Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sungai Kinabatangen

I booked a tour to go to a park on the Sungai Kinabatangen river. The river is the longest river in Sabah but the park is surrounded by oil palm plantations so that it is full of wildlife or at least that was what the guide book had said.

A group of us took a van trip out to the river and then transferred to a boat to get to the camp that I would call home for the next 2 nights. As soon as we got into the boat it started to pour down rain. The rain was not that bad but I was really disappointed that because of the rain we did not take our time going down the river and look for wildlife along the way but went straight to the landing on the river for the camp.

My disappointment was short lived since once we got off at the landing someone said there were apes in the trees right behind the landing. I could see some tress moving but it took me a little bit of time before getting a good view of an Orangutan swinging between the trees. I really never had expected to see an Orangutan in the wild.

We made a short walk from the landing to the camp and sort of got settled in. Here is a picture of the hut that I stayed in while at the camp. It looks more like a cage than a hut with all the wire screens to keep the monkeys out rather than me in.

In the evening we were given a talk about the tour and the different things that we might see and then had our meal. The food on the tour was really good and a lot more than I had expected from the look of the camp. After dinner we took a night boat trip to spot wildlife. On the boat trip we saw a number of owls.

We also saw 2 sleeping Storkbilled Kingfishers. Most of the pictures in the park are not mine but ones from another gentleman on the tour that allowed me to use his. I am not sure if it was the photographer or the camera but Yani’s pictures are much better than mine.

I found the sleeping Storkbill Kingfishers really interesting. They could have been stuffed for all I could tell because they did not seem to notice the 2 boat loads of tourist and all the flashes going off. We saw another the following day and it flew off so at least I knew that one was real.

The following morning was an early morning to go out on the boat again for wildlife spotting. On this trip we saw a large number of monkeys both Proboscis and long tailed Macaque. Here is one of Yani’s pictures of a Proboscis monkey.

We also saw a number of birds. There were Hornbills flying over but I was never able to get a picture. We saw Kites, Eagles, Hawks, Kingfishers, and Blue-Throated Bee-Eaters. Here is one of Yani’s pictures of an eagle.

Later in the morning we did a jungle walk and the guide talked about the different insects and plant life. One of the guys in our group was currently working in Borneo studying ants and he was also a wealth of knowledge.

There were also a number of animals right around the camp. There were always bearded pigs and Macaque monkeys close to the food area of the camp and monitor lizards were walking through the camp or swimming in front it from time to time. The monkeys are just a pain and if the guys that run the camp were not around they just sort of went wild going through everything in the camp looking for food. I tried to scare one of the monkeys off at one point but it worked in reverse with the monkey showing his teeth and making me retreat instead of him. Here I am with the monkey.

There was also an Orangutan that was swinging in the trees right behind the camp in the middle of the afternoon.

I also enjoyed watching a few giant squirrels playing in the trees above the camp.

In the late afternoon we had another boat tour and saw a number of the same animals that we had seen on the morning boat ride the only new things that I recall were pig tailed macaque and silver leaf monkeys.

At night we did a night jungle walk and saw a large number of frogs. Most of then were white lipped frogs but we also saw some other types including one that I believe they said is the worlds smallest species of frog.

We saw a number of spiders including a tarantula. The guide also found a scorpion and it is a really strange feeling to have one walking across the back of your hand. This is not my hand but I did the same thing. It is just hard to use a camera when your hands are sort of full.

The guide had told us that Civet Cats would come right into the dinning area of the camp at night looking for food once the lights went out. They had told us that lights out was at around 12 so a few of us decided to stay up and see if we could see the cats. At about 12:45 when the lights were still on I decided to give up and go to bed but on my way the generator started sputtering and then stopped being out of fuel and all the lights in the camp went out. I returned to the dinning area and sat with 2 other guys in the dark and waited. After about 10 to 15 minutes of waiting in the dark we turned on the flash light and there close to the trash was a Civet cat. It looks more like a raccoon than a cat to me. The cat ran off after the light was on but just turning off the light for 5 to 10 minutes and it would return and after having us shine the light on it for 5 or 6 times it seemed to get use to us and would just keep going through the trash with the light on until it found something that it wanted.

The next morning we took a boat and van back to Sepilok and then I caught a bus back to Kota Kinabalu. I had been worried about doing the tour and being able to sleep with no AC or fan at night but really enjoyed the tour. We saw a lot more wildlife than I expected to and I also enjoyed talking to about everyone else in the tour group.


  1. This sounds like a really interesting part of your trip. Yani took some really good pictures. Especially like the owl,colorful Kingfisher and the eagle. Why would anyone let a scorpion crawl on their hand??


  2. The scorpion was sort of like a mountain. It was there so had to let it crawl on my hand.