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Posted by on Mar 3, 2015 in Countries, Malaysia | 0 comments

sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre

sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre

Last year we took the kids for their first visit to Asia and visited the Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation centre.

Our kids were 9, 7 & 5 years old at the time. We visited Hong Kong, Malaysia and Borneo. I desperately wanted to visit Sandakan and take the kids to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre to see the Orangutans.

I encountered a small problem when I started to research our options: Travel warnings!

The Australian Government had released a ‘do not travel’ warning for this area for possible terrorism and kidnapping attempts in recent years. Now if it had of just been myself and Craig I would continue on as planned but in light of the fact we had the kids with us I had to give this some serious thought.

I spoke to various tour operators all of which said that they do not understand why the Aussie Government had this warning, I ended up speaking to a tour operator from the UK and he advised that the British Government had travel warnings also for this area but only for the waters surrounding Sandakan. I started to feel better as I had no intention of going sailing while I was there.



After much consideration and research I decided that the best option was to do the trip without a tour company and make it a day trip. We booked flights to Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu, $248AUD return for all of us!

I was telling a friend about my plan to hire a private driver and she said that she had used a company in Malaysia that could organise it. I emailed Journey Malaysia and sure enough they had a driver we could hire for $100AUD for 8 hours. I felt this was the safest option with the kids.

As per usual not everything goes to plan and a few days before our flight Air Asia cancelled our 7pm return flight and put us on the only other flight back to KK that day at 2.30pm. This cut our day trip in half and was disappointing as I had hoped to visit the Proboscis monkeys as well.

In light of the travel warnings it wasn’t such a bad thing. It meant we had very little down time and I still got to see exactly what I wanted to see. I knew I would never return just to see the orangutans. Win/win!



Sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre, was a highlight of the trip for the kid’s and to see their little faces at the first rustle of a tree branch and see their excitement at the first glimpse of the orangutans was priceless.


sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre


When we arrived we ushered into a theatrette to watch a video that outlined the work that’s going on at Sepilok and the history of the centre. They then take you to an area with lockers where you leave your belongings (other than cameras) while you are on the feeding platform. The entrance fees are extremely reasonable with adults paying $10AUD and children $5AUD, you are also asked to pay a small fee of $3AUD for your photographic equipment. All this money goes towards the upkeep of the centre.


sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre


A guide then escorts you out to the feeding platform to wait the arrival of the orangutans for their 10am feed. They must know or hear the keepers come in with the food as they started to arrive not long after.

You hear the rustle of the branches and movement on the ropes well before you see them. The kid’s eyes were darting from side to side with the anticipation of the first sighting.


sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre


We were told they couldn’t guarantee how many would arrive. We were lucky as there were at least 6 of them that visited. We were also extra lucky as we had a mum and her 3 week old bub! We were unbelievably lucky to get the great shots that we did of mum and bubs.




In October 2014 (just in time for our visit) the centre added a nursery for young orangutans that need more care before being released into the rehabilitation centre. We wandered around and had a look at that too. The kids loved the nursery as the young apes were much more active.



Instead of purchasing souvenirs for the kids, we adopted an orangutan, our adoption pack had arrived by the time we got back to Melbourne. We have a photo here of Bidu-Bidu, the youngest cheekiest orangutan in the centre, just like our kids!

Sepilok orangutan Rehabilitation Centre opened in in 1964 as a place for orphaned baby orangutans from deforestation, logging and plantations, illegal hunting or those that were being kept as pets. These orangutans were then trained to survive again in the wild and when they were deemed ready, released back into the wild.


sepilok orangutan rehabilitation centre

Photo: Lip Kee CC License


I am so glad that I did this as it is something the kids may never have the opportunity to do again, especially with the deforestation of the orangutans natural habitat. I certainly wouldn’t have returned to Borneo just to do this so feel that I made the right decision going against the Australian Government’s advice on this occasion! I must admit though I was a little nervy until we got back to the airport and while I was glad we did it, I was also glad to be out of the area. One should not take these warnings lightly!


I’m Sally from, I love to travel and luckily so does Craig my hubby. We have 3 young kids and well, they have no choice! We drag them everywhere and so far they have loved every minute of it. We have been very lucky as they travel really well which makes our life a lot easier!




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