Saturday, April 08, 2017

Kellyrstravels: Gomantang caves and Sandakan

It was an early morning again this morning, waking up at 5:30 to get ready for a 6am boat cruise on the Kinabatangan river.

We hopped in the boat and pulled out into a river covered in fog.

You could barely see the other bank! We were on the water for around an hour and a half, but didn't see very much because of the fog.

We saw quite a few long-tailed macaques, an egret, some little bright kingfishers, a huge hornbill, and a silver leaf monkey.

Then we made our way back to the lodge for breakfast.

Similarly to lunch and dinner, the food was quite westernised, with the buffet including sausages, baked beans, and toast, and luckily there was an egg stand with someone making eggs.

There was also a woman making special local roti bread with a curry sauce, so I tried some of that, which was nice.

After breakfast we packed up our bags and met back at the dock to start the trip to Sandakan .

We took the boat back to Bilit and there we were met by a much fancier coach-style bus.

Transport upgrade! We all hopped on, and there was room for most of us to have a double seat to ourselves, which was great.

On the way to Sandakan, we were stopping by at the Gomantang caves, which Jeffry explained was also a good spot to search for wildlife as there's a boardwalk through the trees to get to the caves.

On the road that led to the caves complex, we spotted some big hornbills flying by.

Once we'd paid our entrance and headed down the steps into the jungle on the boardwalk, we immediately spotted a big millipede-type bug and some lizards on the handrails - you really need to watch where you put your hands here!

We then came across a big group of red leaf monkeys (bright red fluffy monkeys with cute black faces), and stood and watched them for a while.

After continuing along the boardwalk, we came out into a little village area set against jungle-covered cliffs with a massive cave opening.

Jeffry explained that the village area was for the people who had permits to collect the swift's nests from inside the cave.

These nests are edible and highly prized in Chinese culture.

Just as we were about to go into the cave, Lauren spotted some movement and we saw an orangutan come climbing down the trees on the cliff next to the cave!

It was a big female orangutan and after a flurry of photo-taking we stood and watched her for ages.

There were also some red leaf monkeys further up the cliff, but they didn't get much attention!

The female orangutan found a spot to hide in some bamboo not far away from us, and it was then that I spotted a baby further up in the trees.

The baby climbed down to a bamboo stalk right near us, so we stood and watched both of them for quite a while.

Eventually it started raining though, and they hid from the rain, so we made our way into the Gomantang cave.

It was very stinky from all the bat and bird guano, and there were cockroaches everywhere, but the size was very impressive.

The noise was also quite considerable from the swifts and the bats squeaking.

There was a huge hole in the back end of the cave from the cliffs above, and there was greenery hanging over the edges, which was beautiful.

Jeffry explained how the locals used bamboo and rope ladders to climb their way up the walls of the cave to get the used swift nests to sell.

We walked through the cave and then back out the front, where the orangutans appeared to be gone.

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