Female Borneo Orangutan at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve near Kuching, Malaysia.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre


One of the best places in the world to see semiwild orangutans in their natural rainforest habitat, swinging from trees and scurrying up vines, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre is home to 28 orangutans who often (literally) swing by park HQ to dine on bananas and coconuts. There’s no guarantee that orangutans will show up, but even when there's plenty of fruit in the forest (November to February) the chances are excellent.

Hour-long feedings are held in the rainforest a few hundred metres from park HQ. When the sessions look as though they're over, rangers sometimes try to shoo visitors away (especially groups, whose guides are in any case eager to get back to Kuching), but orangutans often turn up at park HQ, so don’t rush off straight away if everything seems quiet.

For safety reasons, visitors are asked to stay at least 5m from the orangutans – who can be unpredictable – and are advised to keep a tight grip on their backpacks, water bottles and cameras because orangutans have been known to snatch things in search of something yummy. To avoid annoying – or even angering – the orangutans, do not point at them with anything that looks like a gun (such as a walking stick or camera tripod); do not scream or make sudden moves; and, when you take pictures, do not use a flash.

Rangers keep an eye out and radio back with news of the approach of Semenggoh's dominant male orangutan, Ritchie, who is easily recognised by his cheek flanges. If he decides to stop by, his food must be ready for him when he arrives to avoid provoking his wrath.

Semenggoh has two trails that pass through primary rainforest: the Masing Trail (Main Trail; red trail markings; 30 minutes), which links the HQ with the highway; and the Brooke’s Pool Trail (yellow and red trail markings), a 2km loop from HQ, but they are not normally open to the public because it is important to limit the orangutans' contact with humans.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sarawak attractions

1. Longhouse

6.59 MILES

In the barok (ritual hall) of this 32-door longhouse you can see about a dozen head-hunted skulls, bone white but tinged with green, hanging from the…

2. St Joseph's Cathedral

10.6 MILES

Built as a church in 1969 and granted cathedral status in 1976, this Roman Catholic cathedral is notable for its impressive belian (ironwood) roof.

3. Heroes' Monument

10.71 MILES

Commemorates those who died defending Sarawak in various military conflicts, including WWII.

4. Museum Garden

10.72 MILES

The landscaped Museum Garden stretches south from the hill, leading past flowers and fountains to a white-and-gold column called the Heroes’ Monument.

6. Medan Niaga Satok

10.77 MILES

Kuching’s biggest and liveliest market is 9km west of the city centre. It's open every day, but the main event is the larger weekend market that begins…

7. Sarawak Museum

10.8 MILES

Closed at the time of writing and scheduled to reopen in mid-2020 after extensive conservation work, the Sarawak Museum was established in 1891 by Charles…

8. Islamic Heritage Museum

10.81 MILES

Offers a pretty good introduction to Malay-Muslim culture and its long ties with the Muslim heartland far to the west. Displays range from Bornean-Malay…