The Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary is a fascinating place where visitors can observe trainers teaching orphaned or displaced Orangutan apes to climb in their natural habitat. At this rehabilitation centre, captive animals are retrained for life in the jungle.The centre allows a close-up view of these arboreal creatures.
The best time to visit is at 10.00 am and again at 2.30 pm when the primates emerge from the forest for their daily ration of bananas and milk. You can see the orangutans being fed from a platform in the centre. Nicknamed the ‘Wild Man of Borneo’, the orangutans are returned to the forest when they can fend for themselves.
Aside from the orangutan, over 200 species of birds and a variety of wild plants can be found within the 5.666 hectares of forest reserve.
As flash photography is not allowed during feeding times, make sure you set your camera to ASA 400 or higher, as it’s quite dim in the jungle.
How to get there
From the local bus stand next to the Sandakan waterfront market, board the blue bus marked ‘Sepilok Batu 14’ (Sepilok – 14th Mile). The 30-minute bus ride will take you directly to the rehabilitation centre. Regular buses, marked ‘Batu 14’ or higher, will drop you at the turn-off to Jalan Sepilok. However, you’ll have to walk 1.5km to get to the Orangutan Centre.The last bus leaves Sepilok to Sandakan at 4:30 pm.
This destination is less than an hour away from the biggest town on the east coast of Sabah – Sandakan. As such, a wide range of accommodation is available, from basic backpacker’s hostels to 4-star hotels.