Published: October 16th 2010October 16th 2010
About three years ago I watched a BBC documentary on a rehabilitation centre in Borneo for orangutans, called Sepilok. Today I finally visited.
From Sandakan we caught a mini-bus with some other travellers to the rehab centre, in time for the 10am feeding. We walked down to the viewing balcony with the dozens of other tourists and watched as three gorgeous and bright orange orangutans had their breakfast on the feeding platforms out in the jungle, being keenly watched by not only the tourists but a whole swarm of hungry macaques waiting to scavenge after they'd finished.
After they'd had their fill of fruit the orange bundles of fluff swung off back into the jungle together and every tree around us began to shake as the keen macaques of all sizes descended upon the platform to pinch the remaining grub.
After a while everyone wandered back off to the tourist centre to wait for the 11am video about Sepilok. Meanwhile Hans and I had spotted two large orangutans holding back behind the platform, fairly far off, and we decided to wait and see what they'd do. After 5 minutes or so they made their way closer and we
saw they were both holding tiny babies close into their chests. Unlike the macaques who seemed to swing their babies about and grab them up swiftly, the orangutan were so gentle, stroking and kissing their tiny little bundles. At this point there were just 5 of us left watching as they swung over the ropes right above our heads and took the remaining food from the platform.
It was well worth the three-year wait to visit and was such an amazing experience that even now I'm grinning like the village idiot just remembering it.
After Sepilok we walked to the Rainforest Discovery Centre where there was a festival taking place. We saw a kingfisher and a scorpian (it was dead...the kind I prefer), and bizarrely had to stand while the locals had photos with us (Hans said it was like we were celebrities...I said it was like we were freaks).
We've booked to go on a cruise down the Sungai Kinabatangan for 3 days and 2 nights from tomorrow where we're hoping to see more wildlife...I'll keep you posted!
There are more photos below