Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spotting Wildlife on The Great Kinabatangan River

We booked a 3d/2n tour on the Kinabatangan River with our hostel in Sandakan, Harborside Backpackers.

Our shuttle picks us up at a nice time in late morning, and we drive for well over an hour before reaching our accommodation for the next few nights, which is an impressive surprise.

Seeing that we booked at a budget hostel, and paid very little, we had low expectations.

The jungle lodge appears to be more of a resort, with a large wood-dining hall overlooking the river and log-cabin-chic dormitories and cottages connected by an elevated wooden walkway. 

Meals come all-you-can-eat buffet-style. Beds are comfy. Bathrooms are nice.

An army of mischievous monkeys immediately greets us as we approach our cabins and settle in.

At one point, a particularly scruffy gang corners us and we decide it’s best to take the long way around and avoid passing the malicious-looking creatures.

For those of you who think monkeys are cute–you’re very wrong.

The little beasts seem to take great joy from dismantling the metal lanterns, placed convienently along the walkway, with their creepy fingers and sharp teeth.

I imagine lighting the path to the cabins must be a constant battle for hotel staff.

We have a cup of tea and a snack of fried plantains before embarking on our first nature spotting river cruise.

These cruises will become my absolute favorite part of our entire Borneo trip.

Jim hires binoculars and we gaze intently into the treetops and forests. It’s peaceful and relaxing and hypnotic.

Though we never spot the famed pygmy elephants who’ve been known to make an appearance in these parts, we did see countless hornbills, scores of cartoonish long-nosed, proboscis monkeys; too many ubiquitous macaques; stunningly colorful kingfishers, Sea Eagles, a crocodile lurking under murky waters, and one orangutan.

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