Sandakan: Sepilok Jungle Resort


If you’re reading our Borneo adventures in chronological order, then say “Selamat tinggal” to KK!! To be honest, it was a nice place. We found a lot of fun things to do there, and have some very genuine experiences. But KK doesn’t really stand out for me from this trip.

Mind you, our trip to Sandakan did not exactly start well either. We woke on our last day to find N with a fever. We were all a bit concerned as he was not feeling well, and definitely not his usual bubbly self. More cuddly and less backpacky. B was especially worried as he had seen N pick and eat something off his sandals the day before. The perils of travelling with toddlers.

We were early for the airport, which allowed N a chance to cheer up a bit and have a little to eat. Bad idea – as we line up to go through security, he vomits all over me. I instantly ran to the nearest toilets to clean up, while B and S go shopping for some new shirts. Yay me – scored a new shirt. Still, we all boarded okay (with some passengers eyeing us off cautiously) and continued to monitor N.

The flight itself was short and pleasant – about 45mins. Make sure you get a window seat for a view of the mountain. We spoke with an Australian family who had chosen to drive across instead, and it took them almost the whole day. Even with the stop at Mt Kinabalu, they said the drive itself was awful – traffic and conditions combined. Especially with a sick child, I was grateful for the comfort of flight.

We were lucky to have our shuttle/pick-up take us into Sandakan for a few supplies  (including a thermometer and panadol for N). While shopping around, B found this “retirement village for old kids rides – just hidden away at the back of a convenience shop. They were amazing!! S and N each had a turn, with smiles returning all round. See if you can recognise any your childhood favourites.

We eventually arrived at Sepilok Jungle Resort around 4pm. Here the malaria risk is fairDSC_1361ly high (especially at 4pm) – but alas S refused to put on his DEET. I couldn’t really blame the kid – the stuff smells really strong. But for anyone travelling with kids in the area, I strongly recommend (as did the doctor back home) this is NOT NEGOTIABLE. Of course, that meant the argument ended with S and I missing out on swimming while B and N cool off. That’s two for me.

imagesThe swimming here is a big deal. Sepilok Jungle Resort is located right next to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (and the Rainforest Discovery Centre down the road), along with a bunch of other accommodation sites. However, SJR is the only one with a big swimming pool and cool water slide. They even charge patrons from other resorts because it is that popular. And S & I missed out the first day. Brilliant start.

The good news is that we did make it for the Night Safari I had booked with the Resort. One of the local guides takes you on a night walk through the Orang Utan Sanctuary, spotting out the wildlife you would otherwise never know to exist in Borneo. It was awesome – even more so because we were the ONLY ONES for that tour. This guide was especially understanding and patient – with the kids, and the big kid with the camera (looking at you, B). In fact, he was really excited about the boys coming along. Apparently very few families take the tour because most don’t think their kids have the energy or interest at night, or are quiet enough, or smell like cabbage or something. Trust me – we had a fantastic night tour and would recommend this as one of the best!!

The list of things we saw:

DSC_1365 DSC_1370 DSC_1374 DSC_1375 DSC_1379 DSC_1384 DSC_1388   DSC_1400IMGP3649

  • 4 snakes (3 different types)
  • 1 orang utan hanging on the outside wire
  • 1 tree crab (never heard of this before)
  • mouse deer
  • butterflies and moths
  • glow-in-the-dark funghi
  • tree frogs
  • stick insects

Despite still not being well, N really enjoyed the night safari and followed B’s pointed finger. S was right up there with the guide, wanting to see everything and learning some cool tricks for spotting animals.DSC_1398

Me: I simply marveled at the wildlife that we would have missed if not for this opportunity. We were even lucky enough to return to the our room right before a storm hit. Perfect.

Edit: Just a quick review on the Resort itself. It is a nice place to stay, close to the Orang Utans. Don’t think that because it has Resort in the name that it is all fancy. We had a deluxe room close to Reception and the pool – and we paid the extra for it, with a/c. That really made it for us. It’s a little walk to the cafe/restaurant but consider the appalling service provided there (read Trip Advisor; it wasn’t just us), that really isn’t such a bad thing.


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