating the entire project, while the local community started their own organisation called Kopel Bhd in 2003, which implements the projects.

Kopel Bhd is also a Community-Based Organisation involving 200 people from the surrounding villages of Batu Puteh.

Where to stay at Kopel? 

There are several original and local homestays around Kopel where you can stay, giving you an actual Sabahan homestay experience. 

For larger groups, there is a unique and modern accommodation called Mandaa Stay, a village hostel with a medium-sized community and function area. This is wholly owned by Kopel, too.

For the adventurous, there is a jungle camp called Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp and the Supu Adventure Camp, catering to pure nature but providing excellent and basic facilities for non-locals.

Insects at Kinabatangan
Night walks are one of the activities to spot all sorts of insects here.

What can you do at Kopel Kinabatangan?

For those interested in community-based experiences while travelling to this part of the world, there are actually several things that can be done here, which include;

  1. Replanting degraded forests
  2. Restoring critical wildlife habitat in Pin-Supu forest reserve
  3. Site preparation and silviculture, seed collecting and cultivation
  4. Lake restoration by removing the invasive water weed species Salvinia Molesta

Apart from the above, visitors can also participate in various community-based ecotourism through the Tungog Rainforest Eco Camp (TREC) and Miso Walai homestay programmes.

Activities Kopel Kinabatangan
The many activities being offered at Kopel.

How can you contribute to this? 

Visitors who want to help and contribute can do so in the simplest way possible. All you need to do is book a stay with Kopel and experience their ecotourism products.

Then, you can help them even more by purchasing their products, like t-shirts, and volunteering in some of their programs. Just these few simple means will help the community here.

Kopel Kinabatangan Map
A map showing where Kopel Kinabatangan is located at Batu Puteh.

Where is Kopel Kinabatangan?

Kopel is located in the upper part of Kinabatangan, near Bilit, an area of the river where wildlife tourism activities are conducted.

There is hardly any public transport to this place, but a car or van journey will take you approximately two hours from the Sandakan Airport in Sabah.

Kopel offers some pickup services in their packages, and you need to double check this with them. Alternatively, public buses stop at Kota Kinabatangan main town, and you must make arrangements to be picked up for a minimal fee.

KOPEL Address
Jalan Feri Lama, Kg Mengaris,
Mukim Batu Puteh, 90200,
Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia
Office Tel: +6 089 551070
Website: Kopel Kinabatangan

Info for Kopel Kinabatangan
The leading information for Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Puteh Kinabatangan.

If you are interested in this type of unique experience, please check out my other community based tourism places in Sabah, which I have written about.

Conclusion

For adventurous tourists, the Kopel Kinabatangan Community Based Tourism experience is truly out of the ordinary and should be experienced if you dislike commercial tourism.

Over the last two decades, many ecotourism lovers have taken the challenge to do this kind of tourism here in Sabah Borneo. Now, it's your turn.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.

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