Category: Borneo, Indonesia, 2017


May 23. We had planned to rise early again for another morning of bird watching in the reserve with our guide. But on the advice of our travel agent, so as to be sure not to miss the orangutan feeding, we switched to a 4AM pickup and transfer to the airport in time for our very early flight to Sandakan, less than an hour away. Sandakan is a small city on the Sulu Sea on the eastern coast of Sabah. It is just twenty-five miles from the nearest island of the Philippines and there are tales of pirates in the waters offshore.  

Arrive at Kota Kinabalu airport 1 1/2 hours early.  Ticket snafu is resolved rather quickly by Andrew, yesterday’s birding guide.  We eat our boxed breakfasts prepared by our resort, which are quite fine, then wait for our flight.

On arrival in Sandakan, we meet our guide and visit the Sepilok Orangutan Center, where orphaned and formerly captive orangutans are re-introduced into the wild. 
Begun in 1964, the sanctuary has forty-three square miles of virgin rain forest and has been home to hundreds of orangutans (currently 44).  There are twice daily feedings of the semi wild orangs who come out of the forest to feed on platforms built around trees. Spectators can view the feedings from their own platforms, which are in a very open area of forest. Because of the area, this is a wonderful photographic experience.  Sepilok also harbors some small elephants, which we saw from a distance and whose trumpeting we heard through the forest.  Other protected animals brought here include Malay sun bears, which we also saw.

Our guide, Juan, did a good job with both birds and the other animals.  Watching the orangutans was great fun.

Below some birds, orangutans, bears and even a viper.

After our time at the sanctuary, we stopped to change money, then drove to the pier where we had a 2-hour motor boat ride to our hotel, broken half way with a stop for lunch.  We spotted a few birds on the boat and a huge crocodile.  It began to pour right after lunch, but fortunately the boat had sides that dropped down.  

We arrive at our lodge late afternoon. The Sukau Rainforest Lodge – Kinabatangan River Wildlife Sanctuary–situated on the shores of the Kinabatanga River, consists of comfortable, but basic, stilted bunglows featuring a close-up immersion in the local rainforest ecology. Boardwalks and viewing decks at canopy level enhance the wildlife experience. The hotel uses solar power for all its electrical needs and recently (and mercifully) added AC. AC. The owners are actively involved in local environmental projects.

We are scheduled to go on a cruise in an hour, but, fortunately, it’s raining like hell.  I’m not going even if it stops, because this day is starting to feel too much like an obstacle course.  Lewises and Carol just decided that they agree so cruise is off for this afternoon.

Since I have internet connection now and who knows what will be the case later today or tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and post now and pick up this evening’s activities in my next post.

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