BEST OF BORNEO – DAY 2


WETLAND WANDERINGS
Borneo is the third largest non-continental island in the world, and a haven for a whole host of jungle animals – including orangutans, proboscis monkeys, macaques, langurs, Pygmy elephants, turtles, crocodiles, water buffalo, and thousands of different species of birds. It’s a veritable tropical Eden with one of the world’s most varied and biodiverse selection of flora and fauna. Keen to explore some of the island’s natural wonders, we set out today on a wetlands safari to see if we could spot a few of Borneo’s furry and feathered inhabitants.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6951

Our safari took us out of Kota Kinabalu (KK) and south to the Garama-Kilas Wetlands. This 50 square kilometre expanse of swamp is formed where the Garama and Kilas Rivers meet and empty into the South China Sea. Best known as a refuge for proboscis monkeys, this vast expanse of marshlands is also a natural breeding ground for Bornean fireflies.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6931

 

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6933

Borneo-20170407-P4070007

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6988

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6989

We don’t mind doing a bit of monkey-spotting, so we organised a day trip to the Garama-Kilas Wetlands through a local tour company that promised lots of wildlife viewing. They picked us up around 2:00pm, and drove us the 130km down to the Garama River. On the drive down we passed a few rural villages and lots of lush greenery – everything you would expect and hope for in a tropical destination.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6911

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6909

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6898

Arriving at around 4:00pm we were herded on to a small wooden boat and spent the next 90 minutes putt-putt-putting our way along the Garama River, playing “spot the monkey”and “swat the mosquito” in equal measures*.
*A note to any intrepid traveller seeking to explore Borneo: insect repellent is NOT optional. This is one wet place and mosquitoes are plentiful; plus there’s zika, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, and even malaria around. Best to just avoid getting bitten really.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6968

Borneo-20170407-P4070003

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6954

The afternoon river safari was great, with plenty of wildlife to be seen, including a few long-tailed macaques. Of all the Bornean primates, macaques almost certainly have the worst reputation, being considered a pest throughout much of the region. Really their pest-like status is simply a result of their resilience and adaptability, and their ability to thrive in almost any environment – including villages and towns.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6948

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6937

The highlight of this tour was, however, seeing the proboscis monkeys in the wild. We’d seen them a couple of years ago at Singapore Zoo, but as is always the case, being able to watch creatures in their natural habitat is far better.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6979

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6973

Following this first river safari we pulled up on land once again and were treated to a buffet dinner of traditional Malay curries, stews, rice, noodle dishes, and tropical fruits. It was pretty good, though buffet meals tend to not be our favourite – we’d rather have something freshly broiled or wok-tossed any day! Still, it was nice to sit by the river and enjoy the sunset whilst refuelling.

Borneo-20170407-IMG_7002

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6998

Borneo-20170407-IMG_7006

As the day’s light faded and dusk settled in, the wetlands’ other famous residents came out to play: the fireflies. We set out again in our small open boat and spend a pleasant half an house drifting through the mangrove forests once again, watching the fireflies glittering like lights on a Christmas tree.

Borneo-20170407-P4070011

Finally, as the darkness of night truly set in, we were herded back on to our minibus and drove back to KK, tired but satisfied after our visit to the Garama-Kilas Wetlands. A great day trip and a good way to start our explorations of Borneo. Tomorrow we’ll be leaving KK and set off to see some of the wilder parts of the island. Join us then to see more of this beautiful place!

Borneo-20170407-IMG_6990

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s