Thursday, January 03, 2013

Intrepid Trips – Borneo

As you will know from my last post, I have recently visited Borneo. This was my third trip to a rainforest and whilst all my trips have been amazing in their own ways, this trip was truly a trip of a lifetime. There can be little which is more awe-inspiring than seeing an orangutan in its natural environment.

It is fair to say that for a peely wally human like me, their natural environment is pretty close to hell on earth.  It is very hot and extremely humid.  So hot that on one day I burnt my back, through my shirt and so humid that there never seemed to be a point in the trip when my skin was totally dry: about 30 seconds after getting out of the shower, you wanted to get back in again.

Imagine the scene:  It’s approaching midday and around 35 degrees with humidity of 80%, you’re wearing long trousers, a long sleeve shirt and sun hat while trekking through the jungle with a heavy camera strapped around your neck and water and water proofs in your back pack.  The heat is almost unbearable, all your clothes are sticking to you and there are mosquitos waiting for their chance to bite.  You say to yourself “why on earth have I chosen to put myself through this?  No more jungle trips for me.  I’m surely going to die…”

Then, just as you think you can’t bear it any longer and you are desperate to return to the shade and cool breeze of the boat, there’s a crashing and rustling through the trees and an orangutan comes swinging in to the feeding station, bending the trees in the direction they wish to travel by swinging them backwards and forwards and then changing their weight so the tree bends them to the next.  They are the most amazing creatures; such a beautiful colour and so extremely agile for something which is really quite large. Before you know it, you have entirely forgotten the heat, humidity and mozzies and are transfixed by these amazing apes.

Several of them start to come closer to the feeding station and soon, the trees around are dotted with orangutans.  All different shapes and sizes, some with young nearby and some with babies clinging on as they swing through the trees, bending and sometimes breaking them as they go.  Now, I remember why I put up with the discomfort – nothing is more amazing than seeing these wonderful apes up close.

Our trip was to the Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan, Borneo.  This is Southern Borneo and part of Indonesia.  Most of Northern Borneo is Malaysian, with the exception of a small quarter which is the Sultanate of Brunei.  It was quite a long journey to get there.  We flew from Heathrow to Singapore and then on to Jakarta, where we met the group, staying overnight and flying to Pankalanbun the next day.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Intrepid Trips – Borneo