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Proboscis monkeys and fireflies in Klias Wetlands, Sabah

​Proboscis Monkeys and Fireflies – 3 Reasons to Visit Kota Kinabalu

If you’re looking for a tropical and exciting adventure holiday, you couldn’t do much better than Kota Kinabalu. A beautiful coastal city known for its bustling markets, modern boardwalk, beaches and waterfront. Surrounded by rainforests, it’s the perfect place to explore, see new and exciting sights, and try some new hobbies as well. If you’re thinking of visiting Malaysia this year, we have a few things you could do in Kota Kinabalu that would make it your ideal holiday destination.

Visit the Proboscis Monkey In Its Natural Habitat

The Proboscis monkey is probably best known for its wide, droopy and flat nose – it’s really quite distinctive! In fact, locals have taken to nicknaming them ‘long-nosed monkey’ and the ‘Dutchman’ (of monyet belanda in the native tongue). The male typically has a much bigger nose than the females and often uses it as part of their mating rituals to entice females. Like most primates, the proboscis monkey family is formed by a group of females and one dominant alpha male, who then has his pick of the females. Interestingly, one of the most distinctive things about this monkey (aside from its hilarious nose) isn’t actually visible. The proboscis monkey has a unique digestive system. Their stomachs contain a very special bacteria that can digest the cellulose and detoxify the harmful chemicals in the leaves of their habitat, like mangrove leaves, which are toxic to other kinds of monkey. While that helps them survive in harsh climates, it does have its drawbacks. Thanks to that same bacteria, the proboscis monkey can’t eat bananas. Anything containing sugar makes the bacteria work overtime, causing an accelerated fermentation reaction in their stomach that produces a lot of gas. This can make them very sick, or in extreme cases, it can even be fatal as the excess gas puts pressure on their internal organs. The Proboscis monkey spends 76.4% of its time resting, 19.5% feeding and only 3.5% of its time moving around! The proboscis monkey is native to Sabah and is found in forest reserves accessible from Kota Kinabalu, as well as in locations like the Kinabatangan River. You can regularly see them relaxing in their hides or hopping between branches in search of new leaves to eat.

Mountain-Top Views

Kota Kinabalu is a beautiful place, but it’s a gateway to something far more fascinating, Within, you have the acclaimed Kinabalu National Park, which boasts stunning views and plentiful wildlife all around. And right in the middle, you have Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s tallest peak. This mountain is 13,400-foot and is known as a mecca for climbers. There are wide varieties of climbing options you can choose from so that even the most inexperienced climbers can enjoy the fresh air and the amazing views – both on the way up and at the top. The mountain is home to a lot of endangered or unique plants and wildlife, and local legends say that spirits dwell on the mountaintop to welcome weary travellers.


This one might seem a bit odd but bear with us. As the night descends, venture out to the water along rivers near Kota Kinabalu and witness one of nature’s more colourful nighttime displays. While in the UK they aren’t all that common (with many city folks never having seen one in real life), they are just a fact of life when visiting Kota Kinabalu.. Every night, fireflies gather in their thousands and put on a dazzling display in the mangrove trees, creating an effect almost like a summer Christmas tree. Because fireflies flash (instead of a steady glow), you can watch them dancing across the water, the land and the trees as they seek out mates in the dark. You can go on riverside and water safari tours to see them up close, or simply walk and take your chances of seeing them in the wild. The experience is truly magical, and one you won’t forget in a hurry.

At Borneo Dream, we specialise in crafting the ideal holiday for you and your family. We have several packages that have been designed specifically to showcase the natural beauty of Kota Kinabalu, paired with outdoor activities like mountain biking, white water rafting, jungle trekking and diving to really make the experience unique. Our team are based in Kota Kinabalu and can give you the insight of locals to help you find the best spots and provide the best tours on the island. For more information on tours in Kota Kinabalu, just get in touch with us today.

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