SEEING ORANGUTANS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
Replies: 260 - Last Post: Apr 1, 2013 1:37 AM Last Post By: montyman
Mar 23, 2011 12:12 AM
Mar 23, 2011 7:40 AM
Mar 24, 2011 1:10 AM
Apr 7, 2011 8:59 AM
168Just thought I'd weigh in with something about Tanjung Puting and Gunung Palung.
Me and my girlfriend were hoping to visit Gunung Pulung and trek and hopefully see orangutans. We followed the advice of LP and travelled to Pontianak to book the trip at the Times Tours and travel office (which did not exist anymore!)
In Pontianak (which was a mad, urban sprawling mess of a place), we were told by a travel agent that there was no trips to GPNP as the park was closed due to the illegal logging.
We then flew to Pangkalan Bun and did a 2 night kholak trip in Tanjung Puting up the river, which was expensive but amazing, and it was a fairly effortless transfer from the airport to the river ....no 10 hour jeep journey required. Saw lots of orangutans (including 2 wild ones), crocodiles, probiscus monkeys, macaques and kingfishers....was a great experience.
In hindsight we should have gone straight to TPNP but I'd heard a lot of good things about GPNP, so was disappointed that we couldnt go there and felt mis-informed by LP. It did say in the guide that the park office was in Ketapang...but we didnt go there after we were told by the travel agent that the park was closed, and that there was nothing worth doing or seeing there (it was worse than Pontianak basically).
I will definitely travel to Borneo again in the future for a longer period (only had 1 week there). But would like to see another national park that is perhaps of a more dramatic landscape that TPNP, and one that has not been logged to death. Perhaps Kutai or Kayan Mentarang National Park. If anyone has any information on them, I would be very grateful.
Edited by: forumknight
Edited by: forumknight
Apr 7, 2011 11:49 PM
Apr 12, 2011 9:42 PM
170What would be the absolute dream destination in Kalimantan for orangutans and overall wildlife as of 2011?
What about the best place to experience un-logged rainforest in Kalimantan?
And which park would offer the most rewarding opportunities for wildlife viewing without the requirement of taking a guide? (We also love to look for amazing insects, birds, and smaller things and sometimes guides get annoyed with how much time we like to spend in one spot.)
Is there a recommended park where we could inexpensively spend some time exploring without breaking the bank?
Is there any consensus on whether the parks in Kalimantan are better or worse than parks in Sabah and Sarawak?
Apr 15, 2011 6:16 PM
171The best forest and the best wildlife are not in the same parks!
The former in the interior, the latter in coastal areas.
I think Danum in Sabah beats any park in Kalimantan, but is not exactly cheap.
For small creatures in cheap parks on your own, Sarawak parks like Kubah, Bako or Gunung Gading are the best, but larger wildlife is limited there.
May 1, 2011 11:35 PM
May 2, 2011 2:03 AM
173I stayed at the Danum Field Centre for a very little amount in 2008. I sent an email to the chap running it saying I was an enthusiastic amature!! They let me stay in a good private room with all meals and spent my dinners with the scientists and students from all over the world. We went for a 6 hour hike through the jungle to the falls in the most horrendous heat, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. ....you couldn't rest for a minute as the leeches werefierce and abundant. I am so glad I did it though. Unfortunately I didn't see an orangutan. I saw my orangutans at Uncle Tans on a previous trip.
May 2, 2011 6:49 AM
May 2, 2011 7:00 AM
175Batang Ai NP Updates
This park has seen some rather weird developments unlike any other Malaysian parks.
The park staff has been reduced to a skeletal number of five.
We found the park office staffed by just one person, and the ranger post at Nanga Lubang Baya is no longer staffed at all. The 2 nearby longhouses have been abandoned, too.
This makes logistics more complicated.
You can no longer find assistance and accommodation at the park entrance, and have to bring all food and guides and boats with you.
The gateway is still Sri Aman, 3 hours by bus from Kuching.
It is a cheap place to spend a night and stock up on supplies.
Buses no longer go from here to the Batang Ai dam, but shared taxis run daily around noon.
I suggest you get off ca 7 kms before the jetty on the lake at Rumah Beretik, the longhouse of those Iban who used to live at the park entrance, and arrange a guide and transport with them if you can. With a guide from there, you could still stay at the old longhouse near Nanga Lubang Baya.
The alternative is to hitch a paid passenger ride across the lake to Nanga Delok, the traditional longhouse close to the park office (but still way downstream from the entrance itself) and try to get transport and guide(s) from there. This could in theory be cheaper as this longhouse is closer to the park. It is however VERY tourist-wise, being regularly visited by upmarket tours, so will expect big money.
Once you get to the park, you really need the guide as the trails remain unmarked even though they are used by day-trippers from the Hilton Batang Ai Resort quite a lot.
Seeing orangutans continues to require luck with timing. Sometimes several are seen in a day in the fruiting season, but when there are no trees fruiting, none may be seen for a week.
The scenery remains stunning though - this is still the ultimate wilderness park in Sarawak!
Jun 28, 2011 12:58 AM
176The posts here discussing orangutan viewing in Borneo have been tremendously helpful to us so we are going to try to post updated info as we move through Sabah and Kalimantan. I think it is safe to say that a bit too much emphasis has been placed on Danum Valley and the associated Field Center. The center has gone a little crazy with their prices. The prices listed on the PDF document at their website are NOT correct. Here is a sampling of the prices as of June 2011 (likely to be increased again at any point):
Prices are listed foreign researcher 1st/ tourist 2nd
Entry (one time) 50 RM / 50 RM
Standard Room (2 people) 180 RM / 286 RM
Dorm (per person) 60 RM / 91 RM
Camping 40 RM / 40 RM
Breakfast 18 RM / 29 RM
Lunch 25 RM / 36 RM
Dinner 30 RM / 46 RM
Full board 73 RM / 111 RM
Transport with shuttle (one way) 65 RM
In addition to the high prices listed above, the center seemed to be telling walk-in visitors that the shuttle was fully booked for up to three weeks. We approached them a day after other visitors were told three weeks and we were told that the transport was booked for one week. In both cases, we were offered private transport into the park for 350 RM one way. Mysteriously, shuttle transport out of the park appeared to be no problem.
Shuttle transport into the park arrives late the first day and leaves early the last day, so even if you manage to book the shuttle, the total cost for two full days in the park staying in the dorm, dinner the first day, two days full board, and breakfast on the last day would total 552 RM ($184) for researchers and 750 RM ($250) for tourists.
In addition to these costs, we were informed that we WOULD NOT be allowed to walk independently in the park. Even researchers would now be required to hire a ranger at a cost of 20 RM per hour adding substantially to the cost. We have no idea if anyone would enforce this requirement once in the park, but other tourists suggested it would.
So to sum up, as they are presenting it now, a two-full-day visit for two people staying in a dorm, with private transport in, shuttle out, eating every meal while in the park, and 10 hours of hiking would total approximately 1920 RM ($640). Camping would only save a little money over the dorm. Bringing your own food would save much more.
If you do want to go, you must call 089 880441 to book the shuttle and accommodation. The first reference to the Field Studies Center in Lonely Planet lists an incorrect telephone number, although the person at that number is used to the problem. Although the center's opening hours are listed from 8am - 4 pm, for some reason they only accepted calls between 2pm and 4pm while we were there. Luckily, local Malaysian researchers alerted us to this problem. Despite the fact that we were able to reach them by phone, the three times we called, we were told they could not book anything for us or give us any information because the electricity was out.
As we were interested in visiting the Field Center for a longer period, these costs were prohibitively high (especially considering the requirement to have unskilled rangers with us the entire time) and we decided to pursue more affordable options in Kalimantan. We also encountered researchers who had decided against doing their work in Danum because of the high costs involved.
Because we did not visit the park, we cannot evaluate the quality of the experience there, but I will add one additional thought. We have extensive experience at some of the best wildlife sites throughout Asia, Africa, and Central America and have spent a great deal of time in the jungle. What you need most in such locations is time. Primary rainforest is especially difficult because of the height of the canopy. To us, it was a rather absurd proposition to spend so much money on only two days in the jungle.
Jun 28, 2011 1:46 AM
177Sorry to hear the prices have increased as I had a wonderful time in 2009 at the Danum Valley Field Centre at an amazingly reasonably price. One thing though.... I would never have trekked deep into the park by myself as without the guide I would have never found my way out....so I guess this is in force because like what happened at Mt Kinabalu some years ago....you really don't want to loose a tourist to the forest!
Jun 28, 2011 2:27 AM
178I agree, pity for the price hikes.
Danum is simply best rainforest experience in SE Asia, unfortunately nothing in Kalimantan is really similar - at least now that the Cabang Panti research area in Gunung Palung is off-limits.
As for the guides, I found them unnecessary in Danum, as there was a fairly comprehensive and well-marked trail system there. If they are now compulsory, that is too bad, however that only makes Danum similar to other popular parks in Madagascar, East Africa, etc.
Jul 4, 2011 7:55 AM
First, I'd like to thank you for all the detailed info !
I'll be travelling from Lombok to Borneo late august with 2 friends and I have some questions.
We're trying to avoid as much as possible touristy places and attractions. We wish to see wildlife, meet people and have a rough trek in the forest. We'll be there 6 to 9 days.
1) If I understand correctly you have either parks with nice scenery/good trekking opportunities but sparser wildlife or parks with more abundant wildlife but a plainer (or more logged) scenery - am I correct ? Or is the distinction not that clear cut ?
2) We want to do something as little touristy as possible, with a good chance of going deep in the forest and/or seeing animals. Looking at your post, Gunung Palung, Betung Kerihun and Bukit Baka Bukit Raya (and possibly Danum?) seem the most interesting from that point of view -again, am I making correct assumptions there?
3) From a practical point of view :
- How accessible they are from Lombok (air links from Lombok to nearest airport? and afterwards?)
- How do they compare cost-wise ?
Thanks Laszlo and everyone for all the great help !
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