One of the great places to see in East Malaysia is Sepilok. Sepilok has no real town to speak of but the reason you might find yourself there is to watch nature, and boy is there a lot of nature to watch! Sepilok has an orangutan rehabilitation centre, a sun bear rehabilitation centre, and a rainforest discovery centre all located within a short walk of each other. There is also a proboscis monkey sanctuary just a short drive up the road, though we didn’t manage to make it out that way.
By far the most well known and established of these attractions is the orangutan sanctuary. This centre was opened in 1964 and has the goal of releasing all of their orangutans back into the wild. Sitting on the edge of undisturbed rain forest, they help the animals make their transition back to independent jungle living. To aide in this process (and draw in most of the tourists) they have two feeding sessions a day where the orangutans can come to a platform where a ranger will distribute fruit to whoever opts for free food.
After the official feedings are over, you can explore the grounds by checking out the different trails through the jungle. It was while on one of these trails that we got up close and personal with the “man of the jungle.”
When you are done with the orangutans, literally right across the parking is the sun bear conservation area. The sun bear is the smallest species of bear, though they’re not as comically small as I had hoped. This centre opened only in the last few years and leaves a little something to be desired. While they had nearly 30 bears on site, only five were out in the enclosure, and of those, four were choosing to hide in the back section completely out of sight. We didn’t see much of the bears, but there was some nice pictures and information up to read and educate ourselves. At least the entry fee goes to a good cause…
Right up the street is the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Originally built as an education centre for school groups, it has since been opened to the public due to its popularity. There are hiking trails, a botanical garden, and a canopy walkway that was designed so kindergarden-aged kids can’t fall through railing. While exploring this magical place, we basked in the glory of this spectacular tree that is estimated to be over a thousand years old!
All in all, Sepilok was well worth the trip, and the nature certainly did not disappoint in anyway! We highly recommend it to animal and nature lovers finding themselves in Borneo.