Photos: Baby Orangutans + Beach Day in Borneo

By Alexis

"Baby Orangutans at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve"

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! 

A young orangutan swings on a rope in the Malaysian jungle at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve

Our first look at one of the two orangutans that we’d get to hang out with for the next hour.

Two toddler orangutans eat fruit on a feeding platform with their handler in the background at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Borneo, Malaysia

The two little guys eating together

A young orangutan hangs on a rope and eats fruit at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve

Munching on some fruit

A closeup shot of an orangutan's feet hanging on a rope at Malaysia's Rasa Ria Resort on Borneo

A close look at their amazing feet (and that cute little baby belly!!)

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 🙂

An orangutan strikes a pose while eating at Malaysian Borneo's Rasa Ria Nature Reserve

“Well, hello there, ladies…”

A young orangutan peeks at the camera at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Malaysian Borneo


A baby orangutan looks toward the camera at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Borneo, Malaysia

Look at that bicep!

The back of a young orangutan at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve shows just how human-like orangutans really are

I couldn’t believe just how human-like they looked.

A young orangutans hangs onto a rope with two hands and one foot at Rasa Ria's Nature Reserve in Malaysian Borneo

Just haaanging out

A baby orangutan has a mouthful of fruit at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Malaysian Borneo

I want to hug him and never let go!

An orangutan grips a rope with his hands at Rasa Ria Resort in Malaysian Borneo

Check out those fingers

A baby orangutan sits on a rope and smiles at the camera at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Malaysian Borneo

This picture cracks me up

A baby orangutan looks like he's thinking while he eats at Rasa Ria Nature Reserve in Malaysian Borneo

“To be or not to be…”

An orangutan sits on a feeding platform, facing his back the camera

That skin!

A young orangutan peers down at the camera from high in the trees in Malaysian Borneo

Up in the trees for our final look at these cuties

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.

Rasa Ria Pool 1

Part of Rasa Ria resort’s lovely pool with a waterslide which we shamelessly used a half dozen 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…

A bungalow on the beach near Shangri La's Rasa Ria Resort

Took a nice nap under here

David and Alexis Rose

Beach bumming

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.

Rasa Ria Beach 2

Rasa Ria Beach

Just before sunset

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…

The floating mosque near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Sunset over the islands near Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Sunset overlooking the islands we’d get to see up close the next day

Beach day AND hanging out with baby animals? I just don’t think vacations get any better…


4 thoughts on “Photos: Baby Orangutans + Beach Day in Borneo

  1. Pingback: Wrapping Up Borneo and Why It’s Southeast Asia’s Hidden Gem | Roses on the Road

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