Earth Lodge Malaysia Review

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Revie Earth Lodge Malaysia

In September 2023, myself and three friends went on a birdwatching adventure at Ulu Muda. Throughout our trip, we stayed at Earth Lodge Malaysia. This article is my Earth Lodge Malaysia review based on our experiences during a 3D2N stay.

This article aims to:

  • Give would-be visitors an idea of what to expect when staying here.
  • Share my overall impression of the lodge.

Earth Lodge Malaysia Review

Ulu Muda

Ulu Muda forest reserve is located in the extreme north of Peninsula Malaysia, within the state of Kedah. This forest boasts an impressive diversity of flora and fauna, including animals such as elephants, tapirs and leopards. For birdwatchers, Ulu Muda is one of the few places in Malaysia to see the Plain-pouched Hornbill. 

Scenery at Ulu Muda
The riverine jungles of Ulu Muda are pristine and beautiful!

Earth Lodge Malaysia

Deep within a secluded section of Ulu Muda is Earth Lodge Malaysia. The government built the lodge years ago as a facility for mass tourism. However, this plan faced stiff opposition from conservationists and MNS (Malaysian Nature Society) Kedah. In 2011, the facility was taken over by a group of nature lovers, who converted the facility into a low-impact eco-tourism site.

Earth Lodge Malaysia is currently run by one of its founders, Hymeir Kamarudin. Hymeir also does double duty as the nature guide at the lodge.

The lodge adopts a back-to-basics approach to eco-tourism, minimising the impact on the surroundings as much as possible. This means:

  • Electricity supply is limited to certain hours a day.
  • No phone line or internet connection is available.
  • All waste is segregated and brought back to the main jetty for disposal.

Photos of Earth Lodge Malaysia and Ulu Muda

The following is a selection of photos showing Earth Lodge and the surrounding area.

Earth Lodge arrival
There’s no jetty at Earth Lodge. Depending on the water level, a bit of wading may be required! Note the crystal-clear river.
Surroundings of Earth Lodge
The lodge’s surroundings are lushly vegetated. The lodge’s buildings are built with minimal disturbance to the jungle.
Field guides and nature books
A selection of nature books and field guides are available for guests to peruse. Don’t believe the ‘Free Wi-Fi’ sign!
The Makan Place at Earth Lodge Malaysia
‘The Makan Place’. This communal area is where guests have their meals and hang out between activities.
Earth Lodge Malaysia spaghetti.
The food served here was great! All food is prepared using an on-site kitchen. Our boatmen are also the cooks. Special mention to the Spaghetti Bolognese served on our second night. The grated Parmesan cheese was a nice touch!
Earth Lodge Malaysia dorm room
We stayed in a dorm room. The canvas beds were a bit creaky but comfortable enough to sleep in. There was no electricity after midnight, so we went to sleep with only the sounds of the jungle serenading us.

Activities at Earth Lodge Malaysia

Earth Lodge Malaysia has a range of nature-based activities available for visitors:

Wildlife observation:
  1. Birdwatching – the main reason for our trip to Earth Lodge. Earth Lodge and the surrounding area is a fantastic place to go birdwatching, thanks to its remote location. Specialities include the Plain-pouched Hornbill and Dusky Eagle-Owl. Plain-pouched Hornbill season is usually from July to October.
  2. Mammal watching – Many mammals call the Ulu Muda forest home, with Asian Elephant sightings particularly reliable. Malayan Tapirs, Barking Deer, Sambar Deer, Clouded Leopard, Sunda Pangolin and Sunda Slow Loris also frequent the area. Only fortunate guests get to see these secretive animals, though. 

    Mother and calf Asian Elephant.
    Asian Elephant sightings are quite reliable here. Herds of up to 18 animals have been spotted! During our trip, we saw this mother and calf foraging by the riverside at around 6 p.m.
  3. Visiting salt-licks – Nine natural salt-licks are present near the vicinity of Earth Lodge, and these attract all sorts of mammals.

    Hot Water Salt-lick
    The steaming Sira Ayer Hangat (Hot water salt-lick). This salt lick has a hot water spring in the vicinity. Mammals such as elephants and tapirs come here to obtain much-needed minerals to supplement their diet.
  4. River cruise – drifting downriver from the lodge following the current. This allows visitors to soak in the sights and sounds of the jungle. Fish-eagles, Sea-Eagles, Woodpeckers, Kingfishers and Hornbills can be encountered during these cruises. The river cruises are also the best way to see elephants. 

    River cruise Ulu Muda
    The river cruise from Earth Lodge is a great way to see various wildlife.
  5. Guests can also explore the lodge surroundings at night to look for wildlife. We spotted many insects, geckos and frogs at night during our stay. Nocturnal birds around the lodge include the Buffy Fish-Owl, Brown Boobook, Sunda Scops-Owl, Reddish Scops-Owl, and Frogmouths. Even the rare White-fronted Scops-Owl is a possibility.
Outdoor adventures: 
Ulu Muda jungle trail
The jungle trek to Labu Cave is reasonably easy-going. Birds such as pittas, hornbills and babblers can be spotted during the trek. Be ready for leeches, though.
  1. Jungle trekking – there are several trails near the lodge, with the 5.5+ km trek to Gua Labu 1 particularly noteworthy. This trail was well-marked and relatively flat, making the trek reasonably easy. We did this trek during our stay and saw babblers, pittas and hornbills along the way. All the treks will be guided (usually by Hymeir), so guests will get plenty of information about the local flora and fauna. 
  2. Cave exploration – the trek to Gua Labu 1 (Labu Cave 1) culminates at the cave itself. This beautiful limestone cave has several decent-sized chambers, big enough to explore comfortably.
    Limestone cave at Ulu Muda
    Labu Cave 1 is a limestone cave roughly 5 km from Earth Lodge.

    Chamber of Labu Cave
    The chambers of Labu Cave 1 are filled with interesting limestone formations. Several animals inhabit the caves, including bats, frogs, snakes and trap-door spiders.

Photos of wildlife at Ulu Muda and Earth Lodge

The following is a selection of bird and wildlife photos to complete this Earth Lodge Malaysia review.

Flock of Plain-pouched Hornbills
Plain-pouched Hornbills are easily seen at Ulu Muda during hornbill season.
Perched Lesser Fish-Eagle.
A Lesser Fish-Eagle perched by the river.
Crested Serpent-Eagle immature
This immature Crested Serpent-Eagle greeted us at the lodge’s landing each morning.
Earth Lodge Glandular Frog
The attractive Glandular Frog is quite common around Earth Lodge.
Earth Lodge lanternbug
This striking lanternbug species can be found around Earth Lodge and the surrounding forest.

More information

For anybody interested in visiting Earth Lodge Malaysia and Ulu Muda, head over to the Earth Lodge Malaysia website for further information. Check out which packages suit you, and contact them directly for reservations.

Photos of the wildlife of Ulu Muda (many were taken by Hymeir himself) can be seen on their Facebook page.

Check out my birdwatching at Ulu Muda trip report for an idea of what to expect when birding here.

Final thoughts

Some final thoughts to end this Earth Lodge Malaysia review article:

The great:
  1. The lodge’s back-to-basics approach is one of its greatest strengths, in my opinion. 
  2. While the lodge is quite basic, the rooms and bathrooms are excellent. The whole facility is very clean.
  3. Thanks to its remote location and pristine surroundings, Earth Lodge Malaysia is heaven-on-earth for nature lovers.
  4. Birdwatching here truly feels like an adventure!
  5. Earth Lodge Malaysia is truly off-the-beaten path; therefore, it hardly (if ever) gets crowded.
  6. The excellent staff. Hymeir is a highly knowledgeable nature guide who knows the area like the back of his hand. The boatmen, Wan and Zul, are good wildlife spotters and good cooks!
  7. Guest education. Hymeir takes time to educate us about the importance and uniqueness of Ulu Muda.
  8. The food here is excellent! 
  9. I think the package rates are excellent value for money.
The not-so-great:
  1. Leeches. It is not the lodge’s fault; nevertheless, these bloodsuckers might be off-putting to some. Special mention to the group of leeches that somehow managed to sneak into my friend’s leech socks. They certainly had a bloody good time in there!
  2. The lodge’s basic nature might not appeal to visitors who prefer well-appointed facilities.


Earth Lodge Malaysia allows visitors to truly commune with nature, thanks to its remote location and back-to-basics concept. We had a great time there enjoying nature’s beauty. The excellent and knowledgeable staff made our visit all the more memorable.

I can easily recommend a visit to Earth Lodge Malaysia (and Ulu Muda) for birdwatchers and nature lovers, especially those who don’t mind going back to basics.

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