Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Apocalyst: How to see Orang-utans in Borneo on a Budget


Most people head to Borneo for one thing: the wildlife. In particular, the Bornean orang-utan. Whether you’re planning to visit in the future, or you’re already on the beautiful island, one thing might be clear to you – it can be extremely expensive to see the great apes, and for those people travelling on a budget, it can seem out of range. 

I recently visited Borneo, saw the orang-utans at Sepilok rehabilitation centre, and booked a 3d2n river cruise full of wildlife, with accommodation and food for less than £150, including flights from Kota Kinabalu. In this article, I’m going to show you how it’s not only possible to do it cheaper, but how to maximise your possibility of seeing these elusive creatures, plus see the other wildlife Borneo has to offer. I will include all my outgoings, and offer alternatives towards the end.

Getting to Sepilok

Most people arrive in Borneo at Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and whilst some people transfer straight to Sandakan, I wanted to explore KK first (NB. there isn’t much to see in Sandakan either). There were a lot of tours on offer from the hotel and from travel agents, but as I did my research, it didn’t seem very cost effective or time efficient. Kota Kinabalu is a 6 hour drive to the orang-utan centre, meaning a return trip will strike a full day off your trip, and you would pay a good price on top.

What’s more, a lot of the river cruises charged an extra fee to include the orang-utan centre, making it even more expensive; the best price I could find for a 2D1N cruise, without Sepilok included was around 500rm, and included the 6 hour bus ride each way. I decided to look into booking each part separately to compare prices. The results were surprising…

Before we start, a quick note for those people who are very limited in their time. It is possible to do the orang-utan centre as a day trip from KK – flights are relatively inexpensive.

<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">Also, at the rehabilitation centre, the orang-utans aren’t necessarily completely wild, so a river cruise gives you the chance to see them in the wild. But if you are pushed for time, it’s an option; get the 06.30 AirAsia flight out of KK, and the 19.50 flight back giving you a full day at the Orang-utan centre, or a morning there, and the afternoon at the sun bear centre.
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">Anyway, onto how I did it… The trip I’m going to set out takes 4 days, returning to KK.
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">Day one – Orang-utan centre
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">I started my day as mentioned above, with an early flight to Sandakan (my return flight was 160rm). From KK, use an Uber taxi instead of the regular taxis and it will cost you around 12rm. Also return flights work out cheaper than 2 single flights. Don’t worry about checking baggage in, you can fit your clothes in a normal bag, and at least when I flew they didn’t worry about the liquid restrictions, so take your insect repellent!
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">The flight is just over half an hour, so by 7.15 you are in Sandakan. No Uber here though so buy a coupon from the taxi counter for Sepilok (40rm) and get on your way. Try to find someone to share your ride with and you can half this fare. NB. There is no ATM in Sepilok so if you need money, visit the ATM in the airport.
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">The taxi ride will take around half an hour, and the centre doesn’t open until 9, so you have time for breakfast at the reasonably priced on-site café (10rm including coffee). When the centre opens at 9am, pay your 30rm fee and 10rm camera fee. NB if you have a good camera phone, you don’t have to pay the camera fee. So get a Samsung!
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: The Apocalyst: How to see Orang-utans in Borneo on a Budget
<150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your=""><150rm 10rm="" 30rm="" a="" add="" all="" and="" bad="" br="" but="" camera="" could="" day="" do="" entrance="" fee.="" fee="" food="" for="" heading="" if="" in="" is="" it="" less="" little="" make="" makes="" me="" most="" not="" of="" only="" per="" person.="" plus="" re="" return="" sense="" taxi="" than="" that="" the="" there.="" this="" time="" to="" trip="" way="" you="" your="">.
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