Our first day in Sepilok, and we were keen to get a closeup view of the orangutans. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is the reason most visitors come to Sepilok, and it is indeed a very pleasant and informative day out.
The reserve is just 5 minutes down the road from the Sepilok Jungle Resort. They are open every day from 9 am to 4 pm. As a non-Malaysian, you pay RM30 entrance fee (RM15 for children). This includes an introductory video show about the work done for the orangutans at the sanctuary – a nice starter to your day out.
Even though they live independently in the reserve, you are guaranteed to see the orangutans. A few of them come down each day to a feeding platform, where staff offer them a variety of fruit.
You are free to wander around the reserve to try to spot the various apes and birds at random, following a designated pathway. A good time to do this is during feeding time while most other tourists are busy taking snaps with their zoom lenses (the feeding platform is around 20 meters from the viewing deck).
There are two daily feeding sessions: 10 am and 3 pm.
The orangutans can be quite curious, and there’s good chance you’ll have some up close and personal encounters. As always with primates, keep your belongings attached to your body. They have been known to steal bags, cameras, rucksacks, and even the clothes off the backs of some unlucky visitors.
The main impression we had when we met the orangutans close up was the absolute intelligence in their faces. Even though they are 4 times more powerful than a man, they are not intimidating or aggressive – unlike some other primates we’ve encountered. Apparently, there are some 200-400 Orangutans in the reserve, though we spotted only around 4 or 5. They’re shy, but will venture close if there’s any chance of food.
After spending the morning in the main area of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, we decided to try the longest of the available Nature Trails, which take you off the wooden pathways and out into the real rain forest.
If you intend to trek around the reserve, wear trainers or boots to avoid feeding the leeches.
After seeing the apes, you can also visit the Sun Bear reserve right next door, next to the main entrance.
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