There are few things in this world that I like better than seeing baby animals, so getting the chance to watch adorable little orangutans in Malaysia was at the tippy-top of my checklist for our recent trip through SE Asia.
Beyond doing a jungle trek and hoping for a sighting, there are a couple places in Borneo where you’re guaranteed to see orangutans — most notably Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Nature Reserve near Kota Kinabalu and the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Sepilok, Sandakan. We chose to go to Rasa Ria since it’s where rescued orangutans go for the first 3-5 years of rehabilitation before being sent to Sepilok when they’re healthy enough to finish the second stage of rehab (translation: Rasa Ria is more likely to have babies!)
For $20 USD per person, you get to watch a short film about the center, take a quick walk through the jungle up to a viewing platform, and then spend an hour watching the orangutans eat, play, and interract with each other and the Reserve rangers.
On the day we went, we got to see two orangutans at their 10 AM feeding (there is also a 2 PM feeding daily). They weren’t quite the tiny babies I was hoping for, but they were still SO adorable. I loved them. I took approximately 3 bajillion pictures, but I tried to cull it down to just a few of my favorites to post here.
Check ’em out!
Pro-Tip: If you sit near the back of the theater in the beginning, you can be first in line for the trek up to the viewing platform and get a prime spot right up front…especially important for photographer shorties like me 🙂
After watching these little guys for an hour, we decided to spend some time lounging at the resort pool. I’m not sure that this is actually allowed for non-guests (I’m not sure that it’s not allowed either), but we took our chances. And it was spectacular.
The pool is really big and even has a waterslide that we couldn’t resist going down *cough* six times.
The pool also happens to be right next to a really pretty beach which made for some nice walks and a glorious nap under a beach bungalow. We also grabbed some lunch at the hotel restaurant. Might I recommend the hamburger with fries? Maybe not the most adventurous choice, but mmmmm…
The biggest giveaway that we weren’t guests, by the way, was our lack of hotel-official towels (theirs had blue and white stripes). No one said anything to us, but I’m sure we stuck out.
After a few glorious hours spent lounging in the sun, we headed back to Kota Kinabalu on the resort’s shuttle bus, which was 35 MYR per person (about $10 USD) and pretty much the nicest bus I’ve been on in Asia. That morning on the trip from KK to Rasa Ria, we just hailed a taxi outside our hotel, and that cost 75 MYR total ($23), so the taxi was a tad more expensive than the bus ride home but not by much. Either option is acceptable I think, but note that the first shuttle leaves from KK at 9:30 AM which wouldn’t get you to the resort in time for the 10 AM orangutan viewing.
We passed an awesome “floating” mosque on the ride home and made it back to the city just in time to catch the sunset over the harbor…
Beach day AND hanging out with baby animals? I just don’t think vacations get any better…