The Borneo of most people’s dreams is covered in lush rainforest with long-armed orang-utans swinging gracefully from treetop to treetop while the sun beats downs on the humid land below. The Borneo of most people’s dreams is Sepilok.
You could easily explore Sepilok as a day trip from the costal town of Sandakan, as they’re only 40 minutes apart, but with so much to offer and such a peaceful setting right on the edge of Borneo’s ancient rainforest, the small nature-centric town of Sepilok makes for a great base to experience Borneo’s incredible earthly wonders.
By far the biggest attraction in Sepilok is the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre. A visit to this centre will practically guarantee a siting of “the man of the forest”, as the name literally translates in Malay. These gentle ginger beasts were given the name for their astonishing similarities to human behaviour—a name that transpired far before humans knew that they shared 97% of our genetic make-up.
The sanctuary doesn’t actually guarantee a siting, as the orang-utans live in the rainforest and are actually being trained to become independent of humans, but you’d have some pretty bad luck if you left without seeing any. The guides increase the chances of a siting by drawing the apes out of the rainforest with offerings of watermelon and other fresh fruit, which the orang-utans seem unable to refuse.
Chances are not only will you see the largest of tree-climbing mammals up close and personal, but you’ll catch them monkeying around (excuse the pun) on their jungle gym during the second half of their feeding. When they’re on the playscape you get to watch from the comfort of an air conditioned viewing space, which, believe me, if you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll be grateful for.
Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places in the world to see orang-utans in their natural environment, and with the world orang-utan population currently at only 60,000 and declining, this is one quintessential Bornean experience not to miss.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Beauty of Borneo: Part III, Sepilok.