Kinabatangan River, Borneo; May 2017

Kinabatangan River is basically what, when I was young, I imagined Borneo to be like. Ancient forest impossibly full of life with a river meandering textbook perfect through the trees – the only realistic way to travel using it. Then deforestation – recently Palm Oil fuelled – has robbed much of the island of this. I’ve mentioned this in blogs before and I don’t want to get too preachy whilst I sit here in the West. Especially since we stripped the land bare of trees before a book had been written. However, more needs to be done and that prannock incumbent in the Whitehouse isn’t going to help, nor is my chocolate fireguard of a government.

I travelled to the lodge I was staying in a car designed to fit about four people with eight people in and no working seatbelt to which, of course it’s Asia, was told, “it’s okay” which is an adequate replacement for safety features in my book. There were some Polish guys there when I arrived, but they were leaving and I was the only person there.  A lodge to myself which meant I spent a lot of time talking to Mus, who led the guides and ran the hotel. He was a good guy and and does a lot for people staying at the Sunshine Lodge if my experience was anything to go by.


Things I saw whilst in the forest:



You’re there to see animals and you do this by cruising the river with the vessel dependant on who are you staying with. I learnt in Canada, watching whales, that small boats are better and my boat was for 8 people. This means you can zip about and get a little bit closer when that’s appropriate.

I haven’t got a whole lot of photographs because of a lack of zoom lens, but I saw a terrific amount and was primarily doing so through binoculars I borrowed which was a lot more fun than trying to endlessly snap what will end up being terrible photos. See my terrible photos as evidencing this. I saw plenty of people spending ages attempting to take selfies which seemed like a waste of time, but I’ve whinged about that already.

Pygmy elephants which are smaller than continental Asian elephants, but still huge:

I went on a couple of night cruises and these were absolutely fantastic for providing atmosphere so thick you could cut in two. As the boat chugs along you see diamonds – except they are not diamonds they are life in the form of crocodiles or a leopard cat which we got out of the boat (you’re not meant to do this) to go and look a bit closer at. with the mist sweeping around, the heat and the sounds of the forest all around this will be something I remember a for a long time. However, the highlight of the evening was heralded by a trumpeting and then appearing through the mist was a pygmy elephant. Our boat drifted towards the bank and the goliath issued what I took to be warning growling rumble which I felt through me. You could hear others trumpeting and moving around in the bust. Magnificent! The next morning I got to see them again along with all sorts of other things including proboscis monkeys, a nesting orangutan and more hornbills than you could shake a stick at!

I could spend a long time in this sort of setting, just looking for animals, birds and being in the forest. I really hope everyone can get together to preserve these important habitats because it makes me desperately sad that the people coming up behind us won’t get to enjoy this splendour.

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