Our two weeks in Borneo were fun. We went primarily to see wildlife, and we were lucky to see plenty of that. It’s amazing that after a while, seeing a bunch of monkeys in a tree seems normal. Kind of like seeing zebras while on safari in Africa. The first few you see, you take tons of pictures. But eventually, you’re like “oh, more zebras”.
From Kuala Lumpur, we flew into Sandakan on the far eastern edge of Malaysian Borneo. The city doesn’t leave much to write about, but is a gateway to both the nature parks of Sepilok and the jungle lodges of the Kinabatangan River.
We stayed in the Kinabatangan River Nature Lodge for 2 days / 3 nights. The nature lodge, although very rustic, was great. There were two river safaris each day, one early in the morning and the other late afternoon. During the day, they organized a (very muddy and leach-infested) jungle trek to keep us busy. The highlight was definitely the river safaris, where we saw several different types of monkeys, one orangutan (from far away), plenty of birds, and even a crocodile!
Sepilok is home to several wildlife conservation centres. The well known Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, where abandoned, abused, or orphaned orangutans are treated and reintroduced to the wild, was amazing. While there is a set feeding and viewing platforms, much of the centre is essentially wild jungle so we always had to be on the lookout for orangutans. Our best sightings were away from the tourist crowds.
The Sun Bear Conservation Centre fulfills a similar mandate, but for the small breed of sun bears (also called honey bears). Most of these cute bears have been rescued from homes in Borneo, where they were illegally kept as pets in small cages. Sadly, many of the rescued bears are so traumatized that they’ll never be able to be released back into the wild.
Bako National Park
From the jungles of eastern Borneo, we headed west…to the jungles of western Borneo and the city of Kuching. The main attraction here (for us) was spending a couple of nights in a rustic cabin at the nearby Bako National Park. For more jungle trekking and more monkeys. Bako is the best place in Borneo to see the eccentric proboscis monkeys in the wild.
Kuching itself was a nice city, if not a bit quirky. In Malay, cat is “kucing” so the city decided to run with the closeness of the names and become ‘the cat city’. As a result, there are cat statues and monuments all over town. Kuching also makes a good base to see other nearby sights, such as caves, traditional longhouses, more national parks for hiking and wildlife cruises, etc. But, by this point, we’d kind of done all that. So instead, we took the opportunity to slow down and relax.
Check out our full gallery from our two weeks in Borneo: