I've been reading around about borneo and all I could see is, people visiting the major parts of Sabah and Sarawak. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you to an island off the coast of Borneo, also known as Labuan. If you're after beaches and historical places, you might want to consider this as your next destination. But I'll leave it up to you. These are some blog posts that have been written recently, in conjunction with a blogging competition.
Just a short walk from our lodge was the Sepilok Rehabilatation Center. After a short walk back in the jungle, we arrived shortly before feeding time. They feed the animals twice daily.
There is a platform where the wildlife staff put out banana at certain times of the day to feed the animals as they come in out of the jungle.
Sepilok serves to give unfortunate animals life in the forest rather than a life in a cage.
Matang Wildlife Center is part of Kabah National Park and only about a 40 minute drive from Kuching. Although the public can visit the center and see orang utans and other animals, it is not a zoo.
Its main function is to rehabilitate endangered species, such as orang utans, confiscated from members of the public who illegally kept them as pets. After some time in captivity, these animals can no longer fend for themselves and have to be taught how to live off the jungle, their natural habitat. But, while they are being educated, they become used to the approach of humans. So, at the centre, you will see animals you might not spot in days of wandering the jungle.
It started to rain just as we got out of the car so we dashed into the information center. A gentleman there took us around and gave us a tour in the building. Afterwards he gave us posters of the Borneo Wildlife.
We had hoped to be lucky enough to see a Rafflesia while we were in Borneo. The first thing we did in Kuching was go to the tourist center to inquire if there was one blooming at that time. We were told that there was one at Gunung Gading National Park
The Rafflesia which can grow up to one metre in diameter is the worlds largest blooming flower but it has a very short flowering period and starts to show signs of deterioration in a couple of days.
It turned out to be a long drive from Kuching. Upon arrival we had to register, pay a fee of RM 3, with an additional fee for cameras. A guide lead us down a path a little over a mile from headquarters, then down a slight incline to where we could see the flower. It is an awesome sight seen only by a privileged few. Timing is everything!
Mulu National Park is the largest national park in Sarawak.
A visit to the park usually includes going to the caves.
There is Deer Cave, Eagle Cave, Clearwater Cave,Wind Cave and Lang Cave.
The birding checklist of the park is almost a complete list of the birds of Borneo.
There are wrinkled-lipped bats that come out at dusk from the caves by the thousands.
In the Malay language, Kuching means cat, so fittingly the town is full of statues of cats.
There is also a large museum , that looks like a space launch, dedicated to cats.
Inside you will find everything that you can think of that has anything to do with a cat.
This is a place for all cat lovers like myself.
Uncle Tan's was our first experience of Sabah and an excellent way to start. We stayed overnight at their Ops base which is just round the corner from the Sepilok Orang Utan sanctuary where we spent the morning. In the afternoon we were transferred by bus and then boat to the main camp off the Kinabatangan river. The camp itself has a small co-op but if you need to buy anything on the way you can ask the driver to stop at the supermarket on route to the river.
The water level was quite low when we arrived so the boat dropped us off about 500m from the camp itself so it was a short, but slippery walk in. If the water level is high the boats can take guests right up to the camp. Accommodation in the camp is basic but adequate. There are raised walkways which lead through the camp and to the toilets and dining area and sleeping quarters are in raised huts with mesh windows and doors, with mattresses laid on the floor, and mosquito nets are provided.
The people at the camp were very friendly, guests and staff alike, and there is a real community spirit to the place if you want to be a part of it. The group we arrived with were split in to 2 for all of the treks which means you do get to know people quite well and you can then mingle with the rest of the group and any new arrivals in the dining area.
Whilst the facilities are basic (toilets are just a whole in the floor and any water is just pumped from the river) the food is fantastic and there is more than enough for everyone with plenty of vegetarian options. If you have more specialised dietary requirements the staff will go out of their way to accommodate this.
The main reason to go to Uncle Tan's is for the local wildlife. The knowledge of the staff is excellent and they are happy to answer any questions. Even on the boat trip in the boatmen will be keeping an eye out for any wildlife on the banks of the river, and during the treks they will do everything they can for you to see different creatures. One of our guides spent about 10 minutes digging around in a tree trying to find a scorpion to show us during a night trek. Be warned that if it is wet when you are there you are less likely to see a lot of wildlife.
I can't speak highly enough of this place. It was a real experience and one of the highlights of our trip. As long as you can cope with the basic accommodation you will love it but if you are someone who needs a warm shower everyday and a hair dryer it won't be for you. Top tip: Utilise their welly boot hire - I had walking shoes but the mud was too slippery for them and in the deeper mud they would have got water logged. The wellies were perfect.