You want to see an orangutan sanctuary, learn more about sun bears and see the funny proboscis monkeys? You can have it all in Sepilok. Here's the perfect 3 day guide to make your stay easier.
After the Kinabatangan river, we decided to spend three days in Sepilok. From Bilit, it's around a 115 km drive away. In Sepilok you have the opportunity to walk through the jungle, see sun bears, orangutans and proboscis monkeys. All in all, it's a place worth visiting.
Checking in at Sepilok Jungle Resort
The Sepilok Jungle Resort is perfectly located because it's within walking distance from the orangutan sanctuary and the sun bear sanctuary. The resort is huge! From our AC room, we walked along the canopy walk to the restaurant and were amazed by the architectural masterpiece that the owner had constructed. Lakes, surrounded by huge gardens with lots of flowers. After checking in, we had some lunch and a rest before we decided to go for a walk.
Day 1: Rainforest Discovery Center
If you're into plants and birds, this is the place to go. Our main goal was to walk along the canopy walkways. The view from 25 metres above the ground is spectacular. In total, the canopy walkway is 347 metres long. We went there at around 5 PM and stayed in the park until 7 PM. Locals told us to watch out for squirrels which usually jump from tree to tree after 6 PM. Unfortunately, we didn't see any. During weekends and public holidays it is also possible to go boating on the lake.
How to get there? You can actually walk from the Sepilok Jungle Resort as it's only 2.2 km away from the Orangutan rehabilitation centre.
Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Entrance fee: RM 15
Day 2: Orangutans & sun bears
If you didn't have the chance to see an orangutan in the wild in Borneo, you might consider visiting a sanctuary. The center takes care of orangutans and rehabilitates them back into the jungle once they're ready. The orangutan sanctuary is a short walk away from Sepilok Jungle Resort (3 minutes). So basically, when you get out of the resort, turn left until you reach the main road, turn left again and there you are. Once you arrive at the platform, a man will come up and leave some fruits. The orangutans will pick their favorite fruits out of the basket and start eating. We had a great time watching them eat and play around with the ropes.
Be sure and arrive half an hour earlier to get your bags into the lockers (no bags allowed inside) and to see the young orangutans how they play in the 'Nursery'. You can watch them from inside, but they can't see you because there is a special glass in between. They're so cute.
Feeding times: 9:30 AM and 3:00 PM (with the same ticket)
Entrance fee: RM 30
Camera fee: RM 10
Sun bear conservation center
After the first feeding of the orangutans, we went to the sun bear sanctuary just next door. The sun bear lives in south-east Asia, Sumatra and Borneo and is listed on the red list of threatened species. As The Guardian writes, the sun bear population declined by more than 30% in the past 30 years. The major causes: Deforestation, uncontrolled exploitation for trade and illegal poaching.
Also, lots of people still keep the bears as pets. One of the guides told us, that they still receive calls from people who have seen a bear in someone's garden, locked up in a small cage. The sanctuary rescues them and educates people and tries their best to rehabiltate the sun bears back into the wild.
Shockingly, some people still use bear's paws for a certain dish that was once considered an Emperor's delicacy. One of the tasks of the center is to educate people about the sun bears.
All of the workers there took their time to explain their work in detail to the visitor. They told us more information about the sun bears, and pointed them out as they saw them. We stayed long enough to watch them play. One bear climbed up a tree and slept there and we were really close and could take amazing pictures and videos. We even saw a big fight between two of the bears.
We were so lucky as we also saw a hornbill on a tree. The guides have a telescope and they engage everyone to look through it. We had a great close-up view of the birds!
Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM
Entrance fee: RM 30
After that, we went for lunch, coming back just in time for the second feeding of the orangutans.
Day3: Proboscis monkey sanctuary, Labuk Bay
Don't miss the chance to see the proboscis monkeys up close. This species is only found on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. The sanctuary is located in a 400 plus acres of mangrove forest that was initially bought by the owner to produce palm oil. He came to know that the proboscis monkeys lived in this area and was keen to learn more about them. He changed his plans and decided to build a sanctuary for the monkeys. Today, around 60 monkeys come regularly for their meals.
On the way to the feeding platform we saw grey leaf monkeys and proboscis monkeys jumping from tree to tree. A worker started to call the monkeys with the specific noise they make. Also, he called out for the hornbills who came for bananas. We already saw them at the Kinabatangan river and at the sun bear sanctuary, but if you want to get awesome close-up shots, don't miss this opportunity at the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.
Opening hours: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Take a taxi from Sepilok as the sanctuary is around 25 km away
Platform A: 9:30 AM & 2:30 PM
Platform B: 11:30 AM & 4:30 PM
Entrance fees: RM 60
camera fees: RM 10
If you have enough time in Sepilok, I highly recmomend you stay 3 nights. It will allow you to take it easy and spend more time at the feeding platforms, watching the sun bears, relaxing by the pool, enjoy the view over the jungle or simply walking along and enjoying the nature. There's a lot to do!
Is Borneo on your bucket list? Which places do you plan to visit?
A big thank you to Sandakan Wildlife Adventure Resort and Sepilok Jungle Resort for having us. My opinion is solely my own.
All pictures are provided by Nussbaumer Photography.