Enjoy and relax at the Kinabatangan River – Discovering Wild Borneo with Borneo Dream (Part 2)
Welcome to this, part 2 of our ongoing blog saga regarding the truly awesome trip that we had through the rainforests of incredible Borneo and along the Kinabatangan River.
When discovering wildlife at night, whether it is above or below the surface, it can be a wondrous experience.
During the day, sometimes you can become distracted by everything else in your vision, but at night, your focus is drawn to just watch you can see in your torchlight. Colours seem brighter; all of your senses are sharpened, including your hearing and smell … you are alive with a sense of excitement of what lies ahead.
Now put yourself in the awesome setting of the tropical rainforest alongside the world-renowned Kinabatangan river armed with just a sturdy set of walking shoes and a torchlight. It’s time to go on our night trek into the jungle.
At the reception area of the nature Lodge we meet up with our fearless guide James once again who gives us a quick Health and Safety briefing. In essence, it consists of trying to keep our noise to a minimum so as not to scare off the wildlife and tread carefully long the footpath, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but memories.
James assures us that there is very little in this area that could harm us, however the forest floor is sometimes a home to fire ants that could crawl up your trouser leg and give a painful bite. Although not dangerous, if they bite you, it is similar to being stung by a stinging nettle back in the UK, painful at first then just irritating. He tells us that if we experience fire ants we just walk quickly away down the path as we can move a lot quicker than them!
Torchlights on, we head out into the jungle to the rear of our Kinabatangan Lodge, and as we do so we come across a length of metal wire stretching from one end of the Lodge to the other. James tells us that this is in place to keep the elephants out of the Lodge area, as they tend to like to trample on things!
Kinabatangan River Jungle – There is so much more than just river cruising
The Kinabatangan Lodge is very much eco friendly in every sense of the word, as we pass a cleared section of undergrowth that James advises has been earmarked for tree planting. One of the great things that Borneo Dream, the Lodge does with our school expedition clients, is work with schools from both Malaysia and overseas and this is just one of the things that the kids do to put something back into the environment. This is teaching our young people how to become the next caretakers of the rainforest and we love it!
Just as with trekking during the day we are now getting used to looking in all directions, including up and down, as you never know what is out there waiting to be discovered. Having only walked for about 10 minutes, James shines his torchlight up into the tree line right above us where we notice a pair of eyes watching us. Torch lights illuminate the most majestic looking Kingfisher bird perched on an overhanging branch right above out heads.
This is an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and is sporting some of the most colourful and bright plumage that we have ever seen. Truly a glorious sight, it is sat perfectly still above our heads and doesn’t even seem to notice we are there making for some great photo opportunities. Preferring to live in densely shaded forests, this Kingfisher variety is endemic across the South East Asian corridor living on a variety of invertebrates, being fully multi tasked to hunt both inland and along the riverbank.
Trekking onwards we come across a wide array of colourful moths amongst the foliage and other jungle insects, including stick insects, caterpillars and fireflies. Again our cameras are going into overdrive!
Suddenly, James stops in his tracks, looking upwards through the forest canopy and into the starlit sky. “Look. Up there … in the trees at the very top”, he whispers. We shine our torches up into the sky but I cant see anything. I try to focus my eyes and then I finally see it, a pair of Amber orange eyes looking down on us from high. This is a Lemur.
Mostly made famous from their comical role in the Madagascar cartoons, there is much to be learnt about these real life primates that have made their home in our Borneo Rainforest.
There are over 100 various living species of the Lemur throughout the world, but our little furry Borneo variety is the Malayan Flying Lemur and is a very rare sight. Although very high up into the canopy it’s outline is clear against the backdrop of the night sky. A skilful climber, these cute little primates glide from tree to tree, having a large kite shaped flap of skin from their neck to their toes living on leaves, but do not really “fly” in the true sense of the word.
We walk onwards and James looks down at his feet. “Fire ants”, he whispers, “Lets go”. Not wanting to become ant food, we march onwards out of the area and into a deeper section of the undergrowth.
Suddenly to the left of us we here the sounds of a branch breaking and shine our torches into the darkness to come virtually face to face with the most amazing sight before us.
At waist height, clinging to the branches of a tree stump is a Western Tarsier, (also known as the Horsfields Tarsier). Native to Borneo and Sumatra, the Western Tarsier is entirely nocturnal as can be witnessed by its huge deep brown eyes.
He gave some absolutely adoring poses for the camera, and we were so glad to have the Nikon Micro lense fitted onto the DSLR to get some incredible shots of him.
With his baby like nose and incredibly cute padded feet used to cling onto tree branches he certainly does make for some stunning photography, and we feel incredibly privileged to have been in the same area as this vulnerable Borneo primate.
Happy and honoured to have been so close to nature’s wonders of the Borneo night, we reluctantly head back to the lodge with memory cards full of memories.
Back to the lodge and in our rooms, the sounds of the jungle can be heard in the backdrop and after a much needed shower, drift off to sleep because tomorrows adventure will start early with a sunrise river cruise up the Kinabatangan once more.
The following day at 6am, with fresh batteries and clean memory cards in cameras; we climb aboard our riverboat once more, donning our life jackets as the boat heads out from the jetty.
A beautiful and strangely eerie mist hangs above the waterline across the breadth of the river, and the air smells fresh and invigorating having been livened up by an early morning rain shower.
As we head back down the river we think with wonder of what sights we are going to encounter this morning along the river bank, together with what awaits us at the world renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre later in the day.
Tune in for our final instalment of this incredible series next week!
Until now, with love and best wishes
Jo, Billy and the Borneo Dream Team xxx