The main reason we deiced to come to Kuching was to see the orangutans at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. We booked a week day private tour through our hotel which was MR60 ($20) and left for the centre at 8am. This was so exciting as I have never seen orangutans in the wild before.
We walked down a small pathway and were given a short safety briefing by the Park Ranger. Then we could hear the noises in the jungle and see trees moving. The orangutans came to the feeding stations, mothers and babies they were so beautiful.
After about 30 minutes we thought it was time to go as the Park Ranger gathered us all together again. Wow, little did we realize, we are not even in the main area for the orangutans yet, we are going for a walk in the jungle!
Now it’s time for another big safety briefing, these animals can be very dangerous and have attacked before, mainly park rangers who have been trying to protect ignorant tourists. You are told once we get to the main feeding station in the jungle there is to be no loud talking, no flashes on cameras to be used, no crying children allowed in etc. One family did not go on the walk as their child would not stop crying! After looking at photos of some of the wounds from attacks I am starting to get a bit worried.
Anyway off we go following the Park Ranger down a small track into the jungle, it is very eerie and quiet except for the crashing noises around us, we are now very close to the main feeding station and if we are lucky the dominant male called Ritchie will make an appearance, but he does not always show up.
It was amazing being here, there were quite a few orangutans in the trees, they are just so beautiful, I wondered if Ritchie was one of them, well that was a bit of a joke. We then heard extremely loud noises coming from the trees behind the feeding platform, hard to explain what it was like.
Then there he was, I have never seen such a huge orangutan in my life, I did not even realize they could grow so big, Ritchie the king is here and what a sight he is.
After awhile he stood up and had a good look around, the Park Ranger said that he sometimes picks out a person and fixates on them; yikes I hope he doesn’t like blondes as I was the only tall female there with blonde hair. He then went up in a tree and started coming closer to where we all were.
I don’t like it here anymore and said to Gary I want to leave right now ha-ha. Just to the right of us I noticed the Park Ranger and some people from India talking so made my way over to them, it made me feel a little bit safer.
We did not realize at the time it was actually the Ambassador from India so we walked out with them and the Ranger as Ritchie had now moved about halfway towards us and was still watching. I felt sort of relieved when we came out of the jungle, especially after seeing what sort of wounds these animals can inflict.
When the fruit season is on the orangutans do not come to the feeding stations, most farmers have some fruit trees they grow especially for the orangutans to feed on and if any of their other fruit trees are ruined then the farmers are compensated by the government.
So our visit to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was amazing, the highlight of our time in Kuching and something I will never forget.
great experience to see how the orang utan and other wild animals got take care and get ready to be taken back to nature
We took a morning tour of this first class attraction which is located in the rainforest approximately a 40 minute drive from Kuching.
Pick up was 8am and we had a personal guide for 4 hours. A minute after parrking the car we heard a russle high up in the forest and soon sighted a large male Orang Utan partly shielded by the leaves. High excitement and we were soon joined by another 10 arrivals, all pointing their camera's in the general area. It was hard to sight the Orang Utans looking into the sun and originally I was using a camera without a view finder. Very difficult.
We then walked down to the Rehabilation Centre and immediately sighted some young Orang Utans in the rainforest, very close to the feeding platform. The staff attempted to attract the larger animals by calling their names and offering fresh fruit. A large female arrived and a little later the dominant male "Richie" appeared. What a huge animal he was and he stayed around for an hour or more.
The staff gave a commentary and advised they recently had to move another male as there was too much fighting; the community can only have one dominant male.
Our tour cost 65 RM per person, included pick up and return to hotel, admission and commentary.
A must do when being in Sarawak, the Semengoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where you are able to see the Orang Utangs in the (semi) wild. It is about half an hour drive from Kuching. We went with a private drive from the Holiday Inn Kuching and paid about 25 Euros for 2 persons. The Orang Utangs are set out in the free, but come back in the early mornings e.g. to pick up some food. That is the time you can see them coming out of the jungle to a small feeding place. It is not guaranteed however they show up. We managed to see 2. It is really worthwhile, an amazing view. Please note though that you are not alone and there are about 30-40 other persons with you watching the Orang Utangs. While most people appreciate nature, some teenagers from our group seemed to be not so interested and made quite a bit of noise, which is obviously not in your favour when watching the animals.
This is a MUST SEE! Even if you plan to visit Sabah, you need to go here too.
Orangs are on the endangered list, and found natural only in this little piece of the world. Sanctuaries like this one are doing their best to save them.
They can't promise that you will see any, since it isn't a zoo. However the odds are pretty good, since there is a food station there to supplement their diet. Orangutans like humans, don't like to pass up a free meal.
I was lucky, many were out the day I was there. A mother and her baby came within 10 feet of me, and the old male was a safe 50 feet or so.
It's easy to arrange a half-day trip here from your hotel. There are twice-daily feeding times, which unfortunately does not guatantee orangutan sightings, especially when the wild fruit trees are in season. On the day we were there the 27 yr old dominant male of the group decided to show up, which was a good news/bad news situation. Good news- he is an impressive primate to see without any kind of barriers between you and him. Bad news- when he comes to eat none of the other 20+ orangs in the reserve dare to show up lest he have to share the fruit.
TIP: Making your own arrangements with a taxi driver means you can drive further into the reserve before you have to get out and walk. The larger tour buses stop out on the road and the walk is a little on the strenuous side, particularly in that heat.
We went to Semengohh on the way back to Kuching from Gunung Gading National Park. We got there in time for the 3pm feeding time for Orang-Utans. We one in the trees, just above the car park. We wandered around for a bit, and looked at some cages with animals in them. There was a crocodile in a cage that was smaller than itself. Then at 3 we went for a 10 minute walk with lots of other people to the lookout. We waited for 45 minutes, but they never came.
Located about a half-hour from Kuching, the Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Center was established in 1975 for the rehabilitation of confiscated and surrendered wild animals. A variety of animals are featured in some very crude cages, but the main draw here is the Orangutan sanctuary.
While the Orangutans are typically viewed from a distance of about 40 m, I was fortunate enough to get real close: in some cases, only about a meter away!
Quick tip: Your best chance for getting a glimpse of the Orangutans is during feeding time, which take place starting at 08:30, 11:45 and 15:00 daily. Also, there are considerably less crowds during the morning.
Entrance fee: Less than $5
Check out the website below for all the essential information, including transportation and hours of operation.
Bottom-line: Seeing the Orangutans up close and personal at Semenggoh WRC was probably my favorite memory of the entire trip to Sarawak. They really do have engaging (almost human-like) personalities, and it was amazing to see how gracefully these "Men of the Forest" were able to move from tree to tree. However, most people actually aren't able to get this close to the animals. Send me an e-mail if you're interested in visiting Semeggoh, and I'll be happy to share with you how it happened to me.... exclusive for VT members only ;)
P.S. See my Orangutan travelogue for more pictures.
Orangutan sanctuary - the morning feeding is a better time to view them. We went in the afternoon after visiting the Bau Wind & Fairy Caves, and saw only 3 orangutan(one large & two young ones).
If you take the bus, you will have to walk a good 20-25 min from the busstop to the feeding area. A taxi will bring you right in and you only need walk the 5 mins to the observation area.
Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre cares for endangered species which have either been found injured in the forest, or have been kept as illegal pets.
The centre houses a number of different species including rescued hornbills, honey bears, gibbons and porcupines, but the main attraction is the Orang Utans
When the rescued Orang Utans first arrive, they are often in a sorry state and riddled with diseases. They are put into cages and given medical care. The wardens then teach them how to forage for fruit, climb trees and generally fend for themselves. When they are mid-way through the rehabilitation process they are released into the surrounding forest reserve. The animals then spend most of their time in the forest but often return to the centre for a free meal. When the wardens feel that that an Orang Utan is fully rehabilitated, it is caught and then returned to the wild - usually deep in the forest or to one of Sarawak's National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The best time to visit Semenggok is at feeding time (approx. 8.30 to 9 am and 2.30 to 3 pm) when there is a good chance of seeing the semi-wild Orang Utans who live in the surrounding forest return to the feeding area.
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