Thursday, November 08, 2012

Klias Peninsula wetlands river cruise: An amazing wildlife experience

MALAYSIA’S rainforests are amongst the oldest in the world. They offer a chance to see wildlife that is unique and enchanting. A Klias Peninsula wetlands river cruise is a popular stop for tourists interested in wildlife, just half a day’s trip from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo.

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah in Malaysia. It is a beautiful city to explore on the north-west coast of Borneo. It is a major tourist destination for people visiting Sabah and Borneo. If getting close to the nature is high on your agenda then the half-day cruise to the wetlands can be a thrilling experience.

The river cruise is most famous for two things – the proboscis monkeys and fireflies. However, there is plenty more to see. Bird watchers can expect to sight a variety of kingfishers and egrets among many other species. Long tailed macaques, silver langur monkeys, crocodiles, monitor lizards and water buffalos can also be sighted.

The star of the river cruise show is the proboscis monkey. Proboscis monkeys have particularly long nose hanging out from their face and large potbellies. Only the males of this endangered species have long noses, and they are found only in Borneo.

These monkeys live in large groups which consist of one alpha male, up to seven females and their offspring. There are ‘bachelor only’ groups too. Proboscis monkeys can swim and they typically enter the river jumping from the tress flat on their stomach, which is quite a comical sight. They sleep on the trees near the river bed and hence on an evening cruise there are good chances to spot them as they go around gathering food and then settling for the night. Crocodiles are their common predators.

Long tailed macaques are also known as crab eating macaques as they can be commonly seen looking for crabs on beaches. Their tails are almost as long as their bodies and this is one of their most distinguishing features. They live in large groups consisting of more than one male and many females and juveniles. Silver langur monkeys are also found in the region in large groups.

It takes two to three hours to reach the Kilas Jetty from Kota Kinabalu. If you go with a tour agency they will arrange your transfer. They also offer a break to refresh mid way on this journey, usually at a local café.

Cruises start around 3pm as sightings of the proboscis monkeys are most common after this time. The entrance to the jetty is through a narrow wooden walkway and the area around it is itself quite beautiful. The main lobby has many posters providing information on what to expect on the trip. Tea and refreshments are served upon arrival.

The river cruise goes through the mangrove forest and the first round lasts typically until dusk. Even though the star attraction of this trip is the proboscis monkey, it is quite thrilling to sight silver langur monkeys, long tailed macaques, crocodiles and water buffalos. As the boats approach the habitats a hush falls among the passengers in expectation of sightings of wildlife.