Choose from 2 Fun Things to Do in Sandakan
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The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre near Sandakan is one of only four places in the world set up to preserve and protect orangutans. Established in a corner of the Kabili-Sepilok rainforest reserve in 1964, the center has expanded in recent years as the number of orphaned and abandoned orangutans has grown due to ongoing destruction of their habitat. The center cares for these endangered animals until they are strong or old enough to return to the Borneo jungle, offering daily feedings of milk and bananas to supplement their diets while encouraging them to start foraging for themselves. Other animals treated at the center include gibbons, sun bears, elephants, and Sumatran rhinos.
A raised wooden walkway takes you to a feeding platform, where orangutans living wild in the reserve emerge from the rainforest to free feed if they wish. While not all the orangutans make an appearance at feeding time (there’s no guarantee any will show up at any given feeding), this is the best opportunity to see them in their natural habitats. Visitors can also observe adolescent orangutans in their final stages of rehabilitation in a protected outdoor nursery facility.
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is 15.5 miles (25 km) north of Sandakan, on the edge of the Kabili forest reserve. It is open every day from 9am to 4pm, and can be reached by public bus in 45 minutes (4RM per person) from the city. Most guided tours to the center include hotel pickup and drop-off from Sandakan. Admission to the center costs 30RM, and the ticket allows you to attend both feedings that day. There is also a camera fee of RM10 if you want to take photos during the feedings.
The center purposely keeps supplemental feedings bland and boring to help encourage the apes to forage on their own. During the fruiting season when naturally growing food is abundant, it’s possible that few or no orangutans show up at feeding time. Whether at the nursery or the feeding platform, touching of the orangutans is not permitted, both for the safety of the apes and the visitors.
Address: Jalan Sepilok Batu 14, Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Hours: Open daily 9am–4pm
Admission: Kota Kinabalu
From $ 120
In the heart of the mangrove forests of Semawang in Sandakan, the privately owned Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary allows travelers to observe the rare and distinctive proboscis monkeys in their natural Borneo habitat.
It's estimated that about 300 wild monkeys live within this 2.3-square-mile (6-square-km) sanctuary, which includes two observation areas for visitors. These open daily for feedings at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm. The first, a long wooden walkway and platform set over a swampy mangrove, features a feeding station where rangers leave guava and cucumber to supplement the diets of the proboscis monkeys. The second area has a tiered viewing platform where silverleaf monkeys and a pair of oriental pied hornbills sometimes show up for feedings alongside the monkeys.
Many visit the sanctuary on a day trip from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu, although overnight stays are also possible, with night tours offering the chance to see fireflies, wild boars, flying squirrels, and crocodiles in the wild. If you book in advance, it’s possible to combine the monkeys' feeding time with other activities, such as jungle treks or even a boat trip to a nearby fishing village.
The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is open during feeding times at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm. Admission costs 60 RM for adults and 30 RM for children under 12. The sanctuary is located 24 miles (38 km) from Sandakan and can be reached by car; take Jalan Labuk toward Kota Kinabalu, turn off at Mile 19, and follow the dirt road 9.3 miles (15 km) to the sanctuary. It's also possible to purchase transport services from the sanctuary, or choose a full-day guided tour from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu with round-trip transportation included.
Because the monkeys living within the sanctuary are wild, sightings are never guaranteed. Visitors should always keep a safe distance between themselves and the monkeys. Touching, feeding, or other contact is not permitted.
Address: Mile 19, Jalan Labuk, Sandakan, Sabah 90000, Malaysia
Hours: Viewing times at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 4:30pm
Admission: Adult RM 60, child RM 30
From $ 142