Adventure 2005 Report

Advenure 2005

When Sue Sheward, our Chairperson, told me that I had been chosen to be the Appeal’s rep on the 2005 Borneo Orangutan Adventure I was over the moon. I love my job of Liaison Officer at the Centre but this would give me a chance to visit some of the amazing places I had heard of but just hadn’t had the time to visit. However, I was not so sure it was a good thing when I was called to a briefing weekend at HQ and discovered my Adventurers ranged in age from 24 to 68! How would I keep them all happy? Would I be up to the task? Sue assured me I would be and after having spoken to everyone on the phone I began to feel more confident.

On 25th March 2005 I waited in the reception at the Rasa Ria to welcome our ten tired tourists as they stepped off the bus from KK airport. In spite of their exhaustion they were still clearly excited about what lay ahead of them. A day of rest at the luxurious Rasa Ria Hotel was the ideal way to recover from the long flight. The next evening after watching a beautiful sunset the group sat down to enjoy a delicious meal and drinks in the upstairs lounge, which provided the perfect start to a holiday. Teresa and David Cook in full spirits took to the dance floor and impressed everyone with their skilful moves!

The following day after meeting our guides and listening to their briefing the group was ready for some serious action and mounted their bikes. The time slipped away as we cycled leisurely through beautiful villages and stunning landscape. Along the way we were greeted by smiles, laughter and people shouting ‘orang putih!’ which means ‘white person’ in Malay. The locals rarely see tourists with nice white skin and there is always a good deal of excitement when the do!

Down at Kiulu everyone laughed nervously as they apprehensively took the hand of their rafter guide, clambered onto bamboo rafts and set off down the river. After an exhilarating hour 10 sodden adventurers proudly passed the finish line smiling at the camera with a real sense of achievement! Elaine Corlett was congratulated by the team for managing to keep her designer shades on the whole way!

That night the adventurers were warmly welcomed by their host families at the Mitabang homestay which is located in the foothills of Mt Kinabalu. During the evening they invited everyone to take part in activities such as grasshopper catching, gong playing and learning their traditional dance. We left the village next morning feeling we had made some really good friends.

It was now time to move on to Pouring and investigate the “hot springs” and visit the canopy walkway which was an amazing experience – for those of us who were brave enough to have a go!

The long bus journey from Pouring to Tabin Reserve was thought to be well worth it. The time spent at Tabin Wildlife Reserve was felt to be one of the highlights of the trip with night safaris, bird watching, trekking and swimming at the waterfall being just some of the activities we took part in. The sheer amount of wildlife that we spotted with the help of a particularly good looking wildlife ranger called Herman was truly amazing. We saw leopard cats, flying squirrels, a family of bearded pig, civets and even a Buffy fish owl.

The group reluctantly waved goodbye to Tabin (and the handsome Herman!). However they were delighted when they arrived at their next destination in Sukau. Relaxing on the verandah overlooking the lower Kinabatangen River with a glass of chilled white wine was the ideal way to end yet another amazing day.

Early next morning we took to the river grasping binoculars as our guide Eric enthusiastically shared his knowledge of the wildlife along the river. After only just a few minutes we’d already set eyes upon a wide range of birds such as hornbills, eagles, darters and kingfishers. The large sleeping monitor lizard precariously balanced on a branch caused much amusement! Further down the tributary we found what we had all really come to see, and felt very privileged as we sat in silence watching an adult male and female orangutan swing high up in the canopy, whilst a group of proboscis monkeys sat feeding, nearby. This really was a moment in time that none of us will ever to forget.

The adventure culminated with our arrival at Sepilok. The group watched in amazement as the orangutans swooped down on to the platform feasting on bananas and milk. Both resident mothers, Mariko and Mimi, made an appearance with their babies, which was a very touching and moving event, I was not the only one to shed a tear! In the evening the Rangers from the Centre joined us for a farewell Bar-b-q by the lake at the Nature Resort and were more than happy to answer the endless questions being asked about the rehabilitation programme.

Before we knew it, it was already time for the group to return to the Rasa Ria for a days relaxation before making the journey home. Standing at Sandakan airport numbers were exchanged and farewells were made.

The Adventure was summed up by Elaine Corlette in her letter of thanks to Sue by saying:

So Sue, you will realise from what I have said, that this was probably the best holiday I have ever had! Thank you and Kristina for making it a truly memorable experience and our wonderful guides for their dedication and sharing their expert knowledge with us.

Sabah is truly a fantastic destination. It embodies every travel aspiration with indigenous people, fantastic landscape of mountains, rivers, seas and rainforests that are more than 125 million years old. It is rich in culture and a place where wildlife exploration provides a captivating appeal to all environmentalists.

Come and join us on the holiday of a lifetime “The Borneo Orangutan Adventure 2006”

Kristina Maurice-Jones
2006 Adventure Group