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Borneo April 2015: Primates, Pygmy Elephants and much more….


TonyQ
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We (MrsQ a.k.a @Thursday's Child and I) have just returned from a fascinating trip to Borneo. The trip was inspired by the trip reports of @Safari Cal, @kittykat23ukand @Kitsafari. Our thanks go to them for that inspiration and practical advice.

 

Borneo is the world’s third largest island, resting on the equator. The largest section of the island (Kalimantan) is part of Indonesia. The Sultanate of Brunei is a small independent country. Sabah and Sarawak are two states in the Malaysian federation and it these that we will visit – with most of our time being in Sabah.

 

The outline of the trip was

3 nights Kota Kinabalu (2 nights just outside and 1 night in the centre)

2 nights Sepilok

4 nights Kinabatangan River (2 nights in 2 different lodges)

3 nights Danum Valley

3 nights Kuching (Sarawak)

 

The trip was largely wildlife/nature focussed but we did also build some time in to allow us to see a bit of culture – in particular a chance to enjoy local food!

 

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We booked the Kota Kinabalu and Kuching hotels online. For the middle, wildlife focussed section we booked through Naturalis, a Borneo based company that @Safari Cal uses.

(http://www.naturalis-expeditions.com/borneo.cfm) (naturalis@naturalis-expeditions.com)

Our main contact was Luca. The company responded well to emails and all of the arrangements went very smoothly. We would use them again.

Edited by TonyQ
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@@TonyQ what a teaser you have put up! I've been waiting for this and I Can't wait to read what is being promised but those are such sharp beautiful photos of the orang utan, proboscis monkeys, red leaf monkey. My connection is so bad at the Jakarta airport that the last photo has not downloaded properly.

Edited by Kitsafari
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Getting There

 

A 6.am flight doesn’t sound too bad when you are booking it. It doesn’t seem quite so agreeable when the alarm goes at 2.30 a.m – so our taxi journey to Birmingham airport is spent in a bit of a daze. Our KLM flight to Amsterdam is delayed a bit due to strong wind but we arrive in Amsterdam with plenty of time for our connecting flight to Kuala Lumpar. Our 12 hour flight was with Malaysian Airlines and it was fine. (We booked our flights about a week before the equivalent flight was tragically shot down over the Ukraine – that really made us think.)

 

After a couple of hours at the extremely modern Kuala Lumpar Airport we had another Malaysian Airlines flight (about 2 ½ hours) to Kota Kinabalu. Baggage safely collected, we buy a taxi voucher to our hotel and pick up a taxi. The journey is smooth and straightforward; it is interesting to see how much new building is going on in the city itself. It is always exciting being in a new destination - however tired you are feeling.

 

Our first 2 nights are to be spent at the The Rasa Ria – a luxury resort hotel a few miles outside Kota Kinabalu. It is a bubble where we will recover from the long flights and begin to adjust to the heat and the different time zone. It is however a bubble with its own 64 acre nature reserve (established in collaboration with the State Wildlife Department) including an Orang Utan rehabilitation centre, and a range of activities relating to wildlife.

 

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View from our room

We had lunch, rested for an hour or so and then wandered around the grounds, looking at birds and squirrels.

 

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Spotted Dove

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Squirrel (Possibly Prevost’s – but we found them pretty difficult to identify!)

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Zebra Dove

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We also saw Asian Glossy Starling, Chesnut Munia, White Breasted Water Hen. We then enjoyed the sunset from our balcony....

 

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I mentioned early that the hotel runs a number of nature related activities. We had booked a night walk for this evening. It started at 7pm

we were the only guests and it was very enjoyable walking through the forest with our guide, listening to the noise of the jungle at night. We were shown a number of scorpions, spiders, sleeping birds.

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Fruit bat

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Tarantula

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Pit Viper

The walk was supposed to last an hour but we took about an hour and a half. We finished the evening with a good Indian meal and a glass of cold beer!

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@@TonyQ, I was happily waiting for this.

 

Lovely beginning; nice spot to recup from air travel and see a variety of birds - And, Bats! Tarantulas! and a Viper..thank goodness for a lovely sunset!

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Looking forward to this, Borneo is very much on my "list". I hope your beer was no He-Man 9000! Beautiful introductory pictures, love the Pinocchio monkey. :)

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@@TonyQ

 

All the photographs are very nice. particularly like the sunset and the view from your room.

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@@michael-ibk. What is He-Man 9000?

 

Yeh! Another Safaritalker doing a recce for me. Looking for forward to this very much and I hope you had a really rewarding trip. Good start - walk p, curry and beer sounds like a perfect first night.

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I'm very much looking forward to your report on this fascinating area. It's definitely on my "one day" list.

 

I also like the pace that it appears you set for yourself. It's always important to me to spend at least 24 hours (if not more) recovering from a long journey before starting my trip in earnest, and the Rasa Ria looks just like the kind of place I'd like to do that. What a wonderful sunset. It looks so peaceful and relaxing.

 

Great shot of that pit viper. Yikes! How close to it we're you?

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@TonyQ: fantastic start!! I am really looking forward to relive our own trip, in 2000 (without Danum Valley and Kuching). No digital in that time, and I still have not seen the slides from that trip !! So please post as many photos as you can!

Salamat datang!

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~ TonyQ

 

You know how to satisfy an armchair traveler. Evocative commentary, richly varied images.

When I ought to be focussed on lesson planning I'm tagging around behind you and Mrs. Q on Borneo.

Is that a proboscis monkey? I've never visited Borneo but have heard of proboscis monkeys.

In any case — as you do every time — that's a wonderful image, with rich clarity, bringing out details both of the monkey itself and the foliage around it.

The elephant image is another prize — the sparse black fur on its head is clearly depicted.

Thank you for these. Your safari style and photography style are an inspiration and in certain respects a lesson for me.

With Appreciation,

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie

Thank you! - it is a Proboscis Monkey (a female). We will see some more of them later...

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@@Tom Kellie

Thank you! - it is a Proboscis Monkey (a female). We will see some more of them later...

 

~ @@TonyQ

 

You've resolved my quandary.

By letting me know that it's a female, I now realize that the males must be the much larger-nosed monkeys that I remember having seen in books.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more. Your image quality is really outstanding.

Tom K.

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I just love the proboscis monkey too - they are so unusual-looking! It reminds me of a little elf or something. The little orang is adorable, the snake is fantastic and the sunset is great - Can't wait for more!

Edited by SafariChick
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Such VARIETY! Even peppers.

 

How close were you to the pit viper? Was it moving or stationary.

 

Wonderful start!

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Such VARIETY! Even peppers.

 

~ @@Atravelynn

 

That's the same thing I thought!

I'm glad that you mentioned it.

Vivid local produce shots bring home a trip report to me.

Tom K.

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@@Kitsafari - thank you - I hope your trip went well (and that it didn't rain all the time!)

@graceland @Earthian @pault @@SafariChick (I understand the "elf" similarity!) @xelas - thank you

@michael-ibk I suspect the beer was more enjoyable than "He Man" - in this case it was "Tiger Beer"!

 

@Alexander33 @Atravelynn The viper was sitting still on a branch. I don't know exactly how far away it was, but this photo was taken at 135mm - so perhaps 2 - 3 metres(?). (They have heat sensitive pits between the eye and the nostril that can detect very small changes in temperature. They sit still until warm blooded prey pass - and then I imagine they move very quickly!)

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Day 2

We thought that the best way to deal with the jet lag and time diference was to throw ourselves into the trip. So, up at 6.00 and out at 6.30 walking around the grounds looking for birds. (Magpie Robi, Cinnamon Bittern) and also flowers:

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I don't know what it is but I liked it - and the seed heads

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After our walk, we went for a long, lazy breakfast. Malaysia has a very intersting mix of cultures, including Malay, Chinese and Indian. The hotel is international.

So our breakfast included Indian, Malysian, Chinese and Japanese elements!

 

Orang Utan Rehabilitation

 

Rasa Ria works with the Sepilok Centre and the Wildlife Department in the rehabilitation of young Orang Utans orphaned as a result of illegal logging and deforestation and those who have been illegally caught and kept as pets. When they get older they are moved to the Sepilok centre. At the time of our visit, 2 youngsters were present – about 5 years old. They come and go in the forest as they wish but are provided with supplementary feeding. Visitors can go to view this supplementary feeding. Before going to see the Orang Utan at their feeding site, visitors are shown a video about Sabah and another about the rehabilitation process. It is then a 10 minute walk into the forest to a viewing platform (for visitors) overlooking the feeding platform. There are quite a lot of visitors but it was easy to get a space with a good view. Visits are one per day for an hour.

 

We made 2 visits (The morning of Day 2 and morning of Day 3) – I have combined photos from both trips).

 

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Even though it is a rehabilitation centre, it is still exciting when the first Orang Utan comes through the trees!

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Edited by TonyQ
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The Orang Utans spent time playing in the trees as well as collecting food

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Other animals had also learned of the advantages of free food

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Sambar Deer

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Lovely Orang pics! So, these are not fenced in, they just choose to return to get some food? For how long do they do that, is there a certain age when they stop coming?

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We were pleased to have a chance to practice our photography in what were very difficult light conditions. Much of the forest is very dark; the sky is extremely bright and wildlife is often high in the dark trees but with strong light behind. It was easier here because the animals came closer, but the practice was helpful!

 

On our second visit, we were also joined by a group of Long-tailed Macaques taking advantage of free food

 

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@@michael-ibk

Thank you. They are not fenced, but are restricted by the size of the forest reserve. When they reach about 7 years (I think) they are taken to the Sepilok Rehabilitation centre (more later) where they are released into a much larger forest, continue their education (from other older Orang Utans) and encouraged to become independent of supplementary feeding. At Sepilok, some of them stop coming for food quite quickly, some visit ocasionally and a small proportion continue to rely on it. Sepilok have also started to release some Orang Utans in the Tabin reserve in the north east of Sabah.

 

So the Ras Ria centre is a sort of staging post.

Edited by TonyQ
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pygmy elephant! that was the picture that didn't download for me yesterday. I. Am. So. Jealous.....

 

your photos are crystal clear and sharp, and fantastic despite the challenge of the thick foliage and sunlight. what camera did you use?

 

those are beautiful flowers.

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