Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary

Female orangutan with a baby

Took me a while to write something about this one ;). It is probably the most visited tourist spot near Kuching. It has been set up many years ago to care for orangutans which were captured from smugglers, found hurt etc etc. Many of these orangutans have been released here and have now grown to adulthood.

Many others have been born here and though are used to the sight of people are not “tame” by any means. I am not going to bore you with all the details about the history of the place, the rules you need to follow when visiting it and the risks of standing under an angry orangutan. You will get all that from the Guides at the park when you visit it.

Orangutans "creeping" up on the humans from the forest to the side of the main area

So lets get down to what you do need to know. The place is not far from Kuching, a few kilometers past Kota Padawan, a nice small market settlement at 10th mile.  There is a bus which goes to it from town from the main bus stop near electra house and the big sikh temple. It is best to go there in the morning or afternoon for the scheduled feeding times if I remember correctly they are at 9 am and 3 pm.  The bus will set you back a couple of ringgits and the entrance fee is also 3 rm per person. So total cost of the trip is under 10rm, well worth it. Though getting back to Kuching seems to involve some walking and hitch hiking, something about the bus times isnt quite right here 😉

I dont normally tell people how to travel but in this case I do have a warning for you: do NOT book a trip with travel agents, they will charge you over 50 rm per person and add only the transport service worth 2-3 ringgits, not worth it at all.  Most travel agents in Kuching think of tourists as cash cows, and have very little concern about actually giving you a fair price or value for your money.

Ricky, the top of the platform hand rail is at about 3.5-4 metres from the ground...

Anyway getting back to the Orangutans, the place is well worth visiting, there are something like 30 orangutans in the forest surrounding the spot where you will arrive. Not all of them will come out, but during the feeding times you have a good chance of seeing between 2 and 8 orangutans who have chosen to come and see the humans while eating their meal. Orangutans are not cute, cuddly or nice close up, and you will not be allowed to get closer than a few meters from them and for good reason. However the experience is still a must do, at least once while in Sarawak. It is not only one of the easiest but also one of the only places (alongside Sepilok in Sabah) you can get this close to an orangutan in Malaysia.

When I went there we saw between 8 and 12 orangutans, they keep moving in and out of the forest and most look alike: hairy and red and unlike a leprechaun big as well. Usually you will see females with young kids, often you will also see some of the slightly older youngsters playing around with siblings in the tops of the trees. And sometimes if you are really lucky you may see Ricky. Ricky is a huge male orangutan, I am not sure how heavy he is but we are talking at least 4 humans heavy. Everyone and everything keeps its distance from Ricky, so try not to get on his bad side with flash photography, shouting etc

One of the smaller orangutans, kindly demonstrating roughly how much space Ricky needs

Good luck and enjoy the trip, if you can make a stop on the way back in Kota Padawan, go to the market to look around and sit down in one of the cofe shops for a meal. Food is just as good as Kuching, maybe better, and cheaper.


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