- Borneo Orang-utan Trek II
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
- Borneo Orang-utan Trek I
Wed. 10 Apr: Campsite to Jingin Longhouse
What an awesome day! Hiking up the creek to cascading waterfalls, and an afternoon spent with the Iban people making jewellery, playing games and learning traditional fishing techniques on the river.
Tonight Team RSPCA will be staying at the Jingin Longhouse. They will be joined by the local chief and his family for a traditional dinner. Tonight is the last night in the jungle. Tomorrow Team RSPCA will be returning by longboat to Bantang Ai before driving back to Kuching for a farewell meal to celebrate the end of a fantastic Orangutan Trek.
Tue. 9 Apr: In the jungle…. we saw wild orang-utans!!!
A hardcore hike to the salt lake through the incredible ancient jungle. The challenging day was rewarded by a female orangutan and her baby!
Mon. 8 Apr: In search of wild orang-utans – Campsite 2
The team just keep getting deeper and deeper into the national park. This morning Team RSPCA woke to the sounds of wildlife and continued their search for orang-utans, hornbills and gibbons in this lush rainforest.
Sun. 7 Apr: Batang AI national park – Ulu Ai – Campsite 1
The team have just enjoyed a 2-hour longboat ride upriver to Ulu Ai. Today is all about learning to live like a local, as they try their hand at Iban-style fishing, collecting bamboo shoots and finding edible ferns for lunch, yum yum!!
Sat. 6 Apr: Batang Ai & Iban longhouse
Woohoo! Time to leave the city and head to the jungle.
During the 5-hour drive to Batan Ai, we stopped to visit a pepper farm to learn how pepper and cocoa are grown.
Fri. 5 Apr: Kuching & Semenggoh Orang-utan Centre
Team Sydney had a long overnight journey to Borneo, some slept, but “most were too excited to sleep at all!” The teams are now united in Kuching, the laid back capital of Sarawak.
Thu. 4 Apr: Team RSPCA are bound for Borneo!
Team RSPCA SA have officially started their journey!! Kirsty sent us through a lovely image of some of her fellow South Australian’s about to board the plane from Adelaide, all the way to the heat and forests of Borneo. In a few hours time, they will meet and greet the other RSPCA adventurers from WA, NSW and Darwin. Safe travels to the entire team, we’re can’t wait to see the first images of Borneo’s wildlife, from the proboscis monkeys, slow lorises and of course the gorgeous and endangered orang-utans come through to us in the coming days!
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 first brave team of wildlife explorers are departing on April 4th, 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 a total of $90, 596. 90, Team RSPCA have made a real impact in making sure their local RSPCA shelter can continue to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome animals that need our care and attention.
- Visit our image gallery: coming soon
- Follow the conversation on Twitter: @InspiredAdvntrs
- Visit the Team RSPCA Fundraising Pages:
Team RSPCA NSW
Team RSPCA SA
Team RSPCA WA
Team RSPCA Darwin
- Join Team RSPCA on the Sumatra Family Friendly Trek 2014
- Greenpeace Jungle Challenge
SAT 6 OCT: MULU NATIONAL PARK
“Here is a good pic of the group at the base of Mt Kinabalu after the climb which Steve took… The Group says hi back… we’re off to mulu and the pinnacles now…” Dave via email 6 Oct 2012
The Mulu National Park covers a staggering 544km2 of virgin rainforest and is one of the most spectacular parks in all of Asia. It is home to incredible rainforest biodiversity including 8,000 species of flowering plants, 200 mammals, 100 butterfly species and at least 450 different kinds of birds, including the hornbill with its distinctive curved beak.
After lunch, the team will see the rainforest from above on a canopy sky walk, then hike through the peat swamp forest on a 3km plank walk to Deer Cave, one of a number of caves that make up one of the world’s largest limestone cave systems. They will also visit nearby Lang Cave, which features impressive rock formations. At dusk, millions of bats emerge from the caves for their nightly feed – a truly spectacular sight.
FRI 5 OCT: KINABATANGAN RIVER RAINFOREST LODGE
“We all loved staying in the rainforest lodge on the Kinabatangan River. We went in search of animals day and night and by boat and foot. Highlights include proboscis monkeys and hornbills.
Today we visited the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary where orphaned animals are rehabilitated to return the wild.” Dave via email 5 Oct 2012
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was founded in 1964 to help captive orangutans learn to climb and fend for themselves in the wild with the hope that one day they may return to the forest. Team Greenpeace were able to view these beautiful creatures up-close before being transferred to Sandakan Airport for their flight to Kota Kinabalu. Here are some photos from the last couple of days…
WED 3 OCT: GOMANTONG CAVES & PROBOSCIS MONKEYS
Today Team Greenpeace will head to the Sandakan region and Sukau River Lodge, stopping at the Gomantong Caves en route. The caves are home to over a million bats, and the edible bird’s nest that is popular throughout Asia. The area surrounding the cave is a nature reserve, which is home to abundant birdlife including crested serpent eagles, kingfishers, Asian fairy bluebirds and leaf birds – as well as wild orangutans.
“Hi all, we’re travelling through square kilometres of palm oil plantations and are seeing first hand the impacts of our unsustainable world. Looking forward to getting to the Kinabatangan River and boat trip looking for orangutans…” Dave via text message 3 Oct 5pm
They’ll continue on, following the course of the Kinabatangan River, home to possibly the greatest concentration of wildlife in Borneo. After checking in at Sukau River Lodge, take an afternoon river cruise in search of wildlife such as macaques, red and silver leaf monkeys, crocodiles, civet cats, snakes, wild boar, orangutans and proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo.
Dave mentions the impact of seeing palm oil plantations first hand. Here’s a very memorable video that Greenpeace made in 2010. Greenpeace were successful as Nestlé announced it would stop using products that caused rainforest destruction.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific also played an active role in this campaign. In April 2010, a number of activists dressed as orang-utans visited Nestlé’s Oceania headquarters in Sydney. Here’s the video:
TUE 2 OCT: MT KINABALU SUMMIT (4,095m)
“All going well in Borneo. Climbed Mt Kinabalu today… All weary but having a good time, will send pics and more info when get internet access. Cheers, Dave”
Today the team would have woken early, around 2.30am, to start their climb to the Mount Kinabalu summit. The climb is challenging in parts, but it would have been worth it when Team Greenpeace saw the sun rise over the jungles of Borneo and the South China Sea.
MON 1 OCT: KOTA KINABALU
Everyone has arrived safe and well. Had a good day today with a City Tour seeing cultural sites and markets.
We also had a great welcome dinner in a restaurant with traditional dancing. We even got to get up for some dancing and blow pipe ballon popping!
Kennedy, the local guide, is very friendly and its all shaping up to be a fantastic trip…
We’re off to start climbing Mt Kinabalu (4,095m) tomorrow… Woohoo!
Inspired Adventures Tour Escort
- Find an Inspired Adventure – visit our calendar
- More about Greenpeace
- Destination guide: Borneo
- More trip stories from Borneo
About Greenpeace and their work
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that
uses non-violent direct action to expose global environmental
problems and to force solutions which are essential to a green
and peaceful future.
Greenpeace’s goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture
life in all its diversity. www.greenpeace.org/australia
- Destination in profile: Borneo
Tropical wilderness, dense jungles, vast river systems, abundant wildlife and more plant species than we can ever imagine, Borneo oozes adventure and is a nature-lover’s paradise. It is the third largest island in the world and the virgin forests are recognised as the most biodiverse habitats on the planet.
Historically, Borneo conjures up images of strange creatures and gruesome traditions such as headhunting. Today it is synonymous with adventure and offers travellers an opportunity to delve into the mysteriousness of the unknown.
A typical 10-day Inspired Adventure to Borneo caters for everyone and offers the very best of Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo). From experiencing the legendary hospitality of Borneo’s tribal peoples, to collecting food and trekking through pristine jungle, a life-changing experience awaits all those who partake in the challenge. The highlight of the trip is seeing the orang-utan in its protected environment at the Semenggoh Orang-utan Centre and then trying to spot them in the wild during a 5-day jungle experience.
Kuching is our first stop. It is the laid back capital of Sarawak and boasts a population of 1 million people. The city sprawls out along the banks of the Sarawak River that acts as a natural barrier between the North and South. The oldest street of Kuching comprises of a row of 19th century Chinese shop houses located along the Kuching Waterfront overlooking the river. It offers the city’s best concentration of antique and handicraft shops. Unlike other large cities in Malaysian Borneo, the beautiful old buildings of Kuching escaped damage during World War II.
Next stop is the Semenggoh Orang-utan Centre. It has been operating as a conservation centre since 1975 and is spread over 700 hectares of virgin forest. Its main purpose is to rehabilitate injured or orphaned orang-utans and return them to the wild. We will be visiting the centre during feeding times when orang-utans that have already been released, often return to the Centre for food. As with any wildlife, this is never guaranteed.
Leaving behind Kuching and Semenggoh, we head 5 hours southward to Batang Ai National Park. Covering an area of 24,000 hectares, the park was inaugurated in 1991 and was created to protect the endangered orang-utans as well as other wildlife. We spend the next 5 days living within and exploring the Park. Each night we settle in campsites or nestle down in the local Iban longhouses and experiencing the Iban culture and hospitality. Each day we trek and explore all the while on the lookout for wild orang-utans and other wildlife such as gibbons, silver leaf monkeys and kingfishers.
- More about the upcoming Greenpeace Borneo Jungle Challenge
- Join the 2013 RSPCA Borneo Orang-utan Trek
- Borneo for Breast cancer finishes trek!!