In search of Borneos favourites

Trip Start Dec 28, 2010
Trip End Jun 08, 2012

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Where I stayed
Nature lodge

Flag of Malaysia  , Sabah,
Sunday, May 29, 2011

We decided we still needed more animal encounters so came to this nature lodge out in the forest hoping to spot some animals going about their business in the wild. These few days were due to consist of river cruises and jungle treks. We arrived at our small hut which was very basic, but seemed safe from anything wandering in at night. Our camp was alongside a river and set up in a forest hopefully full of lots of interesting creatures. (No snakes please.)

Our first river cruise was at 4pm. We were met by our guide Wasil who had been working on this river for the last 10 years for various different tour companies. There were 8 of us per boat. I'm sure Barney was feeling a little envious as this guy had a really huge camera lens, it making his look a little small. Bless. We managed to make it a little way along the river until we could see that upfront the heavens had opened and it was only a matter of time till it made its way over to us. We sat in the middle of the river looking desperately into either the trees, the murky water or the river banks in search or Orangutans, Elephants, Monkeys or Crocodiles. These were the prime suspects I was in search of on our expeditions or and if there was any chance of seeing a slow loris that would have been awesome. (I didn't know what they were until a friend pointed it out on youtube – lookup tickling slow loris – so so cute.)

The weather got really bad so we eventually had to go back, not till we were completely soaked right through. I was still eagerly searching the trees with my eyes just hoping to get a glimpse of something. No luck. We had a trek scheduled for that evening but the wet weather had soaked the paths so we could only go onto the boardwalk. It’s pretty freaky out in the jungle at night time, less scary though on this board walk. Apparently we were going in search of elephants. On the river cruise earlier we had been shown all the places that the elephants had been in the last few days. Not really what you want to have though, a tour of where the elephants were two days ago?? 'Hey guys went on this really cool tour, could of seen elephants – but didn’t, but its ok though as I saw footprints and poo! ’ Sorry, I just get a little child like sometimes – I really wanted to see an elephant this time, we'd seen poo in India!! And within minutes of wandering along this boardwalk we were told to shut our cake holes, turn off our lamps and listen. At this point I was getting pretty excited, until some woman whispered ‘what we listening for?’ ‘Elephants’ I said, ‘but what does that sound like’? Having never come across elephants in the jungle I could only assume we weren’t listening out for lowered voices and giggles as they tried to creep around the forest hiding from us, we were listening out for rustling of trees, things being broken and perhaps maybe a trunk blow? But what does an elephant noise sound like? I like asking Barney these questions as he’s only too happy to indulge me with an animal impression. My favourite is his seal impression (no not the music guy), it always sounds like he’s hyperventilating and a little stupid (well a lot stupid.)

Anyway back to the elephants, there was a lot of noise coming from in front of us and over in a corner, it sounded like something big by the breaking of trees or bamboo. It also sounded like there could have been a few of them. We all waited patiently at the end of this wooden boardwalk in pitch black, listening for the noises and rustling to get closer. After about 5 minutes Wasil turned on his lamp and there they were over in the corner. There was probably about 3 pygmy elephants munching away on some bamboo. Wow – my first wild elephants. Unfortunately my crappy camera wasn’t able to get any photos as they were a little too far out the way and Barneys camera was so upset by its lack of lense that it gave up all together and started flashing us with a blue light (even when it was turned off!) Not good news for that unfortunately.

The next morning at 6am we were really lucky to be able to continue where we left off. We first saw that there were a group of elephants by the riverside, for the first 5 minutes all I managed to get were pictures of elephants bums. Luckily we were patient and then out popped more elephants there must have been about 12 of them all bundling into the water. We were told we were really lucky as the elephants were looking to cross the river and they only get to see that about 3 times in a year. The boats moved away so the elephants could cross. It was amazing to see as we were told that in places the river could be anywhere from 7 metres deep to 20 metres so these guys were swimming across 80-100 metre river with their babies. It was impressive. And what was even more impressive was that when they got to the other side they were able to pull themselves up the really steep banks. We were so pleased. I love elephants they’re such amazing animals, how they can be so so big but surprisingly graceful and agile. We were really lucky to be so close as well, it was probably the only time you could get yourself that close to these animals and feel fairly safe.

I really didn’t see how we were going to see anything that day that would top that, it would definitely have to be Orangutan related if I did. As the elephants were fairly close to our camp the guides were reluctant to take us out on a jungle trek as they felt it was too dangerous. That was a little disappointing but hey I couldn’t be too upset as we’d had such a great morning. The evening cruise we went in search of primates. We had seen a lot of birds of this boat ride, Hornbills, eagles and Kingfishers. I found I was actually getting excited seeing big birds – I’m never excited about birds, but I think at this point I just wanted to see stuff. Luckily we also got to see some monkeys (Macaques) just hanging around the river banks, Monitor lizard, Mangrove snake (seen from afar – that’s ok), and the Proboscis monkeys (the guys with a pot belly and big noses.) Glad we saw some of those. Unfortunately there were no Orangutans. I thought I’d seen an arm, then there was tree rustling so we thought he’d gone into his nest. I’m not counting that as a confirmed sighting though but at least we saw them at Sepilok.

That night we were going to give the night trek another go. I wasn’t too sure of this , I think walking about the jungle is a little freaky in the day but by night what if you don’t see the snakes!! We went out for about half an hour, saw a stick insect and a Tarantula. Shame didn’t see a slow loris of Tarcier but we were pretty unlucky with the weather conditions – it had really made the jungle trekking tough. I really enjoyed our experiences though. Those elephants made my day. 
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Brian on

I want to hear Barney's seal impression!

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