Borneo is one of the only places in the world where you can see orangutans in their natural habitat, and there are two fantastic orangutan sanctuaries that offer you a truly magical encounter with these beautiful and intelligent creatures: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in Sabah, and Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in Sarawak.
Established in 1964 by an Englishwoman, the Sepilok sanctuary began rehabilitating orphaned baby orangutans whose mothers were either killed for logging or captured for illegal trading. Following the success of their project, the sanctuary is now home to between 60 and 80 orangutans which roam freely amongst 43 sq km of virgin rainforest.
The Semenggoh sanctuary is a smaller centre which is found in the western side of Borneo, and since 1975 it has been sheltering injured or orphaned orangutans. There are currently 11 rescued orangutans and their 14 offspring at the centre, including Ritchie, the charismatic, dominant male of the group.
As a visitor to these orangutan sanctuaries you will have the chance to see the orangutans up close as they return to the sanctuary at feeding time.
Here are some FAQs about the Sepilok and Semmenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centres:
The Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre can be reached easily– about 25km West of Sandakan, deep amidst virgin rainforest in Borneo’s Sabah region. The Semenggoh Centre isn't far from Sarawak’s state capital, Kuching, just 20 minutes' drive from the city and set amidst the Semenggoh Nature Reserve.
Having taken a short trek through lush rainforest, you’ll be given an introduction about the amazing work that the centres undertake, and then taken to the raised canopy walkways to see one of the twice-daily feeds. Because the orangutans are free to roam through the rainforest, it’s absolutely magical when you see your first flash of orange, and are lucky enough to see them up close. As well as watching them take milk, sugarcane, and bananas, one of the most mesmerising things you will see is the youngsters being groomed by their mothers, or– if they are orphaned– learning how to climb by copying their older “mentors.”
The real pleasure is seeing the orangutans in a semi-wild state, and because they are so susceptible to illness you will not be allowed to get too close.
Encountering orangutans is a must for any Borneo adventure, but this beautiful country has plenty more for your bucket list- including a Mount Kinabalu climb, hanging out with the Headhunter tribe along the Sarawak River, and diving with whale sharks whilst based at the most stunning of island hideaways.
See our itinerary suggestions below for more ideas on your luxury holiday or honeymoon, or speak to one of our experts on +44 207 337 9010.