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Borneo River Safari: Gigantic Butterflies and Tree-Climbing Crocodiles

 

Gigantic Butterfly

 

Relaxing on the deck before our Borneo River Safari, something moved beside my chair. I looked, and made a small gasp. There was a huge creature fluttering on our patio window a foot away from me! I stood up, stepped back… and took a closer look.

 

Well, it was just a butterfly! But it was the most gigantic butterfly I had ever seen. We were in the middle of jungle after all.

 

It was kind of pretty too, in fact, beautiful. For a few moments, I was mesmerized just watching her, probably with the dopey look of someone falling in love. What a gorgeous creature.

 

I stepped closer to take pictures, and she didn’t move. But I was dumbfounded by her size. It was like looking through a microscope because I could see every detail of her antennae and her legs, and her ever so delicate wings.

 

Take a look at this picture of the butterfly in comparison to the size of the table or in comparison with our clothes hanging to dry on the railing. Her wingspan must have been at least 18 inches!

 

Unfortunately my brief romance with the butterfly had to end because it was time to go down to the dock for our river safari, but it occurred to me that she might be the Tropical Swallowtail Butterfly that I had read about that lives in S.E. Asia.

 

It was 4:15 p.m. and, still vibrating with the excitement of seeing Borneo’s Pygmy Elephants, I had been sitting on our little patio overlooking the river having a short rest before leaving on our first River Safari in Borneo.

 

I wished T had seen Ms. Butterfly too. Pictures were hardly the same.

 

River Safari

 

The Kinabatangan River is a muddy river, the kind of river where animals are abundant in a natural jungle environment.

As we cruised down the river, David and the driver had their eyes peeled for animals. They could spot an animal 99% hidden in the jungle from 200 metres away! 

 

“Look!” they would declare enthusiastically,

“Up there!”, pointing.

“It’s a White Speckled Binja Bird!” (or some equally rare animal).

We would search frantically and half the time never see what they saw. Even when they turned off the motor and glided in closer, and we zoomed our cameras excitedly searching the thick jungle, we would still be saying, “Where? Where?!”

 

With the bigger animals, it was easier. Several times in different places along the river we saw the wild orangutans. This particular time, they drove the boat closer to shore so the idiot tourists could have time to find them in the trees. Maybe if they used the zoom lens on their cameras…

 

Once you learned to really focus, you could see dozens of animals in the trees!

 

In one place along the Kinabatang River, there were giant pods hanging from huge trees. The pea-like pods looked to be about 3 feet long! Is everything in the jungle over-sized? It felt like being inside that old movie, The Incredible Shrinking Man.

 

There were no people, no houses, no roads along the river – this was true natural jungle, but there was beautiful lush vegetation and mirror reflections in the water.

 

As we cruised along, a high overhead rope bridge came into view.

 

It was a monkey bridge! Right on queue, monkeys started coming out to walk and climb the ropes. It was great fun watching the monkeys play on the bridge as we sat in the boat just under them.

 

Later, when we saw this sign, we asked David what it meant. 

 

Calmly, he replied,

“Beware of Crocodiles! No Swimming, No Feeding, No Teasing, No Canoeing”.

 

We were speechless. And we kept our hands and arms inside the boat. 

 

 

Climbing Crocodiles

 

The strangest thing we saw on this Borneo River Safari were the Climbing Crocodiles. We saw this one perched in a tree with his tail towards us and his head hidden.

 

Did you know crocodiles can climb trees?

 

Here we were a little nervous about crocodiles in the water when all along they could be just over our heads in the trees!

Just this sighting of a crocodile in a tree made the Borneo River Safari completely worth it.

 

 

The Swamp

 

Then we headed into a passageway through the jungle that led to a swampy area. More birds and animals were pointed out that we seldom could see. 

 

A tree full of Proboscis Monkeys… at least 5 of them.

 

Black Leaf Monkeys on their way to put on a little show for us. “C’mon you guys, the strange humans are here…”

 

Again monkeys were playing on a rope bridge, but they were very high and it was difficult to get a good photo. 

 

 

Sunset and Supper

 

We returned to Myrne Resort just in time to watch a lovely sunset over the river.

 

 

Supper was delicious, and our waiter offered top-notch service with a big smile. 

 

The evening was beautiful as the sky darkened.

 

It had been a long long day and as we walked back to our villa, we were exhausted, but full of the thrill of our adventures on the Borneo River Safari with David Tseu.

 

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*Next up – A Night Safari and An Orangutan Break-in.

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One Response to Borneo River Safari: Gigantic Butterflies and Tree-Climbing Crocodiles

  1. Pingback: Children Hide Inside Tree in Sabah, Borneo, World War ll - TRAVEL TO LITTLE KNOWN PLACES

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