This morning we take an early morning flight from Kota Kinabalu Airport to Sandakan, where we spend the morning at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. Located within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve and surrounded mostly by virgin tropical lowland Dipterocarp forest, the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center was created for the rehabilitation of orphaned baby orangutans whose parents had been killed as a result of contact with humans at logging sites and plantations and through illegal hunting. We visit the free roaming area feeding platform to witness these furry “men of the forest” as they approach close-up providing unencumbered photographic opportunities.
Located on the same grounds is the newly formed Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC). This organization was founded by Malaysian bear biologist Siew Te Wong in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide for the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally. Visit the newly finished center to observe and interact with the bears currently rehabilitating at the center.
Departing Sandakan by boat cruise to the Lower Kinabatangan River Sanctuary. Journey up the Kinabatangan River, Sabah’s longest, famous for its high concentration of wildlife, taking you from the coastal waters of the Sulu Sea through brackish mangrove forests and into the dense interior forests. If luck prevails, see wild elephant and a wide variety of other Borneo wildlife, including orangutans, proboscis monkeys and any of the eight species of resident hornbills known for their large, colorful and uniquely shaped beaks. Arriving in time for lunch at the Abai Jungle Lodge, there is an opportunity to explore an 800 meter long stilted trail system through the forest prior to embarking on a cruise in search of nocturnal wildlife. The darkness of night reveals a spectacle of fireflies lighting up the trees on the river’s edge. Overnight Abai Jungle Lodge.