Long-tailed macaque

Monkey in Semporna

Because of Sipadan Island, Semporna town is now well-known as a gateway to world-class diving sites. Divers are impressed by the underwater world, but they don’t know the endangered and famous Proboscis Monkey are also found in Semporna. If you are a scuba diver, to avoid decompression sickness, you know you have to wait 12 to 24 hours before departing on a flight.

location map of Semporna

Therefore, during the waiting time, it is a great option for divers to join a river cruise in Semporna, to see the long-nosed monkey of Borneo. The tour costs about RM125 (less than USD$40) per person. Below is the itinerary:
3:30pm: Depart from Semporna by land to Kg. Tunggulangan
4:15pm: Tea break
4:45pm-6:30pm: River cruise
6:30pm: BBQ seafood dinner
7:30pm: Return to Semporna/Tawau

entrance to Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise
Of course, non-divers also can join the tour. Just book the river cruise package at www.borneotourstravel.com (Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise). The show has begun by the moment we reached the site in Kg. Tunggulangan, which is about 20 KM away from Semporna town. The worker placed some food on a feeding platform next to the entrance, to attract about 20 long-tailed macaque monkey for the fest.

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Feeding Monkey
monkey busy feeding
Last year I was told that the monkeys there were shy and not used to human. After being fed for a period, now these monkey have no fear about our presence, even though we are only a few feet away. You can take very clear photos of them.

Tour package to Mataking

Food for Monkey
However, they are still wild, so better don’t get too near to them. They do bite if they feel threaten. I have no doubt the monkey in photo above have the balls to do so.

wooden boardwalk to Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise
Then we took a short walk on a wooden boardwalk, which is built in the mangrove forest.

mangrove trees
The mangrove trees grow on intertidal zone, which is flooded during high tide, so they have stilt root that allows them to breathe and anchor themselves firmly in the mud.

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Activity & Dining Hall of Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise
Having tea break
The boardwalk led us to an Activity and Dining Hall built next to the river. We had our afternoon tea break before the river cruise.

Dining Hall of Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise
Above: the building is inside the mangrove forest. Please bring insect repellent coz there are mosquitoes in this area.

jetty of Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise
Above: the hall and the jetty of Borneo Semporna Proboscis River Cruise.

map for river cruise
Above: the route map of our river cruise. Our boats departed at 4:30pm to explore Sungai Tohok (Tohok River) and Sungai Buaya (Buaya River) to look for proboscis monkey. We also went to Pegagau to check out the egrets.

river cruise
looking for wildlife
Our boat cruised slowly on the river to spot for wildlife on the trees.

mangrove forest
The mangrove here is a forest reserve, which means it is protected from being cut or clear, so the trees here remain intact. This area has become the sanctuary for different birds and wildlife.

mangrove seeds
Above: the seeds of the mangrove trees. Once ripen, they will fall into the river and float to somewhere else to germinate.

reflection of mangrove tree
Above: I have to say that Semporna has very beautiful mangrove. I saw many picturesque green reflection like above in the river.

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spotting Proboscis Monkey
Our boatman is busy looking for monkey. He has very sharp vision, as if he has X-ray eyes that can see through dense layers of trees.

Female Proboscis Monkey
Finally we spotted a female proboscis monkey sitting high on top of a tree.

Proboscis Monkey on the tree
Soon we found more proboscis monkey. I notice that the proboscis monkey here are very elusive, unlike those who are already used to tourists in Klias and Kinabatangan. All of them fled into the mangrove before our boats came close.

Proboscis Monkey with baby
Some of them even carrying baby.

looking for Proboscis Monkey
Our guide, Soon Lee, spotted a male proboscis monkey deep inside the wood.

Male Proboscis Monkey
The male proboscis monkey was sitting on a root, with his back facing us.

Male Proboscis Monkey
We want to see his big nose so badly, so we move our boat as close as we can. We tried really hard to look at him through the gap between the woods, like how a peeper watches his target in bathroom.

Male Proboscis Monkey
Luckily it made a move and we were so happy to see his sexy big nose, though it was only a split second. The long nose of male proboscis monkey is a sex symbol to attract female. Later we saw 3 or 4 herds of proboscis monkey. That is considered our lucky day. In bad day, visitor may not see any proboscis monkey.

Below is a 3-minute video of our river cruise tour:

Click Here to watch wider video.
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white-collared kingfisher
Proboscis monkey is not the only wildlife here. There are some birds around too, like the friendly white-collared kingfisher above.

white-bellied woodpecker
My favorite bird is the white-bellied woodpecker above. Its look is so cartoon.

Brahminy kite in action
But the animals which steal the show is a pair of Brahminy Kite. The worker threw a few slices of chicken skin on the river, then we spent about 10 minutes watching both Brahminy Kite showing their high-speed & high-accuracy grasping skill in flight. Brahminy Kite is the commonest bird of prey in Borneo. In Iban belief, Brahminy Kite is an omen bird that represents senior God.

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evening river cruise

We reached Pegagau River around 6pm, the start of sunset cruise.

egrets on mangrove tree
We saw many groups of egrets (most are cattle egret) flying over the river, then they all congregated on a few mangrove trees. It is quite a view to see dozens of them perched on a few trees.

Boardwalk in mangrove
Our river cruise ended at 6:30pm and we were back to the jetty to have our BBQ seafood dinner. I forgot to take photo so I only remember we had tiger prawn and satay. It was dark when we walked out on the boardwalk, and we saw many twinkling fireflies on the trees on both sides! Overall, this trip is a fun experience.

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Photos taken in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

2 thoughts on “Monkey in Semporna

  1. Yes indeed, Mantaray, that’s why I am still busy digging the hidden jewels of Sabah but there is still a long way to explore all of them. So far I have 30+ attractions on my to-go-list and the list is growing..

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