Leaving Indonesia after 57 days made me kinda sad.. Luckily I was heading for diving on sipadan ,Borneo (the Malaysian part) to ease the pain… However, I had some days before my divepackage in Sipadan started so I booked more or less last minute a jungle trip in Borneo, in the hope to see some orangeutans in the wild. Turned out to be a great decision !
Apart from being famous for diving (Sipadan) there is still a lot of rainforest on Borneo which makes it a great destination for wildlife spotting. It is one of the only places in the world where you can spot orang-utans in the wild, together with some other great wildlife like elephants, crocodiles and a ton of different kinds of monkeys.
There are different places where you can go to, but one of the hotspots is the Kinabatangan river. Usually they take you on boat trips on the river, early in the morning or in the late afternoon, to spot all the wildlife on both sides of the river. And there is plenty to see!
River junkie and our awesome group
Completely randomly I ended up contacting river junkie, a sister company of scubajunkie who arranged my divepacket Sipadan later that week. I booked a 3 days, 2 nights trip, without even paying much attention to the full program. Basically all I knew was that they were going to pick me up in Sandakan airport and that we would make some river trips.
The program of the trip however turned out to be quite full.. There were 4 river cruises , 2 morning ones and 2 afternoon ones, 2 guided eveningwalks and one junglewalk to a lake. All food was included and we were warned by a “gong” when it was time to come to the common area to start an activity or have lunch/dinner. I also must say they did great in their transport plan.
I had the luck to spend this 3 days trip together with the most awesome people! We were 9 in total, a bit from everywhere (US, Canada, Australia, Suisse, Israel, Netherlands, Spain) and we immediately all got along very well. The super awesome Australian couple (that have become friends for life) brought cards (Uno) and we ended up playing uno all the time between the river activities. So much fun, so much laughs.. Really one of the best groups I ever met during an organised trip.
The river cruises
The river cruises were very cool! Our guide did his best to spot and explain the different kind of animals we saw. I thought I had seen (annoying) monkeys enough in Asia, but spotting so many different kinds in their natural habitat, swinging from tree to tree is something else than a monkey blocking your path at a temple..
The highlight was our second river cruise when we saw a mother orang-utan with her baby in a tree. The baby was putting up a show and it was very nice to watch them be.
Unfortunately we didn’t succeed to spot the elephants. We heard them, knew they were there but they stayed behind some vegetation which made it impossible to spot them from the river. Too bad, but you can’t force nature.
A nice extra however was spotting a 4m wild crocodile gliding into the river on our last river cruise.. Makes you remind you don’t want to go for a swim there..
The night walks
We also had some nightwalks at the planning. Asking the guide what to see, he answered maybe some bugs and if we were very lucky some sleeping birds.. You probably have the same reaction while reading this as we all had… “sleeping birds” as the highlight… Well we were so wrong on that… Those sleeping birds looked awesome:
We also spotted a cat like creature (sorry, forgot the name) which was ofcourse also awesome to see.
After our jungle adventure, most of our group stayed together for one more night in Sepilok. Around Sepilok there are some rehabilitation centers: one for orangeutans, one for sunbears and there is also a nice rainforest discovery center. Nothing tops ofcourse seeing the same animals in the wild, but it was nice to add those activities to conclude my wildlife trip.
Doing at least some wildlife activities are a must if you are in Borneo. It is really amazing to see some of these creatures in the wild or to learn about them at a rehab center.
But the thing that made this trip one of the trips I won’t ever forget, is the people I had around me to share it with. Solotravelling makes you meet people from all over, and although they might have all different backgrounds and cultures, it is crazy how much you can connect with someone you just met. So I am really thankfull to have been part of this awesome group. I hope (and I am pretty sure) I will see some of them again. Small world after all J