Orang utan is found to be 96.4% similar to our human genes!
The Orang utan look so adorable but we are not allowed to touch them even if they extend their long hairy hands to you. They are so cute.
Admission is RM$30 plus RM$10 for cameras.
How to get there:
From the local bus stand next to the Sandakan waterfront market, board the blue bus marked 'Sepilok Batu 14'. The 30 minute bus ride will take you directly to the rehabilitation centre at RM2.
Regular buses marked 'Batu 14' or higher, will drop you at the turn-off to Jalan Sepilok. However, you'll have to walk 1.5 km to get to the Orang Utan Centre.
The last bus leaves Sepilok to Sandakan at 4:30pm.
The Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre was set up as a means of housing injured or orphaned Orang-Utans, caring for them and nursing them back to health before they can be released into the forest.
Many Orang-Utans that end up here have strayed into logging camps or been rescued from captivity. Many are orphaned babies that cannot survive in the forest alone.
1ST STOP......The Visitor Reception Centre where you register and pay the entrance fee. Collect a 'Walking Guide' which show the location of trails and points of interest (available at minimum charge). You may have to leave some personal items here.
Ticketing counter is opened from 9.00am-11.00am and 2.00pm-3.30pm. daily.
2nd......Go to the Video presentation room to watch a short video on the plight of the Orangutan..... you can do this either before or after.
3rd.........Next, a walk along a raised wooden walkway to the observation deck where Orangutans would hopefully be. On the way, our guide pointed out Orangutan nests in the Trees. We arrived, to find three Orangutans.
The biggest Male Orangutan was there, and a couple of younger ones. Our guide said the all the other Orangutans were afraid of this male, so that is why there weren't more.
The keeper came with Banana's and milk, and all of them seemed to enjoy the free meal! After having the feed, they disappeared back into the Jungle, and we made our way back to the entrance.
As we were there in off season, hardly anybody was watching, our guide said in peak periods, it is packed with people
FEEDING TIMES ARE AT.....10.00am and 3.00pm.
OPEN......... Morning : 9.00 am - 11.00 am
Afternoon: 2.00 pm - 3.30 pm
ADMISSION to the park is RM30/RM15 (adult/child) as well as a RM10 camera fee
Although there is a high possibility of seeing Orang Utans during the feeding time, wildlife sightings can not guaranteed as the Orang Utans roam freely in the jungle.
At the parking lot we changed into more appropriate clothes for the caves: long pants, long sleeved shirts and a hat to protect my head. The bottom of my pants were nicely secured by being tugged into my socks..... I had heard about the many creepy crawlers in this cave, and I didn't want to give any of those an opportunity to crawl up my leg! Eeeeeks!
All of these precautions are really necessary to 'survive' this cave without screaming out loud all the time, LOL. The reason for all this is the risk of droppings from the many bats and swiftlets in the cave and of course the threat from ALL sides of the creepy crawlers.
But first of all we need to walk to the cave. The hike is easy as the whole trail is over this boardwalk. It was boiling hot though in the rainforest and the tropical moist heat was hard to bear. When you walk here do keep your eyes open! If you are looking you might spot monkeys in the trees!
The closer you get to the cave, the clearer the smell gets. The odour of bird and bat sh!t is very distinct. No doubt about it where you are going.... the smell says it all!
The Gomantong Caves has two complexes - Simud Hitam and Simud Putih. The easy accessible Simud Hitam, which rises to 90 meters high, produces inexpensive black nests made from hardened swiftlets saliva mixed with feathers, while Simud Putih is harder to reach but produces white nests, which can fetch as much as US$500 per kilo. There are four species of swiftlet that build their nests on the wall of the cave. But there are only two types that are edible.
We were lucky to see some monkeys on the walk to the caves and our guide told us that are a species of monkey its appearance look like orang utan but it has a black face. I read is in one of the VT page that a VT mentioned that the cockroach was so discipline as when you walk the roach will move away... I was kind of skeptical about it but its true the roach will move away as you steps on the flour of the cave.
Make sure you wear shoes which are covered or else it will be like my experiencing walking on guano in my sandals. As you walk on the guano your feet sink in and there are many bugs and dunk beetle which bite. It was an experience but most guides just ask you to walk on the plank or the normal walkway in the cave. The smell of guano is quite bad though.
The cave is a totally 'different' experience, absolutely not something for the faint-hearted. It is dark inside the cave and it is hard to orientate where you are and what's actually in the cave, when you go in....
High above you circle thousands, maybe millions of bats and swiftlets. Most of the swiftlets are out for the day and the bats are sleeping. But at dusk and dawn it must be a spectacular sight to see them enter and leave the cave, as there are millions of them living here.
When you get used to the dark you will be able to spot the swiftlets and the bats. The smell is almost unbearable. But all that for me was not the worst...... The boardwalk was slippery from all the bat- and bird sh!t.... and with every step I took I could see hundreds of cockroaches flee away from my feet. And I am not kidding if I say they are HUGE! And sooo many.... arghhhh.... I was trembling on my feet! The boardwalk was covered with them, I could hardly see the floor because of these cockroaches. But as soon as I moved my feet they all fled to the sides..... and to my relief they did that with every step I took ;-))
There was a railing on the side of the board walk, so you had something to hold on to. Quite a nice idea, as it was so slippery in here and I was rather afraid of falling down. But eehhhh..... again, hundreds of those huge cockroaches called these railings there 'home'. Not something I would like to put my bear hands onto... eeeeeks!
No I did not scream, even if my heart was pounding hard, and all I could think was 'Why am I doing this!!!!!???'.
What can I say, besides that this is a totally 'different' experience :-)) Would I do it again.... hahaha, probably not. But I am glad I did it once in my life, just to prove that I could, but I think I don't need another one of these 'creepy crawler' experiences.
This is the longest river in Sabah about 560km. We manage to see Proboscis monkeys, some birds like the crested hornbills and wild elephant.
We were so happy to see the elephants after going around the river for an hour. Our guide told us they spotted elephants a few days ago.
It's situated in the southeast of Sandakan. Today Gomantong Caves can be reached by road. In the old days the only way to reach this cave is via Kinabatangan River.
For centuries, bird nests harvested here are being exported to China where it had been and still is an expensive delicacy.
Harvesting is in February to April and July to September when the nests are being harvested, visitors get to see how experience locals with just the use of rattan ladders, ropes and poles, remove the bird nests from the caves' walls.
Still full with impressions of the Gomantong Caves we are on our way again, our destination is not for away anymore, we are getting close to Sukau.
During our ride we saw this artificial cave. I know, I know, it is a very bad picture. But it isn't easy to take photos out of a minivan, while being tossed around like a milkshake because of the bumpy road :-)) But it was interesting to see this artificial cave, so that's why I decided to post the picture anyway.
The Gomantong Caves are protected and it is only allowed to harvest the nests of the swiftlets twice a year. The birds nests are worth a lot of money though, and that's why they started this artificial cave.
There are four species of swiftlets that build their nests on the wall of the cave. But there are only two of types that are edible. The "black " nests are less valuable and they consist of hardened saliva mixed with feathers. The other type of nests are the "white " nests, which are made of pure saliva These 'white' nests can fetch more than US$ 500 per kilogram.
This is a cruise that we did from our accommodation at Sukau River Lodge.
It departed late afternoon, and we quietly cruised into the Menanggul River. There were lots of other boats here, but that didn't matter, as everybody was quiet, and we were all looking for wildlife. The Boats work together too, so, if somebody spots something, then every other boat captain is told about it, nobody misses out!
It was so nice in the cooler part of the day, and once again, we saw harems of Proboscis monkeys, a large gathering of Macaques, Hornbills, and Snakes.
A very pleasant way to spend the early evening before heading back for a late Dinner.
Unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures in and around the cave without paying a camera fee. For a normal camera we had to pay 30 Malaysian Ringgit, which is about 8 USD or 6,50 Euro. A bit too much we thought, Especially considering that it would be hard to take pictures inside the dark cave anyway.
So unfortunately I can't show you any pictures of the cave and of its various 'inhabitants'. But instead I'll try to paint you a picture with words in the next few tips. Hahaha, I have a feeling that is going to be impressive enough, as some of these 'cave-inhabitants' are rather creepy ;-))
You absolutely need a good torch when you go inside the cave. It is pitch dark in there and as you probably understood of my previous tip, it is quite nice to see where you are walking. The walls, the board walk, the railing are covered with huge cockroaches. Oh yes, and if you are interested, you can spot some other creepy insects on the walls of the cave as well! The trail follows those walls, so you have lots of opportunities to have a look! ;-)) I can't remember the exact name, but I can recall being highly impressed by seeing a huge poisonous bird-eating centipedes and spiders...... eekss..... can we continue our walk now.... I want to get out of this cave!!!! :-))
Nope, not yet! Hahaha, we have to see 'why' we are in this cave first! It is time to look up! Looking up is interesting as you can see those thousands of bats and swiftlets. Besides that you can see the constructions the local people use to harvest the birds nests. The cave is so high, it is hard to believe they can climb up there just using ladders, ropes and poles. The birds nest are used for the famous Chinese 'bird's nest soup'. And these birds nests is what makes this cave so unique.
How interesting it may be to look up, I have to warn you for doing that at the same time! The swiftlets and bats don't care where they drop there sh!t, and if you don't watch it, it might be on your head. As you can see I am torn between disgust and amazement by this cave. Hahaha, but I 'survived' and I am happy to have dared to have unique and most likely 'one time' experience :-))
As I don't have any pictures of inside the cave myself, I'll give you two links to pics on the web instead. On the first one you can see the cave, on the second one you can see a picture of a swiftlet inside the cave.
picture of the Gomantong Cave
Picture of a swiftlet inside the cave
Situated on the hilltop above Tanah Merah, south of Sandakan town centre, the temple was built in 1987. You can get a breathtaking view of Sandakan Bay.
It is said that the temple protects and brings good-health and wealth to Sandakan and its people.
Selamat Datang Ke Gomantong / Welcome to the Gomangong Cave! We have finally arrived at the entrance gate of the Gomantong cave. The gate looks old and rusty, hahaha, not the best-looking 'welcome' to the cave. But I guess the ones that drive this far don’t care about the gate, but just want to see this cave. From the gate it was another 5 kilometres on a bumpy road to get to the trail that leads to the cave.
The Gomantong cave is the largest cave system in Sabah. But the reason why it is so famous is that it is home for over one million swiftlets. A swiftlet is a type of bird and their nests are collected for the famous Chinese 'bird's nest soup'.
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT TOUR TO DO WHILE IN SANDAKAN.
I had booked this before leaving home, so we were completely looked after.
It was with S.I.Tours and was custom made for us, including accomodation and all transport, we didn't have to worry about anything.
At the Port of Sandakan, we boarded our small boat to begin out journey to Sukau River Lodge where we would overnight, and return to Sandakan the next morning.
We crossed a huge expanse of ocean before entering the Kinabatangan river. It wasn't long before our "spotter" (they have a boat driver & wildlife spotter) saw a big male Proboscis Monkey. The Boat was glided in quite close to the Monkey,and everybody has a good look with ample time for photos. We did not leave until everybody was satisfied, and the Monkey didn't move either!
Further along, we saw Macaque monkeys on the river's edge, they were hunting for crabs.
We were very lucky to see an Orangutan in the wild, a fairly rare sight.
On the way, we stopped for a nice morning tea was at the Abai Jungle resort.
We arrived at the river lodge where we had a short rest, then late afternoon, a boat cruise up the tranquil Menanggul river.
Dinner was at the Sukau River lodge, then an early night to bed, as it is an isolated area.
This was a journey, one that I will remember with fond memories for ever!
Orang utan in Malay language “man of the jungle”. The world's largest Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is located here, a 30-minute drive from Sandakan. About 4,500 hectares of virgin jungle have been set aside here as a forest reserve and rehabilitation centre for orang utans which have been rescued from captivity or abandoned by their mothers.
The objective of the centre is to care for injured, orphaned or illegally captured Orang Utan. Even though after being let go into the wild the orang utan still come back for the feeding time.
The walk to the platform takes about 10 minutes for the entrance. At the platform visitors can watch the orang utan come in from the forest for their rations of milk and bananas.
There are two feeding time: 10am and 2:30pm.