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Seeing Wild Man of Borneo

orang utan borneo

What tourists said about the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

“Big Orang Utans!”

I went there with my sister and my nephew during weekend and we were happy to see the big orang utans there. There were many tourists went to the nature reserve park on that day.

I saw a photo of Richie, an orang utan saved by the famous author named James Ritchie and I was told by the author himself when I met him recently. I felt awesome. Life is a series of journey, discover it and you will be amazed!

Visited January 2014

“No orang utans but……..”

No orang utans in sight on our visit as they were already well fed. But I think it’s unfair to mark this excellent attraction low. We are paying our entrance fee to support the project in the hope, but not expectation of seeing some orang utans.

These are wild animals so one can’t expect them to perform at will. If you want the guarantee of seeing them then a zoo is always an option. So my advice is go with an open mind and hope you will be lucky.

Other than in the current fruiting season your chances are pretty good.

Visited August 2014

“Simply delightful”

We were told several times before walking down to view the orangs, that their sighting is rare. This is a good thing, as it means that they are less dependent on us for their food and survival and they are managing on their own.

But I couldn’t help hoping we will see at least one. We were so disappointed in the morning as we waited for 35 minutes and there was no sign of them. My husband was thoroughly disappointed and we decided to cancel evening plans and come back for the evening feed. The ticket is valid for the whole day so you don’t have to pay twice.

In the evening, as we started walking towards the feeding area, it began to rain. And hallelujah, the Orangutans decided to pay us a visit.

It’s better that you don’t take infants as the monkeys sometimes get aggressive and throw things or pee on you while jumping above. Carry an umbrella as it rains off and on. Drink as much water as you can as you get dehydrated quickly.

Don’t forget to pay the crocodiles a visit and check out the orchid garden with the pitcher plants

Visited June 2014

“Orang utan freedom”

A place where orang utans could be wild and free. We did not see any orang utans as the forest was full of fruit so they had ample food stocks. I appreciate this and love that the animals are not available on human demand.

If you wish to be guaranteed an orang utan sighting this may not be the place for you. On the down side there were a few alligators caged further back into the reserve, however I am not sure about why this was so and it may not be a permanent arrangement. The grounds are lush and well worth the visit.

Visited June 2014

“Good odds for seeing semi-wild orangutans”

We came to Semenggoh as we thought it would be our best chance to see orangutans in as natural an environment as possible. We arrived by taxi from Kuching as part of a longer trip (we went on to Annah Rais afterwards) but I think it’s fairly straightforward by bus as well.

We arrived on time for the 9am-10am feeding session and after a briefing from one of the rangers we were led to one of the feeding areas and waited very patiently for the full hour, but alas, no orangutans.

Just as one of the rangers was explaining that we could come back for the afternoon feeding session the same day on the same ticket, we were suddenly urged to go back to the entrance of the feeding area trail as quickly as possible, since two orang utans, a mother and her infant, had arrived and were swinging across the ropes above one of the park buildings.

It was worth the wait: they were a lot of fun to watch as they manoeuvred their way to the food placed at another feeding station. The park rangers did not try to hurry us out at all despite it being outside feeding time. We felt really privileged that some orangutans had indeed turned up for some food after all, albeit a bit later than anticipated! But then that’s half the fun of seeing animals in the wild or even semi-wild: you know you have been lucky to see them at all. If it is absolutely imperative that you see orangutans, only a zoo will guarantee this, but then you’re seeing them in a cage, which is hardly the same thing as an animal turning up at its own will.

The only major downside to Semenggoh is the crocodiles. For a place that is dedicated to rehabilitating orang utans and providing a natural home for them, its decision to put three crocodiles in tiny pens is very strange and totally incongruous with its aims. Why do they bother housing the crocodiles at all?

Visited April 2014

Source: Tripadvisor

About the Semenggoh Nature Reserve Sarawak

JUST as we were about to board our bus outside the Kuching Holiday Inn, we were warned that our trip to see the highly elusive orang utan or Wild Man of Borneo might be an exercise in futility due to a highly successful rehabilitation programme.

Determined not to let anyone pour cold water on our enthusiasm, we decided to go ahead anyway and hoped for the best. After all, we had been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

semenggoh orang utan 01

Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve

The journey to the Semenggoh Rehabilitation Centre took more than half an hour. Finally our chartered bus made its final turn into the main entrance and we alighted happily to stretch out the cramps in our legs.

Attractions at the entrance

When we arrived and stepped into the compound, we suddenly lost that earlier air of urgency to rush things. The cool morning air had a calming effect on us and many of us opted to stroll leisurely along the meandering path leading to the feeding area at the centre.

There was plenty of time and the indigenous vegetation was an added attraction many of us did not want to miss.

The first thing to catch our eyes was the wild orchid garden where beautiful rare blooms lured us like bees to honey.

semenggoh orang utan 02

The Wild Man of Borneo at the Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve

The mind-boggling scientific names attached to their pots did not deter us from venturing further to feast our eyes on their colourful and uniquely shaped inflorescences. Our sense of smell was also stimulated, as many were surprisingly very fragrant.

The path cut through a journey of discovery as we saw all kinds of jungle vegetation at close quarters. I was particularly amazed to see a colourful butterfly emerging out from its pupa right in front of my very eyes.

It was so amazing to be able to watch one of Nature’s creations make its way into the world after a prolonged period of transformation.

Where are the orang utans

I scoured the treetops as we approached the feeding area, hoping to see at least one orang utan swinging up in the trees. It was not to be but I was amply rewarded with the sight of the many nests made by these primates on the tops of the highest trees.

“This is a good sign,” I told myself. So many nests would definitely add up to a thriving population.

semenggoh orang utan 03

The Orang Utan population is thriving at the Semenggoh Nature ReserveCentre.

Finally, we arrived at the feeding area and found a large crowd there already with a good representation of the world’s nationalities. Nearly 400 pairs of eyes were trained on the feeding platform with a wonderful spread of tropical fruit to entice the great apes.

Everyone stood there with bated breath as the lone trainer began his trademark call to his charges. It was reminiscent of Tarzan’s bellow if my childhood memories of Africa’s legendary hero did not fail me.

After a few shouts, we heard a series of hoots in the distance. Our hopes instantly leapt sky high. Would the orang utans of Semenggoh honour us by appearing at the feeding grounds?

Why didn’t the wild man of Borneo show up

Another 15 minutes passed and there was still no sign of the elusive creatures. A few people began to lose hope and resorted to doing things to entertain themselves. Disenchanted children wore a forlorn look while their parents chatted with friends, perhaps about more successful trips in the past. Another half hour passed and one by one, the once eager beavers slowly left.

Many looked downcast but quite a number were unperturbed. Perhaps they too realised the no-show was actually a good show as it indicated that the reserve’s rehabilitation programme worked and that these orphaned or rescued primates no longer depended on humans to provide shelter and sustenance.

Like their cousins in the wild, they have begun to be self-sufficient and are able to look after themselves and their progeny independently. Therefore, it is indeed vital that we fully understand the concept of conservation and rehabilitation.

After all, if you must see an orang utan, drop in at the zoo and you won’t be disappointed.

I came away heartened, assured that the “Wild Man of Borneo” had a promising future. In any case, the many natural attractions in the sanctuary had made my trip well worth the while.

Best time to visit

The Semenggoh Nature Reserve opens from 8.30am until 3.45pm. While feeding hours are from 8.30am to 9am and 3pm to 3.30pm, the orang utans do not necessarily make an appearance.

The feeding area is a 20-minute walk from the main entrance. Adults pay an entrance fee of RM3 while children pay half the amount.

Getting To Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Visitors opting for public transportation can take STC Bus No. 6 from Kuching. It costs RM2 one way and stops right outside the main entrance.

Tour operators who conduct trips there as well as to the surrounding attractions include:

CPH Travel Agencies (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd
Tel: +082-243 708/242 289/414 921
Email: cphtrvl@streamyx.com
Website: www.cphtravel.com

Borneo Interland Travel Sdn Bhd
Tel: +082-413 595/426 328
Email: bitravel@tm. net.my
Website: www.bitravel.com.my

Borneo Fairyland Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd
Tel: 082-420 194/420 195
Email: bftravel@tm. net.my
Website: www.borneofairyland.tripod.com

Recommended Hotels and Resorts in Kuching

Nearby attractions that you might be interested

  • Kuching Waterfront – Don’t miss this 900m long esplanade whenever you come visiting Kuching. The waterfront is decorated with landscaped surroundings and eateries and is a popular place for locals and foreigners alike.
  • Damai Beach – Damai Beach is a major vacation spot, with some of the state’s best beach resorts. Enjoy a wide range of water sports activities at the resorts. Tours can be arranged to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin.
  • Bario – Lying at an elevation of 1,000m , Bario in Kelabit Highlands is home to the Kelabit people, outed to be among Borneo’s best farmers. Visitors will be awed by their culture and lifestyle.
  • Bako National Park – Bako National Park is the state’s oldest, and home to the rare long-nosed proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques and various other animals.
  • Diving in Sarawak – Diving enthusiasts should not miss a trip to Miri, to explore one of the richest reefs in Malaysia. Belais Reef and Luconia Shoals are among the popular dive sites in South China Sea.
  • Niah National Park – Experience the awe of standing at the archaeological site of 40,000 year-old human remains in this park.

Photo Credits:
Edmund Yung

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