SEEING ORANGUTANS IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA
Replies: 265 - Last Post: May 24, 2013 10:48 PM Last Post By: lucapal
Aug 14, 2012 7:59 PM
Aug 15, 2012 7:17 PM
We have just arrived in Sandakan with five days here and a small budget. I have been looking for options other than expensive tours - does the following post from 2003 still apply?
"The main tourist area is near the village of Sukau, which is where wildlife is easiest to see. While most visitors here go to expensive lodges (like the Sukau Rainforest Lodge) on a tour, Sukau can in fact be reached by public transport (5-10 RM) from a turn-off at the Sandakan - Lahad Datu road, and there are 2 cheap accomodation options in/near the village: a very basic 10 RM Rest House that can be booked via Karim's Coffee Shop, and the scenically located 20 RM Sukau B&B outside the village by the riverside. Travellers have also reported being able to arrange cheap homestays in the village. Boat rental can also be arranged independently in Sukau, from around 60 RM/ride for a whole boat - not per person! This would in fact be the cheapest way to visit Sukau for independent travellers - especially for 2 or more people sharing the coast of boat-rides. Just don't expect to be able to book any of these budget options online! ;-)" (Laszlo, 2003)
Thanks for your help.
Aug 28, 2012 1:57 AM
Aug 28, 2012 11:35 PM
Sep 7, 2012 6:21 AM
Thank you for taking the time to write such detailed information.
I am hoping to visit batang ai and was wondering if you, or anyone else, could answer some questions I have.
I have just arrived in kuching and will be departing Borneo from Brunei on the 26th. Definitely not long enough to explore borneo! But I'm limiting my visit to Sarawak. I would love to visit batang ai, in the hope of maybe seeing wild orangutans, but also to see a wilder Borneo and the amazing scenery. Your first post gives an idea of cost - 200MR for the boat hire. How current is this price? I saw you went there more recently than your original post. Is the price per person or for the boat (we are two) and is it a one way price or a return price? We would probably aim to spend 2 or 3 nights there - do you think this is long enough? How prepared equipment wise should we be? We don't have cooking or camping gear with us. How much should we expect to pay for accommodation and guides and any other costs? Do the guides speak English?
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Other than that we're planning on visiting bako, Niah, silimajau and mulu. We are aiming for 4 full days in mulu with a day for travelling at either end. Do you think this is enough time?
Thank you. If I make it to batang ai I will definitely be posting about my experience on here!
Sep 7, 2012 8:50 PM
245Basically, on my more recent trip I found that conditions at Batang Ai have deteriorated. The ranger post at the park entrance has been shut down, and the office further downstream reduced to a skeleton staff (of 4 or so).
Boats and guides may or may not be available at nearby longhouses, and if they are, prices are way up.
The park is now almost only visited by package tours, and unless you have lots of time or flexibility on your hands, that is the only reasonably reliable way of going there these days.
Nov 11, 2012 7:36 AM
Firstly, thank you Laszlo for all your detailed information. I have learned so much from this thread. I am still relatively new to my research so please bare with me if I seem unknowledgeable.
My friend and I (both twenty year old females from Australia) will be travelling to Peninsula Malaysia Jan 2013 and I really want to make a trip to Malaysian Borneo while we are over there. I would love to see all kinds of Wildlife, but especially the orangutans, proboscys monkeys and (pigmy?) elephants. From what I have read, I think that Sepilok, Danum Valley or Kinabatangan would be best for the two of us. As we are travelling ourselves, I do have safety in mind, so I am wondering a couple of things.
1. Which would be best for us to visit? (Out of Sepilok, Danum Valley or Kinabatangan )
2. Is it safe for us to travel around by ourselves using the suggested transport methods in this thread?
3. Is there anything else you suggest we see while in these areas?
Thanks so much and sorry if I should have posted a new thread for this, I've only just joined to post in threads and was unsure what was best.
Nov 11, 2012 11:05 AM
247There are no elephants in Sepilok, and the orang utans are captive. If you want to see wild orang utans, go to Danum or Kinabatangan, or both, since both is great but very different. You are more likely to see elephants in Kinabatangan then in Danum, but even in Kinabatangan you need luck to see them, or a lot of time. You can improve your odds by arranging private boat tours with your lodge and asking them specifically to go for the elephants. But sometimes they are just too far away to reach them. In Danum, the elephants go very rarely into the area around the lodge, which is a good thing, you don`t want to meet them by foot! They prefer to feed in the secondary forests around the core area, and if you will see them then either on the drive to Danum or on the way out. ou can also arrange private night tours (by car) and you are more likely to see them then, but that is a costly option. Another option to see elephants and wild orang utans is Tabin, but I havn`t been there.
I think Danum and Kinabatangan are your best options in whole Borneo. You don`t need to worry about safety in either place, it`s very safe and un-eventful even for women travelling alone by public transport or minibusses.
Yes, there are other things to see/do. I loved the overnight trip to Turtle Island (spending the day on the beach and then at night seeing a turtle nesting on the beach). While I do not recommend Sepilok to see orang utans, going there for a few days to relax and sleep off your jetleg is very nice. You can visit the orang utan orphanage, see half-wild probiscis up close (not a very natural experience like at the Kinabatangan, but great for photos), do short or long walks in good forest, and the night walks are pretty good too to see smaller animals - flying lemurs and flying squirrels, slow loris ect. When you have a few more days, you can go to Semporna (2 hours from Lahad Datu) and spend some time on the beach and snorkelling/diving on the islands around Sipadan, or even visit world-famous Sipadan!
Nov 13, 2012 3:53 AM
Nov 20, 2012 7:33 AM
249Thanks Laszlo and others for sharing this valuable information. My dilemma - we are in Thailand
in January and it would be early February by the time we would go to Kinabatangan. I am thinking this a bit more our speed at our age rather than sleeping on the boat in Tanjung Puting with the review of the last Frontier Resort being particularly attractive. Plus the other mammals and birds are as important as seeing orangs to us. Now I am wondering if given it being the rainy season we should just bag the idea for this trip. I still have to research this thread and elsewhere to see if anything on Sumatra would be preferable weather-wise. I would appreciate your input.
Nov 20, 2012 7:45 AM
Nov 22, 2012 6:01 AM
Nov 22, 2012 11:04 AM
252And indeed this part of our trip I can leave pretty open to see how the weather develops between Sabah and Sumatra. My young 62 y o wife wants it all to be spontaneous but being the old fart I tend to like to know where I am spending the night and how I am getting there. Our trip birding in Thailand and pen Malaysia is pretty well planned out so this we can leave open. She'll appreciate that. The weather while in Bali seems less important than out where the good creatures live. Thanks
Nov 22, 2012 9:26 PM
253We've got 18 days in/out of Kota Kinabalu. We hope to do other things like scuba diving and possibly white-water rafting or hike Mt. Kinabalu, but is it worth doing BOTH Kinabatangan and in Danum while we're there? Or shall we just choose one? Nature and diving are our two priorities and we're on a backpacker budget w/a few splurges.
Nov 23, 2012 8:23 AM
254If you can afford Danum do both. I did and I did not regret t!! The way to experience Danum and Kinabatangan is very different - in Danum you spend all day hiking through superb primary rainforest, in Kinabatangan you`ll hardly walk at all and do all from boat. You`ll see more animals in Kinabatangan, but the rainforest is better in Danum and not much beats hiking through undisturbed forest. You`ll get extremely sweaty but its totally worth it.
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