Day 124-125: Kinabatangan to Sandakan, Borneo

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May 31st 2009
Published: May 31st 2009
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Saturday, May 30th

We got up early for our morning river cruise. At 06:00 we started up the river, Rusty at the helm, his keen eyes scanning the river bank and jungle for animals and birds. First we saw an Orangutan nest, then a troop of Long-Tailed Macaque, also Proboscis Monkeys, Kingfishers, a Purple heron, a Brahminy Kite, two Monitor Lizards, two Crocodiles, a Pied Hornbill, a few Black-and-Red Broadbills and a couple of Great Egret.

Back at camp we had breakfast, then relaxed for a bit. Talita spotted a huge monitor lizard and we attempted to follow it. Later, while Talita took a nap, Ferdi followed the lizard, found it and managed to get a photo before it disappeared into the river.

We had neglected to bring our chargers for the cameras and both were running in the red by this stage. People should really point and laugh at us, because we are such silly creatures! We just hoped they'd last till the end of the trip.


We've been lost in the jungle for an hour now and, according to our compass, walking in circles.
We'd set out at 10:00, crossed the river then hoofed it on the opposite bank. We were on our way to Oxbow lake a few clicks south-east, walking mostly on very muddy paths strewn with elephant dung. After about 45mins we reached the lake were we had a bit of a breather. Somewhere along the route back we'd missed the trail. There are so many trails criss-crossing all over the place and somewhere we'd taken a wrong turn.

So now we were following Rusty through the jungle, walking in circles, back-tracking, and being assaulted by leeches. Talita's bare legs were very very popular and the leeches constant attention freaked her out.
Before we'd set out we'd gotten our bearings using the compass so we knew which direction the river was. We told Rusty this and after another hour of casting about we found the trail and were heading back to the boat.

Back at camp, Ferdi washed his clothes which were covered with mud (and a couple of leeches, it turned out) while Talita had a "shower". Miraculously, she only had one leech bite on her ankle. After we were both clean we had lunch and arranged for a few beers to celebrate our surviving being lost in the jungles of Borneo.

We had an hour nap, then at 16:00 we went on an afternoon river cruise. We saw troops of Long-Tail and Pig-Tailed Macaques, lots of Proboscis Monkeys and a female Silvered Langur with her infant. Mom is black & gray while baby is orange. Cool combo! We saw a Stork-Billed Kingfisher diving into the river repeatedly, also the Rhinoceros Hornbill, the second biggest Hornbill in Saba. It grows to an amazing 105cm.

The sun went down and we put away our cameras, enjoying just being on the river at dusk. We wondered at where we were (on a river in the jungles of Borneo) and also whether these memories would stay with us forever or fade from our minds. This blog does help to remember the bigger things but one can't note everything. It's easy to forget the small things, like the reeds doing a "Mexican Wave" in the wake of our passing boat, or the sounds of the Proboscis Monkeys grunting in the trees.

After two and a half hours we were back at the camp where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. At 20:00 we set out on a short night trek (Talita stayed behind and Ferdi got a big leech on his stomach but he got rid of it before it could bite) followed by a night river cruise.

With lightning flashing in the west and mist rising from the river, we headed up stream. Armed with a strong spotlight, Rusty scanned the river bed and jungle for signs of life. On a few occasions Crocodile eyes stared at us only to dip beneath the water when ever we got near. We also saw a Flying Fox (a big ass bat with a head like a fox), a Buffy Fish-Owl, a Common Night-Heron, a Monitor lizard snoozing in a tree and a troop of monkeys.

A bit more than an hour later we were back at camp, enjoying a beer while Talita and Rusty played cards. When we dressed for bed Ferdi discovered a huge leech on his back, fat with his blood. Yuck! Well, we couldn't very well visit Borneo and not get munched by a leech or two...

Today's highlights:
1. Getting lost in the jungle and un-lost again.
2. River cruising and seeing all the different creatures.
3. First night river cruise.

Sunday, May

In the night the water level had dropped by half a meter and when we got to the boat is was kinda floating in the air. During our morning cruise we saw a big snake, more Macaques and Proboscis Monkeys and a couple of Pied Hornbills. There were a lot less wildlife this morning.

After breakfast we packed our bags and by 08:00 we were on a rickety blue mini-bus heading back to Sandakan. As we drove down the gravel road we noticed the tell-tale signs of a passing herd of elephant; heaps of dung and a trail of destruction as they foraged next to the road during the night.

Two and a half hours later we were back in Sandakan. We got our bags from our previous hotel and moved into the May Fair Hotel. This hotel is cheaper, has a nice big TV & DVD player in each room and a huge library of DVD's in reception. We're planning a couple of days of R&R before moving on.

We ordered pizza, got some movies and relaxed the afternoon away. For dinner we went out for Indian food again. We've missed having Indian food while in the jungle. After dinner we went by the supermarket to get some movie snacks then returned to the hotel to continue our movie marathon.

Today's highlights:
1. Arriving back in town for a hot shower.
2. Eating pizza and watching movies like we were back in SA.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Proboscis MonkeysProboscis Monkeys
Proboscis Monkeys

mom, dad and baby
Proboscis MonkeyProboscis Monkey
Proboscis Monkey

female dangling

2nd June 2009

A course of leeches!
For ailments of the constant traveller I prescribe a course of leeches. Dit klink yucky en hy is huge! Moet admit ek het lanklaas 'n leech gehad. Die jungle klink heel interesant. Enjoy die spon julle!
4th June 2009

enjoying your blogs
Hi, we are enjoying reading your blogs as we are off to Sabah in a couple of months, and plan to do many of the things you have been doing. Any extra tips and hints would be most welcome! Or companies to use / avoid etc. Keep enjoying your trip!
3rd December 2012
Morning cruise on Sungai Kinabangan

I l0ve kinabatangan
Salam.. Kinabatangan is the best

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