The fiery sunrise pierced the morning fog rising above the Kinabatangan River and we were awakened to the morning calls of birds and wild animals all along the banks. This was day three, the last day, of a wildlife cruise that went up and down the waterway. Only a few hours were left before having to head out and part ways with this special place in Borneo.
*For anyone unfamiliar, Borneo is the large island surrounded by the Indonesian Archipelago, the Philippines, and the coasts of Malaysia and Vietnam.
A few days before, I was at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. It was a great place to learn about Orangutans and the plight that they are in, however, it wasn’t exactly wild. The orangutans were free to roam while they were recovering, but human interaction was still a large component in their lives. The Kinabatangan river held out some hope. It was something completely new, untouched, and wild – the true Borneo.
It was only a few hours after arriving, when we got our first wildlife encounter. A large male Proboscis monkey jumped from tree to tree, what seemed like a 15-20 ft. jump from above, to take back command of his territory after a lower ranking monkey got too close to his area. It was exciting and exhilarating to see an animal so dynamic. There were monkeys running everywhere. This lasted a good half hour.
But then, a rainstorm that was brewing the whole day engulfed the boat and caused us to turn around. This was our introduction to the jungle.
But this didn’t stop us for long. After the storm quickly passed, dumping all its water in the matter of ten or twenty minutes, we hopped back on the boat to see a rainbow, a brilliant sunset, and a number of animals – a blue thrush, a few types of macaque monkeys, and a huge five meter long saltwater crocodile. See the pictures below.
It’s probably not worth describing the rest of the whole trip, but these three days in the Kinabatangan river were special. Here we saw two orangutans in the wild (see the small face popping out of the tree cover in the photo below), many more crocodiles larger than the boat we were in, and so many other species of animals. Seeing those two orangutans meant beating the probabilities – a rare, rare endangered animal, with only two hundred in the nearby area. It was lucky. Some people don’t even see any on their trips. I could stare at these animals for hours, perhaps days if given the time. And maybe you can too.
Location & Operator:
The Borneo Natural Sakau Bilit Resort offers a two-day, one-night or three-day, two night all-inclusive package that has room and board, morning and afternoon floats along the river, and meals three times a day. To arrive here, you’ll want to go to Kota Kinabalu and catch the bus to Sandakan or fly there. Then arrange with the tour operator for a ride to the Natural Sakau Bilit resort.