Bukit Melawati (Fort Altisburg)

If you are heading to Bukit Melawati, you need to make it an afternoon and evening affair. Why? Because you want to include the Fireflies as well. And you want a rest during the day so that you have the energy to truly enjoy it.

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Sandakan: Wild. Pygmy. Elephants.

As I previously mentioned, Kinabatangan River offers so many opportunities to discover its beauty. Our stay at Bilit Adventure Lodge included morning and afternoon/evening river tours – watching out for wildlife, and talking with Loi (our personal guide) about the conservation work in the area.

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Sandakan: Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary

Today (19 August) is International Orang Utan Day. Definitely an appropriate day to share this blog post. If you are interested in supporting the rehabilitation of Orang Utans, please check out the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre and their UK Appeal (which operates internationally). 

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First of all – yes, we visited both Sepilok in Sabah, and Semenggoh in Sarawak. I liked both for different reasons.DSC_1509

Sepilok is set up more commercially than Semenggoh. Always remember that it is a Rehabilitation Centre, for Orang Utans and other animals. That is their focus, so they have better business plans. The feeding sessions are great, but it is worthwhile checking out the video session and information centre as well. They are really informative, even for 5yo.

There are 2 feeding sessions – we had around 3 orang utans turn up for each. However, the morning session had more people, and monkeys visit as well. The afternoon had less people but less wildlife.

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We started off our day with the morning feeding session for the Orang Utans at the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary (5mins walk). This sanctuary has more wildlife than just the Orang Utan (and the night creatures previously mentioned). It also homes rhinocerous and elephants (we didn’t see them) and Macaque monkeys (saw lots of them).

A couple of extra points: It is really hot. Even if the weather is nice just outside Sepilok, the feeding platforms are really hot and muggy. Even guides from the area DSC_1497often comment about the heat within Sepilok. It was the worst we experienced during our entire holiday. Luckily there is an air-conditioned information centre just across the walkway from the cafe. Since N was still a little less than sparky, I had no qualms about taking full advantage of the luxury.

Between the two sessions, we decided to walk to the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which we were told was about 10-15mins walk down the road. BAD IDEA!! It took us close to 40mins of solid walking, with me carrying S at least half of the way, and both boys suffering some mild heat stroke. Not great, considering that N was FINALLY starting to feel better.

IMGP3659Fortunately, we recovered in their air-con and then headed to the cafe for lunch – only to find that the advertised cafe has not actually been built yet. (NB: I’m pretty sure it has now – 4years later. Or at least I would hope). So we hurried through the small bit of canopy walk that had opened, then took a taxi back to our room. It looks like a great place to check out, but obviously our circumstances didn’t help its impression on us.

After a quick dip in the pool, we headed off to the afternoon feeding session. Once again, hot and muggy – this time the boys lasted 30mins before needing the air-con in the reception hall (the memory of ice-creams there probably didn’t help). Let’s face it: even the animals seemed less interested at this time. Rather than continue, we headed back to the swimming pool and an early night.

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The entrance fee is more expensive than Semenggoh. This is probably because of facilities – there IS a cafe at Sepilok, as well as the additional information services. Semenggoh doesn’t have the same support. This gives Sepilok a more …. refined feel, for want of a better word. It is not a zoo – we are regular visitors of Taronga Zoo in Sydney, and Sepilok is definitely not a zoo even by those standards. The difference in fees is significant – Sepilok was RM75 for 2 adults + 1 kid; Semenggoh was RM6 and no camera fees.

It is still worth your visit. If you can do both, do both. They are each completely different experiences.

And please, please, please – do the night safari. It is worth every penny and so much more.

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