Karen has always wanted to see the Orangutan Sanctuary in Malaysia. Mainly because of the orangutan king from the movie Jungle Book: King Louie. So, when planning my one year trip around the world, I made sure to include a stopover in Borneo Malaysia to see the Orangutan Sanctuary so we can both see the infamous orangutans.
After crossing over from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and arriving in our hostel, we immediately began the booking process for our accommodation and transportation to the sanctuary.
We also made sure we consulted with other travellers who has been there to see what the best course of action to take. They advised to stay overnight by the Orangutan Sanctuary so that we can take our time viewing the orangutans and don’t feel rushed to bus back to Kota Kinabalu.
Booking the trip to the Orangutan Sanctuary
We decided to follow the advice of the other travellers and booked a one night stay for $40 in Sepilok Jungle Resort. By staying in the Jungle Resort, we can easily walk to the Orangutan Sanctuary in 5 minutes.
The Orangutan Sanctuary is actually not located in Kota Kinabalu but in a city called Sepilok. We decided to book the 6-hour bus ride to Sepilok in the bus depot. We did the bookings on the same day we decided to depart for the trip.
The whole booking process was definitely confusing. As soon as we arrived in the bus depot, we were swarmed by sales people trying to sell us bus tickets. We tried fighting them off, at first, but it turns out their information was accurate. There was only one bus company accepting bookings to Sepilok and that was Tungma Express. We decided to book with them since we had no other choice.
*NOTE* as of writing this, apparently, you can take a cheap flight from Kota Kinabalu to the nearby city of Sandaakan. They have posted flights as cheap as $11 one way! Knowing this option now, I would have definitely taken it instead of taking the bus.
The bus ride to Sepilok
The bus ride to Sepilok was okay. We got one long break in between the six hour bus ride to give us an opportunity to eat lunch. Malaysia is your typical Southeast Asian country where you have to use squat toilets.
Once we reached our “destination”, we got dropped off in the middle of the road close to our accommodation. It is important to tell your bus driver where to drop you off; otherwise, they won’t know and you’ll end up somewhere else.
We then hired a taxi to take us the rest of the way to our accommodation.
The Orangutan Sanctuary
After checking in our accommodation, we quickly purchased tickets back to Kota Kinabalu in our hotel.
We then made our way to the sanctuary to see the orangutans.
What I really like about the sanctuary is that they let the orangutans wander around and learn how to interact with nature. They can wander around and play without artificially being trapped in a cage.
However, the orangutan caretakers still provide them with food. During meal time, the caretakers put out baskets of food and you will see many orangutans come out of the jungle to have a feast.
Their appetites seem to vary and some prefer to play after eating a little bit of food. Some orangutans would pig out and never stop eating.
You will get several chances to see the orangutans. They have outdoor viewing and indoor viewing available depending on your preference. While Karen and myself spent sometime viewing them outdoors, we eventually spent more time indoors because of the cool aircon.
Sepilok Jungle Resort
The Sepilok Jungle Resort was a solid hotel. They had a restaurant which wasn’t too expensive. It was still more expensive than eating street food or a local outdoor eatery. Otherwise, it wasn’t too bad price wise and we were still satisfied with our stay.
We slept comfortably in our room and woken up nice and refreshed ready for our journey back to Kota Kinabalu.
Traveling back to Kota Kinabalu
Traveling back to Kota Kinabalu was really confusing at first. Our hotel dropped us off in the same street corner we got off the bus the day before. We waited for the bus and it never showed up. Karen and myself started getting worried that we were either left behind by the bus or the hotel made a mistake with the booking process.
After waiting another 30 minutes after the scheduled pick up time, we finally boarded our bus. I guess punctuality is not a big deal in Malaysia, at least we now know when we come back to this awesome country.
We arrive back to Kota Kinabalu safe and sound with fond memories of the Orangutan Sanctuary.
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