It came as a shock that we had not yet blogged about our experience in one of nature’s few wildlife sanctuaries – Borneo.
I remember hearing about an expedition to Borneo whilst I was at school, but I had no concept of where it was and little interest at that time. Borneo for those of you who don’t know is an Asian Island split in three by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It is actually the third largest island in the world, so don’t be fooled by the term Island.
The vast majority of the island is covered in dense rainforest wilderness and as such it is naturally perfect for a host of wildlife. The most iconic of these is the Orangutan, which is now only wild in two islands in the world. A trip to Borneo would not be the complete without searching for these rare yet iconic creatures.
As part of our honeymoon we decided to take on the quest to witness these majestic creatures in the wild. As such we concentrated our Borneo trip in the Malaysian province of Sabah, originally flying into Kota Kinabalu then into the east for a bit of island luxury and finally onto the Sukau Rainforest Lodge adjacent to the Kinabatangan river. This is pretty much in the middle of the Borneo jungle and is truly classified as a jungle lodge.
We hadn’t been to somewhere so remote since Angel Falls which felt like a life time ago – it really was a hideaway. The evening was a combination of beauty and sound, with a magnificent look out that could captivate the imagination for hours combined with the natural noises from thousands of unidentified creatures.
The highlight of the location was the river itself, with a number of boat trips that allowed you to cruise the waters and become one with the natural environment. We were simply minutes down river when we spotted our first troop of monkeys playing in the trees nearby. These were soon identified by our guide as Macaque monkeys with very young babies.
Next up a little further down river our guide parked up the boat to our confusion as we couldn’t see anything except for the dense jungle canopy. Minutes later the trees started to shake and out of nowhere a troop of pygmy elephants appeared at the shoreline. Still to this day we cannot tell you how he knew, and every time we enquired we were met with a smile and a finger to the head – as if it was his own personal secret! These elephants were magnificent, much smaller than their African counterparts but just as beautiful. It was such a huge find for us as these animals are highly endangered in the wild and extremely difficult to track. After noticing the ridge that there were approaching they soon changed course and disappeared into the undergrowth as if they were never there.
Hours passed and no more land dwelling creatures came close, we took to watching the skies searching for the hornbills, kingfishers, condors and parrots. We started to get lucky with a number of hornbills sporadically appearing in the clear blue skies, followed by an amazing view of a kingfisher darting along the river bank.
Our luck then changed yet again and soon we were in the presence of crocodiles, tree snakes, poisonous frogs and a troop of the strange yet captivating proboscis monkeys. These monkeys are another endangered species that we were lucky to find them in the in the wild, they are such ugly yet incredible creatures with a huge nose which immediately identifies them.
Unfortunately we started to battle with the daylight and had to return to the lodge however not without first seeing a number of wild orangutans swinging from the trees in the distance! Score – how lucky can one couple be?
I can only describe that trip as a wildlife bazaar; even the tour guide was amazed at what we were able to witness within the single trip. I did however try to push my luck to find the illusive tarsier on a night hike – what an experience that was – terrifying but also stimulating – I’ll cover that off another time.
So all in all we had an amazing time in the Borneo but this river cruise really was one of the most incredible adventures we have ever undertaken – the true definition of A Wandering Memory.