Kinabatangan river is a place that wasn’t in our plan at the beginning, I don’t know how we missed it during research. When we realized that Kinabatangan is almost on our way to Sepilok we decided to squeeze it into our plan. We knew it won’t be great to spend only one night in the jungle there and make two river cruises but still it was better than nothing.
Kinabatangan river cruise
We rescheduled our plan and after visit in Orangutan Rehabilitation Center we were picked up with our backpacks to Uncle Tan’s headquarter nearby. We made kind of check-in, asked for transport to Kundasang on the way back and ate the lunch which was already included in price. We were explained what to take and what not and had opportunity for the last connection to the internet through free WiFi. After that we stared our journey by bus, on the way it is possible to stop for shopping, in the shop one can buy rain jacket, headlight or water (2 RM, in Tan’s place it is more expensive). The way takes about 1,5 hour, the same is for next part by boat. We are taking one boat and in another go the backpacks put into huge black foil bags. On the way it is already possible to spot some animals like macaques, crocodiles and birds. Sad is that for a long time it is easy to see that after 5 meters of jungle near the river there are palm oil plantations.
When we reached our destinantion it appeared that conditions are better than we thought but still spartan. Wooden platforms and half opened houses with mosquito nets above mattress. You are taken to your house (three person per one) and explained what you should hide in the plastic boxes – things that may attract animals and bugs like sweet bars, shower gels, gums etc. If you don’t want a rat biting your whole backpack to get some fruity smelling goodies better listen to the staff :) Electricity is available till 12 p.m. If you want to take a trip through the jungle, with a guide of course, you will be given wellingtons to not be bitten by fire ants (the pain of their bite is compared to being shot with a gun). Place is very nice and so noisy in the night! Jungle is a very loud place, you can hear insects and animals making noise all together all the time. Some bugs (maybe frogs?) sound like very laud alarms. The only problem is that there is no place to wash yourself. You can use toilets and rain water from the barrels but no place you can hide and clean yourself in peace.
Later there is a briefing and after supper first, night cruise. Of course it is very dark and you cannot see anything, but boat stuff have flashlights and helps to spot animals. It is really nice to cruise in so quiet place and listen to the nature, look at the stars. We were shown animals sleeping on the trees, but it was impossible to catch them by the camera. Only some birds that were not afraid of us and slept quite near the water. Very nice experience.
Next early morning we started not from breakfast but from second river trip. We saw beautiful mist and a lot of birds, escaping crocodiles, macaques including proboscis monkeys.They look really funny with their huge, red noses. And this is not the only part of their body that they are well known for! ;) To be honest sometimes they look dangerous, they are screaming a lot and make scary faces :) Unfortunately we didn’t see orangutans, but we didn’t expect a lot from one day trip. Also I was dreaming about meeting pygmy elefants but we heard that from time that Uncle Tan changed the location it is hard to meet them. I heard that some time ago they were hidden deeper in the jungle. Despite of animals one can meet a lot of fisherman using bottles and nets for fishing.
This is how the jungle sounds but muuuuch louder :)