The Wilds Of Borneo: An Alternative To The African Safari?

Move over AfricaBorneo could offer as much as Africa, without the price! Check out our amazing adventures below while on Borneo Safari, and just see if you wouldn’t rather go to Borneo at half the cost of going to Africa.





With one of the oldest rainforests in the world, and protecting the endangered Bornean Orangutan, the Bornean Elephant, the Proboscis Monkey, the Sumatran Rhinoceros, the Leaf Monkey, and the Bornean Clouded Leopard, Borneo is fast becoming an alternative to the African Safari. Afar named Borneo first in a list of unique safari experiences around the world:


Would a Borneo Safari be better than an African Safari? Maybe. It certainly would be  a heck of a lot cheaper than the $10,000 plus African safaris. Africa was on our bucket list for a long time but it was just too expensive! Borneo had been on my travel bucket list since attending University and studying the anthropology of the wild tribes that live in Borneo’s deepest jungle, completely closed off from the outside world.

It was time for a Borneo Safari.




After our Guide, David, picked us up and settled us into a Kota Kinabalu hotel, the next day we completed the first day of our Borneo tour. That evening we were amazed by our luxurious villa in the middle of the jungle: Sepilok Nature Resort.  You can see more photos of this fantastic resort in our last post: Private Tour Of Wild Borneo.


The next morning we were ready for some real adventures and we were not disappointed!





It was pouring rain as we drove through Palm Tree plantations and along slippery dirt roads, then walked up a boardwalk for a kilometre or so straight into the jungle. We were surrounded by thick impenetrable jungle and swampy mud on either side of the new boardwalk. We were grateful that we didn’t have to walk through the sink-to-your-knees mud and pitied those who came before us.



After a long walk in the pouring rain, we arrived at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Sanctuary hoping to see the primates – Proboscis Monkeys.



It was fascinating to discover that the new owner of the huge palm tree plantation we were walking through had discovered that there were many families of Proboscis Monkeys living in a 400 acre area of his plantation that was original mangrove jungle. He took an interest in them and set up this area they lived in as a sanctuary for the monkeys.


No sooner than we arrived, we heard and then saw the first Proboscis Monkeys starting to arrive to get their treats from the feeding platforms prepared by local attendants.


They began jumping from the trees to the platform where some natural foods were waiting for them.

Now be warned – these are not the cutest monkeys with their odd noses, but they are amazing to see in the wild like this. So get nosey with these clownish fellows and you will forget all about their funny noses. And by the way, our noses get bigger as we age, so don’t laugh too hard.


The Proboscis Mothers with babies clinging to their underbelly, scampered across the treetops without fear of losing the little ones.


While the big male rumbled down to the platform in a big show of strength, and the family backed away as he screamed.

Later, all of the Probiscus monkey gathered together on the platform sharing the food.


Except for this guy who seemed to either be banned, or want to be by himself, as he stood on a branch off to the side.


By the way, those noses do have some particular usefulness. They use them to attract the female Proboscis Monkeys (hmmm…), and to amplify their calls. 




The Proboscis Monkeys are amazing to watch! Feeding time brings them in from the jungle and you can observe the teenagers play-fighting, the Mothers and their adorable babies, and the males carefully guarding their families. Each family stays together, separate from the other families.


David smiled cheekily as he told us that locals refer to the penis of the male Proboscis Monkeys as little Red Peppers! And that is exactly what they look like – skinny red peppers. They’re not a bit modest about displaying them either. Hilarious.


What a thrill to see these animals in their natural habitat in the wild. We had expected to see one or two of the Proboscis Monkeys high in a tree top barely visible to the naked eye, but here they were right in front of us. It was an incredible experience!


A Borneo Safari was already on our number one destination list.





The Proboscis monkeys seemed oblivious to us but David warned us that the dominant male of each family will often do something to show off their strength and prowess, and to warn off the other family on the adjacent feeding platform.


Fascinated to be within a few yards of these wild animals, we stood mesmerized just watching them and I was snapping photos and taking videos like crazy.





The mother and baby were as priceless as you might imagine. Here is a video so you can see it firsthand. 

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What the ?!$(*&)? In the middle of the last video the big male Proboscis standing right opposite to me suddenly hurdled past me like a streak of lightning, and in an explosion of rage thundered across the viewing stage, swiped angrily at our 3 umbrellas, then jumped on them and smashed them to pieces on the wood floor!!!


Then he jumped up on the tin roof making a resounding noise that echoed wildly across the jungle, then swiftly sped by us back to the platform, and in 5 seconds it was all over, and he was back with his family. His speed was astonishing; it was like a streak of light in each direction.


When the huge Proboscis initially brushed by me, I didn’t know what it was. He went by so fast it was just a blur. I dropped the camera down alarmed at what had just whizzed by me and whirling around watched the huge male demolish the umbrellas, jump on the tin roof, and then roar past me back to the platform in milliseconds. What the Hell just happened?!


Even our guide, David, was in shock. I was lucky he didn’t smash me over as he charged through in his big show of authority. David explained that this was to scare off any of the bachelor Proboscis monkeys that had any ideas of moving in on his territory!


After we all got over the shock, I was so disappointed in myself that I had dropped the camera down and didn’t video this spectacular event! But what a dramatic way to begin a Borneo Safari! When I started the video on my camera again, all was back to normal with the Proboscis monkeys, but I was still a bit shaken up as you can tell by the shaky video. 


*The Proboscis Monkeys are found in only one place in the entire world – Borneo.





We moved on to an area of the palm tree plantation which had a two level outdoor deck where we saw more Proboscis monkeys and then the Black Leaf Monkeys (or Silver Leaf or Silvery Lutung or Langur) also came down for a visit.




All of these monkeys, the Proboscis and the Leaf, live naturally in the wild, but of course when the monkeys know that food is served (fruit, vegetables, long beans) at a certain time, they soon come in from the jungle at the scheduled time. 



Aren’t they the cutest? They remind one of puppies scrambling for treats…


David, our guide, taking photos with his super telescopic camera.


My photo – not bad for a small digital camera.




This adorable little guy was particularly expressive – so much like human beings.  Hey, he looks kinda like me.


No, maybe more like T….


As you can see, the Proboscis monkeys are nearby, and neither the Leaf Monkeys nor the Proboscis bother about each other.


The Leaf Monkeys are the cutest little furry monkeys and not a bit afraid of people. Mr. T got very close and even touched and fed them.





Here are a few live action videos. Apologies for those who walked in front of the camera –  bloomin’ tourists!





The expressions of some of the Leaf Monkeys just had me giggling – even this guy who just looked pissed! Or bored. Or drunk. Oh, for sure, this one looks like T.


A few monkeys were shy, and hid in the rafters or away from everyone, just like some people.


A bird was bothering this Leaf Monkey. I suppose he wanted food too. Take a close look at the hands and feet of this monkey. Big, and human-like. 


Time to go back into the jungle – after one more long bean.



All of a sudden a new creature appeared among the others. A gorgeous tropical hornbill landed in among the monkeys on one of the feeding platforms, a big bird with a huge bill, looking for food no doubt. A regal majestic bird. Can you see him?




Yes, that was just our morning excursion! After returning to Sepilok for a lunch of Caesar Salad and Pizza, we would be heading to the Orangutan Nursery and Rehabilitation Centre to see the orphaned and stolen baby orangutans. Stay tuned for more.



We hadn’t even seen the elephants and the wild boar and the many other jungle animals, but already we were sure that the wilds of Borneo was a fantastic alternative to the African safari. 


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*If you’d like to learn more about little-known inexpensive countries and our crazy adventures, click the link below on Amazon to get the book, Travel To Little Known Places.
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2 Responses to The Wilds Of Borneo: An Alternative To The African Safari?

  1. Wow-what an experience! – even vicariously; love the videos. Yes, quite the noses – smiles. Trying to imagine the lightning flash of the dominant male. Nature at its best.

    Having been on an African safari, and being blessed to see the Big Five, some of them more up close and personal than I might prefer (elephants, specifically) and the cheetahs in the close meadow, lion sleeping in the middle of the road (it was 4am!) water buffalo sauntering across the road, and hippo yawning in the huge pond – your safari in Borneo brought back many cherished memories.

    You’re right tho – there is nothing quite like ‘being there’ in the moment. Still, this post taught me alot and I appreciate your unique experience – captivating! Love the videos, Shirl.

  2. Oh my, just noticed your comments Marnee. Thank you! I’m sure we would be even more blown away by an African Safari, but after being to five countries in Southeast Asia, Borneo was our absolute favourite. My videos are not the best, but I’m learning, and getting a little better each time.

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