Orangutans are the most famous red haired species on the planet and probably give Prince Harry a run for his money in the media stakes. But is getting up close and personal with these adorable primates worth the trip to Borneo?
I’ve just returned from my second visit to the Malaysian state of Sabah on the Island of Borneo. The geography can be a bit confusing as the island is actually shared between Malaysia, the independent Sultanate of Brunei in the North, and Indonesia to the South.
Sabah is home to the world heritage listed Mt Kinabalu National Park and the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located just west of the town of Sandakan.
Orangutans were certainly high on my ‘to see’ list but there is so much more to Sabah and I based myself in the coastal town of Kota Kinabalu for a few days to see the sights.
Le Meridian is a great 4-star hotel right on the esplanade overlooking the bay and bustling fish markets. At night the fish markets come alive with locals both buying their dinner and cooking up a storm. The strong fish smell may be a bit much for some, but you soon get used to it and the fish doesn’t get much fresher. You really are spoiled for choice when it comes to yummy local food.
There are some gorgeous islands just off the coast and it’s easy to spend a day island hopping and enjoying the crystal clear water, snorkelling and beach time.
Our first destination was Sapi Island and after sussing out the tiny boat taking us there I was really keen to pop on the life jackets provided! The driver fanged it across the bay for 15 minutes – I‘ve never gone so fast in a boat before – so there was a certain amount of fear involved, but the spray and wind in my face was truly invigorating.
I’d recommend a day tour to the Poring Hot Springs and a canopy walk in Mt Kinabalu National Park. The canopy walk was amazing with wooden and woven walkways stretching from tree trunk to tree trunk in the middle of the rain forest. The sign ‘only 2 at a time’ had me worried for a bit and it did sway a lot – but what a view down to the canopy floor and we had a fun encounter with a very curious monkey.
I don’t think of myself as a beach goer who likes to flop and drop so the move to the Shangri-la Rasa Ria resort, just 45 minutes out of town, was a leap of faith. Stepping out of the cab into the resort’s open air foyer was amazing – musicians serenaded us, a much needed cold towel miraculously appeared and the welcome cocktail set the mood.
The private beach at Shangri-la Rasa Ria is unreal – miles and miles of white sand dotted with deck chairs and lapped by softly rolling waves.
After countless beach strolls, massages and evening pina-coladas at the pool bar, I’m a flop and drop convert.
But back to our red haired friends. Undoubtedly the biggest highlight of our trip was the resort’s Orangutan rehabilitation sanctuary. One morning we ventured into the adjacent rainforest with our guide and were greeted by a pair of beautiful Orangutans ready for breakfast. It was amazing watching these round bellied ‘rangas’ swing from tree to tree, fruit in toe (quite literally) enjoying their breakfast. When they made eye contact with me I knew that nothing else would top that moment of my Borneo adventure.
Book your own trip to Borneo!
If you would like to travel to Borneo and meet the orangutans for yourself then check out RAA’s exclusive 13 day Borneo Discovery package. This tour includes 11 nights 4-star accommodation along with extensive sightseeing including Kuching, Sarawak Cultural Village, Bako National Park, Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sakau Rainforest Lodge, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sandakan Memorial Park, Kota Kinabalu, North Borneo’s Old Steam Train, Kota Belund, Education Centre and Mountain Garden at Nabalu.
For more information Click here, talk to an RAA Travel Expert on 8202 4589 or drop into an RAA Shop.
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