Let’s be actual — seeing orangutans within the wild is purpose sufficient to hop on a aircraft to Borneo. However wouldn’t you recognize it, there’s a complete lot extra to see and do on the third largest island on this planet. Learn on as journey author and seven-time G Adventures traveller Richard Kitzinger, shares highlights from our Borneo – East Sabah Journey. Having ventured to 70 nations, the journey marked his return to journey writing because the pandemic and we’re thrilled to share his expertise with you.
A pure white egret, shimmering like a bride in her marriage ceremony robe, takes off from a department and flies throughout the Kinabatangan River to choose one other department. Ten of us in a speedboat observe its gaze and, heart-stopping second, there’s a household of proboscis monkeys in a tree.
They are surely probably the most comical trying animals. The males have lengthy fleshy noses (therefore the identify proboscis monkeys) whereas females have fairly abrupt, stumpy noses. Both approach, they give the impression of being completely shocked. Our two boats stay with these amusing monkeys for a very good time earlier than we make our approach again to the lodge for dinner.
That is my first expertise of the Bornean jungle and, over the course of the couple of hours we’re on the water, we benefit from the antics of long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and silvered leaf langurs in addition to seeing 4 completely different species of hornbill. Our Chief Expertise Officer (CEO) Albert declares, “We’re fortunate. Very fortunate.”
At our welcome assembly in Kota Kinabalu, Albert requested everybody what they had been most hoping for from the tour and the overwhelming majority wished to see wildlife, the favourites being orangutans in fact, but additionally pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and turtles. There are, says Albert, “No ensures,” however the jungle gods are favouring us.
When the aim is recognizing wildlife, I work by the precept that my analysis is necessary and a very good information is important however this stuff solely improve the possibilities of success. Finally it’s a matter of climate circumstances and luck aligning. Outdoors of that, the East Sabah Journey coated all of the bases when it comes to locations and alternatives to see the complete vary of Sabah’s particular natural world.
Now we have three included river cruises. Returning to the lodge for breakfast from one in all these, travellers in one other boat recount excitedly how they only noticed an orangutan in a tree. No questions requested, Albert and our native pilot/information have us put our life jackets on and we head again out on the water. It seems to be not only one orangutan, however a mom and child, maybe a 12 months previous. Whereas mum lazily plucks figs from the bounteous crop rising within the tree, the infant entertains us with stretches, swinging observe, and probably the most comically earnest facial expressions on its old-young face.
From land we see the identical orangutan and her child, making our strategy on a jungle hike by way of the rainforest. There we encounter creepy crawlies like tablet bugs and big millipedes, the kinds of creatures I believed existed solely in Roald Dahl tales. A number of of the native leeches hooked up themselves to members of the group, inflicting moments of ache and a few bleeding. On steadiness it was most likely value it although, given how a lot the story is retold that night.
Orangutans are synonymous with Borneo – and rightly so – however there may be a lot extra in addition to. I’m captivated by a rhinoceros hornbill that I watch fly the width of the Kinabatangan River to perch in a tree. It’s straightforward to see why the big crimson curving horn above its yellow invoice attracts comparisons with the horn of a rhino. Then there may be the estuarine crocodile that slips into the river and retains tempo with us for some time although our pilot mercifully maintains a respectful distance.
An actual spotlight for many people is a jungle hike the place we see dung and footprints within the mud belonging to the world’s smallest species of elephant, the Borneo pygmy elephant. Encountering a herd, I take pleasure in their trumpeting and fixed nuzzling into each other. One thing is clearly agitating them. Inside three minutes, the heavens open and we’re soaked by a deluge. It leaves me marvelling at their intelligence and the way they sensed the approaching thunderstorm nicely earlier than it catches us out.
A part of the enchantment of the tour is that we additionally go to the famend Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre at Sepilok and the neighbouring Solar Bear Conservancy. Right here, in 46 hectares of forest, the primates dwell a semi-wild existence with twice day by day feedings on a platform in entrance of a sizeable crowd of vacationers. I’m grateful to see them up shut however each bit as grateful that I noticed some really wild ones.
Not having seen solar bears within the jungle, it is extremely good to see a number of the rescued ones at Sepilok. Listed as weak, the world’s smallest bear may be present in Borneo however is never seen within the wild.
Our wildlife encounters aren’t restricted to the jungle. We spend an evening on Pulau Libaran, one of many islands the place hawksbill and inexperienced sea turtles lay their eggs. Fortune – in addition to the complete moon – shines on us as we’re capable of witness the discharge of forty new child turtles, hatched that very afternoon. For a few of our group, the temporary second because the hatchlings waddle towards the better security of the ocean is their greatest wildlife reminiscence of the journey.
That, I feel, is the fantastic thing about Borneo. All of us arrive with hopes of seeing the orangutans – and recognizing them within the wild is certainly one thing particular – however, from the tiniest crimson sunbird to the pygmy elephants and from the turtle hatchlings to the solar bears of Sepilok, all of us take away photographs and reminiscences of an awesome many extra peculiar creatures.
Able to swing by way of the Bornean jungle to spend time with its big selection of wildlife? Listed here are just a few methods to affix us on a small group tour:
Borneo – East Sabah Journey
Better of Borneo
Highlights of Sabah & Mt Kinabulu