Hilary Bradt's review of a Borneo Safari
Well, I thought I was pretty experienced in rainforests. I’ve spent many weeks in the Amazon basin, and quite a bit of time in the forests of Madagascar but I’ve never seen as much wildlife as in Sabah, Borneo. And the variety! The challenge was not to miss the small-scale marvels at your feet as well as the primates and birds in the trees. I’m a bit of an obsessive about insects and other invertebrates, so possibly my favourite sighting was the blue tarantula spotted on our night walk as we queued up to photograph the bug-eyed tarsier (which was the animal I most wanted to see). It was only when looking at photographs afterwards that I noticed that the spider was dining on an insect impressive enough in its own right – a stick insect.
I was lucky over photographs. Lucky in my companions, that is. While I watched for birds through my binoculars, or settled down to enjoy the pygmy elephants cavorting in the river, the rest of the group took stunning photos. They were exceptionally good photographers (and fun to be with – but I expected that from World Primate Safaris/Natural World Safaris) so I had the best of all worlds. And what was the best sighting? Hard to say; each day just got better and better. Seeing a bearcat (or binturong) on Night Watch at the Rasa Ria was a great start, and the excitement increased when we saw a slow loris and a ‘flying lemur’ (colugo), capped by the accumulative thrill of seeing all of Borneo’s hornbills and nine of the ten primates by the end of the trip. And orang-utans? Of course. Not just any old orang-utan but a mother and seven-month old infant at Sepilok, and a two-year old orphan turning somersaults at Rasa Ria.
The human side was fun, too. I’d heard about nose flutes but never seen one played until we stayed in the longhouse. And I’d always wanted to sample durian – I finally managed this although I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t smell worse. Another first was tubing. Nothing dramatic, just floating gently down the river wedged in an inner tube, observing birds and occasionally negotiating a half-hearted rapid.
All in all a wonderful trip. Thank you Will and Shaun, and our lovely guides Beverley and adorable Theodore in Danum.
Photo Credits: Tubing © Jenni Hill