Orangs and elephants!
Kinabatangan Travel Blog› entry 28 of 44 › view all entries
I don't know how else to describe the Kinabatangan river other than it’s a bit like a badly shaved Brazilian. Thin patches of wispy forest line the banks of this sluggish brown river (the longest river in Sabah) and these forest patches are broken up by oil palm and banana plantations. Never the less these patches of forest offer some of the best wildlife watching in this part of Asia - probably because the animals are trapped on the river bank.
We took a speed boat up the river with several other tourists and the wildlife spotting began, elegant egrets lined the river darting beaks picking up tiny fish, hornbills flew over, their wings making an audible swishing sound as they flapped. Suzan spotted an orange fuzz in the canopy of a tree, our first Bornean Orang, we couldn’t really make out much as it was so high up but it was amazing to see after only half an hour of looking, pretty impressive and to top it all off a stork billed kingfisher sat photogenic ally on a branch overhanging the river and cackled at us!
We reached our destination "uncle tans jungle camp' and our room was an open sided shack with a really comfortable mattress on the floor and mosquito net, this we shared with two other couples, luckily we got on pretty well and no one snore tooooo loudly.
We got ready for bed and I had a poke around the huts to see what else I could see, I came face to face with a common palm civet, turned around and nearly stumbled over a mouse deer and glanced up and saw a tree frog, not bad for our first day!
Up early and a bit of a disgusting shower in water that resembled a bad bowel movement and we made our way up the river for a morning cruise, it was so cool, more orang sightings, again high up in the tree and a pretty good view of a Borneo gibbon with a shocking white monobrow (poor git).
After breakfast we had a jungle trek which was more like a stroll in the park with killer mosquitoes taking advantage of the painfully slow pace. We learnt about some plants and how they are used and to be honest were quite board when a crashing sound alerted us to the presence of elephants! we followed the sound and came up on a ridge to see the arse end of five elephants as they crashed into the forest, our guides were really excited as this is the first time they had sighted elephants in the vicinity of the camp.
After lunch I decided to explore the forest some more and quite by chance came across the huge piles of elephant crap and there dinner plate sized footprints, in a moment of stupidity I decided to follow the trail and when I heard the crashing and the grinding of molars on thick rainforest vegetation I nearly turned and fled, my stupidity at approaching the elephants was rewarded by great views of them emerging into a forest clearing and feeding peacefully. One animal raised its trunk as it had caught my scent, I think the toilet water shower and the fact I was plastered in sweat it probably mistook me for a bush pig and it lowered its trunk, my heart stopped hammering and it resumed feeding, awesome.
We had another evening outing in the boat and saw silver leaf monkeys fleeing into the trees; pig tail macaques shaking branches at each other trying to out do each other in their display.
After dinner we had a night time jungle walk and were bitten by fire ants, we must have looked ridiculous doing jigs through the forest to rid ourselves of the ants. The pain was worth it as we got good views of mouse deer and sleeping birds. Some of these birds had ridiculous names like blue eared king fisher, lesser spider hunter and blue winged pitta.
Another day another safari and this morning was a great one, we saw a troop of macaques taunting a ball which turned out to be a coiled up baby reticulated python.
The days rolled into one and we were soon filthy, tired but happy and on our last day had the best view of a female orang who came down to feed on figs 3 meters above our boat, she didn’t seem phased by us at all and was surrounded by a thick fog of tiny fly’s from the fruit she was feeding on. A storm stork flew over the river a bird endemic to Borneo and gets the binoculars of avid twitchers fogged up, it was pretty cool.
Our time was over on the Kinabatangan, the wildlife watching was great but it was sad to see that these animals were marooned in their tiny strip of land. Attempts are being made to reforest areas so as to connect the patches of forest so we hope the future will be brighter for this wonderful corner of Borneo.