BLOG FROM TEAM RSPCA – OUR ADVENTURE IN THE JUNGLE
After a long bus ride from Kuching, we stepped onto longboats to begin our journey deep into the heart of the jungle. Weaving our way through flooded valleys and along the turquoise green river, we past clusters of lifeless charcoal treetops that had pierced there way through the waters surface. This surreal landscape contrasted against the red earth banks that protruded back into the lush tropical forest – it looked rather similar to that of a Salvador Dali painting.
We arrived at Mengkak Longhouse in the late afternoon for our first nights stay in the jungle. The chief of village kindly welcomed us by organising a massive feast complimented by some traditional cultural dances. We watched and joined in on the festivities – our first night in the jungle and what a welcome! When the atmosphere slowly started to die down, our mattresses were laid over the floor, kind of like a childhood slumber party.
We were unexpectedly awoken when the roosters begun there ongoing squawking and stretching – surely 5am was too early for a wake up call?! We fought against the noises of nature and lay with our ear plugs in and pillows over our heads for as long as we could but those roosters were relentless! Before long the whole team was up and ready to immerse themselves in the jungle.
At 10am our boats arrived and we continued our journey, stopping off at Jingin longhouse for lunch before starting our trek. The hospitality received by the family at this longhouse was overwhelming and we decided that we would spend the night here on our way back.
Crossing the river was the first hurdle we encountered but we soon realised that this was going to be a regular occurrence. We spent almost an hour trekking upstream in the river. Our boots hung over our shoulders as we battled our way through the leech-infested river to a point where we could finally put our boots back on and continue the challenging accent to our campsite.
There in the heart of the jungle stood two tents constructed from hardwood poles with no doors or walls; only a tarp roof protected us from the outside world. The first tent contained two rows of eleven hammocks, similar to a hospital stretcher so there was little room to move throughout the night. The second tent was our ‘dining’ tent. This would be our home for the next three nights and getting back to basics was tough for some, while others thrived off the experience.
Over the next four days, we trekked for a total of around 18 hours through humid, steep, rugged and incredibly challenging terrain. There were tears and points where some of us didn’t think we could go on. However sheer determination pushed us through the tough spots and we triumphantly met this physically and mentally demanding terrain head on.
Along the way we encountered many critters including snakes, scorpions, fire ants, spiders and leeches. Each afternoon we did a leech count and by the end of the trip, a total of eighteen leeches were pulled from us! Ewwww!
We were fortunate not to experience rain until our last day of trekking and even then, the dense jungle canopy offered some protection. Emerging from the deeper jungle, our the kind family from the longhouse where we stopped for lunch were ready for our arrival. They lit a fire to help dry our clothes and warm our bodies.
We spent our last afternoon relaxing down by the river, waiting to see what the porters had caught us for dinner. We were extremely grateful when they arrived home with fresh fish – I don’t think anyone could bear the sight of another can of sardines in tomato!
After dinner we leant some hunting skills from the industrious locals. They taught us the methods behind using dart blowers, with each of us having a short at the target. This was only the start of what ended up being an amazing night. Language barriers were not an issue – we danced, sang karaoke, played games and laughed until the early hours of the morning. With confidence I can say that each of us were humbled by this truly incredible experience.
The following morning we were again woken by the roosters. This time we gave in and woke early before having breakfast and saying our goodbyes. The two-hour boat ride out of the jungle gave us time to reflect upon the adventures we had and what we had accomplished in the heart of the jungle.
Well done team RSPCA!
Wed. 17 Apr: In search of wild orang-utans – Campsite 2
The team get another chance to spot the wild orang-utans in the National Park this morning. Once the team shake off the early rise, and get some fuel in their stomachs, they could head back into the jungle for day #2 of wildlife observation. The team couldn’t wait to get their eyes into the tree’s and bushes of the forest, as the guide’s took them on the best route’s to spot wildlife and back to the places that were successful in sightings yesterday. Kristen, the team’s Inspired Adventure’s tour escort was very excited about bringing along her binoculars for such opportunities, and today they came in very handy!
Tues. 16 Apr: In search of wild orang-utans – Campsite 2
Today is all about wildlife and wilderness, with the search for gibbons, hornbills, kingfishers, silver leaf monkeys and of course the precious orang-utans continues. The team will stay deep inside the forest for the night, swatting bugs, eating with their hands and sleeping amongst the soundtrack of a National Park at nighttime!
Mon. 15 Apr: Batang Ai National Park – Campsite 1
Sun. 14 Apr: Kuching to Batang Ai National Park
— Sarina Louise (@skippingtonxo) April 14, 2013
Sat. 13 Apr: Semenggoh Orang-utan CentreWaking to a beautiful riverside side view of the bustling Kuching certainly provided a warm welcome to what turned out to be an amazing first day. Arriving in late last night, we decided to hold off on going to the Semenggoh Orang-utan Centre until the afternoon which gave us the opportunity have a look around Kuching and purchase those last minute items we forgot to pack or for some have a much needed sleep in. We could hear the thunder start to roll in as we drove out to Semenggoh Orang-utan Centre but were fortunate enough to have an hour there before the heavy rain started and what incredible hour it was. Ritchie the biggest male orang-utan showed us his power and strength as he shock massive trees and broke branches off with ease. Then Seduku the oldest female orang-utan and her baby Ganya put quite a show on, swinging from vines, breaking into coconuts and coming down from the trees, so close that we could almost touch them! We then headed to the local produce market to discover the tastes of Borneo. Jenny was brave enough to munch into a live witchetty grub, making most of us squeamish as we watched. Who knows what other culinary delights we will come across as we delve deep into the jungle tomorrow.
Fri. 12 Apr: Borneo here we come!
What an adventure! As we celebrate the end of Team 1′s Borneo Orang-utan Trek, Team 2 are getting ready to depart. Collectively the two teams have raised over $110, 000 (no wonder they can’t wipe those big smiles off their faces!) and with the Orang-utan Trek being in high demand, we had to put on two departures. In a stroke of luck, Team 1 and Team 2 bumped into each other at Kuala Lumpur airport in the wee hours of the morning. Team 1 on their way home to Australia and Team 2 on their way to Borneo. Check out this incredible image of the two teams together:
Pre-Departure excitement builds…
— Sarina Louise (@skippingtonxo) April 8, 2013
ABOUT THE RSPCA AND THE BORNEO ORANG-UTAN TREK 2013
When we first launched this adventure with various RSPCA shelters across Australia, we had an influx of animal lovers signing up to take on this fundraising and fitness challenge for all creatures big and small. As a result we now have 2 brave teams, (that’s 28 adventurers!!), heading to the dense jungles of Borneo in search of wild orang-utans. Our second troop of brave wildlife explorers are departing on April 12th, for a 10-day insight into orung-utan rehabilitation, how to cope with repetitively trekking in 30-degree heat and to enjoy a few longboat rides along the way!
Having raised over $105,000 Team RSPCA have made a real impact in making sure the RSPCA can continue to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals that need our care and attention.
- Visit our RSPCA NSW Borneo Orang-utan Trek images
- See image gallery for Borneo Orang-utan Trek 1
- Follow the conversation on Twitter: @InspiredAdvntrs
- Visit the Team RSPCA Fundraising Page
- Join the RSPCA NSW Sumatra Family Friendly Trek 2014